Uzbekistan: Back to the USSR?

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This Picture Really Is Worth A Thousand Words–Putin-vs-Obama In Mexico

Decoding US-Russian body language in Mexico

BEN FELLER, AP White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in a bilateral meeting during the G20 Summit, Monday, June 18, 2012, in Los Cabos, Mexico. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

 

LOS CABOS, Mexico (AP) — It’s hard to tell if President Barack Obama got a sense of Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s soul. In front of reporters, they hardly looked at each other.

In their first meeting since 2009, Obama and Putin shared little eye contact and did not appear to express much personal warmth following a two-hour meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit. Putin made brief remarks and then looked down at the table as Obama spoke to reporters, aided by a translator.

The gathering had a much different feel compared with President George W. Bush‘s first meeting with Putin in Slovenia in June 2001. Bush said then that he was “able to get a sense of his soul.”

Yet aides said the media shouldn’t draw any conclusions from the chilly body language. They said the meeting wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did if the two leaders didn’t get along.

Mike McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, said the chemistry between Obama and Putin was “very businesslike” and “cordial.” McFaul added that there was nothing extraordinary about the exchange. “That’s just the way he looks, that’s just the way he acts,” McFaul said of Putin.

Said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser: “This isn’t the first body language-gate we’ve had with the Russians.” Rhodes noted that the White House had faced similar questions before but said these were “businesslike conversations” between the two leaders and cautioned against trying to decode body language.

Later, the two leaders were all smiles after Obama sat down for the start of the summit. With Putin seated to his right, Obama gave the Russian president a quick “thumbs up” and then slid his chair over to share a few words. Obama’s face lit up with a big smile and Putin grinned as they separated and the meeting began.

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Obama and Putin both want to meet in each other’s country — whether they will is anyone’s guess.

Putin ended his brief remarks before reporters with an invitation for Obama to visit Moscow. Obama, who faces voters in five months, made a similar offer.

“I look forward to visiting Russia again, and I look forward to hosting you in the United States,” Obama said.

The U.S. president has already nixed plans to attend the APEC summit in Vladivostok, Russia, in September because of his re-election campaign.

During a March national security summit in Seoul, South Korea, Obama accepted an invitation from outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev to visit St. Petersburg, Russia. Obama said he planned to make the trip after the 2012 campaign. But if he loses re-election, it’s unclear if that meeting will take place.

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The G20 summit’s main websites — www.g20.org and www.g20mexico.org — were down through much of Monday afternoon, apparent victims of hackers protesting the international economic conference.

The hacker group Anonymous Hispano took credit for paralyzing the online sites. At around 3 p.m., Los Cabos time, Anonymous Hispano tweeted “Only minutes to begin (hash)OpG20.” Minutes later, the group followed with another tweet about the G20, “they are responsible in great measure for the poverty of the world.” A flurry of other tweets touting the site problems followed. Several Anonymous-related groups have paralyzed the websites of the Brazilian, Russian and other governments.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Ministry, which runs the G20 site, declined comment on the matter.

A blog entry signed by the group condemned what it said is the enormous expense of holding such summits.

“We need changes in economic policy that benefit the majority in fields such as education, health and farm aid,” the blog text reads.

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Associated Press writer Jack Chang contributed to this article.

As Anticipated, Kuwait To Be “Over-the-Horizon” Replacement Staging Area for Iraq

US plans military presence in Kuwait: ReportWashington: The United States is planning a significant military presence of 13,500 troops in Kuwait to give it the flexibility to respond to sudden conflicts in the region as Iraq adjusts to the withdrawal of American combat forces and the world nervously eyes Iran, according to a congressional report.
The study by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee examined the US relationship with the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — against a fast-moving backdrop. In just the last two days, Saudi Arabia’s ruler named Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz as the country’s new crown prince after last week’s death of Prince Nayef, and Kuwait’s government suspended parliament for a month over an internal political feud.

The latest developments inject even more uncertainty as the Middle East deals with the demands of the Arab Spring, the end to US combat operations in Iraq at the end of 2011 and fears of Iran’s nuclear programme.

“Home to more than half of the world’s oil reserves and over a third of its natural gas, the stability of the Persian Gulf is critical to the global economy,” the report said. “However, the region faces a myriad of political and security challenges, from the Iranian nuclear programme to the threat of terrorism to the political crisis in Bahrain.”

The report obtained by The Associated Press in advance of today’s release provided precise numbers on US forces in Kuwait, a presence that Pentagon officials have only acknowledged on condition of anonymity.

Currently, there are about 15,000 US forces in Kuwait at Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Base and Camp Buehring, giving the United States staging hubs, training ranges and locations to provide logistical support. The report said the number of troops is likely to drop to 13,500.

PTI

Azerbaijan ready to start war with Turkmenistan over seismic survey on disputable field

[According to Wikileaks’ cables (excerpt below), Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan nearly came to blows over ownership of the old Soviet Kyapaz oil field, disputed because of the reluctance of all parties to deliminate the Caspian boundary.]

“Early-April [2008] standoff between two Azeri border guard gunboats and an international oil company involved Petronas, in block I, rather than Buried Hill in block III, a block that contains a boundary under dispute between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan….officials debated for several days who should tell the president….nobody told President Berdimuhamedov of the standoff for several days; all were too afraid to be the messenger.”

Bulgaria: Caspian Oil Tensions Break Out between Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan

Caspian Oil Tensions Break Out between Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan ready to start war with Turkmenistan over seismic survey on disputable field

Baku, Fineko/abc.az. Yesterday, Azerbaijan made a note of protest in connection with Turkmenistan’s “illegal attempts” to begin seismic work on trans-boundary Kapaz field (Turkmen version: Serdar field) in the Caspian Sea.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan informs that yesterday Turkmen ambassador to Baku Toyli Komekov was summoned to the MFA where Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov handed over him a note of protest.

The note says that by the attempt to start seismic surveys on field Kapaz, located on the border of Azerbaijan and Turkmen sectors, Turkmenistan has violated the arrangements of the two countries’ presidents to stop exploration and extraction of resources in the disputed areas of the shelf before an agreement on Caspian Sea bottom division into Azerbaijani and Turkmen sectors is reached. In the note, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry points out that Turkmenistan’s illegal actions are unacceptable and the Azerbaijani side reserves the right to take measures to protect its sovereign rights in the Caspian Sea.

Earlier, Azerbaijan proposed Turkmenistan joint development of Kapaz/Serdar field. Turkmenistan rejected the proposal, considering this structure its own and field Azeri, part of the contract block, developed by bp and partners in Azerbaijan.