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From Volume 37, Issue 11 of EIR Online, Published Mar. 19, 2010

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The Escape from Hilbert's `Zeta' `X':
Mapping the Cosmos!
by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

March 4, 2010—There is a certain tendency which is, unfortunately, typical of modern classroom and related mathematics. This involves a trait which is likely to be noticed for its frequent occurrence among otherwise presumptively qualified secondary and university students and graduates. It is an acquired mental disorder known as ``positivism,'' a type of disorder expressed as a viciously systemic form of reductionism, notoriously common to certain types of university professors and their students.

It is occasionally appropriate to attack the symptoms of that mental disorder simply because it is a mental disorder with relevant practical implications for an individual person, or society generally. It becomes necessary to do so when the effect of the subject's mental disorder is a policy which is a specific threat of some kind to the welfare of mankind, as in this present report, on the subject of what is fairly identified as ``positivism.''

Positivism as such, is a mental problem whose common habitat includes ``science departments'' of secondary and university classrooms....

In-Depth articles from EIR, Vol. 37, No. 11
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This Week's Cover



This Week's News

U.S. Economic/Financial News

Depression Saps Retirement Savings Net

March 9 (EIRNS)—As workers watch their union-funded pensions collapse, and their Social Security stolen, now their personal savings plans are collapsing as well. Fully one-quarter of the aging workforce has less than $1,000 in retirement savings, and almost half has less than $10,000, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's annual Retirement Confidence Survey reported on CNN Money. And it's getting worse.

According to the survey, the percentage of workers who said they have less than $10,000 in savings, grew 10% last year, from 39% to 43% in 2010. Workers who said they had less than $1,000 grew by 30%, from 20% to 27%. A mere 16% of the workforce reported "confidence" in its ability to save enough for a comfortable retirement, the second-lowest point in the survey's 20-year history. The percentage of workers who said they have saved enough for retirement fell to 69%, from 75% last year. 24% of workers said they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year, up from 14% in 2008.

U.S. Poverty Expanding into the Suburbs

March 8 (EIRNS)—It's not surprising to anyone who visits health clinics for the uninsured, passes by foreclosure signs, or sees clusters of men standing around informal dayjob pickup sites, but poverty is by no means limited to the inner cities any more.

A Brookings Institution study released in January notes that, by 2008, the nation's suburbs had become home to the largest and fastest growing poor population in the country. The "Suburbanization of Poverty" study reports that between 2000 and 2008, the suburbs of the country's largest metropolitan areas saw their poor populations grow by 25%—almost five times faster than primary cities, and well ahead of the growth seen in smaller metro areas and non-metropolitan communities. As a result, by 2008, large suburbs were home to 1.5 million more poor than their primary cities, and housed almost one-third of the nation's poor overall.

In 2008, some 91.6 million people—more than 30% of the nation's population—fell below 200% of the Federal Malthusian so-called poverty level. More individuals lived in families with incomes between 100 and 200% of poverty line (52.5 million) than below the poverty line (39.1 million) in 2008.

Another Real Estate Collapse Looms with New Mass of Home Seizures

March 12 (EIRNS)—With loss of homes by bank repossession in the United States continuing to run at 90,000-plus per month, another immediate future tsunami of foreclosures is looming, even bigger than that of the past two years. As it hits—if not prevented by the bank reorganization measures Lyndon LaRouche has proposed since mid-2007—it will crash the residential real estate market again, together with the gathering collapse of commercial real estate.

New reports from the Mortgage Bankers Association and the First American CoreLogic analysts show a grim situation: More than 5 million American homeowners are more than 90 days behind on mortgage payments—that's the foreclosure line—and 11 million more homeowners are underwater, owing more on their houses than their market value, but are not (yet) delinquent on mortgage payments. Of the over 5 million in the foreclosure zone, 4 million have prime, not subprime, mortgage loans; and 2.5 million have not made a payment in six months or more. Mass unemployment, unchecked by the Obama Administration or Congress, is creating this mass delinquency, with no effective anti-foreclosure programs getting past Rep. Barney Frank in Congress or Obama in the White House.

The reason for the non-foreclosure of 5-6 million all-but-foreclosed American households is obvious. With total sales of new and existing homes in the United States running at about 1 million a year, and 40-50% of those sales already representing foreclosed homes, banks and lenders simply can't try to sell the vast majority of the homes in deep delinquency, so they aren't foreclosing on them. If prices, which are now falling only slowly, start to rise even a small amount, the mass of waiting foreclosures will soon send them plummeting again. The huge "shadow inventory" of foreclosures—homes of the unemployed, the underemployed, and others who've lost the ability to make their mortgage payments—hangs over residential real estate, capable of collapsing it again at any time.

Global Economic News

India Plans Five Nuclear Energy Parks in Coastal Provinces

March 9 (EIRNS)—Attending the Paris nuclear conference, chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission, Srikumar Banerjee, told the audience that India is going ahead with setting up five nuclear energy parks in its coastal states. We are in talks with the U.S., France, and Russia for this; it all depends on the offers that India gets (for the technical collaboration), Banerjee said. The objective was to set up two nuclear reactors in each of the five energy parks at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, Kovada in Andhra Pradesh, Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, Haripur in West Bengal, and at a site in Orissa as well. Initially, these energy parks will have 2-2,500 MW capacity, but this will be extended later to become 5-6,000 MW energy parks. The land acquisition process is already on for this, S.K. Jain, chairman and managing director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India told reporters in Paris. He pointed out that this would help enormously in meeting India's energy needs in the next few years.

Speaking earlier in the day at a conference on access to civil nuclear energy in Paris, Banerjee told delegates the world should adopt a closed-fuel nuclear process in nuclear plants, which essentially means reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. This is essential, since even the uranium reserves in the world to generate nuclear energy will be exhausted after 70 to 80 years, and so should be reprocessed, he said. Banerjee said that the use of a closed fuel cycle is essential to meet energy needs of the world, and that the world could look at thorium, which is proliferation resistant. He said that the uranium derived from thorium is gamma active, which renders it ineffective for purposes of developing nuclear weapons.

