tv BBC World News PBS October 11, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PDT
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>> and now "bbc world news." >> hello, everyone, welcome to "newsday" on the bbc. i'm in singapore. >> i'm in london. the headlines. an alleged plot to investigate the saudi ambassador to washington. israel agreed to deal with hamas for the release of the captured soldier. in return, israel is to hand over a thousand palestinian prisoners. >> one of europe's smallest countries slovakia refuses to back the bailout fund. a ship has cost a mer time pollution disaster. it is 9:00 in the morning here in singapore. >> it's 2:00 a.m. here in london, broadcasting to viewers on pbs in america and around the world. welcome to "newsday."
>> a plot to assassinate the saudi ambassador to washington was conceived, sponsored, and directed from iran, according to u.s. officials who announced they had broken up the alleged scheme and arrested two men with links to the iranian government. attorney general eric holder vowed iran would be held accountable. our north america editor mark mardell has the details. >> the alleged plot was to kill this man, the saudi ambassador to washington, high in the councils of the saudi family. the head of the f.b.i. said it sounded like fiction, but the plot was all too real. >> individuals from one country sought to conspire with a drug trafficking cartel in another country to assassinate a foreign official on the united states soil. i know it reads like the pages of a hollywood script. the impact would have been very real, and many lives would have
been lost. >> there was no hesitation about who was to blame. the senior member of president obama's cabinet pointed the finger straight at iran. >> this conspiracy was conceived, sponsored, and directed from iran and constitutes a flagrant violation of u.s. and international law. >> this is the saudi embassy in washington, one place that could have been bombed to kill the ambassador. the alleged iranian agent thought he was hiring a mexican drug cartel to do the job. instead, he was talking to an undercover f.b.i. agent. he told him to mount the attack wherever he could. let it hit the restaurant. if you can do it outside, do it. if not, restaurant, hit it, it's ok. he said no problem, no big deal. a section of the iranian revolutionary guard is said to have ordered the plot. this could be part of a bitter struggle with a civilian leadership and a contest for
influence in the middle east. >> iran and saudi arabia are engaged in a cold war. over islam in the middle east because they are the most influential actors in the region. the saudi ambassador would be the perfect target. >> a spokesman said the allegations are a child's story, propaganda designed to distract the americans from their domestic problems. >> an israeli soldier is to be released in a significant prisoner exchange. he'll be back with his family within days, according to the israeli prime minister. in return, around a thousand palestinian prisoners will be freed by the israelis. our correspondent reports. tonight the israeli cabinet gathered to confirm a decision that people here have been waiting for for five years. a decision that israeli's government has agonized over for nearly as long.
the words from the prime minister's lips confirmed a deal has been struck with hamas to release a young israeli soldier. today he says i bring to the government a proposal for apple agreement to return him home alive and well. this is the last proof he is still alive. a video released by hamas more than two years ago. at that time, the young soldier had already been held somewhere in gaza for three years. the hope hatred between israel and hamas has made this an extremely difficult deal to strike. now israel says it will release 450 palestinian prisoners, and once he is free, another 550 palestinian prisoners will be
released. for the hamas leadership, this is a huge propaganda coup, and it has been very quick to point out the scale of its success. >> the sum of this deal is -- the deal is at two stages. the first stage of 450 await from the speech. on the second deal is two months after the first deal is done. >> this deal will be extremely popular in israel. his captivity has been an open sore in a country where most families send a son or daughter to the military. the one thing it will not do is bring an israeli-palestinian peace deal a step closer. if anything, by boosting the popularity of hamas, it could make a reception of peace negotiations that much harder. rupert winfield-hayes, "bbc
