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Azerbaijan takes over ADB Board of Governors chairmanship for 2015
06.05.2014 00:26
Azerbaijan has assumed the chairmanship of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the next year.

The country took over ADB chairmanship from Kazakhstan as the Board of Governors convened in Astana for its 47th annual meeting.

Entitled "Rethinking Asia's Challenges at the Crossroads of the Silk Road", the annual meeting saw much discussion on connectivity, innovation, and the need to keep up with the demands of a changing Asia and Pacific.

Participants came from ADB's 67 member countries and beyond, from government ministries and central banks, from business and finance, media, civil society, academia, and youth, cutting across professional, national, regional, and generational boundaries.

ADB President Takehiko Nakao and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev officially opened ADB's 47th Annual Meeting in Astana.

At the opening session, President Nakao spoke of the need for ADB to sharpen its focus to better serve the needs of a developing Asia in rapid transition. He also looked forward to the end of extreme poverty in the region by 2020.

Mr. Nakao reiterated that the biggest challenge in the region remains poverty reduction. With 700 million people below the poverty line, Asia is still home to more than 60% of the world's poor. Using this measure of $1.25 a day, the region is likely to see an end to poverty in the region within the next decade.

"But more than 1.6 billion people living on less than $2 a day remain highly vulnerable to job loss, health problems, prolonged recession, inflation, crop failure, and environmental dangers."

"The challenge for ADB is to help developing member countries eradicate remaining poverty, and support greater inclusiveness to address inequalities," he said. "And there are other challenges: a huge infrastructure gap, environmental degradation and climate change. There is also the question of how to tap the full potential of regional cooperation and integration."

Addressing the event, chairman of ADB annual meeting of the Board of Governors, Kazakh Minister of Economy and Budget Planning Yerbolat Dassayev noted that the next meeting would beheld in Baku as the chairmanship of the Board of Governors passed to Azerbaijan for the next year.

Azerbaijani Minister of Finance, member of the Board of Governors Samir Sharifov said Azerbaijan would try its best to use the Baku meeting to prove that it is "a trusted partner" of the Asian Development Bank.

The meeting featured the Day of Azerbaijan, which was attended by delegations of the Board of Governors member states, ADB leadership, and prominent public and political figures of Kazakhstan and other countries.

It featured demonstration of a promotional video about Azerbaijan.

Addressing the event, Minister Sharifov noted that the Azerbaijani President had already ordered the creation of the organizing committee for the 48th meeting of ADB Board of Governors to be held in Baku in May, 2015.

He highlighted the country's socio-economic development under President Ilham Aliyev.

ADB President Nakao hailed Azerbaijan's economic growth. He expressed confidence the Baku meeting would be a success.

He said that for the first time the annual meeting of ADB Board of Governors would take place in the Caucasus, adding they had been looking forward to seeing Azerbaijan's rapid development.

The website of the 2015 Baku meeting was presented at the event.

On the sidelines of the annual meeting of ADB Board of Governors, Minister Sharifov also held several meetings including with ADB President Takehiko Nakao, Secretary General Maria-Anne Birken, Vice-President of the WB Lora Tak, Director General of the Japan International Cooperation Agency Kiyoshi Kadero, and Director of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation Hirosh Vatanabe to discuss issues of expanding bilateral cooperation.
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    By Aygun Badalova - Trend:

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    Energy Intelligence Group provides Trend Agency with daily oil price quotas.

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    By Demir Azizov- Trend:

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    Edited by SI

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    25.05.2015 11:00
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  • Russia to get three new generation nuclear icebreakers by 2020 - deputy PM
    25.05.2015 10:59
    Russia will get three new generation nuclear icebreakers by 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said during the Voskresny Vecher (Sunday Night) program on Russian television.

    "Now the service life of the current icebreaker fleet is coming to an end. In 2017, there'll be the first vessel, then 2019 and 2020. We are on schedule, and Russia will have a new icebreaker fleet, which will ensure escort of convoys and vessels along the Northern Sea Route, by 2020," Rogozin said, according to ITAR TASS.

    He said that on Tuesday he plans to visit the Baltiyskiy Zavod (Baltic Shipyard) in St. Petersburg to lay the foundation of the first serial nuclear icebreaker of the new generation.

    "The head icebreaker has been some 60% assembled. Serial production will start after the head icebreaker," Rogozin said.
  • Iran allows private business owners to forge trade ties with US companies
    25.05.2015 10:58
    The Iranian government has given the green light to private business owners to forge trade ties with their US counterparts, an official said on Saturday, APA reports quoting Press TV.

    Head of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Gholamreza Shafei said the government had 'advised' preliminary contacts between the private sectors of the two countries prior to any formal trade links, Mehr News Agency reported.

    "Unofficial contacts could pave the way for establishing joint chambers of commerce between Iran and America."

    Shafei said the idea of setting up a joint chamber of commerce with the US has been under consideration for 10 months. All views should be taken into account and Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture should not act independently on this, he noted.

    "Hence, consultations have been made with the government and we were advised that a connection should initially be forged and strengthened between Iranian and American private sectors to pave the way for establishing a joint chamber and formal ties among traders," Shafei said.

    He said unofficial communications would set the stage for big gatherings where traders from the two countries could get in touch.

    American entrepreneurs, he said, have already formed a joint Iran-US chamber of commerce voluntarily but it has not been officially registered and it functions as a firm.

    Shafei pointed out American businessmen were showing keen interest in trade relations with Iran, but no official request has yet been made for face-to-face negotiations.

    "They are especially showing interest as they see most Western countries are sending big trade delegations to Iran.

    "The Europeans and Southeast Asian countries have no shortfall in terms of US technology and the quality of its machinery. But trade ties with America are important for Iran's exports because our traditional goods have a favorable market in that country," Shafei said.
  • Baku 2015: Flame in Zagatala
    25.05.2015 10:18
    The flame of the First European Games has arrived in Zagatala, SIA informs.

    At the symbolic gate of the European Games in the region, the flame was handed to budo fighter Tabriz Balakhanov.

    Ten torchbearers then started their 2.7km long route and carried the flame into Zagatala Historical and Cultural Reserve to the sound of wild applause. Pupil of Zagatala city secondary school No. 1, judo fighter Ariz Mammadov lit the flame of the European Games.

    The flame was then transferred to a commemorative lamp that will remain lit in Heydar Aliyev Center until the end of the Games.

    The event featured demonstration of a footage highlighting a ceremony to light the flame of the Baku 2015 First European Games in Ateshgah temple.

    The flame then continued its journey to the next destination, Gakh.

    Şəkillərə iri formatda baxmaq üçün üzərində klikləyin

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  • Iran ready to resume oil swap operations if it is profitable
    25.05.2015 10:16
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 24

    By Fatih Karimov - Trend: Iran is ready to resume oil swap operations if it is profitable, Director of the International Affairs Department at National Iranian Oil Company Mohsen Ghamsari, said.

    Once the oil sanctions against the country are lifted, oil swap operations will be resumed considering the existing infrastructures, Iran's Fars news agency reported on May 24.

    Swap of oil between Iran and Caspian Sea states stopped due to swap fees in 2010. Iran persisted on five-folding the swap fees to $5/barrel, but this demand was not accepted.

    "Iran currently has a daily 260,000-barrel crude oil swap capacity, while the ships with 12,000 tons capacity can dock in Neka," the head of the Iranian Oil Terminals Company (IOTC), Pirouz Mousavi said on April 22.

    Swap operations earned Iran $880 million between 1999 and 2009, Mahmoud Astaneh, the consultant to the Iranian oil minister said on April 25.

    It is a demanding job for the country to restore its status in oil swap operations, he noted.

    Many facilities, including the Neka terminal and the Neka-Rey pipeline) were established to boost the volume of oil swap, he said, adding that the facilities have remained unused since the swap operations were halted and maintaining the facilities cost a lot.

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  • Iran says likely to produce Mercedes-Benz sedan
    25.05.2015 10:14
    Tehran, Iran, May 24

    By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:

    Engineering CEO of Iran Khodro Diesel Reza Hosseini said that Iran is likely to produce Mercedes-Benz sedans in the future.

    Speaking at a ceremony to unveil the first Iranian -produced minibus, Hosseini said that a model of Mercedes-Benz sedans used to be produced in Iran in the past, ISNA news agency reported May 24.

