20 July 2013 Last updated at 08:56 GMT

Israel to free Palestinian prisoners over Kerry talks

Israel says it will release a number of Palestinian prisoners as part of an agreement made with US Secretary of State John Kerry to resume peace talks.

Yuval Steinitz, minister responsible for international relations, said it would involve “heavyweight prisoners in jail for decades”.

Mr Kerry announced on Friday that initial talks would be held in Washington “in the next week or so”.

The Israeli minister’s remarks are the first details of the deal.

Mr Kerry had declined to tell reporters in Amman what the two sides had agreed to, saying that the “best way to give these negotiations a chance is to keep them private”.


Russian opposition fragmented against Putin

The blogger Alexei Navalny is seen by many as the strongest challenger to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The recent verdict against him may even strengthen the country’s weak and fragmented opposition.

What number do you dial if you want to call Europe? With that question, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger put his finger on a sore spot of the European Union. The same thing was true for years for the opposition in Russia. There was plenty of choice: Old and young politicians, on the right and on the left of the political spectrum, some parties in parliament, others are not. But, they all had one thing in common: Their influence on political life in Russia was marginal. A strong opponent to the Kremlin was nowhere to be seen.

Increasing Attacks: Piracy Shifts Coasts in Africa

By Gordon Repinski

The scourge of African piracy is shifting from the East Coast to the West. Although the attacks are taking a major toll on the global shipping trade, world leaders continue to play for time in the hope that it will be resolved locally.

In the moments before the attack, the Hansa Marburg seemed to be cruising peacefully in the Atlantic Ocean. It was April 22, 2013 and, based on its coordinates, the German container ship was about 130 nautical miles southwest of the port of Malabo in the Central African state of Equatorial Guinea — a long way from the coast.

That’s usually too great a distance for an attack by small speedboats. But, on that night, things were different. Within minutes, pirates boarded the freighter, took four hostages and vanished into the night.

The ship, which was sailing under a Liberian flag, is owned by the Hamburg-based shipping company Leonhardt & Blumberg. The firm had to wait several agonizing weeks, until May 24, before it could announce that the four seamen had been released in good health.

Nauru riot ringleaders face charges after $60m in damages

July 20, 2013 – 5:25 PM

Bianca Hall

Bianca Hall is immigration correspondent

The Nauruan government was locked in meetings with Australian Federal Police and immigration officials on Saturday to decide what to do with 50 to 60 asylum seekers charged over riots that have largely destroyed the island’s detention centre, with a damages bill estimated at $60 million.

Six asylum seekers have been hospitalised, while 127 were being held in a small police station, next door to the island’s main high school.

Plastics water tanks near burned out buildings melted like butter. I can see one building with its entire roof caved in. 

Local photographer Clint Deidenang

The director of Nauru Media, Sharain Hiram, said the acting president had made a televised address urging Nauruans to take caution and stay away from the ruined camp, which was off limits to media.

South Asia

Revisiting the Persian cosmopolis
By Richard Eaton 

For several centuries now, the writing of South Asian history has been plagued by a tendency to see the past through the lens of religion – especially Hinduism and Islam, which are commonly understood as essentialized, timeless, and locked in binary opposition, if not mutual hostility. 

Suggesting a radically different way of theorizing cultural space, however, Sheldon Pollock recently coined the term “Sanskrit

cosmopolis”, referring to the enormous geographic sweep of Indic culture that stretched from Afghanistan through Vietnam from the fourth to the 14th century. 

FARC rebels offer to release US soldier

Colombia’s leftist group says they captured ex-serviceman last month and are offering his release as “gesture” of peace.

Last Modified: 20 Jul 2013 05:54

Colombia’s leftist rebel movement has said that it has been holding a former US serviceman for nearly a month and offered to release him to a humanitarian commission.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said in a statement on Saturday on its website that they have “made the political decision to release him as a gesture in the context of the peace talks” with the Colombian government.

Kevin Scott Sutay, a veteran of the Afghan war, was seized on June 20, said the rebels, who are engaged in peace talks with the government aimed at ending Colombia’s nearly half-century-old conflict.

The rebels said that Sutay identified himself as a 2010-11 veteran of the Afghan war who was an anti-mining and explosives specialist in the US Navy until March of this year.