The AEC chairman also pointed to the fact that developing countries have to grow at much faster rates (about 10% of GDP) compared to the developed world, and that the energy needs of the developing world would therefore grow immensely in the next few years.

China Denounces Carry Trade Against China

March 9 (EIRNS)—A Chinese official on March 9 denounced the carry trade against his nation, warning that it was subverting China's currency and economic policy. Yi Gang, head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said at a news conference in Beijing that China's currency is being driven higher through the influx of "hot money slipping into China, disguised as foreign direct investment or as trade accounts through underground money shops," according to the official People's Daily. Yi specifically warned those who were using the "gap of China's high interest rates [currently at 5.31%—ed.] and the near-zero rates in major trading partners."

Yi also said that China's foreign exchange reserves are "now appropriately diversified," noting that Beijing had sold off $34 billion in December.

South Korea Pushes Ahead on the Nuclear Front

March 10 (EIRNS)—Korea Electric Power Corp. and Turkey's Electricity Generation A.S. signed an agreement to expand cooperation on nuclear power development at an Istanbul forum March 10. The pact calls for joint research to see if the Korean-built APR1400 reactor can be used in the proposed Sinop nuclear power plant on the Black Sea coast.

In Seoul, the four-day Summit of Honor on Atoms for Peace and Environment (SHAPE) also opened today. The event includes IAEA ex-Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. Officials and atomic energy experts from the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Russia, China, and other countries are attending the meeting, along with NGOs.

In his keynote address at the SHAPE (Summit of Honor on Atoms for Peace and Environment) conference now being held in Seoul, Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-chan said that his country will secure its right to develop reprocessing technology for spent nuclear fuel for peaceful energy use.

"Korea plans to develop advanced technology on establishing a nuclear fuel cycle so that the country could recycle spent atomic fuel for energy use and to reduce high-level radioactive waste." now being held.

South Korea is unable to reprocess nuclear fuel, under a cooperation agreement on nuclear use signed with the United States in 1974. The treaty will expire in 2014.

United States News Digest

Obama Undercuts Corps of Engineers as Floods Hit U.S. Hard

March 13 (EIRNS)—Localized flooding is now hitting all across the United States, from the combined effects of the heavy snowpack melting down, at the same time as heavy Spring rains. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency mandated to see to flood control across the country, is now working overtime to try to minimize damage, despite depleted staff and resources; and aged flood defense structures.

In the face of all this, the Obama Administration is calling for a scale-back in Army Corps activity, through a 10% cut in the ACE's budget for 2011, and for a "change in culture" of the Corps, to force it to relax its insistence on engineering safety standards for levees and the like. The latest explicit statement of the Obama Administration's intent, came from Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), at the March 11 Dallas City Council meeting.

Sims was in attendance, because the Council is planning a Trinity River real estate project (parks, toll road, etc.), which is thwarted because the pre-existing local levees were rated last year as deficient by the Army Corps of Engineers. Sims, according to the Dallas Morning News coverage of the meeting, "told Council members and backers of the Trinity River project [for riverside amenities] that he plans to add Dallas to a list of communities he keeps that have differences with the Corps...." Sims further said, that the Obama Administration "is trying to help the agency 'work through the culture of change they need,'" on things like this.

A flurry of blog protests ensued, such as that of that of the Dallas Observer (March 12), headlined, "What in the Wide World of Sports Does a HUD Secretary Know About Levee Safety?" However, the question goes far deeper than the Trinity River Basin vulnerability to flood damage.

At present, many river basins are at or near flood levels across the U.S. Tomorrow, the Ohio River is expected to crest at two feet above official flood stage. On March 10, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravensthal declared his city in official state of emergency, in order to get in readiness. The Ohio begins in Pittsburgh, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, in turn, fed upstream by the Youghiogheny, which is flooding.

The same situation obtains in the Plains States, for example, in Iowa (whose name means, "land between two rivers"), bordered west and east by the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, whose tributaries are high and rising.

The Army Corps of Engineers District Offices, based on hydrographic regions, have been on full mobilization for weeks, preparing for the current disaster contingency, by draining reservoirs upstream, to hold back some of the snowmelt, stockpiling sandbags and hundreds of linear feet of movable flood wall, etc.

This is the physical production culture that the Obama Administration opposes, in order to carry out London's objectives to kill people.

House Members Oppose IMAC Plan in Senate Health Bill

March 13 (EIRNS)—Despite the political targetting of IMAC (Independent Medicare Advisory Council, aka, the "death panel") opponents Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), there is still strong opposition in the House of Representatives to the Nazi IMAC provisions that the Obama White House inserted into the Senate health bill.

In a message sent to supporters on March 11, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) attacks the "Super IMAC" and the "Value Index" provisions in the Senate bill, noting that these are not in the bill passed by the House last year. Capuano points out that the budget "reconciliation" procedure now being pushed is "complicated and dangerous," and that it may not be possible to "fix" some of the most worrisome issues, particularly IMAC, through reconciliation.

The House Ways and Means Committee—from which Rangel was just forced to step down as chairman—has been a center of opposition to the IMAC scheme. That this is still the case, is reported by a worried Washington Post today, with the Post taking note of the fact that Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), a senior committee member, has threatened to vote against the Senate bill unless Congress's control over Medicare hospital reimbursements is fully retained. What the Post doesn't report, is that last Summer, Neal spearheaded a letter opposing IMAC which garnered 75-80 House members' signatures at that time; in January, Neal reissued the letter with almost 100 signatures.

Regarding "Super IMAC," Capuano wrote: "I am concerned that if this appointed board adopts the cost-containment only approach, Massachusetts could lose billions of dollars per year. Such a loss would hurt our world-renowned medical schools, teaching hospitals, and research programs. Those losses would undermine the quality of care we provide to our own citizens and slow progress in biomedical sciences globally" (emphasis in original). He adds that this could result in the loss of thousands of jobs in Massachusetts alone.