    In a contract previously signed with Mercedes-Benz, besides producing an E-class sedan, the production of C-class sedans is also envisioned, he said.

    Therefore, there is the chance in the future for some Mercedes-Benz sedans to be produced in Iran, he concluded.

    Iran Khodro Diesel CEO Qolamreza Razazi also attending the ceremony told reporters that the Accor Mercedes truck is currently produced by the Iranian company and added that a model of Mercedes ambulance is also going to be produced in Iran.

    Some 58,023 cars have been produced in Iran in the first month of the current Iranian fiscal year (March 21-April 21).

    The figure indicates 41 percent increase compared to the same month of preceding year.

    Sedan cars output stood at 54,952 in the mentioned period, 55 percent more year on year.

    Stay up to date with latest Iran news on our specialized Facebook page

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  • Ankara expects Turkish Stream gas pipeline to be launched after 2017
    25.05.2015 10:13
    Turkey expects that the Turkish Stream gas pipeline is likely to be launched after 2017, Turkish Ambassador to Russia Umit Yardim told Interfax.

    Turkey and Russia "have not yet reached the stage of the project's start," he said, according to AzerTag.

    "Perhaps it would not be correct today to name 2016 or 2017 as the date of the gas pipeline's launch," Yardim said.

    "In my opinion, if we manage to implement this project, this would be a great victory for both Turkey and Russia. Contacts between our countries on the matter are continuing," he said.
  • Elmar Mammadyarov explains remarks made by Azerbaijan on Riga summit declaration
    25.05.2015 09:27
    The Minister also clarified the reports on leaving the summit

    Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov has clarified the issues regarding Azerbaijan in Riga summit of the EU Eastern Partnership.

    APA reports that mentioning unambiguous support of the territorial integrity of the Eastern Partnership countries by the EU, the minister explained what were discussed at the summit: "We said the conflict is to be settled on the basis of resolutions of the UN Security Council. But they did not want to include it into the declaration of the Summit. And we protested against it. Because, the US SC resolutions are very important legal documents and the conflict should be settled within these documents".

    However, it was reached an agreement that Azerbaijan also to sign the declaration, but with a special view. As a Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we'll send a special statement on May 25 that how Azerbaijan sees the settlement of this conflict. This declaration will be included in the final document of the summit. Thus, the issue will be finished".

    Mammadyarov also clarified the reports on leaving the summit: "This is fiction of Armenian side. Because, there was no reason to leave the meeting".
  • Azerbaijani FM: ''Nagorno Karabakh conflict will be settled in the near future"
    25.05.2015 09:27
    ''Armenian leadership also will have sensible people and they will understand that good relations with the neighbors are guarantee of the countryв's success''

    "Azerbaijan will settle the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in any case. Because, there is not any conflict remaining unsettled", said the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, APA reports.

    The Minister said that there are reasons for optimism on the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict: "The Nagorno Karabakh conflict cannot remain in the existing situation. There is international legal base, as well as US SC resolutions for settlement of the conflict. All countries entering the UN take responsibilities to comply with the resolutions. But, Armenia does not fulfill this obligation. However, Armenian leadership also will have sensible people and they will understand that good relations with the neighbors are guarantee of the country's success. Reasonable people, to be in the leadership of Armenia, will understand that short-sighted policy being pursued by current leadership of Armenia didn't justify itself. As a result of short-sighted policy of Armenian leadership, this country is isolated from all projects implementing in the South Caucasus. I'm surely saying that this conflict will be settled in the near future"
  • Over 1,000 people killed by airstrikes in Yemen: Houthis
    25.05.2015 09:26
    Over 1,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the beginning of a Saudi-led military campaign against the Shia Houthi militant group in late March, a Yemeni ministry said Sunday Anadolu Agency reported

    "The Saudi aggression has left 1,114, including 154 children and 114 women, dead since it began on March 25," the Health Ministry, which was taken over by the Houthis, said.

    It added in a report that 3,637 people were also injured by Saudi-led airstrikes, noting that this toll included 389 children and 212 women.

    The report, which was quoted by the official Yemeni news agency, added that scores of Yemeni medical facilities were also destroyed by the strikes.

    Nevertheless, a local human rights group said that most of these casualties were caused by antiaircraft missiles launched by the Houthis themselves.

    "Most of the casualties were caused by failed antiaircraft missiles fired by the Houthis themselves," Yemeni activist, Radiya al-Motawakel, the head of local NGO Mowatena Centre for Human Rights, said on Facebook.

    Fractious Yemen has remained in turmoil since last September, when the Houthis overran capital Sanaa, from which they have sought to extend their influence to other parts of the country.

    On March 25, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies began an extensive military campaign targeting Houthi positions across Yemen.

    Riyadh says its anti-Houthi campaign comes in response to appeals by embattled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi - currently in Riyadh - for military intervention against the Shia group.

    The Houthis, for their part, denounce the offensive as unwarranted "Saudi-American aggression" against Yemen.

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  • Daesh poses 'unparalleled threat': Nasrallah
    25.05.2015 09:25
    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed on Sunday that his troops would be deployed across all Syria Anadolu Agency reported

    Referring to Daesh - which controls large swaths of land in both Syria and Iraq - he added that the group posed "unparalleled threats."

    "Daesh is now present in a large part of Syria," Nasrallah said in an address on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the liberation of southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation.

    He added that the militant group was also present in Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan.

    Nasrallah lashed out at a United States-led international coalition against Daesh in both Syria and Iraq.

    He said the peoples of the Middle East region had to depend on themselves to fight the group.

    Hezbollah has been fighting in Syria side by side with the troops of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the eruption of the Syrian civil war almost four years ago.

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  • Iran will not allow military sites inspection: Araqchi
    25.05.2015 09:25
    A senior Iranian nuclear negotiator says Tehran will not allow the inspection of its military sites as part of a prospective nuclear deal with the P5 1 group of countries.

    Speaking at a closed door session of Iranian parliament (Majlis) on Sunday, Abbas Araqchi, the deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, stressed that the Iranian delegation has always reaffirmed Tehran's red lines during nuclear negotiations with the six world powers, Press TV reports.

    Tehran will never agree to the inspection of its military sites or any interview with its nuclear scientists, he said, adding, "All ways to abuse have been principally blocked during nuclear talks."

    Araqchi also highlighted the role of Majlis in Iran's nuclear case, saying that Tehran's acceptance of the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) depends on Majlis approval.

    Earlier in the month, he had stressed that the possible inspections of Iran's non-nuclear sites would not go beyond the framework of the Additional Protocol.

    Araqchi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attended a closed-door session of Majlis to brief lawmakers on the recent nuclear negotiations with the P5 1.

    Iran and the P5 1 group -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany -- wrapped up their latest round of talks in the Austrian capital city of Vienna on May 22 in another effort to narrow down the remaining differences and pave the way for a possible final nuclear deal.

    Iran and the P5 1 are currently working to reach a final accord on Iran's nuclear program by the end of June.

    The two sides reached a mutual understanding on the parameters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - as the comprehensive agreement on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program is called - in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April
  • Turkey: Suspect in attack on MP candidate arrested
    25.05.2015 08:41
    A suspect was taken to court and officially arrested for injuring a Justice and Development (AK) Party MP candidate with a knife Saturday, in Turkey's south-central province of Adana, a city security official said Sunday, Anadolu agency reported.

    The arrest came late on Sunday, a day after the AK Party MP candidate Ramazan Demir was stabbed three times with a knife by two apparently drunk attackers.

    Faruk S., 31 was arrested while other suspect Muhammed F., 22, was released by the court.

    The two suspects had been taken into custody by police officers at the scene and were transferred to a court Saturday.

    The Adana governor Mustafa Buyuk said Saturday that Demir had not been critically injured.

    About 56 million Turks will vote in the country's 25th general election to elect 550 lawmakers to the Turkish Grand National Assembly on June 7.

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  • Oklahoma, Texas flash floods leave 2 dead, hundreds of homes washed away
    25.05.2015 08:24
    Unusual amounts of rain across the Midwest in the U.S. left various areas flooded and a total of about 2,000 residents fleeing their homes, Latinos Post reported.

    "Tornados struck, severely damaging an apartment complex in Houston, Texas," Fox News reported. "A firefighter in Oklahoma was swept to his death while trying to rescue 10 people in high water."

    "The body of a man was recovered from a flooded area along the Blanco River, which rose 26 feet in just one hour and left piles of wreckage 20 feet high," the news source added.

