India, Saudi Arabia sign Riyadh Declaration

Riyadh, March 01: India and Saudi Arabia late Sunday signed Riyadh Declaration to cement ties and to raise bilateral cooperation to a strategic partnership covering security, economic, defence and political areas.

The ‘Riyadh Declaration – A New Era of Strategic Partnership’ was signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz at a ceremony at the Al Rawad Palace here.

Marines, Afghan troops to stay months in Marjah

Marjah, March 01: More than 2,000 U.S. Marines and about 1,000 Afghan troops who stormed the Taliban town of Marjah as part of a major NATO offensive against a resurgent Taliban will stay several months to ensure insurgents don’t return, Marine commanders said Sunday.

Meanwhile, insurgents are striking back by attacking resupply convoys moving in and out of Marjah with roadside bombs, Marines said Sunday. Four convoys have been hit in the last two days, Marines said on condition of anonymity because they were not supposed to release the information. There was no word on casualties.

‘Road, Movie’ about journey of cinema

Mumbai, March 01: After playing a spoilt brat in “Dev D” and a thief in “Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!”, Abhay Deol is back to entertain viewers with his next “Road, Movie”, which releases Friday. But this time he plays a “sheltered young man who wants to see the world” and finds salvation by screening cinema across a desert.

Produced by Ross Katz and Susan B. Landau for Rs.80 million ($1.8 mn), the 95-minute film has been directed by Dev Benegal. It also stars Tannishtha Chatterjee, Satish Kaushik and debutant Mohammed Faizal Usmani apart from Abhay.

Prez, Vice-Prez greet nation on occasion of Holi

New Delhi, March 01: President Pratibha Patil and Vice President M Hamid Ansari have greeted the people on the occasion of Holi and expressed hope that the festival will strengthen the fraternal bonds.

“On the auspicious occasion of Holi, I extend my greetings and good wishes to all fellow citizens. Holi is festival of joy, hope and fulfilment in our life. May this festival strengthen fraternal bonds amongst our people and bring peace and prosperity to our nation,” Patil said.

70,000 evacuated as tsunami reaches Japan

Tokyo, March 01: More than 70,000 people fled vulnerable coastal areas of Japan on Sunday as a tsunami churned up by the huge earthquake in Chile slammed into the country’s long Pacific coastline.

“Please do not approach the coast at any cost,” Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said in nationally televised comments as Japan, one of the world’s most quake-prone nations, went on its first major tsunami alert in 15 years.

The first tsunami wave, 30 centimetres high, hit Nemuro on the northern island of Hokkaido in the early afternoon, the Meteorological Agency said.

PM sees Saudi Arabia as strategic partner for promoting peace

New Delhi, March 01: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India sees Saudi Arabia as a strategic partner for promoting peace, stability and economic development.

Addressing the influential Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Dr Singh invited entrepreneurs from the oil-rich Kingdom to explore investment opportunities in India in construction, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, health, agriculture, energy, telecommunications, tourism and other sectors.

Chile quake death toll hits 708 as rescue ramps up

Chile, March 01: Heroism and banditry mingled on Chile’s shattered streets Sunday as rescuers braved aftershocks digging for survivors and the government sent soldiers and ordered a nighttime curfew to quell looting. The death toll climbed to 708 in one of the biggest earthquakes in centuries.

In the hard-hit city of Concepcion, firefighters pulling survivors from a toppled apartment block were forced to pause because of tear gas fired to stop looters, who were wheeling off everything from microwave ovens to canned milk at a damaged supermarket across the street.

Ahmadinejad: Israel has lost its ‘raison d’etre’

Tehran, February 28: Israel has lost its “raison d’etre” and its presence in the region causes instability, Iranian media quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying Sunday at a conference attended by top Palestinian militant leaders.

“With God’s grace and thanks to the Palestinian resistance the occupying Zionist regime has lost its raison d’être,” Ahmadinejad said at a Tehran conference in support of the Palestinians.

“Their presence (Israel’s) even in one inch of the region’s soil causes threat, crisis and war,” the state-run television’s website quoted him as saying.

Clashes erupt at Al-Aqsa mosque

Jerusalem, February 28: Fourteen people including two Israeli policemen were wounded in clashes at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday, after police entered to arrest Palestinians who had hurled rocks at visitors they believed were Jewish extremists.

Dozens of Palestinians pelted stones at Israeli police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, Palestinian sources said.

Islamist militia ‘bans’ WFP work in Somalia

Mogadishu, February 28: The hardline Islamist Shebab militia announced Sunday that it had “banned” World Food Programme operations in Somalia, one of the countries in Africa most affected by famine.

The Shebab movement, which controls most of central and southern Somalia, charged that aid distributed by the UN agency had disadvantaged local farmers and accused it of political motivation.

Proof against barred Iraq candidates to be released

Baghdad, February 28: Evidence that led to candidates being barred from Iraq’s March 7 election for suspected links to Saddam Hussein will be released in the coming days, the head of the committee that disqualified them said on Saturday.

Ali al-Lami said the evidence was being organised by the Justice and Accountability Committee (JAC) so that it could be presented to the media before the parliamentary election takes place next Sunday.

Platform of Knowledge: Muscat International Book Fair expands

Muscat, February 28: Book fairs are hot events these days in the Gulf region. For all book lovers, the 15th edition of the Muscat International Book Fair was opened on 23rd of February under the auspices of the Minister of Heritage and Culture Sayyid Haitham Ibn Tariq Al Said, a senior member of the Omani royal family who was accompanied by other prominent ministers and a high-ranking officials.

Hamad Al- Rashdi, the Minister of Information, and Abdul Aziz Al Rowas, the Sultan’s Advisor for Cultural Affairs were also present in another sign of the weight given to the book fair.

Rs.80 lakh theft in Hema Malini’s home

Mumbai, February 28: Cash and gold jewellery worth nearly Rs.80 lakh (Rs.8 million) were stolen from film actor Hema Malini’s house here, police said Sunday.

The actor came to know about the theft Sunday. The house in northwest Mumbai was burgled Saturday, an official of Dindoshi police station said.

Police said a security guard and a domestic help have been detained for questioning.

—Agencies

We played with brain and not emotions

New Delhi, February 28: India coach Jose Brasa hailed his men for “playing with the brain and not emotions” in the 4-1 outplaying of Pakistan in their thrilling hockey World Cup opening match here but advised them not to get carried away by today’s result.

“It was great we won 4-1. The boys played really well and they deserved to win. They played with brain and not with emotions,” said Brasa, who had before the match advised his players to cut off emotions against Pakistan.