news," jerusalem. >> jonathan has been on the streets of jerusalem to witness the celebrations. >> hundreds of israelis have gathered this evening to celebrate something which many of them have been waiting for for more than five years now. the release, they believe, of the man captured by hamas militants in 2006 when he was just 19 years old. he's now 25, and his plight really has touched the hearts of many israelis. most families have relatives who serve or who have served in the israeli army. we're just getting details of the deal coming through from hamas. they're saying a thousand palestinian prisoners will be released, possibly 450 sometime in the next week, and then a further 600 or so in a couple months time. and the belief is that he will
be released only when that first 450 palestinian prisoners are freed. as for his family and probably for the families of some of prisoners, they've been waiting for this for a long time. they actually won't believe it's reality until their relatives will back home. >> we can now speak to martin indig, who has twice served as the u.s. ambassador to israel. welcome to "bbc news." thank you for joining us. i suppose a key question everybody is asking is why the deal has taken place now? >> well, it's hard to know exactly what factors were involved. i think that on both sides, the politics have finally aligned themselves in a positive way. you notice that the vote in the israeli cabinet was something like 25-3 since these ministers
are not encouraged. it's obvious they'll support this deal and that's important for the prime minister who probably gained quite a bit from this. on the hamas side, i suspect that the fact that when they announced this deal from damascus, been shifting his headquarters out of the iranian orbit and into the egyptian orbit in cairo, has given the egyptians more leverage to get this deal through, which will also be very popular in the streets of gaza, where hamas is in control of the situation. >> if we are to call it a winning game, as such, one israeli man for a thousand prisoners, does this mean hamas can be seen as the victor here? >> well, they will certainly claim victory and there's no doubt that they will be able to
argue that through their approach, which is kidnapping and ignore the laws of war and holding this israeli soldier for more than five years, that they were able to liberate prisoners, whereas the palestinian leader was not able to achieve any such thing through negotiations. and trying to make peace with israel. so i'm sure that will be their propaganda line, and it will strengthen them and i'm afraid it will weaken mazen. he at least is genuinely committed to peace and they are genuinely committed to destroying israel. >> you mention a keyword of peace. what kind of impact do you think this deal will have on the peace negotiations and in particular on the leaders themselves? does anyone come out the worse for wear for this? >> i think it's abu masen, but
it's not as if the negotiation were anywhere in prospect. it's not going to help the parties get back to the table. but they weren't anywhere near the table anyway. i think what it's likely to do in the short term is bolster neten yahoo! and his government, would that put him in a position to be more willing to free settlements, or give awe bue mazen. it might change things. but i find it hard to believe that he will be willing to do that now. he doesn't have anything to show for his efforts to engage with israel and negotiate with it. that's why he's gone off to the united nations on a completely different route far away from negotiations. so i'm not sure that it's going to have any positive effect, at least in the short term. but in terms of the family,
their son will be returned to them and i think that will be immensely popular in israel despite the very high price. and on the streets of gaza in the west bank, the families of a thousand palestinian prisoners will also be rejoicing. >> we're grateful for your time ambassador, thank you so much for joining us. now rico, a step back for the euro zone. voting no against the crucial bailout fund proposal. >> that's right. this setback is impacting asian markets today. all of these 17 members of the euro zone must indeed endorse the package. slovakia was the last country to decide. it's thought slovakia will eventually support the fund in a later vote. bethany bell has been following developments. >> this is a no-confidence vote in the government and also no to the bailout fund.
