North Atlantic Treaty Organization


Experts see big holes in cluster bomb ban

Luke Baker

An agreement banning cluster bombs has cheered human rights campaigners, but powerful military states are refusing to join it and experts say the treaty is riddled with holes and could prove unworkable. The agreement commits 111 countries to banning the use of cluster munitions.

Bush, Putin face tough tasks in farewell summit

Matt Spetalnick, Oleg Shchedrov

United States President George Bush and Russia's Vladimir Putin will have one last chance on Sunday to try to mend frayed relations face-to-face but with little hope of resolving the biggest dispute that divides them. In a farewell summit the two leaders -- both in the twilight of their terms -- will use their personal chemistry to try to bridge differences.

Australian troops 'scorned' for low-risk missions

Lawrence Bartlett

Australian soldiers are ashamed of their low-risk missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and are scorned by troops of other nations, two officers charged in comments published on Tuesday. "The restrictions and policies enforced on infantrymen in Iraq have resulted in the widespread perception that our army is plagued by institutional cowardice," Major Jim Hammett said.

UN: Russia shot down Georgian spy plane

Margarita Antidze

The United Nations said on Monday that a Russian air force plane shot down an unmanned Georgian spy drone over Abkhazia last month, strengthening Tbilisi's claims that Moscow is aiding the rebel territory.The UN report was the weightiest independent endorsement to date of Tbilisi's allegation that a Russian jet downed its spy plane on April 20.

Saakashvili leads vote, opposition cries foul

Margarita Antidze, Niko Mchedlishvili

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili declared victory on Thursday in a parliamentary election that the opposition said was rigged in his favour and vowed to challenge by calling street protests. Saakashvili said Wednesday's vote was fair, but the rigging allegations and the threat of protests will test his claim to lead the most democratic state in the region.

Big guns roll through Red Square once more

Staff Reporter

Seventeen years have gone by since T-90 tanks last rolled across the historic cobbles of Moscow's Red Square. But on Friday they were back -- with an unmistakable diesel-fumed roar -- and trundling past Lenin's tomb and the fantastic domes of St Basil's Cathedral. Led by a rather tubby general holding a sword, Russia held its annual Victory Day parade.

Georgia says it's 'very close' to war with Russia

Mark John

Russia's deployment of extra troops in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia has brought the prospect of war "very close", a minister of ex-Soviet Georgia said on Tuesday. Separately, the "foreign minister" of the breakaway Black Sea region was quoted as saying it was ready to hand over military control to Russia.

Russia shows off upgraded nuclear bomber

Dmitry Solovyov

Russia showed off on Tuesday the first modernised Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber, which a senior air force official said would help Moscow match the nuclear capability of a potential enemy. Russian television showed the giant, white-painted airplane releasing parachutes to slow down the speed as it landed at Engels airbase in the Volga region of Saratov.

Blast kills 15 Afghans in east of country

Jon Hemming

A suspected suicide bomber killed 15 Afghans and wounded 14 more in eastern Afghanistan, close to the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, a Nato spokesperson said. The Taliban have vowed to step up suicide attacks this year to undermine the faith of Afghans in the ability of their government to provide security.

Hi-tech battle in Georgia skies heralds wider danger

Staff Reporter

The alleged downing by a Russian MiG-29 of a Georgian reconnaissance drone could be a foretaste of battles to come as Georgia seeks Nato membership and protection from the West, analysts say. The dramatic confrontation in the skies over Abkhazia pitted one of the most modern Russian fighter planes against the unmanned aircraft.

Russia army vows steps if Georgia, Ukraine join Nato

Staff Reporter

Russia will take military and other steps along its borders if ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia join Nato, Russian news agencies quoted the armed forces' chief of staff as saying on Friday. "Russia will take steps aimed at ensuring its interests along its borders," the agencies quoted General Yuri Baluyevsky as saying.

Bush fails to sell missile-defence plans

Luke Harding

United States President George Bush's attempts to patch up the US's battered relationship with Russia failed on Sunday when Vladimir Putin said he continued to oppose the US's European missile defence plans. Bush and Putin held talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. It was their last encounter before Putin steps down as president.

Four killed by bomb at Danish mission in Pakistan

Staff Reporter

A bomb went off outside the Danish embassy in the Pakistani capital on Monday killing at least four people and wounding several, officials said. The blast destroyed the embassy gate and damaged the building and vehicles in the compound in the up-market district of Islamabad.

US mulls thousands more troops for Afghan war

Staff Reporter

The Pentagon is considering sending up to 7 000 more United States troops to Afghanistan next year to make up for a shortfall in contributions from Nato allies, the New York Times reported on Saturday. The paper said the push could drive US forces in Afghanistan to about 40 000.

Canadian minister quits over security lapse

Staff Reporter

The Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier, dubbed "Bumbling Bernier" by his critics, resigned on Tuesday after admitting that he left sensitive government documents at the home of his former girlfriend. Bernier (45) has come under criticism in recent weeks after it emerged that the woman concerned, Julie Couillard, had been involved in relationships with men linked to the Hells Angels.

Running mate sought as Obama shifts gear

Staff Reporter

Democratic party officials disclosed on Thursday that Barack Obama has sanctioned a hunt for a vice-presidential candidate, a further sign that he regards the battle with Hillary Clinton as being over. Time magazine, in a report in its next issue, quotes a friend of Bill Clinton saying he wants his wife to be the vice-presidential candidate.

A neocon by any other name

Peter Beaumont

Robert Kagan, author, essayist, former diplomat, pre-eminent thinker of what is called "neoconservatism" -- and now foreign policy adviser to Republican presidential nominee John McCain -- would like it to be known that there are many things that he is not.

Rethink for Clinton after top strategist resigns

Staff Reporter

Hillary Clinton's faltering presidential campaign will undergo a "mini-makeover" that will emphasise her more caring side following the departure of its main strategist, Mark Penn. Penn's exit, announced on Sunday, follows clashes over his outside work for other clients as well as screaming matches with senior campaign staff and withering criticism of his strategy.

Terror fears: Denmark evacuates embassies

Jan M Olsen

Denmark has evacuated staff from its embassies in Algeria and Afghanistan because of terror threats following the reprint in Danish newspapers of a caricature depicting the Prophet Muhammad, officials said on Wednesday. The threat "is so concrete that we had to take this decision", a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

Kosovan army 'harvested organs from Serb prisoners'

Ian Traynor

Carla del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor for war crimes in former Yugoslavia, has unleashed a storm of recrimination with allegations of a trade in human body parts in Kosovo and Albania after Nato bombed Serbia in 1999. Del Ponte's claims are based on what she describes as credible reports and witnesses.

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