    Wimberley was the worst-hit area in Texas, where at least 350 houses were swept away by the flash floods.

    "The river crested at over 41 feet early Sunday - with flood stage at a mere 13 feet," My San Antonio reported. "The deluge eclipsed a record set in 1929 when it rose to 32 feet."

    A tornado that came on Sunday near Dripping Springs wrecked 25 mobile homes and "damaging rooftops, toppling trees, blowing out windows and sending at least two people to a hospital," Fox News said. "The tornado struck with winds of about 100 mph at around 6:30 a.m. Sunday."

    "We still have people who are still trapped in certain areas, but we're having difficulty reaching them," emergency management coordinator Ken Bell told My San Antonio.

    Meanwhile, in San Marcos, the recreational center that served as temporary shelter "quickly became overcrowded after Texas 35 was closed."

    "The city of San Marcos, Hays County and Wimberley imposed a curfew starting at 9 p.m.," USA Today noted. "An estimated 1,000 homes were damaged."

    This month is said to be the "wettest on record for several cities in the southern Plains states," Fox News said. However, residents are to expect more rain to arrive in the coming days.

    The record rainfall is said to be due to the prolonged warming of the surface of the Pacific Ocean. The resulting cooler air, plus "an active southern jet stream and plentiful moisture from the Gulf of Mexico," contributed to the epic rainfall occurrence.

    "It looks like the rainfall that we're getting now may actually officially end the drought," said Forrest Mitchell, National Weather Service meteorologist. He observed that the moisture has now penetrated two feet below the soil's surface and that the reservoirs and lakes has been replenished by the downpour.

    The NWS has since issued flood warnings for various areas, including central Missouri and Kansas City.

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  • Popularity of consumer loans declines in Kazakhstan
    25.05.2015 07:21
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 25

    By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:

    Kazakhstan saw a dramatic slowdown in consumer loans, said the message released by the analytical service

    The message said that over the year (from March 2014 to March 2015) consumer credit market in Kazakhstan grew by only seven percent. For comparison, in March, 2013 and March 2014, the growth of this market amounted to 48 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

    In March of 2015, the volume of consumer debt of one employee to the bank in Kazakhstan amounted to his 3.4 months' salary - 407,000 tenge, according to the analytical service.

    In March, the volume of consumer loans of the population in Kazakhstan amounted to 2.5 trillion tenge. Some 37.7 percent (942.5 billion tenge) of the mentioned amount accounted for Almaty.

    Edited by CN


    Follow the author on Twitter: @E_Kosolapova

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  • Poland election: President Komorowski concedes to rival Duda
    25.05.2015 06:40
    Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has conceded the election to conservative challenger Andrzej Duda following the release of exit polls, BBC reported.

    They suggested Mr Duda had taken the run-off vote by 53% to 47%.

    Mr Duda had edged Mr Komorowski, who had been the favourite, in the first round but did not gain the 50% needed to win outright.

    The president has limited powers, but is head of the armed forces and can veto new laws.

    The exit polls had been delayed after a woman died at a polling station on Sunday.

    Official results are expected later on Monday.

    "I respect your choice," Mr Komorowski told voters at a gathering of his supporters. "I wish my challenger a successful presidency."

    Speaking to supporters in Warsaw, Mr Duda said: "Thank you President Bronislaw Komorowski for the rivalry of this presidential campaign and for your congratulations.

    "Those who voted for me voted for change. Together we can change Poland."

    The victory will be a wake-up call to Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, an ally of Mr Komorowski, ahead of parliamentary elections this autumn.

    This is a remarkable and decisive victory for Mr Duda. It's remarkable because he is a relative unknown and Mr Komorowski has been a popular president. It suggests that many Poles have grown weary of President Komorowski's backers, the governing centre-right Civic Platform party.

    In its eight years in office the party has maintained Poland's economic growth despite the financial crisis. But it has also reneged on some of its promises and increased the retirement age, an unpopular move.

    Poland is gradually catching up to Western Europe's living standards but youth unemployment is high and Poles can still earn much more in the UK or Germany. Many Poles simply do not feel the benefit of 25 years of near uninterrupted growth and Mr Duda appeals to them.

    He has promised to bring the retirement age back down, but he'd need his Law and Justice party to win this autumn's parliamentary elections to be able to do that. It's been 10 years since they won an election but many think that may now happen. If it does, judging by its last spell in office in 2005-2007, Poland will become more inward looking and much less at ease with its EU partners.

    Mr Komorowski, 62, took office five years ago after his predecessor, Lech Kaczynski, died in a plane crash.

    Mr Komorowski had been the favourite according to previous opinion polls and had been looking for a second term.

    Mr Duda, 43, is from the right-wing opposition Law and Justice party, which is led by former President Kaczynski's twin brother, Jaroslaw.

    In the first round Mr Duda attracted most support in the more conservative eastern regions of the country, near the border with Ukraine and Belarus.

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  • Iraq regains ground from Islamic State; mass deaths reported in Palmyra
    25.05.2015 04:31
    Iraqi forces recaptured territory from advancing Islamic State militants near the recently-fallen city of Ramadi on Sunday, while in Syria the government said the Islamists had killed hundreds of people since capturing the town of Palmyra, Reuters reported.

    The fall of Ramadi and Palmyra, on opposite ends of the vast territory controlled by Islamic State fighters, were the militant group's biggest successes since a U.S.-led coalition launched an air war to stop them last year.

    The near simultaneous victories against the Iraqi and Syrian armies have forced Washington to examine its strategy, which involves bombing from the air but leaving fighting on the ground to local forces in both countries.

    In a sharp criticism of Washington's ally, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter accused Iraq's army of abandoning Ramadi, a provincial capital west of Baghdad, to a much smaller enemy force.

    "The Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," he told CNN's State of the Union program. "They vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they withdrew from the site."

    Iraq's government, along with Iran-backed Shi'ite militiamen and locally-recruited Sunni tribal fighters, launched a counter-offensive on Saturday, a week after losing Ramadi. A police major and a pro-government Sunni tribal fighter in the area said they had retaken the town of Husaiba al-Sharqiya, about 10 km (6 miles) east of Ramadi.

    "Today we regained control over Husaiba and are laying plans to make more advances to push back Daesh fighters further," said local tribal leader Amir al-Fahdawi, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State, also known in English as ISIS or ISIL.

    "The morale of the (pro-government) fighters is high after the arrival of reinforcements and loads of ammunition," Fahdawi said. "Today's advance will speed up the clock for a major advance to regain control of Ramadi."

    Planes were bombing Islamic State positions on the opposite bank of the Euphrates river, where the militants were launching mortars and sniper fire to prevent the pro-government forces advancing, Fahdawi and the police major said.

    Days after taking Ramadi, Islamic State also defeated forces of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad to capture Palmyra, home to 50,000 people and site of some of the world's most extensive and best-preserved Roman ruins.

    The fighters have killed at least 400 people, including women and children in Palmyra since capturing the ancient Syrian city four days ago, Syrian state media said on Sunday.

    It was not immediately possible to verify that account, but it was consistent with reports by activists that the Islamist fighters had carried out executions, leaving hundreds of bodies in the streets.

    The Sunni Muslim militants have proclaimed a caliphate to rule over all Muslims from territory they hold in both Syria and Iraq. They have a history of carrying out mass killings in towns and cities they capture, and of dynamiting and bulldozing ancient monuments, which they consider evidence of paganism.

    "The terrorists have killed more than 400 people ... and mutilated their bodies, under the pretext that they cooperated with the government and did not follow orders," Syria's state news agency said, citing residents inside the city.

    Many of those killed were state employees, including the head of the nursing department at the hospital and all her family members, it said.

    Islamic State supporters have posted videos on the Internet they say show fighters going room to room in Palmyra's government buildings, searching for hiding troops and pulling down pictures of Assad and his father.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in the country with a network of sources on the ground, says beheadings have taken place in the town since it fell but has not given an estimate for the toll among civilians.

    It says at least 300 soldiers were killed in the days of fighting before the city was captured.

    "A bigger number of troops have disappeared and it is not clear where they are," Rami Abdulrahman from the Observatory told Reuters.

    Washington supports the government of Iraq but is opposed to Assad's government in Syria, making it more difficult to build a unified coalition against Islamic State, the most powerful force among Sunni Arabs in multi-sided civil wars in both countries.