"Finally, to add insult to injury, writes Capuano, "the elected representatives of the people impacted would no longer have a say in accepting, rejecting or amending any new approaches—the entire decision would be up to Presidential appointees."

Congress Wants 'Plan B' for Space Program

March 11 (EIRNS)—Instead of waging a fight to impeach Obama, as LaRouche Democrat Kesha Rogers is doing, for, among other things, the President's sabotage of the nation's space program, a bipartisan group of 15 members of the House, including Rogers' Republican opponent, Pete Olson (R-Tex.), has decided that NASA should come up with a "Plan B" for how to continue the program within the top-line budget proposed by the administration. In a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, the 15 are asking Bolden to assemble a team of experts, appointed by the directors of the Johnson, Marshall, and Kennedy Space Centers, "to review how exploration spacecraft and launch vehicle development and testing may be maintained within the proposed budget request to ensure uninterrupted, independent U.S. human space flight access to the International Space Station and beyond." The team is to report back to Congress and the administration within 30 days.

Seven Congressmen denounced the Obama Administration at a press conference this afternoon. Olson declared that the administration is "relinquishing our leadership" in space. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) lamented that we will be forced to depend on Russia to get to the space station, and will be forced to play catch-up with China, which is accelerating its manned program.

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) noted rather vigorously that the same industrial base that supports manned spaceflight also supports national defense. The takedown of that industrial base which will be caused by the cancellation of Constellation, "means we'll be less able to defend ourselves." Rep. Gene Green (D-Tex.) noted that the manned space program has been an inspiration to school children since it was started by President Kennedy in the 1960s. He also pointed out that the Constellation program exists in authorizations passed by Congress in 2005 and 2008, and "you can't change authorization law by the budget."

However, none of the above Congressmen is in the real world. No Plan B will work. The only course of action that will work is to mobilize the population to impeach Obama, as is being done by Texas 22nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Kesha Rogers.

Rohatyn's Fascist Plan To 'Ravitch' New York

March 10 (EIRNS)—"Unveiled today," according to the admiring New York Daily News, "the Ravitch Plan" pushed by fascist banker Felix Rohatyn for New York State, would devastate what remains of the state's crashed economy, and make it as ungovernable as Arnie Schwarzenegger's California. Richard Ravitch, the author of Rohatyn's plan for the state, was Felix's deputy when he ran New York City as virtual dictator under Big MAC in the 1970s. Rohatyn demanded in a New York Times op-ed a week ago that his man Ravitch, who is now lieutenant governor, be made governor immediately. At that point, Rohatyn and Wall Street were convinced they had Gov. David Paterson on the ropes based on press-generated scandals, and ready to resign.

What a Governor Ravitch would do with his "Ravitch Plan" is to take Schwarzenegger's fascist path of destruction of California since 2002. Ravitch says, 1) the state must achieve "structural balance" in its budget within five years (i.e., no borrowing; he says $9.5 billion more in cuts to the devastated state budget must be made over that time); but meanwhile, 2) borrow $2 billion a year on Wall Street for the first three years, as Schwarzenegger did, at high interest rates which were ruinous for California; 3) create a financial review board that reviews the state's budgets and determines whether they are in balance, and if the board deems the budget out of balance, grants the governor [Ravitch] exclusive power to close the gaps without being bothered by the legislature or the state constitution; and 4) put covenants in the new state bonds which would stipulate an accelerated payback to the bondholders if the state's budget was found, by Ravitch's control board, to be unbalanced. The legislature would be rendered effectively powerless.

Ibero-American News Digest

Ecuadorian Radio Host Publicizes Impeachment Fight in the U.S.

March 13 (EIRNS)—Quito, Ecuador Radio 530 AM station news host, Patricio Pillajo, sent a press release yesterday to Ecuadorian news media, titled "U.S. Congressional Candidate Proposes Impeachment of Barack Obama," summarizing the first-hand report on the Rogers March 2 electoral victory in Texas's 22nd Congressional District, which LaRouche Youth Movement organizer Guillermo Granados gave on his radio show last week.

"The victory of activist Kesha Rogers in the March 2 primary to choose the Democratic Party candidate for the mid-term Congressional elections for the state of Texas, shows the generalized repudiation of Barack Obama's government, the political advisor to that candidate, Guillermo Granados, stressed in statements made to radio station 530 AM of the city of Quito," the press release begins.

"People know that this [Obama] Administration does not look to the future. In unconditionally supporting the big banks and cutting NASA funding, it has put a halt to scientific and technological progress. What Kesha did, is tell people that if they want a future, we must save NASA and throw out Obama, who is a puppet of the financial apparatus, Granados pointed out."

Pillajo's release notes Rogers' political career as an organizer for the movement headed by former U.S. Presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, "the catalyst inside the Democratic Party for the impeachment of Barak Obama, who also proposes a total reorganization of the banking system through bankruptcy procedures.

"Kesha Rogers supports the thesis of LaRouche, who proposes the restoration of the Glass-Steagall law enacted in the era of President Franklin Roosevelt ... in order to not pay for the banks' speculative losses. Lyndon LaRouche also defends a grand agreement between Russia, China, India, and the United States, to return the economy to physical production, and stop being based on monetary fiction, which has produced the current global economic crisis," Pillajo's release concludes.

Obama Invites Mass Death in Haiti

March 12 (EIRNS)—As of today, the two-month anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, the refusal of President Barak Obama to conduct large-scale relocation to safe ground, for the 1.3 million people in the greater Port-au-Prince quake zone—now facing the coming rainy season's floods and disease—constitutes a death sentence for hundreds of thousands.

Haitian President René Préval, on his visit in Washington, D.C. this week, asked repeatedly for development outside of Port-au-Prince, to "re-invent" the nation of Haiti. Calling for "decentralization," in his March 10 press conference with Obama, he said this was essential, "in order to prevent migratory flows towards the big cities, towards Port-au-Prince...." This poverty-migration, and ramshackle buildings, is what led to the death of 230,000 people.