this is because one of the four part parties in the coalition decided it did not want to support this bailout fund. it says slovakia is the second-poorest member of the euro zone shouldn't have to pay for countries such as greece. and it voted against the government. this is a big shake-up. but it's a big problem for the slovakian prime minister. but it's not necessarily the end of the line for the bailout fund. we've had indications earlier in the day from the finance minister that there may be another vote some point later this week, we understand. and it's possible the three coalition parties in the government will vote with the opposition to bring through the bailout funds. but this kind of uncertainty is unlikely to do much for market confidence. >> bethany bell. police authorities in new
zealand have arrested a cap tape at the container ship causing the country's worst environmental disaster. he'll be appearing in court on wednesday. more than 300 tons of crude oil from the vessel have gushed into the environmentally sensitive bay of plenty area. for more, we're joined by our correspondent in sydney duncan kennedy. what was the reason for the captain's arrest? >> well, he has now appeared in court and he has been charged with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk. he was only in court for a few minutes. his lawyer asked for his name not to be published because he said that some people might take matters into their own hands, given the current climate of anger over this accident and attacked the captain, so his name was withheld and he's now been sent to custody. there's a possibility, according to the transport minister, that the captain may face more charges. one charge leveled so far, a
penalty for which could lead to one year in jail or a $10,000 fine. meanwhile, at the ship itself, still the operation to off load the remaining oil has been suspended because the bad weather is continuing. three days of this bad weather now. the ship is listing at an 18-degree angle. we also learned in the past few hours that 70 of the containers onboard have fallen into the water, although we were told none of those contain any dangerous, hazardous chemicals. >> what is being done to help the doll fips? >> and also, it's the breeding season. many of the birds are sitting on eggs, ready to give birth. it's very important. there are all sorts of steps being taken to make sure they're ok. many of the volunteers taking part in picking up the birds
that come into the shoreline. they reckon there might be 10 more in trouble out at sea. so the numbers of those birds in trouble is expected to rise. also i should mention on tuesday night there was a meeting of about 300 local residents, some of whom express anger at the speed and effectiveness of the cleanup operation. the government authorities are telling them no, we should wait until high tide in order to optimize our work effort. some tensions in all this, anger from some people without the way this operation is going. problems on shore, problems offshore as this event continues to unfold. >> great. duncan kennedy in sydney, thank you so much for this update. you're watching "newsday" on the bbc. still to come, -- >> serious flooding continues to
affect major parts of southeast asia. we'll be hearing from our reporters across the region. >> many occasions, libya's new government has declared the battle for sirte almost over. the appearance of the leader in the city could mean the end of fighting in colonel gaddafi's last stronghold may be in sight. but there are still hundreds of his loyalists holding out. >> heavy rain and a lull in the fighting on tuesday allowed hundreds of civilians to try and escape sirte. cars packed with families took the chance to get away from the city that has been shelled and bombed relentlessly. frightened children among those braving the cold and wet. but it wasn't children and families that soldiers manning this check point were after. they were on the lookout for gaddafi's men, fighters with calluses on their hands or
bruises on their shoulders. crude signs they may have fired or handled weapons. >> are you a fighter? >> no, i'm not. >> we saw many men being ordered out of their cars for questioning. many had no i.d. papers and told convincing stories. men from sub saharan africa are often pulled aside, even if they have families, because they are suspected of being paid mercenaries, an assumption that's often wrong. each car is meticulously searched for weapons or hideways. among those detained today is reported to have been one of colonel gaddafi's cousins. >> forces from the new government say that any genuine civilian will be allowed to leave sirte and move away from the front line, but there are concerns that as the fighting
intensifies, more of gaddafi's forces will abandon their weapons and uniforms and try to disguise themselves as civilians and escape. "bbc news" on the road to sirte. >> this is "newsday" on the bbc. i'm rico in singapore. >> i'm in london. the headlines for you this hour, u.s. authorities have charged two iranians over an alleged plot to assassinate the saudi ambassador to washington. >> israel has agreed to a deal with hamas, which should see the release of the captured soldier. pro-democracy campaigners in burma and western diplomats are eagerly awaiting a mass prisoner amnesty due to start in a few hours time to see how many political detainers have been -- to tell us more about the significance of this initiative
by the burmese government is our guest. an expert on burmese politics at the institute of southeast asian studies. thank you so much for joining us. first of all, what do you make of this announcement by the burmese government? >> i think it's a big step for the new government. this government came to power in november. i think it's rather unprecedented. and it showed there is a real change inside the country. >> and the much awaited number is about 6,000, but how many of them could be political detainees? >> it could be between 600 to 1,000. >> how significant is this number? >> it's very significant. i would say it's 10% of the total number of those who would be released supposedly today. i think it's very significant. once again, like i said, it showed that there could be a new level of political freedom in the country. >> like what do you mean by new level of political freedom?