    In Iraq, government forces and Iran-backed Shi'ite militia advanced against the Sunni militants north of Baghdad in the Tigris river valley earlier this year, recapturing former dictator Saddam Hussein's home city of Tikrit.

    But the insurgents responded by going on the offensive west of Baghdad in the valley of Iraq's other great river, the Euphrates, among the most hotly fought areas during the 2003-2011 U.S. occupation.

    Washington worries that Baghdad's response of sending Shi'ite militia into the area for a counter-offensive could increase sectarian anger and play into Islamic State's claim to defend Sunnis from a Shi'ite dominated government in Baghdad.

    In Syria, where a four-year civil war has killed 250,000 people and made 8 million homeless, Assad's government has been losing territory in recent months, both to Islamic State and to other Sunni groups, some of which are supported by the West.

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  • US police arrest 71 protesters in Cleveland
    25.05.2015 04:07
    Police in the US city of Cleveland say scores of protesters have been arrested following the acquittal of a white police officer in the 2012 shooting deaths of two unarmed African Americans, Press TV reported.

    Police said on Sunday that at least 71 people were arrested late on Saturday during protests in Cleveland, Ohio, that flared after a judge ruled that the decision to use deadly force by Officer Michael Brelo, 31, was reasonably justifiable in the deaths of 43-year-old Timothy Russell and 30-year-old Malissa Wiliiams in November 2012.

    Thirteen officers fired a total of 137 times at the couple's car after a high-speed chase, but only Brelo was charged because prosecutors said he fired 15 rounds even when the vehicle had stopped and the occupants were no longer a threat.

    Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said demonstrations remained mostly peaceful after the judge announced the verdict on Saturday, but later in the day, some people became aggressive, who assaulted bystanders in a downtown area, blocked a major highway and disrupted business at a shopping center.

    "We only moved in when protesters became violent and protesters refused to disperse," Williams added.

    Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said on Sunday morning that demonstrators "served as an example of peaceful demonstration and dialogue that will help us move forward."

    "We will and we continue to encourage peaceful protest and demonstration, however we will not tolerate activities that cross the line," Jackson added.

    The killings of several unarmed black men by white police officers in recent months, and decisions by grand juries not to indict the officers, have sparked a national debate on race and led to mass street protests all over the United States.

    Large-scale demonstrations were held across the US after a series of high-profile incidents of white police officers killing unarmed African-American men, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio; Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York and Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina.

    The recent unrest in Baltimore over the death of Gray was the most violent in the United States since the protests in Ferguson following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Brown by a white police officer.

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  • US Navy develops insanely powerful railgun
    25.05.2015 02:18
    The US Navy has been developing an insanely powerful railgun, which it hopes will eventually replace the massive deck guns currently fitted aboard its ships, Business Insider reported.

    There are plans to deploy a prototype electromagnetic railgun aboard the Spearhead-class joint high-speed vessel USNS Trenton for at-sea testing in mid-2016.

    The tests will assess the weapon's firepower capabilities against floating static targets at a distance of 40-80km using GPS-guided hyper-velocity projectiles (HVPs).

    The railgun substitutes electromagnetic propulsion for gunpowder launching HVPs at six times the speed of sound (9000 km/h) over distances of more than 180km.

    The speed and force at which the HVPs hit targets is so powerful that there's no need for them to be armed with explosives.

    This also reduces the need for ships to carry high explosives and eliminates the danger of unexploded ordnance remaining on the battlefield.

    The gun made its public debut at the Navy's Future Force Science and Technology Expo in Washington earlier this year. One Navy official was quoted as likening the impact of the railgun to that of "a freight train going through the wall at 100 miles an hour."

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  • ISIL terrorists execute 16 Iraqi merchants in Anbar province
    25.05.2015 02:00
    The ISIL Takfiri terrorists have executed 16 Iraqi merchants who were transporting foodstuff from the northern strategic city of Baiji to the western city of Haditha, Press TV reported.

    "Daesh (Arabic acronym for ISIL) executed 16 Haditha traders last night," Baiji city mayor, Abdelhakim al-Jughaifi, said on Sunday, noting that the men were first kidnapped and then were either shot to death or beheaded.

    "The victims were transporting mostly food goods, such as vegetables, from Baiji to Haditha," the mayor said, adding, "They were stopped at a checkpoint and abducted. They then executed them, some by shooting them, others by slitting their throats."

    He also said Haditha residents discovered the bodies of the victims on the road and carried them back to the city.

    Baiji, which is located nearly 200 kilometers north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, remains under control of the ISIL terrorists. Haditha, which lies about 130 kilometers southwest of Baiji, is the last major city in the western Anbar province.

    A Haditha tribal fighter, named Abu Maath al-Jughaifi, said a note was found on one of the victim's bodies indicating Takfiri terrorists' claims that the executions were carried out to avenge the killing of ISIL militants during recent clashes near Haditha.

    Iraqi government forces backed by Shia and Sunni volunteer fighters recaptured the town Husaybah in Anbar province on Saturday as they advance towards the major city of Ramadi.

    Also on Saturday, security officials said the Iraqi army and the volunteer fighters jointly repelled an ISIL attack on the town of Khalidiya, located about 83 kilometers (50 miles) west of the capital, Baghdad.

    The northern and western parts of Iraq have been in chaos since ISIL started its campaign of terror in early June 2014. The army and volunteer forces have been engaged in joint operations to liberate the areas under the ISIL control ever since.

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  • John Nash, mathematician who inspired 'A Beautiful Mind,' killed in car crash
    25.05.2015 00:34
    Mathematician John Nash, a Nobel Prize winner whose longtime struggle with mental illness inspired the movie "A Beautiful Mind", was killed in a car crash along with his wife in New Jersey, state police said on Sunday, Reuters reported.

    The couple were in a taxi when the driver lost control, crashed into a guard rail and hit another car on Saturday afternoon on the New Jersey Turnpike, said police.

    Nash, 86, and his wife, Alicia, 82, were thrown from the taxi and pronounced dead at the scene, New Jersey State Police spokesman Sgt. Gregory Williams added, declining to comment on media reports that they were not wearing seat belts.

    Russell Crowe, who portrayed Nash in the Oscar-winning movie, said on Twitter that he was stunned by the deaths. "An amazing partnership. Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts," the Hollywood star wrote.

    The taxi driver was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries and the driver of the other vehicle was also treated in hospital, police said. No charges had been filed, Williams added.

    Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994 for his work on game theory and the mathematics of decision-making.

    The film "A Beautiful Mind" was loosely based on his battle with schizophrenia.

    Nash received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1950 and spent much of his career there and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

    He began experiencing what he described as "mental disturbances" in 1959 after marrying Alicia, a MIT physics major who was then pregnant, according to his biography on the Nobel Prize website.

    "I was disturbed in this way for a very long period of time, like 25 years," Nash said in a 2004 video interview on the Nobel website.

    He stressed that his was an unusual case, as he was able eventually stop taking medication and return to normal activities and his research.

    The 2001 movie represented an "artistic" take on his experience, giving insight into mental illness but not accurately portraying the nature of his delusions, Nash said in the interview.

    "John's remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists who were influenced by his brilliant, groundbreaking work in game theory," Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement.

    "The story of his life with Alicia moved millions of readers and moviegoers who marveled at their courage in the face of daunting challenges," he added.

    Nash and his wife were living in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, New Jersey police said.

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  • EU calls Russia's NGO law 'worrying step'
    24.05.2015 23:04
    The European Union says Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a "worrying step" by signing a regulation that outlaws what Moscow believes to be "undesirable" non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Press TV reported.

    The EU foreign services said in a statement on Sunday that the rule was a "worrying step in a series of restrictions on civil society, independent media and political opposition."

    "It will restrict freedom of speech and media as well as pluralism of opinion," the statement read.

    Under the law signed by Putin, the Russian authorities would be able to ban overseas NGOs and go after their workforce.

    If caught violating the law, the law states, the NGO officials risk up to six years in jail or would be banned from the country indefinitely.

    The EU claimed that the law violates the Russian constitution, and criticized "the negative opinion" of the Russian Presidential Council of Human Rights in passing the legislation.

    The criticism from the EU comes after Moscow adopted a law that barred such NGOs on Saturday.

    Russia has in the past criticized the European Union and specifically its ally, the US, for using such organizations to interfere in its domestic affairs.