The day before, at a press conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Préval stressed the "opportunity to not only rebuild Port-au-Prince, but, first and foremost, to invest and to rebuild in the provinces." He called for seeds, fertilizer, and the development of factories in the provinces, and specifically, for the prevention of dumping of food commodities in the name of aid. "Today, we are faced with an historical situation that will allow us to rebuild, re-found this country."

Haitian Prime Minister Bellerive and government officials have asked to set up five settlements outside Port-au-Prince, to provide transitional lodging for at least some quake victims to leave the danger zone.

While in Washington, Préval also specifically requested that foreign financial aid go directly to his government, and be disbursed from there to those sectors which most urgently need it. But, using the criminal argument that the Haitian government is "too corrupt" to be entrusted with such funds, the Obama Administration is instead channelling all U.S. aid—$700 million—through the Agency for International Development, which, in turn, is funding commercial and non-governmental organizations to direct work in Haiti, in line with the objectives of the international nexus of Bill Gates, George Soros, London-serving agencies committed to depopulation.

Even in their own—completely inadequate—terms, the United Nation's goals are far short of being met, for providing food, water, hygiene, and shelter for the quake/flood zone population in situ. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who will make his first visit to Haiti this coming week, has reiterated his latest appeal for more financial resources. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) now says that only 49% of its requested $1.44 billion goal is funded for Haiti relief.

Argentina Ready To Expand Nuclear Sector

March 15 (EIRNS)—Argentine Planning Minister Julio De Vido reported March 9 that France, Russia, and South Korea are interested in participating in the expansion of Argentina's nuclear energy program.

De Vido was speaking from Paris, during the International Conference on Access to Civilian Nuclear Energy, sponsored by the OECD and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on March 8-9. He noted that he had extensive talks with French government ministers, as well as with the vice president of the French energy firm Areva, and that he had invited the latter to invest in Argentina's nuclear energy plan.

"Argentina wants to enrich uranium, and have plants with enriched uranium," De Vido told the daily La Nación. "We want a fourth and a fifth nuclear plant in the country, and with this in mind, we are working with France, Russia and South Korea."

De Vido explained that both the Russians and South Koreans have offered long-term financing for nuclear projects. "If we can get similar support from the U.S. and the French, we'll weigh all [offers], and look for the one that works best for us." De Vido mentioned that Russian President Dimitri Medvedev will be in Argentina on April 14-15, and that the Fernández de Kirchner government expects to broaden existing bilateral agreements pertaining especially to nuclear energy.

Argentina has two functioning nuclear plants—Atucha I and Embalse—and will complete Atucha II by the end of this year. The government has plans to begin building a fourth plant, of at least 1,000 MW capacity, that will be ready in four years.

Western European News Digest

German Website Covers Kesha Rogers Victory, BüSo

March 8 (EIRNS)—"Houston, We Have a Problem! A LaRouche associate wins Democratic primary in largest Texan city," are the headline and subhead of an article published yesterday on the Telepolis website, a left-wing Berlin-based Internet daily. It began by reporting that, whereas there is civil war already coming from within the Republican Party, "also inside the Democratic Party of incumbent President Obama, groups that so far have received less attention are challenging the power of the elites."

They refer to "the outsider Kesha Rogers, a declared associate of the contested former Democratic Presidential contender Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, whose wife Helga Zepp-LaRouche leads the 'Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität' (BüSo) in Germany. They note the "mustache" and the banners to Impeach Obama, along with her defense of NASA, and LaRouche's "Keynesian" [sic] approach to state-run great projects, which was the model of the New Deal in the 1930s," and a global Glass-Steagall Act.

Inter-Alpha Group for EMF Dictatorship, Now!

March 8 (EIRNS)—At the center of ongoing discussion about the creation of a European Monetary Fund (EMF) is a draft worked out already one year ago by Deutsche Bank's Thomas Mayer and Daniel Gros from the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels. The draft was sent to "competent people" a few weeks ago, says Gros, in an interview with the Italian daily Il Messaggero today. The EMF shall have more powers than the IMF, namely to put non-complying countries in receivership.

Gros is not just any old fascist bureaucrat. He is the President of San Paolo IMI Asset Management; Intesa-San Paolo IMI of Italy is one of the 11 member-banks of the Inter-Alpha Group of Venetian-style banks that are pushing for a supranational bankers' dictatorship. Another of the 11 is Germany's Commerzbank, whose chief economist last weekend demanded that sanctions be immediately applied to Greece, that there is no time to waste, and that the necessary dictatorial mechanisms should be put in place, now.

Chaos in EU Widens, as Leaders Become Disunited

March 11 (EIRNS)—German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French Prime Minister François Fillon met in Berlin, today, and at their joint concluding press conference, Merkel spoke in favor of a European Economic Government and European Monetary Fund (EMF), without getting too concrete about it. She was more concrete, when mentioning the case of Greece, to call for harsher economic and financial sanctions, which she said are not possible within the strictures of the Maastricht Treaty; therefore, the treaty should be changed. But as she was speaking in Berlin, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde was saying in Paris that any changes in the EU treaties were strongly ruled out. In Berlin, France's Fillon called for a European Economic Government, but was reserved on the idea of an EMF.

Italian Government Presents Mezzogiorno Bank

March 12 (EIRNS)— Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday presented the new Banca per il Mezzogiorno, a government-sponsored institution to finance industrial development in southern Italy.

There is a veto on state banks in the EU, Tremonti said, and therefore, what we are doing is the closest thing to a state bank, without actually being one. The new Banca per il Mezzogiorno will be owned by cooperative banks and the Postal Bank. The government will initially have a minority share. The bank will have a special tax status: Deposits and bonds issued by the bank will pay 5% instead of 12.5% taxes, Tremonti explained. In order to bypass EU rules on competition, the tax cut will be applied to all Italian banks which will finance productive investments in the Mezzogiorno.

Enemies of the bank have already remarked that this is still a violation of EU competition rules, and therefore, the bank will be vetoed by Brussels.

