UN invite to Iran sparks Syria talks storm

admin Post in 南宁桑拿
Comments Off on UN invite to Iran sparks Syria talks storm

The United Nations has invited Iran to attend this week’s Syria peace conference, provoking a pull-out threat from the opposition and a warning from the United States.

南宁桑拿

UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Iran had pledged in talks to play a “positive and constructive role” in efforts to end Syria’s civil war.

But the Syrian National Coalition threatened to withdraw from the negotiations, due to start on Wednesday in the Swiss town of Montreux, unless the invitation was retracted.

And the United States said Ban should withdraw the invitation unless Iran, a key backer of President Bashar al-Assad, gives “explicit” support to the conference aim of setting up a transitional government in Syria.

Ban told a news conference he extended a late invitation after intense talks over two days with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“Foreign Minister Zarif and I agree that the goal of the negotiations is to establish, by mutual consent, a transitional governing body with full executive powers,” Ban told reporters.

“He assured me again and again that Iran, if they are invited, then they will play a very positive and constructive role,” the UN secretary-general added.

Iran’s involvement would mean all key countries linked to the worsening war will be among 40 states at the opening of the peace conference.

Talks between Assad’s government and the opposition are due to start in Geneva on Friday.

The Syrian National Coalition only decided on Saturday to attend the conference and reacted with fury to the UN’s invitation.

Spokesman Louay Safi announced on the coalition’s Twitter account that the opposition group would withdraw “unless Ban Ki-moon retracts Iran’s invitation”.

The threat came only hours after international leaders had hailed the coalition’s decision to take part in negotiations.

The United States and its allies had opposed Iran’s attendance at the meeting as long as it refused to accept a communique adopted by the major powers in Geneva on June 30, 2012, calling for a transitional government in Syria.

The US made a new call for a clear signal from Tehran, a financial and military supporter of Assad, that it backed efforts to set up a transitional government.

“The United States views the UN secretary general’s invitation to Iran to attend the upcoming Geneva conference as conditioned on Iran’s explicit and public support for the full implementation of the Geneva communique,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

“This is something Iran has never done publicly and something we have long made clear is required.”

Up until Ban’s announcement, Iran had only said it would go to the peace talks if there was an invitation without conditions.

Ban, who had joined Russia in supporting Tehran’s presence, said he expected some kind of statement by the Iranian government.

“I believe strongly that Iran needs to be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis,” he said.

If Iran does go, there will be 40 countries and a group of regional bodies at the opening meeting, which will be the most intensive diplomatic effort yet to end a war that the UN says has left well over 100,000 dead.

Ban said that, as host of the peace conference, he also extended last-minute invitations to Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Korea and the Vatican.

He said the additional countries would be “an important and useful show of solidarity in advance of the hard work that the Syrian government and opposition delegations will begin.”

Cibulkova bounces Sharapova out of Open

admin Post in 南宁桑拿
Comments Off on Cibulkova bounces Sharapova out of Open

Feisty Dominika Cibulkova accused Maria Sharapova of deliberately wasting time with her errant ball toss after dumping the No.

南宁桑拿

3 seed out of the Australian Open in the second huge upset in as many days at Melbourne Park.

After needing three attempts to serve out the second set, Cibulkova kept her focus while the Russian took a medical timeout for treatment on a hip strain and then powered through the deciding set to win 3-6 6-4 6-1.

The defeat of Sharapova came less than 24 hours after world No.1 Serena Williams was sensationally ousted by Ana Ivanovic.

It left two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka from Belarus as the only former Australian Open winner still in contention for the 2014 title.

Azarenka firmed as title favourite after downing American Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-2 in a repeat of last year’s controversial semi-final at Melbourne Park.

Cibulkova has now beaten Sharapova twice at a grand slam event.

The other occasion was an even bigger upset, when the Slovakian won 6-0 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the 2009 French Open when she was ranked a lowly No.102 in the world.

Cibulkova was proud to have kept her cool in the third set on Monday when Sharapova repeatedly struggled with her ball toss.

“When the match was coming to the end, I was getting a little bit angry about that,” she said.

“I kept talking to myself, saying `why is she doing that?’

“I thought she was doing it on purpose.”

Cibulkova admitted it was just the sort of situation that could have thrown her off course in previous years.

“There were many things that could distract me in the past,” she said.

“My mind could go away for maybe a game or two and then with these players, sometimes it’s enough to lose a set and the match.

” … there are many ways you can beat a player.

“She knew I was playing well.

“Maybe I’m wrong, maybe she was just feeling really nervous on the serve and not doing the toss thing on purpose.

“But I think it was something about tactics.”

Sharapova was also troubled by a hip injury last year at Wimbledon, with the Brisbane International earlier this month her first tournament since mid-August.

“I have to look at the positives and see where I have come from in the last four or five months,” she said.

“I would certainly have loved to play a little bit more before playing a grand slam, but this is the chance I was given.”

Sharapova had advanced to the final at Melbourne Park on three previous occasions, winning the title back in 2008.

Having now reached the last eight at all majors, Cibulkova’s reward was a quarter-final against No.11 seed Simona Halep.