    Moscow added in 2013 that Washington is getting around Russian restrictions on foreign funding by channeling money to non-governmental organizations.

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  • Russian gas monopoly doomed to failure
    24.05.2015 22:01
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 24

    By Rufiz Hafizoglu - Trend:

    If we consider Russia's energy policy, we can see that almost all energy projects of Moscow are, first and foremost, political. The same situation was with the South Stream. Russia is eager to thrust the Turkish Stream on Turkey. There is no doubt that the Turkish Stream is also a part of the political pressure on the EU in case of its implementation.

    Despite Russia's efforts in this direction, it is early to talk about the implementation of the Turkish Stream at least because the EU, with the exception of Greece, covered by economic chaos, has not showed much interest in this project.

    Russia has the opportunity to supply gas to China through the Power of Siberia project. But apparently, it also had problems here. China has refused from financing the project, saying that it can receive gas via Altai route. But this can be done only if Gazprom finances the continuation of the construction of this gas pipeline (4,000 kilometers) through the Chinese territory.

    That is, all attempts to blackmail the EU are useless because only Gazprom is confident that China can replace Europe in the issue related to Russian gas.

    According to the Western media, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria signed a joint declaration at the summit of the EU Eastern Partnership member-states in Riga on May 22.

    The declaration includes the creation of a gas interconnector that will connect Central and Eastern Europe. According to the media, Eastring gas pipeline project is the basis for uniting the infrastructure. This gas pipeline will connect the above-mentioned countries.

    In case of implementing this project, the capacity of the new pipeline is expected to reach 20 billion cubic meters with an extension of up to 40 billion cubic meters. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, as well as Iraq, Cyprus, Russia and the West can be the potential gas suppliers via the new route.

    But a question arises. Did any of the above-mentioned countries, except Azerbaijan and Russia, declare its readiness to supply gas to Europe and undertake any actions?

    On the other hand, does Azerbaijani gas need additional route today? The gas will be supplied from Azerbaijan to Europe via TANAP and TAP.

    Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has recently said that Azerbaijan expects strong support from the EU in the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project. This will allow the EU to provide its citizens with reliable, stable and uninterrupted energy supply.

    Taking this into account, we can say that the Eastring implementation is only in the interests of Russia now, which is so committed to the Turkish Stream implementation.

    But if the Eastring project is implemented and such countries as Turkmenistan and Iraq join the Southern Gas Corridor, this will only increase the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor, and in particular, TANAP project. Thus, Russia will lose the gas monopoly status in Europe.


    Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of Trend Agency's Arabic news service, follow him on Twitter: @rhafizoglu

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  • Landslide in Kyrgyzstan kills six, injured 12
    24.05.2015 21:27
    At least six people have been killed in a landslide in the central Asian republic of Kyrgystan, official reports say, Press TV reported.

    On Sunday, the Ministry of Emergency Situations said three children were among those killed in Jalal-Abad Province.

    At least 12 others have been also injured and transferred to the hospital.

    According to officials, the landslide, which was triggered by heavy rain, buried five houses in the village of Suzak, located close to the border with neighboring Uzbekistan.

    Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev has vowed to pay the families of the victims USD 1,600 in compensation for their losses.

    In April 2009, a similar landslide triggered by heavy rain, claimed the lives of 16 people in the region.

    Landslides are common in Kyrgyzstan's mostly mountainous Jala-Abad province.

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  • TAPI project implementation enters crucial phase
    24.05.2015 20:06
    Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, May 23

    By Huseyn Hasanov- Trend:

    Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project will enter into a phase of implementation in the near future, according to the news coming from Ashgabat.

    This issue was discussed at a high level in Ashgabat: Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov said at a meeting recently held with Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif that the two countries discussed the challenges for the full implementation of the TAPI project.

    In turn, the head of the government of Pakistan also stressed the great interest of Islamabad "for the speedy implementation of TAPI gas pipeline project." He said that the practical implementation of the project will contribute to the development of economic cooperation in all areas - not only at a regional but also at a global scale.

    Turkmen gas will help meet the growing energy consumption in India and Pakistan. By 2030 the need can rise twice. The remaining part will facilitate the constant shortage of energy resources in transit Afghanistan.

    In turn, observers say that a tense situation in Afghanistan can hinder this grand project. In this regard, Ashgabat has repeatedly expressed its willingness to host the talks under the auspices of the United Nations to restore peace in the country.

    TAPI gas pipeline with the length of 1,800 kilometers, of which 200 kilometers will run though Turkmenistan, 773 kilometers - Afghanistan, 827 kilometers - Pakistan, is designed to meet the gas demand of the industry of the countries with the population of over 1.5 billion.

    Turkmenistan's Ministry of Oil and Gas Industry and Mineral Resources previously said that an international tender will be announced soon to choose the leader of TAPI consortium. It was also noted that the feasibility study of the project is worked out by UK Penspen company.

    The annual pumping capacity of the gas pipeline will be 33 billion cubic meters.

    "The economic feasibility of this project, which is based on the high demand for natural gas in South Asia, is also emphasized by the fact that none of its participants has any doubt in Turkmenistan's ability to ensure the long-term gas supplies on this route," the ministry said.

    It is known that the supplies will be carried out from Turkmenistan's Galkynysh field, the second largest gas field in the world.

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  • Iran funds road projects in northwestern regions
    24.05.2015 19:39
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 21

    By Fatih Karimov - Trend:

    Iran's president ordered financing several road projects, including a highway, projected to be stretched from the city of Tabriz to the Turkish border.

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered funding $175 million to several projects including Tabriz-Ahar highway, Tabriz-Bazargan highway to complete them by late 2016 as well as building the infrastructure of Tabriz-Miyaneh railroad, Fars News Agency reported May 21.

    Bazargan is Iran's major border crossing point with Turkey.

    According to Iran Custom Administration's statistics, above $74 million worth of goods were exported through Bazargan port in last fiscal year, ended March 20. The figure indicates a 72 percent increase year-to-year.

    The amount of imports through this cross bordering point was above $55 million, indicating a 43 percent decrease year-to-year.

    Tabriz-Bazargan highway with 250 km length needs a $1.4 billion to $1.75 billion investment, while the government shares 35 percent in this project. The remained shares belong to the private sector.

    Edited by CN

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  • Iranian speaker says implementation of Additional Protocol requires parliament approval
    24.05.2015 17:13
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 24

    By Fatih Karimov - Trend:

    Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has said that the implementation of Additional Protocol requires the parliament's approval, Javad Karimi Ghoddousi, the member of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said.

    The parliament will certainly follow up the issue of implementation of Additional Protocol, so that it will not be implemented without the parliament's permission, Ghoddousi quoted Larijani as saying on May 24, Iran's Fars news agency reported.

    The negotiating team should present reports to the parliament about any stage of negotiations and provide the parliament with details in written, according to Larijani.

    The Additional Protocol allows unannounced inspections outside of declared nuclear sites and it is seen as a vital tool at the IAEA's disposal to make sure that a country does not have any hidden nuclear work.

    IAEA Secretary General Yukiya Amano said recently that a prospective agreement between Iran and the group P5 1 (the US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) would allow the IAEA the right to ask for inspection of Iran's military sites.

    Meanwhile, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran will not allow any inspections by foreigners of its military sites.

    Iran and the six major powers are holding negotiations to reach a comprehensive deal on Tehran's nuclear program by June 30.

    The deal is expected to limit Iran's nuclear activities, and in return remove economic sanctions on the country.

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  • President Ilham Aliyev received a delegation led by FAO Director-General
    24.05.2015 17:11
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 24


    President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Jose Graziano da Silva.

    The head of state recalled with satisfaction his last meeting with FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva in Rome, expressing confidence that his visit to Azerbaijan and meetings he will hold in the country will be fruitful and successful. Saying that Azerbaijan-FAO cooperation is actively developing, President Ilham Aliyev said there are big plans related to the expansion of partnership.

    FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said 128 countries undertook to halve poverty under Millennium Development Goals, adding only 18 of them managed to do this. He noted that these countries then undertook to reduce poverty below 5 percent, saying Azerbaijan is one of the 29 countries that coped with this task. He said that Azerbaijan will be awarded with a special medal of FAO at the organization`s conference this June. Jose Graziano da Silva said that Azerbaijan`s accomplishments in this field will be a good example for regional countries.

