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Newsline: 7.0 earthquake hits Haiti; embassy buildings collapse

A powerful earthquake struck Haiti’s capital on Tuesday with withering force, toppling everything from simple shacks to the ornate National Palace and the headquarters of United Nations peacekeepers. The dead and injured lay in the streets even as strong aftershocks rippled through the impoverished Caribbean country. The National Palace crumbled into itself, but President Rene Preval and his wife survived the earthquake. UN peacekeepers, most of whom are from Brazil, were trying to rescue survivors from their collapsed five-story headquarters, but UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said late Tuesday that “as we speak no one has been rescued.” Many UN personnel were missing, said Le Roy, including mission chief Hedi Annabi, who was in the building when the quake struck. Some 9,000 peacekeepers have been in Haiti since a 2004 rebellion ousted the president. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said its embassy was destroyed and the ambassador hospitalized for undisclosed injuries. The Canadian Embassy in Port-au-prince has been evacuated as a precautionary measure. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in Washington that U.S. Embassy personnel were “literally in the dark” after power failed.


Newsline: Saudi embassy in Stockholm comes under attack

Unknown assailants have attacked the Saudi Arabian embassy in Sweden by throwing a Molotov cocktail at a window that overlooks the street. The incident caused no injuries among the Embassy staff. The building itself did not suffer any damage, except for the broken window. Work has not stopped at the Embassy and its doors are still open to the public. Immediately after the incident, the Embassy staff contacted Swedish authorities, asking for a full inquiry.


Newsline: Libya Summons US Ambassador, Protests Inclusion on Air Security Watch List

Libya has strongly protested against the US decision to include the country on the list of 14 countries whose nationals would undergo a systematic check before boarding a plane to the US. The Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation (GPCFLIC), Moussa Koussa summoned the US ambassador in Tripoli Gene Cretz to strongly protest against the American decision. In response, the US ambassador explained that Libya had nothing to do with the decision and its inclusion on the list does in no way mean that the US government re-enlisted Libya among countries sponsoring terrorism. “Not all countries on the list are sponsors of terrorism and that the US government believes that extremist movements used to exist in these countries and now are being monitored as not to enter the US,” Cretz said. The US list includes passengers traveling from or through nations listed as “state sponsors of terrorism” — Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria — as well as Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.


Newsline: Visa delays prompt Miliband to visit Pakistan

At a time when the anger among the visa seekers for UK is growing, British Foreign Minister Miliband has arrived in Pakistan on two days visit to defuse a raging row between Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry and the United Kingdom over a range of immigration-related issues including unexplained delay in issuance of visas being the most contentious of all. Officials of British High Commission Islamabad have strongly denied this impression saying Miliband has come here to hear from Pakistan’s leaders about the political, economic and security challenges it faces and how it’s going to resolve them. But Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani made it clear to Miliband that UK will have to ease visa policy for Pakistanis. It is pertinent to note here that UK visa denial to Pakistanis has sparked anger among many especially the spouse visa seekers. According to an estimate that the senior Pakistani officials dealing with the issue, as many as 200,000 passports were lying with the British High Commission in Islamabad, whereas the applicants’ papers were being processed by the officials of the UK Border Agency in Abu Dhabi, which now handles all visa applications from Pakistan. However, the officials of British High Commission denied this report saying there has been no delay in visa processing.


Newsline: US lifts HIV ‘entry ban’

Being infected with HIV will no longer be an “ineligibility” when foreign citizens apply for visas to travel to the US. Foreign citizens would also no longer be required to take an HIV test during medical examinations for visa purposes and HIV positive applicants would no longer require waiver processing by the US department of homeland security. The change took effect on January 4 following a US ruling in November removing HIV infection from the definition of communicable disease of public health significance.


Newline: US Embassy – Bali Governor Warns Of Possible Attack

The U.S. Embassy is warning of a possible terrorist attack on Indonesia’s Bali island on New Year’s Eve. The embassy sent e-mails to U.S. citizens Thursday quoting Bali’s governor as saying “There is an indication of an attack to Bali tonight.” The warning comes six months after twin suicide blasts killed seven people at luxury hotels in the capital, Jakarta. The resort island of Bali has been hit hard by Islamic militants, with more than 220 people killed in suicide bombings in 2002 and 2005 targeting Westerners.


Newsline: UK embassy an al-Qaeda target

The British embassy in Sanaa was the target of an al-Qaeda suicide plot foiled by Yemeni authorities last week. An al-Qaeda cell dismantled in Arhab, 35km north of the capital, last week was aimed at infiltrating and blowing up targets, including the British embassy, foreign interests and government buildings. The attack on the British embassy was to be modelled on the operation that was carried out against the American embassy in 2008, which killed 16 people.