what can people do with this new move towards democracy? >> well, look at the case -- she has been the least. she has been allowed to travel throughout the country. hopefully those who have been released today would be able to do something to engage in political activity, even though i think they might be a little bit limited. >> do you think this could also be an initiative by the burmese government because it has ambitions to leave? >> well, i think that is one of the main reasons i would say, undoubtedly that i think burma would like to place the ternational community. burma will try very hard in the year 2014. i think there will be some
further discussions. >> how do you think this will be viewed by the neighbors? >> i think it will be very positive. >> thank you, sir, for your insights. meanwhile, huge areas are being flooded. hundreds of people have drowned and millions of people's lives have been affected. crops have been damaged in fields, factories, flooded, and billions of dollars worth of damage costs. our correspondents have been out to see the impact. >> you see the flood waters behind me. there's 3.5 million acres of farmland that is inundated like this. 2.5 million people who have been affected by these floods. just up from that direction, a very short distance is a world heritage site. the water, the rivers, and the
runoff is all flowing from north to south from that direction in that direction. and in its path is bangkok. so the focus now is on trying to shore up the flood defenses there to try and protect the capital. >> they're showing little sign of going down. the water is what's known as alert level. it's been this way for several weeks. several communities on the outskirts of the city have been flooded. the situation around the country is even worse, around 2/3 of cambodia's provinces have been problems, and the official statistics make for a grim reading. more than 200 deaths attributed to the floods. tens of thousands of families displaced. and the all-important rice crop is under threat. >> here in the philippines, more than 100 people are now known to have died in the typhoon a few
weeks ago. officials say it could be more than a month before the flood waters completely recede. about 20 towns were submerged with water during the typhoon. people had to wade waist-high in what used to be roads. the floods are gradually subsiding, but it's taking time because of heavy rain, and more rains are forecast in the coming days. officials estimate that the two typhoons will cost a total of $300 million in damage. >> there's been a surprising weapons haul in hungary. >> yeah, dozens of rifles intended to be used in a movie featuring brad pitt have been seized by counterterrorism police. the authorities say the weapons sent from london could not be allowed to enter hungary because they still had the potential to fire live ammunition. they're meant to be used as props in the big-budget zombie film.
>> a cashe of weapons stored in a warehouse in an airport in budapest. a foiled terror plot, perhaps. maybe an international gun running operation has been uncovered. in fact, no. these weapons are supposed to be part of a film featuring this man. the hundred or so rifles, pistols and machine guns were destined for the set of the latest brad pitt movie called "world war zed" currently being filmed in hungary. the problem is the authorities say the weapons still work. >> weapons like these cannot be imported into the country. this includes sports weapons as well as the seized military weapons. guns like these can only be used by the army or the police. the guns arrived in hungary from london where they had apparently been made safe for use with blank ammunition. however, the hungarian customs authorities say they hadn't been modified enough.
there as been no official comment from the film makers, although the episode is not believed to have held up production on the blockbuster. brad pitt, meanwhile, is concentrating on his role in the film. whether he'll have the fire power he needs to tackle the undead is another question. will grant, "bbc news." >> you've been watching "newsday" on the bbc. >> let's bring you a reminder of our main news. u.s. officials say they have foiled a plot to assassinate the saudi ambassador to washington by two men with links to the iranian government. iranian man with american citizenship has been arrested. u.s. authorities say he confessed to the alleged plot, that it went to the heart of the iranian regime. american secretary of state hillary clinton promised further sanctions against teheran. you've been watching "newsday." thanks for watching. we'll see you again soon.
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