Iceland's Landslide Vote Against Bailout

March 7 (EIRNS)—Despite threats from the British empire that Iceland would be made "an international pariah" by refusing to pay about $5.5 billion to the British and Dutch governments over the failure of the Icesave bank, the citizens of Iceland voted 93% against the usurious deal, and only 1.6% in favor of paying the Anglo-Dutch. Up through this week, the British government was trying to find a way to cancel the public vote—anticipating the landslide "No"—in fear that it would become a "dangerous precedent" for other countries in financial difficulties.

The Iceland Parliament had okayed the Anglo-Dutch demands by a one-vote margin in December 2009.

France Backs Initiative on Civilian Nuclear Power

PARIS, March 10 (EIRNS)—At an international conference organized by the OECD and the IAEA in Paris March 8-9, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France considers that, from now on, every country that complies with the current transparency rules has the right to civilian nuclear power. "We have entered a new nuclear era, that of its renaissance," declared Sarkozy in his opening remarks. "The analogy with that glorious period of European history, some 500 years ago, will undoubtedly provoke some debates. But there are common elements: the questioning of ancient beliefs and irrational fears, and faith in science and technology."

Clearly, with this conference, France is seeking to once again take the lead on civilian nuclear power worldwide, one of its last scientific and high technology assets, following two major fiascos. First, it lost a EU24 billion nuclear contract in the United Arab Emirates to the South Korean KEMCO; then, at the Copenhagen Climate summit, France joined forces with its hereditary enemy, the Queen of England, and with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to try to impose a worldwide dictatorial framework to monitor of CO2 reduction quotas, only to see that scheme go down in flames.

Lyndon LaRouche observed that when France is pressed to the wall, they demonstrate their independence, and here they are demonstrating their independence from London.

Cracks Appearing in Greek PASOK Party as Population Rejects Cuts

March 9 (EIRNS)—The brutal austerity measures forced on Greece by the EU, are being rejected by up to 80% of the population, spreading beyond the trade unions and agricultural sectors, throughout the population. The consensus in the ruling PASOK party is beginning to break, as well.

The cracks starting to appear in the ruling Greek PASOK party, came to the surface when PASOK parliamentary spokesman Christos Papoutsis made an unprecedented attack on Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis in Parliament March 5, during a debate on spending cuts and tax hikes. "In which government do you think you are serving?" Papoutsis is quoted as having said by the Greek daily Kathimerini. "We will not lose our soul. Distinguished politicians have sat where you are now sitting."

While the attack was really meant for Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, who was in Germany at the time, Sachinidis, in reaction, handed in his resignation, which was refused.

Another Socialist MP, Costas Skandalidis, a leadership candidate in 2007, in an interview March 7, said that the brutal measures were a "punch in the stomach for PASOK."

Both were given warnings by the government not to criticize the government.

Portugal Cuts Budget per Maastricht Rules

March 11 (EIRNS)—Deluded leftists in Europe have praised the Socialist government of Portugal for its supposedly "different" approach on budget consolidation, as compared with that of the Greek government, because Prime Minister José Socrates wants to raise a property tax on incomes higher than EU150,000 a year, and cut military expenses by 40%.

In reality, however, the Portuguese austerity plan, which has already led to a pattern of labor protests and strikes, leads in the same direction as that of the Greek government: support for welfare for unemployed youth will be cut, and only one out of every two vacant jobs in the public sector will be replaced. And, EU6 billion are to be raised from new privatizations of state property. Furthermore, two high-speed rail projects are being called off.

All of that will achieve no more than reducing the total state debt from 91% GDP to 89%, by 2013, but Socrates claims that it will bring Portugal under the notorious 3% GDP mark of the Maastricht Pact (from about 9% at present) for new borrowings.

Russia and the CIS News Digest

Russia and India Strengthen Strategic Ties

March 12 (EIRNS)—Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made a short, but packed visit to India March 11-12, meeting Indian President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, addressing scientists, engineers, and businessmen in three major cities by video conference, and signing wide-ranging trade deals. Of 19 agreements signed or witnessed by the two prime ministers, three are in the civil nuclear field; one for purchase of 29 MiG-29K fighters; another finalizes India's purchase of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier.

Under the civil nuclear agreements, Russia would build 12 nuclear plants: six in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, and six in Haripur in West Bengal. The pacts in the civil nuclear field are an agreement on cooperation in the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, and an agreement on a road map for the serial construction of Russian-designed nuclear power plants. In the hydrocarbon sector, an agreement on cooperation was signed between India's ONGC and Russia's Gazprom, whereby Russia has offered ONGC a stake in gas fields in the Arctic Peninsula of Yamal. An MoU was signed between ISRO and Russia's Federal Space Agency and JSC Navigation Information Systems, for a joint enterprise for production of equipment for the GLONASS satellite navigation system, and services for civilian users. Two pacts were also signed in the field of fertilizers.

Hailing Putin as "a great friend of India" and architect of the strategic partnership between India and Russia, Manmohan Singh said, "We owe a deep sense of gratitude to him for bringing our two countries so close to each other." Describing the outcome of Putin's visit as "rich and very substantive," Singh said he had told the visiting Prime Minister that relations with Russia are "a key pillar of our foreign policy, and we regard Russia as a trusted and reliable strategic partner." The Indian Prime Minister said there was much that India and Russia could do together to advance global peace and stability, and the process of global economic revival. He said the two countries had agreed to intensify their consultations on Afghanistan, and the challenges posed by terrorism and extremism in their region.

Analyzing Putin's visit to India, Yekaterina Koldunova of the Moscow State University of International Relations told Russia Today that the visit shows that Russia is broadening its economic interaction. She said that, economically, Asian countries did not suffer from the financial crunch as badly as the West. Referring to Russia, India, and China, Koldunova said: "That could make many think that soon they will be able to out-do Western countries in economic growth." However, "There are huge internal imbalances in the development of these countries.... The future for China, India, and Russia is to change the model of cooperation, and for China and India to move for a new level of economic development; to proceed from the export-oriented model, to a more technically-advanced one," concluded Koldunova. Commenting on the visit, the director of Centre of Indian Studies of the Science Academy, Tatiana Shaumyan, said: "Until recently India was looked as the 'client state,' but today there is the clear understanding that relations with India should be developed as a dialogue partner."