The Romanian made it to the last eight at a grand slam tournament for the first time in 15 attempts with a 6-4 2-6 6-0 victory over former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic.

Azarenka admitted that, going off the world rankings, she and No.4 seed Li Na were now the hot favourites to advance to the final and reprise last year’s title match.

“But I don’t consider myself a favourite because I don’t consider anyone the favourite,” she said.

“I just go out there and play my best because anybody on any given day can bring their best game, as we’ve seen happen in the last couple of days.”

“You have to stay alert.”

Suspected suicide bombers warn Sochi athletes

admin Post in 南宁桑拿
Comments Off on Suspected suicide bombers warn Sochi athletes

In a video posted on a well-known jihadi forum, two men believed to have been the suicide bombers in last month’s deadly bombings in Volgograd speak of them – and warned of more.

南宁桑拿

“We’ve prepared a present for you and all tourists who’ll come over,” the video says in part.

“If you hold the Olympics, you’ll get a present from us for the Muslim blood that’s been spilled.”

The US-based SITE Monitoring Service on Sunday identified the men as “purported Volgograd bombers Suleiman and Abdul Rahman”.

December suicide bombings at a railway station and on a trolleybus in the southern Russian city – which investigators have linked to suspects from the mostly Muslim republic of Dagestan – killed 34 and injured dozens.

Islamist insurgents based in North Caucasus republics such as Dagestan who are seeking their own independent state have vowed to disrupt the Sochi Games in order to undermine Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The threats are real. They are basically calling for attacks on the Olympics. I think you’re going to see attempts to do that,” said Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

The Republican, in an interview from Moscow with ABC’s “This Week,” said Russian authorities were taking the threats seriously, deploying 100,000 security officials to erect a “ring of steel” to secure the Sochi airport, mountain trains and the Games themselves.

If there were attacks, he said, they would more likely be directed at soft targets like transportation.

The congressman added that the diplomatic security corps said it was getting good cooperation from the Russians, and noted that two dozen FBI agents were assigned to the massive sports event.

But “it could be a lot better. I want to press that while here,” he added, saying he wanted to know more about emergency evacuation planning.

Another key congressman, House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers, said Russian authorities were clearly concerned about security.

“But we don’t seem to be getting all of the information we need to protect our athletes in the Games,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Rogers, also a Republican, said the Russians’ unwillingness to share information with US intelligence was “a departure of cooperation that is very concerning to me.”

“So what we’re finding is they aren’t giving us the full story about what are the threat streams, who do we need to worry about,” the lawmaker said.

“Are the terrorist groups who have had some success, are they still plotting?”

“There’s a missing gap and you never want that when you’re going into something, I think, as important as the Olympic Games,” he added.

The Games open February 7 in Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea coast.

Laudrup confident Swansea can arrest slump in coming weeks

admin Post in 南宁桑拿
Comments Off on Laudrup confident Swansea can arrest slump in coming weeks

Swansea’s small squad has been hampered by its participation in the Europa League, while injuries meant they were missing Michu, Jonathan de Guzman, Jose Canas, Pablo Hernandez, Nathan Dyer and first-choice goalkeeper Michel Vorm against Spurs.

南宁桑拿

Since beating Newcastle on December 4, Swansea have endured a tough run of fixtures including matches against Everton, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs, all of whom are battling for honours in the top half of the table.

However, they play fellow strugglers Fulham, West Ham United, Cardiff City, Stoke City and Crystal Palace in five of their next six matches with Laudrup keen to highlight the importance of that particular string of fixtures.

“We don’t need much to turn things round,” he told the club’s official website (www.swanseacity.net).

“If we were playing poor all the time or if players are worried about having the ball, it would be a much more difficult job.

“The only ones who can change this is ourselves and by winning games. We won at Old Trafford (in the FA Cup), but it wasn’t in this competition.

“There are a lot of other teams in our situation, at least with the points.

BRIGHT START

“From tomorrow, there will be six points separating 10th position to 20th, and in the next six games, we play five direct opponents.

“The next six games will decide whether we suffer until the end of the season. The next four, especially, are key games.

“If we win the next couple of games, it can all change and it will give the whole team confidence.”

Swansea started brightly against Tottenham but fell behind on 35 minutes to Emmanuel Adebayor’s close-range header.

Chico Flores turned a cross into his own net soon after halftime followed by Adebayor’s second 19 minutes before time.

Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony was Swansea’s one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing performance, and after hitting the crossbar in the first half, he scored his seventh league goal of the season with 12 minutes left.

Laudrup said the outcome could have been very different had his side been able to score when they were on the front foot early in the match.

“The players showed a great attitude and performance, dominating for half an hour against a good side.

“We had a couple of good chances, some really good shots from Bony, but the first chance they have they score.

“I knew if we didn’t score when we were doing well, this could happen. It’s about getting that goal in the right moment.”

