Rabu, 6 November 2013

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The Star Online: World Updates

Home where Oswald slept night before Kennedy assassination now museum


DALLAS (Reuters) - The suburban Dallas home where Lee Harvey Oswald spent the night before he assassinated U.S. President John F. Kennedy opened as a museum on Wednesday ahead of the 50th anniversary of the shooting later in November.

Oswald stored the rifle he used to kill Kennedy in the garage at the modest tract house owned by Michael and Ruth Paine in a middle-class neighbourhood of Irving, Texas.

Its notoriety has continued to draw curiosity seekers ever since, so the city of Irving bought the house in 2009 and restored it to its 1963 appearance, down to the single-pane windows typical of that era.

"We're trying to tell the human side of this story," said Kevin Kendro, Irving's archives coordinator. "The story of the assassination is filled with huge characters but here were two housewives doing ordinary things and taking care of their children but got caught up in it."

Oswald's wife, Marina, had met Ruth Paine at a party for Russian immigrants earlier in 1963 and the two became good friends. Marina lived with Paine while Oswald looked for work in New Orleans. Marina joined Oswald that summer in New Orleans, but they moved back to Texas when he lost his job.

Ruth Paine offered Marina a place to stay while awaiting the birth of her second child. Meanwhile, Oswald moved into a rooming house along a bus route to his job at the Texas Book Depository in downtown Dallas.

Oswald typically spent weekends with Marina at the Paine house. But he arrived unexpected on Thursday, November 21, the evening before the assassination.

Ruth Paine, 81, who moved from the home in 1966 and now lives in California, said nothing seemed out of the ordinary that evening or the next morning.

"Lee went to work and we watched the news about the president's visit in Fort Worth," Paine told Reuters. "I went to the dentist with the kids and watched the coverage of the motorcade afterwards."

Paine and Marina learned of the assassination from television news coverage.

"We had no clue that Lee was involved until the police showed up that afternoon," she said.

Paine also said she didn't know that Oswald's rifle was in the garage until she translated the officer's question for Marina, who pointed to a blanket where he concealed it. The gun was missing, she said.

The museum interprets the discovery and other details of the women's lives through re-enactments projected on glass screens.

"They really did an excellent job," Paine said. "At first, I couldn't understand why anyone cared about all this but now I'm convinced they do."

Powers seek "first-step" nuclear deal with Iran in Geneva talks


GENEVA (Reuters) - World powers will seek to hammer out a breakthrough deal with Iran to start resolving a decade-old dispute over its nuclear programme in two-day talks that begin on Thursday, although both sides say an agreement is far from certain.

The United States and its allies say they are encouraged by Tehran's shift to friendlier rhetoric after years of hostility since the June election of President Hassan Rouhani, who has pledged to repair ties with the West and win sanctions relief.

But they stress Iran needs to back its words with action and take concrete steps to scale back its atomic work, which they suspect has covert military aims, a charge Tehran denies.

"What we're looking for is a first phase, a first step, an initial understanding that stops Iran's nuclear programme from moving forward and rolls it back for the first time in decades," a senior U.S. official told reporters on the eve of the talks.

That would help buy time needed for Iran and the six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - to reach a broader diplomatic settlement in a dispute that could otherwise plunge the Middle East into a new war.

The six nations want Iran to suspend its most sensitive uranium enrichment efforts, reduce its stockpile of such material and diminish its capacity to produce it in the future.

In return for any concessions, Iran wants the powers to lift painful economic sanctions that have slashed its daily oil sales revenues by 60 percent in the past two years and devalued its rial currency by more than half.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told French daily Le Monde a deal was "not that far off," although it might not be struck at the talks in Thursday and Friday in Geneva.

"We can conclude (a deal) this week in Geneva, and if that's not the case, it's not a disaster, as long as things are moving forward," he was quoted as saying.


The exact contours of a potential first step in the elusive deal were unclear, but the six nations are unlikely to agree on anything less than a suspension of enrichment of uranium to 20 percent fissile purity, a level that constitutes a major advance on the way to making weapons.

"The nuclear talks are complex and have entered a serious phase," said Michael Mann, spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who oversees the talks with Iran on behalf of the powers. "We have to make concrete progress."

The U.S. official said that Iran at this stage must address key aspects of its nuclear programme, including sufficient international monitoring. Iran's construction of a research reactor near the town of Arak is also a growing concern for the West because it could yield plutonium for bombs.

"We're looking for ways to put additional time on the clock," the administration official added.

A senior aide to a U.S. senator briefed by the White House and State Department said Washington would offer to work with Iran in a six-month confidence-building period. During that time, Washington would offer Tehran relaxed restrictions on Iran's funds held in overseas accounts. The Obama administration could also ease sanctions on trade in gold and petrochemicals.

In exchange, Iran would stop enriching uranium to 20 percent and convert its existing stockpile of 20 percent uranium to an oxide form suitable for processing into reactor fuel and take other measures to slow the programme.

The aide said the concessions being sought would "neither freeze nor set back" Iran's nuclear programme and that the Senate would have to act immediately to impose further sanctions on Iran.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a new sanctions bill in July that seeks to reduce Iran's oil exports to a trickle in a year. The Senate's banking panel had been expected to introduce its version of the bill in September, but the Obama administration has pushed it to delay the new legislation in order to give the Geneva talks a chance.