Anticipating the nuclear cooperation "road map," Indian officials said that cooperation involving joint R&D on fast neutron (breeder) reactors is a priority. India wants to expand civilian nuclear power cooperation with Russia, Srikumar Banerjee, secretary of India's Department of Atomic Energy, told RIA Novosti. "Now we are discussing the R&D sector, where one of the areas is the fast reactors," the Indian nuclear energy chief said. "Russia has an advantage: it has a reactor; others can only show papers."

Russian Officials Hit 'Londongrad' Money Laundry

March 14 (EIRNS)—On Feb. 27, Russia's Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev blasted the role of Britain in harboring Russian fugitives from justice, especially those wanted for financial crimes. "No wonder so many of them call the British capital 'Londongrad,' " Zvyagintsev told the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, "These are not just small pickpockets, but figures with substantial funds." Zvyaginstev cited the U.K.'s loose asylum laws (which have also been a factor in another of London's nicknames: "Londonistan," haven for terrorists) and the City of London's status as the premiere world financial center, which provides ways for criminals to conceal their ill-gotten profits.

If shadow-economy profits were the only issue, a straight-forward law enforcement approach could make headway. What Zvyagintsev didn't go into, however, is a much bigger elephant in the room: the huge portion of the Russian economy which has been melded into the global hot- and fake-money flows of the London-centered Inter-Alpha Group and related financier interests. This occurred, thanks to the takeover of the Russian government in 1991 by a London-trained clique, including the late Yegor Gaidar, and Anatoli Chubais, today CEO of the state-owned tech firm Rosnano.

At a meeting on attracting foreign investment to Russia, held earlier this year, President Dmitri Medvedev lamented that as much as half of "foreign" investment actually comes from Russian companies, which have their legal registration offshore. This is one of the reasons why Russia's top four foreign investor countries last year were Cyprus, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and the U.K., in that order.

A March 3 article in the St. Petersburg newspaper Nevskoye Vremya reported that, "by conservative estimates, 90% of Russia's major [privatized] companies belong entirely or partially to offshores." The article cited a number of famous cases in point: the Alfa Group of Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven is registered through companies in Gibraltar, Luxembourg, the British Virgin Islands, and the Netherlands; Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element, the holding company for Rusal (aluminum), the GAZ auto complex, and a major insurance company, is registered through a holding company in the British Crown dependency called the Bailiwick of Jersey, which holding company, in turn, belongs to a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands; Roman Abramovich's Yevraz steel empire is registered as a Cyprus company; the NLMK steel complex, property of Russia's richest man, Vladimir Lisin, is run through the offshore Fletcher Holding Ltd.; and Victor Vekselberg's Renova is registered in the Bahamas.

In his book The Anatomy of Russian Capitalism (English edition, EIR News Service, 2007), Prof. Stanislav Menshikov detailed how this pattern developed, with the ill-gotten fortunes of the 1980s Gorbachov "perestroika" era passing over into still more ill-gotten fortunes of the 1990s Gaidar-Chubais privatization. It was profitable for the newly minted "oligarchs" to keep their money offshore, avoiding various Russian taxes.

Nevskoye Vremya quotes the London-intimate Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, a junior member of the Gaidar-Chubais clique, and one of its members still in power, covering for these practices: "Our budget loses from optimization (tax evasion—NV editors) through offshores, but it's not illegal." At the same time, the same Kudrin is cutting funding to Russian Railways and other national infrastructure projects, in pursuit of his avowed goal of outdoing the European Union's Maastricht conditionalities by a factor of three: Kudrin wants Russia's budget deficit to be no greater than 1% of GDP.

Russia Goes for Insane British Carry Trade

March 14 (EIRNS)—The grip of insane British monetarist practice on whole swathes of Russian economic activity was dramatized in the December 2009 newsletter of MICEX, one of Moscow's two main stock exchanges. One of the shorts in The MICEX Newsletter section, "Macroeconomic Review," asserted, "In 2010, the possibility of conducting carry trade transactions will contribute to the strengthening of the ruble. Even if the Bank of Russia continues to lower interest rates, the overnight repo rates will remain substantially higher than interest rates in the USA and the EU."

Saner heads, such as Chamber of Commerce and Industry head Academician Yevgeni Primakov, have pointed to the already more than $500 billion foreign holdings of Russian corporate debt as a strategic vulnerability of the nation. Yet, London-centered monetarists continue to hype the ability of the Moscow markets to attract speculative capital as a great plus for Russia.

In 2009, even as Russian goods production collapsed and unemployment surged, the Russian RTS stock market surged by 233%. On March 11, 2010, the British wire agency Reuters crowed that the Russian ruble had hit a 14-month high, on the basis of rising oil prices and the carry trade. The London Financial Times of March 12 headlines that "Russia's hot ruble keeps seducing foreign investors."

Even the Central Bank, which is run by veterans of the London-steered radical free marketeers' hegemony within Russia in the 1990s, is alarmed at how rapidly the ruble is surging, which tends to tighten financial resources available inside the country. The Central Bank is lowering interest rates, accordingly. The FT gloats that Russia is still "the weakest link" in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries, "but that is not stopping the speculators showing a rational—or perhaps irrational—exuberance for the ruble."

China and Russia Strengthen Anti-Drug Cooperation

March 14 (EIRNS)—China and Russia agreed March 12 to strengthen cooperation in combatting drug trafficking in order to protect people in both countries and safeguard social stability. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Victor Ivanov, head of Russia's drug control agency, and Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui. The agreement is within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Ivanov and Li also called for concerted efforts by the international community to crack down on drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan.