    The parties discussed prospects for cooperation between Azerbaijan and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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  • Iran says suffering technological gap in cyber defense
    24.05.2015 16:32
    Tehran, Iran, May 24

    By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:

    Commander of Iran's Passive Defense Organization Qolamreza Jalali said the country suffers a technological gap in cyber defense.

    He also noted that while countries such as the US and UK count cyber attacks as military threats, the Iranian defense and foreign ministries have refrained from recognizing a recent cyber attack on Iran's Natanz nuclear facilities as a threat.

    He went on to say that Iran has entered the cyber war since some factories in the country run fully on cyber tools, opening the way for "enemies" to infiltrate the factories' infrastructure.

    Jalali urged a domestic industrial movement for boosting Iran's cyber defense parameters.

    Iran held cyber defense exercises last October in five provinces to test governmental organizations' resistance against cyber threats.

    For the first time, Iran held security operations center (SOC) drill in the Telecommunication Infrastructure Company of the Communications and Information Technology Ministry.

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  • Iranian commander urges to strengthen ground forces to counter new threats
    24.05.2015 15:24
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 24

    By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

    The Iranian Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan has urged the parliament to further strengthen the ground forces of army and the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) to confront new threats.

    He asked the MPs to pay special attention to the issue, addressing an open session of the parliament on May 24.

    Ground battles are most decisive in today's wars, Pourdastan said, adding the army needs to buy new tanks, renew its various systems and overhaul its helicopters.

    "Now we are facing a new kind of threats in the region and terrorist groups are close to the Islamic Republic borders," he said, Iran's Fars news agency reported.

    He further said that last year the IS (Islamic State) group intended to enter Iran, adding, they had forecasted caches of ammunition and troops in Iran's border provinces and were ready to launch terrorist operations, explosions and riots after entering Iran's territory.

    However Iran's intelligence forces neutralized their plans, Pourdastan said.

    The Islamic Republic army organized five combat brigades in less than three days to confront the group, the commander stated.

    "We sent our troops and reconnaissance helicopters 40 kilometers within Iraq and Iran registered artillery fire at that time," Pourdastan said.

    Currently the IS group is active in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well, he added.

    Recently Iranian officials have accused the US of having the plans to bring the regional insecurity to Iran's borders.

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni said May 20 that the Islamic Republic enemies are trying to bring the proxy war to Iranian borders.

    "We have received some information that our enemies are working with some Persian Gulf governments to bring the proxy war to Iranian borders," Ayatollah Khameni said.

    The Islamic Republic will respond decisively to any "mischief," he added.

    In similar statements Mohsen Rezaee, secretary of Iran's Expediency Council said the US and Israel have plans in which they seek to bring the insecurity to the Islamic Republic borders.

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  • Baku-2015: Unique Lahij village in Caucasus mountains
    24.05.2015 15:12
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 24

    By Elchin Huseynov - Trend:

    Lahij mountain village is situated in Ismayilli district of Azerbaijan. It was founded in the fourth century. It is a historical and architectural reserve, located at an altitude of 800 meters above the sea level.

    The journey begins with Shamakhi district. You are moving along the south-western slopes of the Caucasus mountains and passing by Agsu district. Before reaching the center of Ismayilli district, there is the Sarhad point ("Border"). Here the journey directly to Lahij begins. It will take 40-50 minutes to reach the village via the mountain bends at the speed of 30-40 km / h.

    A serpentine road is so complex that many people get to the village by jeeps. If a driver of the car thinks about the complexity of the mountain road, his companions certainly admire beautiful mountain view.

    While entering the center of Lahij, first, you will see a nice square and the main street. Local craftsmen restored them well by making attractive for tourists. The architecture of the village is also interesting. The houses have been built from the river stones. There are wooden beams between the bricks. This serves as the ligament and the shock absorber during an earthquake. The rural roads have been paved with stone slabs. It is noteworthy that the sewerage and water systems were created while laying the village. These systems are used up till now. The pipes are made of hardened clay.

    Lahij is famous for its artisans and craftsmen. The carpet weaving and production of copper cookware are developed here. In local souvenir shops one can buy the items of local craftsmen, souvenirs made by using ancient methods. They are handed down from generation to generation. There is a local historical museum in Lahij where one can see the ancient way of life and history of the village. There are several cheap hotels and guest houses in the village.

    Lahij people live in this mountain village. According to some reports, there are about 2,000 Lahij residents. They speak their own language. The language originates from the Persian language. But many people here speak Azerbaijani, Russian and other languages.

    The guests, who will arrive in Baku to attend the European Games, can visit this wonderful district too. The distance from the capital of Azerbaijan to the village of Lahij is 184 kilometers. The journey takes about three hours.

    Baku 2015 is the first ever European Games, an exciting and innovative multi-sport event for the continent which will take place on June 12-28, 2015.

    There will be a total of 20 sports at Baku 2015: 16 Olympic sports and four non-Olympic sports. More than 6,000 athletes from across Europe will be representing their nations over 17 days of competition.

    Baku was awarded the games by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) in December 2012.

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  • Greece will not make June IMF repayment
    24.05.2015 14:44
    Greece will not make a debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund due next month as it does not have the money, the country's interior minister said on Sunday, Reuters reported.

    "The four installments for the IMF in June are 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion), this money will not be given and is not there to be given," Nikos Voutsis told Greek Mega TV's weekend show.

    Shut out of bond markets and with bailout aid locked, Athens has been scraping state coffers to meet debt obligations and to pay wages and pensions.

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  • Kazakhstan intends to connect Europe and Asia
    24.05.2015 14:06
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 24

    By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:

    A number of important and interesting proposals and initiatives were made at the eighth Astana Economic Forum. One of such initiatives was President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev's proposal to create a high-speed multi-modal transport route linking Asian and European countries.

    In fact, this idea is not new for Kazakhstan. At the highest level the country's officials have repeatedly stressed their intention to develop the transit potential. This issue is one of the most important for the development of Kazakhstan's economy. Kazakhstan has no sea route.

    Without developing the transport routes, the country will be blocked in the center of the Eurasian continent in the future. At the same time, given its position at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the necessary infrastructure, Kazakhstan can attract huge flows of goods transported from China to Europe, and open the opportunities for expanding the trade between North and South.

    Today, the goods from China are transported to Europe through Russia by air, which is an expensive way, or by sea, which is a long way, bypassing the entire Eurasian continent. If a new transit route appears - the route from China to Europe via Central Asia and the Caucasus, it will be much more profitable for producers. This route will be almost three times shorter than the sea route. Consequently, goods can be delivered much faster and cheaper.

    At the same time, cargo transportation will bring enormous benefits to the economy of the transit countries. At present, the trade volumes between China and the EU account for nearly $ 600 billion. By 2020, according to the forecasts, this figure will rise to $800 billion. If the Central Asian countries and the Caucasus are able to attract even a small percentage of these goods, they can eventually get significant and stable income.

    Only infrastructure is required to implement these plans. And it is partially ready. Thus, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is almost ready in the area stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. It is planned to be commissioned until the end of 2015.

    A new large international Alat port is being constructed in the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan. The port of Aktau is being expanded. A new ferry complex Kuryk is being constructed in Kazakhstan.

    The large rail networks are being actively built in the territory of the Central Asian countries. So, the Kazakhstan - Turkmenistan - Iran railway was put into operation in 2014.

    Several railway lines linking China and Kazakhstan have been recently built. This makes the transportation of goods between the two countries faster and more comfortable.

    Moreover, it was repeatedly stressed about intentions to implement new railway projects in Kazakhstan. So, President Nazarbayev said in early May that the negotiations are underway with China to build a railway from the Kazakh-Chinese border to the sea port of Aktau.

    Thus, in the next few years, the entire infrastructure, necessary for the transportation of large cargo flows via the shortest way, will be ready. This will revive the Silk Road via the same route through which it passed hundreds years ago.

    The transit countries will have to closely cooperate and pass to freer trade. This will really make this route convenient for consumers. Otherwise, importers and exporters will wallow in red tape by obtaining permits in each country. And this will negate the attractiveness of this way.

    Trend commentator Elena Kosolapova

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  • Iran unveils US new demands beyond Lausanne nuclear deal
    24.05.2015 14:04
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 24

    By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

    Iran's Vice Speaker of the parliament, Mohammad Reza Bahonar has unveiled some details on the Islamic Republic officials' call for the US backing away from the commitments of the Lausanne nuclear deal.