Another diplomat from the six nations said any agreement reached in Geneva could address some of the international concerns, but not all, leaving other issues to be discussed in future rounds of talks.

"What could be possible is a concrete agreement on a concrete step. But I cannot judge the scope of the step. It is difficult to judge it," the diplomat said.

Western diplomats are hesitant to divulge specifics about the negotiations due to sensitivities involved - both in Tehran, where conservative hardliners are sceptical about striking deals that could curtail the nuclear programme, and in Washington, where hawks oppose a precipitate easing of sanctions.


An Israeli official said on Wednesday that the six powers and Iran were expected to discuss in Geneva a deal that would fall far short of Israeli expectations.

"We have learned in the last few hours that tomorrow at the ... talks in Geneva, a proposal will be examined under which Iran will cease enrichment at 20 percent and they will slow down the activity at the heavy water reactor at Arak, in exchange for which they will get sanctions relief," the official said.

"From Israel's point of view, this is a very bad deal, and we will strongly oppose these proposals."

Widely assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, Israel views Iran as an existential threat and has warned it could launch pre-emptive strikes against Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy fails to stop the programme.

Tehran says it needs nuclear energy for electricity generation and medical purposes.

In a sign of potential progress, a Vienna-based envoy said U.N. nuclear chief Yukiya Amano was likely to travel to Tehran on Monday for a possible agreement with Iran on some "first steps" towards greater transparency, including regarding design information about nuclear facilities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is pursuing separate negotiations with Iran, confirmed on Monday that Amano had been invited and that the issue was "being considered".

Diplomats say he would probably only go if he was confident that a deal would be struck.

(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Will Waterman and Peter Cooney)

Colombia, FARC agree on rebels' future if peace signed


BOGOTA/HAVANA (Reuters) - Colombia's government and Marxist FARC rebels reached a "fundamental agreement" on the guerrillas' future in politics, one of the thorniest issues addressed in peace talks in Cuba, according to a joint statement on Wednesday.

The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been fighting the government in a jungle and urban conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people in the five decades since it began as a peasant movement seeking land reform.

The partial accord may clear the way for FARC to enter Colombian politics, which chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said would provide a "new democratic opening" and cement peace after an end of conflict.

"Never again politics and weapons together," he said.

Like other Latin American guerrilla groups, the FARC aspires to become a political party if a peace deal is signed.

"We are completely satisfied with what we have agreed on the point of political participation," FARC leader Ivan Marquez told Reuters. "We are doing well. In no other peace process have we advanced as much as we have here in Havana. We have taken an important step in the right direction to end the conflict and to achieve a real democracy in Colombia."

President Juan Manuel Santos, criticized heavily by the opposition for negotiating with the rebels, has been eager to show progress after a year of talks that had until now yielded only incomplete agreement on the first of a five-point agenda.

"These are real, positive advances toward a final agreement ... through which we will break once and for all the link between politics and weapons," he said in a televised address.

"Today I am much more convinced that peace is possible," Santos said.

He dismissed the idea of a pause in peace talks before congressional and presidential elections next year, insisting they instead "accelerate" after making new progress.

Wednesday's development will likely lift Santos' popularity and provide momentum should he decide by the November 25 deadline to seek a second presidential term in elections next May. Many believe a second term hinges on progress in the peace talks.

The centre-right Santos has seen his approval ratings slump in the last few months, partly due to the perception that he has offered too many concessions to the rebels in return for little.

Partial accord has been reached on land reform from an agenda that also includes reparation to the FARC's victims, tackling Colombia's drug trade, and an end to fighting.

Santos said Wednesday's agreement foresaw extra transitional political representation in Congress for areas that have suffered the most violence and a special security regime for the exercise of political power, without saying what that entailed.


The slow pace of talks left many believing the latest effort would fail as had previous attempts to end the bloodshed.

Recent photos of FARC leaders smoking cigars and relaxing on a boat in Cuba drew anger from Colombians upset that the rebels have continued to bomb and kill while apparently enjoying their time in Havana.

Such sensitivity comes from experience. The last peace effort ended in shambles and yielded a stronger FARC.

In 1999 former President Andres Pastrana ceded the rebels a safe haven the size of Switzerland to promote talks. But they took advantage of the breathing space to train fighters, build more than 25 airstrips to fly drug shipments, and set up prison camps to hold hostages.

The two sides are unlikely to reveal many details of the agreement, but Colombians will be looking for clues on how much government negotiators have offered the rebels and how they will pay for their crimes.

Many will be unwilling to accept FARC leaders being given seats in congress - as the rebels have demanded - without first receiving jail terms and then passing through the electoral process.

While most Colombians are desperate to see an end to the war, initial euphoria over negotiations has worn off as many doubt talks will soon reach a successful end.

"Even though the agreement is partial, what was announced today is a defeat to those who have sought to darken or end the peace process and constitutes a strong basis to believe we could reach a definitive peace," Ivan Cepeda, a leftist congressman, said.

Opposition leaders like former President Alvaro Uribe are furious that the FARC has tried to dictate government policy while it continues to bomb economic infrastructure and kill civilians and military personnel.

(Reporting by Helen Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota, Marc Frank, Nelson Acosta and Rosa Tania Valdes in Havana. Additional reporting by Peter Murphy; Editing by Vicki Allen, Jackie Frank and Bill Trott)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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