Southwest Asia News Digest

Biden Condemns New Jewish Housing Units in East Jerusalem

March 9 (EIRNS)—U.S. Vice President Joe Biden got the British shaft today in Israel, where he was attempting to bolster the peace talks between Israel and Palestine, to stop the Israelis from attacking Iran. He started the day proclaiming that "the bond between our two nations has been and will remain unshakable," and that, "There is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel in terms of Israel's security. None." But, by late that afternoon, after the Israeli government announced that it had approved 1,600 new housing units for Jews to be built in Arab East Jerusalem, Biden had to condemn the Israeli expansion.

"I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem," said Biden, after keeping Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waiting for 90 minutes. Biden added that, the "substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel."

"We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not complicate them," Biden added.

This was the second settlement expansion announcement that Israel had made in the context of the Biden trip. On March 8, just hours after Special Envoy George Mitchell had announced the beginning of the proximity talks—in which the U.S. will mediate between Israel and the Palestinians, and there will be no direct discussions—the Israeli government announced the approval of more than 100 housing units in a Jewish settlement on the West Bank. The expansion came immediately after Mitchell had said, "we encourage the parties and all concerned to refrain from any statements or actions which may inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of these talks."

If this were not bad enough, Israeli officials leaked to Ha'aretz that 50,000 new housing units are in various stages of planning for Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, plans intended to make any peace agreement impossible.

The expansion of the settlements is precisely intended to inflame tensions. Participants in decades of efforts to bring about a Palestinian state told EIR that the Israelis know exactly what the "game is," and are hoping that the Palestinians will break off the talks before they even start, a possibility that is already circulating in the Israeli press.

Speaking today on Israel's Army Radio, Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians' chief negotiator, said that these talks could be the last chance to achieve two states. Both Palestinian Authority President Abu Mazen, and Erekat had told Mitchell that the talks could be put into "deep freeze" if the Israelis continued to humiliate the PA with more settlement expansion.

Biden, the highest-level U.S. official to visit Israel since Obama took office, thus found himself in the quagmire of trying to hold the proximity talks together—which is exactly where the British Empire wants him to be. The British Empire's Sykes-Picot geometry of seeing the predictable reactions of the Palestinians to Israeli provocations, and vice versa, continues to rule the process.

Hillary Chews Out Netanyahu

March 12 (EIRNS)—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, and read him the riot act for almost 45 minutes, over the announcement March 9 of more Israeli housing in East Jerusalem, telling him that she "could not understand how this happened, particularly in light of the United States' strong commitment to Israel's security."

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that Clinton called Netanyahu "to reiterate the United States' strong objections to Tuesday's announcement," and emphasizing that U.S. objections are "not just in terms of timing, but also in its substance."

This was to make it clear, Crowley said, that "the United States considered the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship, and counter to the spirit of the Vice President's trip, and to reinforce that this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America's interests." Clinton also told Netanyahu, according to Crowley, that the Israeli government must "demonstrate not just through words, but through specific actions, that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process."

The Washington Post coverage the next day called this the "deepest crisis in two decades" between the U.S. and Israel, the lowest since the George H.W. Bush Administration, when James Baker III publicly gave out the White House phone number and told the Israelis: "When you're serious about peace, call us."

Clinton Follows Up with Demands on Netanyahu

March 15 (EIRNS)—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made four demands on Netanyahu, according to Ha'aretz today, including:

1. Investigate the process that led to the announcement of the Ramat Shlomo construction plans in the middle of Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel March 9. The Americans seek an official response from Israel on whether this was a bureaucratic mistake or a deliberate act carried out for political reasons.

2. Reverse the decision by the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee to approve construction of 1,600 new housing units in Ramat Shlomo.

3. Make a substantial gesture toward the Palestinians enabling the renewal of peace talks. The Americans suggested that hundreds of Palestinian prisoners be released, that the Israel Defense Forces withdraw from additional areas of the West Bank and transfer them to Palestinian control, and that the siege of the Gaza Strip be eased and further roadblocks in the West Bank be removed.

4. Issue an official declaration that the talks with the Palestinians, even indirect talks, will deal with all the conflict's core issues—borders, refugees, Jerusalem, security arrangements, water and settlements.

Meanwhile Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, in a conference call to Israeli diplomats, said that U.S.-Israeli relations were facing their worst crisis in 35 years, despite attempts by Netanyahu's office to project a sense of "business as usual." Oren's comment referred to a confrontation between Henry Kissinger and Yitzhak Rabin in 1975 over an American demand for a partial withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula.

Oren told the diplomats how he was summoned March 12 by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg for a reprimand: "Steinberg read to me from the [American] letter of protest, whose content was extremely harsh," Oren reportedly said.

What Biden Told Netanyahu

March 12 (EIRNS)—Politico foreign policy columnist Laura Rozen cites Israeli journalist Shimon Shiffer, in describing what Vice President Biden said to Premier Netanyahu behind closed doors, taking an entirely different tone than he did in public. Shiffer reported that Biden told Netanyahu that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel's actions and U.S. policy, any decision about housing construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem, could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism.

Shiffer continued: "People who heard what Biden said were stunned. 'This is starting to get dangerous for us,' Biden castigated his interlocutors. 'What you're doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.' "

Russia Accepts Only Targeted Sanctions of Iran; China Wants None

March 10 (EIRNS)—Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has announced that Russia would start up the Bushehr reactor in Iran this year, although he gave no date for the start-up. This occurs at the same time that intense pressure is being applied on all the members of the Security Council by Britain and the U.S. to impose sanctions on Iran. With regard to possible sanctions against Iran, Lavrov said that any sanctions would have to target Iran's nuclear proliferation activities exclusively.

China was even more adamant in insisting that the diplomatic course be followed. Responding to a question yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said "that there is still room for diplomatic moves." This was also asserted by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, in his press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress.

Asia News Digest

High Speed Rail: India Should Follow China

March 7 (EIRNS)—A study prepared by the institutional division of Indian Infoline Ltd. (IIFL) pointed out that, while China was building its high-speed rail (HSR) lines to advance its developmental efforts, India kept this ingredient for economic development at a planning stage. Now, just when India has identified six high-speed passenger train corridors to be executed through public-private partnership mode, China has already embarked on an ambitious plan to take its HSR length to 28,000 km, two times the length of the existing total global network, over the next four years.