    The P5 1, in particular US, backed away regarding some 4-5 certain issues that Iran and the world powers had agreed on, Bahonar said.

    They requested to interview with 29 Iranian nuclear experts, the MP said, adding Islamic Republic will not agree with that.

    Bahonar further said that actually it means interrogation of Iranian experts.

    "The Islamic Republic will not permit international bodies to interview with its nuclear experts," the MP said, Iran's Tasnim news agency reported May 24.

    The counter side has also backed away from the agreed number of centrifuges in Fordo nuclear facility, Bahonar said, adding it was already agreed that some 1000 centrifuges to remain in Fordo site with 350 of them operational, however now the P5 1 seeks to decrease the number below 300-400 centrifuges.

    The official also underlined that Iran does not intend to leave the negotiation table for the time being.

    He added that Iranian negotiators should be prepared for all cases.

    "We should have other options on the table, if the P5 1 withdraw all agreements," he added.

    Bahonar emphasized that the country's all political parties and factions have a consensus over the nuclear talks among Iran and the P5 1.

    "We have no political differences regarding the nuclear issues in the country and the issue of negotiations is not a political one to be divided among the country's political factions," he added.

    Iran and the P5 1 group of countries reached a mutual understanding on Tehran's nuclear program in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2. The parties have agreed to finalize a comprehensive deal on Tehran's nuclear program by the end of June.

    A new round of meetings for drafting a nuclear deal will begin in Vienna on May 26.

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  • Iran determined to free '˜economyв'
    24.05.2015 12:46
    Tehran, Iran, May 24

    By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:

    Iran wants to free its economy by using diplomacy as a tool, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a meeting dedicated to the war veterans in Tehran.

    "We should free from enemies as the new Khorramshahr, the entire economy and science around the world have been occupied unjustly," he said at the ceremony of Iran's marking the liberation of the city from Iraqi forces which took place in 1982.

    Today, your beautiful economic activity has been occupied by the group P5 1 and the United Nations, he asserted, IRNA reported May 24.

    "They are not letting us sell the oil that belongs to people so that people may live. Our land of oil has been occupied by superpowers, we must liberate our oil Khorramshahr," the president said.

    Rouhani was apparently referring to diplomatic moves in his administration to bring a long-lasting dispute over its nuclear program to an end.

    While coming to power, the Rouhani administration started a fresh round of talks with the group P5 1 (the US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) on its nuclear program which has become an alibi for the powers to impose sanctions on the Iranian economy.

    The Rouhani administration says it seeks a win-win situation from the talks where sanctions would be lifted and Iran would limit and clarify its nuclear activities. The sides are to reach a final deal by the end of June.

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  • Iran grants '˜managedв' access to military sites
    24.05.2015 12:45
    Tehran, Iran, May 24

    By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:

    Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said that the country has agreed to grant the International Atomic Energy Agency a "managed" access to its military sites.

    However, no response has yet been given on granting the IAEA access to Iranian nuclear scientists, MP Javad Karimi Qodusi quoted Araqchi during a closed parliament session, Fars news agency reported May 24.

    Araqchi said during the session that the group P5 1 (the US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) has given Iran a list of Iranian nuclear scientists which they demanded to have interviews with.

    An access to military sites and nuclear scientists are within the PMD (possible military dimensions) framework, which the Western powers claim Iran must have had in its nuclear program, thus demanding Iran to grant access to its military sites as a trust-building move.

    The MP further said that during the Lausanne talks which ended April 2, the Iranian nuclear negotiators accepted nuclear inspections beyond the Additional Protocol to the NPT, something that the US keeps stressing.

    Commenting on how economic sanctions will be removed through a nuclear deal, Araqchi had said that the case is being discussed whereby the 5 1 will "remove the sanction foundation" with a document and announce that if Iran keeps its obligations, the sanctions will be removed.

    Iran and the powers are in talks to reach a final deal by the end of June.

    Iranian leaders had previously said they would not accept anything but nuclear issues during the nuclear talks, stressing that the military sites were Iran's red lines.

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  • P5 1 obligated to recognize Iranв's uranium enrichment right
    24.05.2015 12:09 1_171013.jpg 1_171013.jpg
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 24

    By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

    Recognizing of Iran's uranium enrichment right and lifting of sanctions are among the obligations of the P5 1 towards the Islamic Republic, Kamaladdin Pirmoazen, Iranian MP, quoted the Islamic Republic's top nuclear negotiators as saying.

    Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif and Deputy FM Abbas Araqchi made the remarks during a closed-door session of the parliament on May 24, Pirmoazen said.

    Accepting of Iran's right for maintaining the Arak heavy water reactor, as well as Fordow nuclear site with 1,444 centrifuges, which has a strategic value are also among the counter side's commitments, the top diplomats said, according to Pirmoazen.

    The P5 1 have also accepted the simultaneous removal of all sanctions against Iran, the MP said, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported.

    On the other hand, Iran has undertaken not to seek manufacturing a nuclear bomb, Pirmoazen quoted the foreign ministry's senior officials as saying.

    The Iranian parliament held a closed-door session May 24 morning to hear Zarif-Araqchi talk about Iran's nuclear negotiations with the P5 1 (the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany).

    The two foreign ministry officials outlined the latest developments regarding nuclear negotiations in the session.

    Iran and the P5 1 group of countries reached a mutual understanding on Tehran's nuclear program in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2. The parties have agreed to finalize a comprehensive deal on Tehran's nuclear program by the end of June.

    A new round of meetings for drafting a nuclear deal will begin in Vienna on May 26.

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  • Iran may hold oil talks with Saudi Arabia
    24.05.2015 12:08
    Tehran, Iran, May 24

    By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:

    Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said he may hold talks with his Saudi counterpart Ali Al-Naimi during the upcoming Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting.

    Iran does not hold a grudge against any country, Zanganeh said, Mehr news agency reported May 24.

    The Iranian oil minister's remarks come while political situations are tough between the two Middle East powers following the recent changes in Yemen.

    Saudi Arabia accuses Tehran of having helped the Yemeni Houthi group topple the country's former government and taking control over the country. Iran denies the involvement.

    Zanganeh further said that both Iran and Saudi Arabia would like the OPEC oil production to rise, seeing it as a common ground between the two countries.

    OPEC oil basket price was about $108/barrel in the first half of 2014, but currently the figure is a little more than $62.

    Iran's oil export during the pre-sanctions time was about 2.5 million barrels per day (mb/a), but the figure currently stands at around 1.1 mb/d. The country seeks to boost production once sanctions on its economy are removed, something expected to come true through an end-June political deal with the group 5 1 (the US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany).

    OPEC increased a production level for the second consecutive month in April to above 31 mb/d.

    Zanganeh refrained from commenting whether OPEC may reduce its oil production following a session to be held in a couple of weeks, stating that doing so would require a general consent by member-states.

    Currently, OPEC has 12 member countries: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

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  • Iran's supreme leader pardons 102 military prisoners
    24.05.2015 12:05
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 24

    By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

    Iran's Supreme Leader has declared an amnesty in connection with the anniversary of the liberation of Khorramshahr city during the Iran-Iraq war.

    The head of Iran's judiciary Sadiq Amoli Larijani on the occasion of the liberation of Khorramshahr appealed to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with a letter.

    In this letter, he asked for pardon and reducing the term of sentences of 102 military convicts, the supreme leader's official website reported May 24.

    The supreme leader in turn, signed a relevant decree. Iran's Constitution grants him the right to pardon or reduce the term of sentences of convicts upon the recommendation of the judiciary chief.

    Amnesties and reduced prison terms are granted mainly on occasions marking religious and national festivals in Iran.

    Iran annually celebrates May 24 as the anniversary of the recapture of the Khorramshahr port city from the Iraqis in 1982 during the Iran-Iraq War. The Iraqis had captured the city early in the war on October 26, 1980.

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  • UN foresees Iran inflation rate to hit 14%
    24.05.2015 10:45
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 22

    By Fatih Karimov - Trend: The United Nations has predicted that Iran's inflation rate will hit 14 percent in the current year.

    In its latest report, the UN also predicted that the inflation rate would reduce to 12 percent next year. It has also predicted a GDP growth rate of 2.5 percent for the current year and 2.8 percent for the next year, Iran's Fars news agency reported May 22.