(Writing By Josh Reich; Editing by John O’Brien)

Australia facing Davis Cup trouble

admin Post in 南宁桑拿
Comments Off on Australia facing Davis Cup trouble

As Australian captain Pat Rafter toys with the idea of pitch-forking a pair of teenage tyros into the Davis Cup singles cauldron, French counterpart Arnaud Clement is agonising over an embarrassment of riches at his disposal for the looming World Group clash.

南宁桑拿

Rafter and Clement will announce their line-ups on Tuesday, with Australia seemingly facing Mission Impossible against an extraordinarily deep pool of talent available to Clement.

France have eight players inside the top 40, headed by world No.9 Richard Gasquet and the 10th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who are almost certain to fill Clement’s singles positions for the indoor claycourt tie beginning on January 31.

The French captain is also tipped to include claycourt specialist Gael Monfils as his third option, with world No.19 Gilles Simon and world No.28 Benoit Paire also in the mix.

Veteran Julien Benneteau is expected to serve as the doubles anchor, but who he partners is anyone’s guess.

Michael Llodra is a 10-year servant but insiders believe the 33-year-old may be overlooked, with Benneteau possibly teaming with Gasquet after the duo won an Olympic bronze medal together in 2012.

Benneteau and Tsonga have won a Masters Series title together, but Tsonga is unlikely to be asked to play three days in a row, especially on the back of a taxing Australian Open campaign on the other side of the world.

Whoever Clement goes with, Australia will arrive in La Roche-sur-Yon in western France as huge underdogs without the injured Bernard Tomic, who is expected to be out of action for three months after undergoing hip surgery.

Australian No.1 Lleyton Hewitt has no less than eight Frenchmen ahead of him in the world rankings.

Hewitt will be the first man picked, but word on the street is Rafter is seriously considering thrusting the Special Ks – 17-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis and 18-year-old Nick Kyrgios – into the day-one singles hot seats after both reached the second round on debut at the Open.

Such a bold scenario would leave 32-year-old Hewitt fresh for the doubles with Chris Guccione and a real crack in the first of the reserve singles rubbers on day three.

Rafter has overlooked Marinko Matosevic, unimpressed by the Australian No.2’s none-from-12 record in grand slam singles and his failure to win a live Davis Cup rubber in two attempts.

“Marinko was informed a couple of days ago he wasn’t going to be involved in the team,” Matosevic’s coach Mark Woodforde told AAP on Monday.

“He was told he wouldn’t be taken, not specifically based on results because he won matches in Brisbane, won matches in Sydney, but there’s a combination of attitude, approach and how to deal with the Davis Cup pressure.

“It’s been well versed Marinko has not won a grand slam match and we’ve got a couple of young guns coming up that need be given a crack at it because that’s where the future will be.”

Rafter’s other option is to take world No.67 Matt Ebden or another young up-and-comer in 21-year-old James Duckworth.

Messi courting Lady Luck before Levante Cup clash

admin Post in 南宁桑拿
Comments Off on Messi courting Lady Luck before Levante Cup clash

Even with the four-times World Player of the Year back in the starting line-up after injury, Barca struggled against an ultra-defensive Levante in Sunday’s 1-1 La Liga draw and they had to come from a goal down to rescue a point.

南宁桑拿

Messi had one clear chance well saved by goalkeeper Keylor Navas shortly after halftime but otherwise made little impact against the massed ranks of the home defence and the Argentine is expecting a similar pattern to Wednesday’s clash.

“We did everything possible to try to win but they play very deep and don’t allow you space,” he told reporters.

“It’s a very tricky stadium to play at, but we tried our best,” added the 26-year-old, who was out for two months after straining a thigh muscle in November.

“We played well enough to win but we were lacking a bit of good fortune. I expect Levante will use the same tactics in the Cup match.”

If Barca, who have won Spain’s domestic Cup a record 26 times, make it through to the last four after next week’s second leg at the Nou Camp, they will play La Liga rivals Real Sociedad or third-tier Racing Santander for a place in April’s final.

Santander, who are mired in financial difficulties and were relegated twice in the last two seasons, are the surprise packages of this year’s competition and stunned top-flight sides Sevilla and Almeria on their run to the last eight.

They play at Sociedad’s Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian on Wednesday (1900).

GRUELLING CALENDAR

On the other side of the draw, holders Atletico Madrid host Athletic Bilbao on Thursday (2000) and Real Madrid, who lost 2-1 to Atletico in last year’s final, play at Espanyol on Tuesday

(2000).

Real look to be coming into form as the second half of the season gets underway and their 5-0 drubbing of bottom side Real Betis in La Liga on Saturday lifted them to within a point of joint leaders Barca and Atletico.

After Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Sevilla, Atletico coach Diego Simeone dismissed a suggestion his players were feeling jaded due to the gruelling calendar and said the team needed to find ways of better dealing with defence-minded opponents.

“It makes it harder for us to generate goal-scoring opportunities and that’s where we have to improve,” the Argentine told a news conference.

“When we draw, and thank goodness we didn’t lose, that doesn’t mean that the team is tired,” he added.

“We did not find a way to get through and that is to do with creativity in our play not fatigue.

“We need to take care of the details better because in the second half of the season teams don’t try to play good football but are focused on accumulating points.”

(Editing by John O’Brien)