"Railways is one of the sectors in which India was previously more advanced than China. In the early 1980s, China lagged behind India in both total length, and length of electrified routes. China's HSR network is shaping up at an extraordinary speed. The country saw its first experimental HSR in operation in 2003, but by 2014, it would have reached 28,000 km in length—twice as large as similar networks in the rest of the world combined," the study said.

The IIFL study said China's HSR will shrink north-to-south travel time, by an estimated 65% and from East to West by 75%. In other words, China will collapse to only 9% of its current size as measured by travel time, it added.

Last month, India's Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, presenting the Railway budget for fiscal year 2010-11, revealed the six HSR corridors and announced that a national HSR authority will be set up for planning, implementing, and monitoring these projects.

Tajikistan Arrests British-Run Jihadi Terrorists

March 11 (EIRNS)—In a sharp move against British-sponsored terrorism, Tajikistan's highest court has sentenced 56 followers of Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), a radical Muslim group, for extremist activities in the Central Asian state. TJ, headquartered in Britain, and extremely active in some of the Central Asian countries, gained international media attention when it announced plans for building the largest mosque in Europe in Dewsbury, U.K. "Twenty-three defendants were given jail terms of between 3 and 6 years, while the remaining 33 individuals were fined between [$8,000 and $16,000]," a court spokesman said.

TJ, founded in 1926 as an independent movement in India, is banned in Tajikistan. The group began its expansion in 1946, and within the past two decades, has spread its activities to Southwest and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Concerns about TJ's activities have risen since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

Earlier, the Tajik Court had sentenced members of another British-run group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), which is also headquartered in Britain, and banned in many countries, including Tajikistan. Since the end of the Cold War, HuT has provided armed insurgents to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). IMU is involved in a violent campaign throughout Central Asia with the intent to dismantle sovereign nation-states, and establish a Caliphate.

Tajikistan, a soft target, is also a major transit route for Afghan opium and heroin into Russia. These terrorist groups are mostly the carriers of narcotics. These Islamic jihadis are the foot soldiers of British intelligence efforts to undermine Russia's security and weaken Russia's southern flank by unleashing violent movements.

Aquino vs. Marcos over Nuclear Power—Again!

March 7 (EIRNS)—Twenty-five years after Cory Aquino was used as a puppet of George Shultz and Henry Kissinger to replace Philippines nationalist President Ferdinand Marcos, with the (successful) intention of shutting down the completed nuclear power plant in Bataan, the battle over nuclear power, and the Bataan plant in particular, is again engaged—and by the same Marcos and Aquino, only this time their children.

Marcos's son, Rep. Ferdinand "Bong-Bong" Marcos, responded to the blackouts across the Philippine nation by demanding that the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant be recommissioned. The 600 MW plant is "enough to energize Luzon" (the northern island where Manila is located), said Marcos, arguing truthfully that the plant was closed by Cory Aquino, as her first act in office, for purely political reasons, and that "there was no scientific or technical bases made."

Meanwhile, Sen. Benigno "Noy-Noy" Aquino, Cory's son, a political lightweight, who is the front-runner for the May Presidential election entirely on the basis of his mother's role in the fraudulent "People's Power" revolution which overthrew Marcos, is demanding that the Bataan plant remain shut permanently, noting that his mother did not open it because of safety concerns—the excuse used for the imperial act of nuclear sabotage against the Philippines.

Proving his slavish allegiance to the same imperial forces who controlled his mother, Aquino added that there should be no other nuclear plants either, supposedly because of a problem with waste storage. Aquino is promoting dependence on the primitive and genocidal use of solar and wind power.

The Empire Is Threatening To Use the ICC Weapon Against Myanmar

Mar. 13 (EIRNS)—The UN Special Rapporteur to Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, has threatened to blow up the Clinton State Department efforts to engage the Myanmar regime, by bringing in the British wrecking operation, the International Criminal Court (ICC). Quintana recommended to the UN that a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity be established to investigate the Myanmar government for possible referral to the ICC. As EIR has documented, the ICC is a fully British/Soros apparatus established to destroy any sovereign nation which defies British orders, with the case of Sudan being the worst example.

Quintana, formerly a human rights honcho in South America, visited Myanmar in February, and participated in a hearing at the UN last week of Soros-backed opponents of the Myanmar government. Quintana said there was "a pattern of gross and systematic violation of human rights" in Myanmar, and "an indication that those human rights violations are the result of a state policy that involves authorities in the executive, military and judiciary at all levels."

Why the sudden shift to using the big guns? As in Sudan, the ICC weapon is being used just as the internal situation in Myanmar is improving, with the first elections in decades to be held later this year, while several promising meetings with U.S. State Department and Congressional representatives were held over the past months.

Russia-China Relations a Model for International Relations

March 7 (EIRNS)—Speaking at a foreign policy press conference with reporters covering the annual session of the National People's Congress, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi praised the China-Russia relations as a model for good international relations. Replying to a question from ITAR-TASS, Minister Yang noted that the two countries support each other's "core interests" and have similar views and close communication on key international issues.

Yang referred to the recent October agreements between the two countries on questions of energy, oil, gas, nuclear energy, and high-speed rail as an example of this closeness. "We are also promoting cooperation at the local level between northwestern China and eastern Siberia," Yang said. "This series of infrastructural projects plays an instructive role in the nature of the relationship. The Russia-China relationship has become a model for international relations, in particular, relations between two big countries," he said. There will be a series of high-level meetings this year, which will strengthen that cooperation, Yang added.

President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and NPC chairman Wu Bangguo will have summit meetings this year with their Russian counterparts. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will be traveling to Moscow this month at the invitation of Prime Minister Putin and will attend the opening ceremony of the Year of the Chinese Language in Russia. "I'm sure the relationship will just become better and better," Yang said.

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