    Iran's situation is just better than Venezuela among developing nations.

    The report predicts a positive prospect for OPEC member states to reach stability in the supply of crude oil. Based on the report, Iran's oil export will be more than one million barrels per day in 2015, if the country reaches an agreement with the UN Security Council in the nuclear talks.

    The inflation rate in Iran hit 15.5 percent in the first fiscal month of Farvardin (ended on April 20), according to the Central Bank of Iran.

    Iranian First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri said March 20 that President Hassan Rouhani's administration managed to lower Iran's economic inflation from 40 percent when it came to office to 16 percent at the end of the previous Iranian fiscal year (March 20).

    According to an early April report by the IMF, Iran's economy contracted by 6.6 and 1.9 percent in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Last year it hit 3 percent and for the current year it is expected to reach 0.6 percent. For the next year, Iran's economic growth is expected to reach 1.3 percent.

    Rouhani has promised to decrease the inflation rate to 5 percent in the Iranian fiscal year of 1395 (to end on March 20, 2017).

    Edited by CN

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  • Iranian administration recommends businessmen to start trade with US
    24.05.2015 10:05
    Baku, Azerbaijan, May 23

    By Fatih Karimov - Trend: The Iranian administration has recommended the country's businessmen to start trade with the U.S., said Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture Chairman Gholamhossein Shafei.

    Unofficial links will pave the way for launching the Iran-U.S. joint chamber of commerce, Iran's Mehr news agency quoted Shafei as saying on May 23.

    The establishment of the Iran-U.S. joint chamber of commerce was proposed ten months ago, he said, adding that the administration suggested that private sectors of the two sides should boost bilateral relations as the first step.

    The U.S. private sector is eager to do business with Iran, as European countries have been negotiating to re-enter the Iranian market, he said.

    Meanwhile, Iran sees the U.S. as an important market, because Iranian traditional products are welcomed in the U.S., he noted.

    Iran and the P5 1 group of countries are working on a final agreement over the Iranian nuclear program that has a deadline of June 30. A key point of the agreement will be the removal of a series of economic sanctions on Iran.

    Several delegations from Europe and Asia have so far visited the country to study the potentials for investing in the country's market and more are expected in capital Tehran in the near future.

    In April, a delegation of U.S. entrepreneurs, investors and consultants traveled to Iran to explore the post-sanctions Iran business potentials.

    The Iran-U.S. trade totaled $154.312 million in the past Iranian fiscal year, which ended on March 20, according to the Iran Customs Administration.

    Iran imported $154.117 million worth of products from the U.S. and exported $195,616 worth of goods to the U.S. in the past fiscal year

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  • Burundi's opposition leader shot dead
    24.05.2015 05:34
    The leader of a Burundi opposition party was killed Saturday night as he was heading home in the Burundian capital of Bujumbura, Xinhua reported.

    The witnesses said Zedi Feruzi, chairman of the Burundian Union for Peace and Development (UPD-Zigamibanga), was shot by unidentified people when he was walking home in Bujumbura's Ngagara district, adding that one of his guards was also shot dead and another seriously injured.

    The killers ran away after the shooting, the witnesses said.

    The crime came days after opposition protests against the third term bid of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza in the June 26 presidential election.

    UPD-Zigamibanga chairman Zedi Feruzi was among the organizers of protests against Nkurunziza's third term bid that staged protests since April 26.

    The UPD is a member of the Democrats' Alliance for Change (ADC- Ikibiri) opposition coalition. Organizers of protests include the opposition and the civil society.

    Burundi is to hold elections this year. Main polls including legislative and local government elections are due on June 5 while the presidential election is due on June 26.

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  • Commander of ''Ghost'' brigade (LPR Army) Aleksey Mozgovoy was assassinated
    24.05.2015 04:27
    Baku-APA. According to reports from different sources commander of ''Ghost'' brigade (LPR Army) Aleksey Mozgovoy was assassinated an hour ago, APA reports quoting NOVOROSSIA TODAY.

    He was murdered on the same spot, where the earlier attempt at his life took place: in between locality Mikhailovka and Alchevsk, on the highway Lugansk-Alchevsk.

    According to preliminary reports the jeep, in which Mozgovoy rode, was fired at from firearms, including a machine-gun. The head and the body of the commander were severely injured. Also three civilians died in the accident. An unknown covert group is responsible for this assassination. Unfortunately, the assaulters managed to escape.

    The details are being specified. The information was confirmed by several troopers of "Ghost" brigade.

    As a source in the General Staff of the LPR told our agency, "This was cynical murder. I have nothing to add right now".
  • Egypt Brotherhood figure highlights 'nonviolent nature'
    24.05.2015 04:19
    A Muslim Brotherhood spokesman on Saturday highlighted what he called the "peaceful" and "nonviolent" nature of his movement, noting that the Brotherhood would not change this course in the future, Anadolu reported.

    "Peacefulness and non-violence are part of our principles, things that we will never deviate from or abandon," Mahmoud Ghozlan said.

    This is the first time for Ghozlan to speak in 22 months. He disappeared soon after the ouster by the Egyptian army of elected President Mohamed Morsi in July of 2013 following mass protests against him.

    "Non-violence is the more difficult choice, but it is the right one, and it is one reason why my group lived for nearly 90 years," Ghozlan said, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in 1928.

    Two days ago, Abdel-Rahman al-Bar - known as the mufti or top religious authority of the Muslim Brotherhood - said nonviolence was a principle deeply-rooted in the thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic religion in general.

    Egyptian authorities have launched a massive crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood - the movement from which Morsi hails - and its supporters since Morsi's ouster.

    The group was designated as a "terrorist organization" by Egyptian authorities in late 2013.

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  • Iran, Bashkortostan Republic keen to broaden all-out ties
    24.05.2015 02:46
    Sanayee and Hamidov explored the avenues for for bolstering of mutual cooperation in economic, trade, scientific and industrial areas between the two countries, Irna reported.

    The Bashkortostan president reiterated that the two countries have bright perspective of bilateral ties.

    Hamidov called for the broadening of economic cooperation between Bashkortostan and Iran.

    'The value of trade transactions between Bashkortostan and the Islamic Republic of Iran exceeded $100 billion until few years ago, but this figure has considerably declined at the present and it hits about $300 million; hence this situation should be improve, because we believe that the tow countries have sufficient capacities for it,' he added.

    Sanayee, for his part, referred to powsitive trend of Iran-Russia cooperation, including the cooperation between the regions of the twol countries, and propose devising a comprehensive plan for expansion of Iran-Bshkortosrtan relations.

    Bashkortostan is a Muslim-populated republic with 4.1 million population and located in an area of 143,600 square kilometers in Russia's Volga region.

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  • Boko Haram militants killed, hostages rescued in Nigeria
    24.05.2015 02:10
    Baku-APA. The Nigerian military says it has managed to kill an unidentified number of Boko Haram militants, rescuing people taken hostage by the Takfiri terrorist group, APA reports quoting Press TV.

    "Scores of the terrorists died in the assault on their bases on Friday," a Nigerian Defense Ministry statement said Saturday of the operation in the Sambisa Forest, a major stronghold of the militants in northeast Nigeria.

    The statement claimed that a total of 20 women and children were rescued in the operation, which it said was carried out "despite continuous encounter with [a] large number of land mines which still litter" the area.

    At least one soldier was killed and 10 others were wounded in the operation, the latest in a string of offensives Nigerian military says it has launched in the forest.

    News agencies and activists on the ground suspect the validity of the accounts provided by the Nigerian Defense Ministry, as they seem to be inconsistent with eye witness accounts.

    According to similar reports over the past few weeks, Nigerian armed forces have managed to free more than 700 hostages from Boko Haram captivity in their offensives into Sambisa, from where it has planned and executed many of its terrorists operations over the years.

    Amnesty International says more than 2,000 women and children have been kidnapped by the Takfiri terrorist group since January 2014, with many of them becoming victims of sexual violence.

    The offensive against the forest, which is being assisted by troops from neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, has reportedly failed to stop attacks by Boko Haram in other areas in north Nigeria.

    Violence has flared up in the northeastern Adamawa State, with concerns that Boko Haram may gradually take control of towns and villages in the relatively calm region and establish new bases there.

    Since 2009, the violence fueled by Boko Haram Takfiris has killed more than 15,000 and uprooted some 1.5 million others from their homes.
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