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This is BBC World News Today with me, Zeinab Badawi. Two days before
the referendum in Crimea that could see the region breakaway from
Ukraine and re-join Russia, Moscow ignores US calls for it to respect
Ukraine's territorial integrity. A handshake but no common vision on
Ukraine, says Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during talks
in London with his American counterpart.
We do not have a common vision of the situation. The differences are
there, but the dialogue was definitely constructive.
We believe the referendum is contrary to the constitution of
Ukraine, is contrary to international law, is in violation
of that law and we believe it is illegitimate.
We're marking the third aniversary of the start of the conflict in
Syria. We ask what hope is there of a diplomatic solution with the
different sides showing little appetite for compromise.
An automatic signal from the missing Malaysian airliner suggests it flew
on for five hours after air traffic control lost contact with it.
And remembering one of Britain's political giants: Tony Benn -
towering figure of the radical left - has died.
Hello and welcome. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei
Lavrov, and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, had six hours of
talks today on Ukraine - including a walk together in the sun in the
grounds of the US ambassador's residence in London. But even with
the threat of extensive US and EU sanctions hanging over it, Moscow
was not budging on its support for the referendum on Sunday in Crimea,
which will allow the region to break away from Ukraine. Washington says
it is regrettable that Russia has chosen not to de-escalate tensions
in Crimea. An intensive six hours of talks in
the sunshine of the US Ambassador's London garden. At stake, the future
of relations between the West and Russia. At the end of it, no
narrowing of the gap over Ukraine's future. The urgency is the
referendum planned for Sunday in Crimea. The region could either
break away from Ukraine even opt to join Russia. People in the West are
saying this would be illegal and a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.
With preparations under way, there seems little chance of it being
called off. John Kerry flew to London for one last attempt. And to
warn his Russian counterpart that if Crimea is effectively annexed by
Russia, there will be serious consequences. We believe that the
decision to put for word this by Russia and to ratify the boat, this
would be a back door annexation of Crimea and would be against
international law. Sergei Lavrov said that
disagreements remain and indicated that if Crimea votes to join Russia
in Moscow will not stand in its way. Do you expect Crimea to become
independent or to become part of the Russian Federation? TRANSLATION: As
for the referendum, I and President Putin have said that we will respect
the choice of the Crimean people and will make clear our position once
the outcome of the referendum is known.
It is clear that these last-ditch talks have gotten nowhere and
there's nothing that the West can do if the Russians because of Crimea
were to break away and join Russia. The stage is set for new western
sanctions against Russia next week and a deterioration further
East-West relations. Who knows what the consequences will be? And,
immediately a further worry. Violence in eastern Ukraine last
night. Sergei Lavrov said that Russia has no plans to intervene.
But his Foreign Ministry warned that Russia reserves the right to protect
its compatriots. A worrying hint of possible things to come.
Bridget Kendall joins us now. Presumably people are waiting to see
what the results are? In particular, whether Russia may wish
to annex Crimea? Sergei Lavrov said in public and
private to John Kerry, that would meet its nuclear ones the referendum
has happened. I do not think that is a sign that there could still be a
way out of this. That is simply Russia being procedural. It does not
want to pre-empt what the people of crime yesterday. I asked him, as you
heard on the report, what will happen? He said that they would
respect the Crimean people. Crimea is lost to Ukraine. It will join
Russia and the West sees this as annexation. Russia sees it as the
Crimean people exercising their right to self-determination. If that
happens, if the referendum goes ahead, then there will be more
sanctions. EU ambassadors will be gathering on Sunday to prepare for
the talks on Monday which may trigger these abounds for officials.
-- bans on visas. That also includes Germany. It has
strengthened its position. Yes, Angela Merkel has toughened her
position. She has previously been a peacemaker but she clearly has an
arrangement, a relationship with President Putin. She has spoken to
him on the phone. She speaks in Russian and he speaks
in German, apparently. Yes, they have the languages and a
relationship but you have seen that Germany has no hard its position.
Europe is very alarmed. Russia sending its troops into Crimea and
training taking place on the border with eastern Ukraine, as he saw in
the report, is a sign of trouble. This will be seen as a pretext. A
new statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry said that they
reserve the right to protect compatriots. That is worrying.
Although, Sergei Lavrov seems to have reassured John Kerry that
Russia does not plan to intervene. But things change quickly.
Do you see any potential for movement on either side? There was a
change in tone with John Kerry. He said that Crimea has a special
status for the Russians. John Kerry came with a proposal
which was that if you do not annex Crimea then maybe Kiev will allow
greater autonomy. The new Ukrainian Prime Minister, the interim Prime
Minister, was in Washington yesterday. But I think what was
interesting was that it took six hours today for these talks. It was
fairly congenial also. They had different visions but they did shake
hands. They both do not want to stop the diplomatic track. 's the body
language is good. They are smiling at each other. Shaking hands.
Yes. This is not a break-up of a relationship. Even a personal level,
between Russia the West. But once the sanctions that chicken, Russia
will retaliate. They have said there will be reciprocal actions. That
will ratchet up the tension. Whether schools now, is well...
They said it was regret regrettable. We are going to be
asking where diplomacy is in the Syrian situation. To mark this grim
milestone, we have gained rare access to a new front in the war, in
the north-east of Syria. The Kurdish population they are clashed daily,
not with the regime, but with Islamist and other rebel groups.
Killed by a suicide bomber. Another gunfight is given an emotional
funeral. This person is among more than 500 who have died in the
struggle with Islamic extremists, not the Assad regime. This part of
Syria is controlled by the cards. We have rare clips of women fighters.
-- this part of Syria is controlled by the Kurdish people.
You cold-blooded British, you are sending us the scum of Britain and
Europe. And all in the name of Islam. They grow their beards but
they have nothing to do with Islam. This Islamic group is more extreme
than Al-Qaeda and are on the offensive here. This mosque was
virtually demolished when the attack a village recently. It belonged to a
sect of Islam they do not like. This was not random damage, this was
wholesale and absolutely systematic destruction of the mosque. There is
virtually nothing left. For most Muslims it is the ultimate insult to
burn the Koran. The Kurdish people are back in control of that village
but it is still problematic. The struggle is also about the oil that
abounds here. Gangs fight over it at night. By day, home-made mini
refineries pumping pollution. This nearby village was occupied for six
months last year by an official Al-Qaeda group in Syria. Kurdish
forces got them out. The villagers say they were glad to see the back
of them. TRANSLATION: When we were attacked, the village fled. If they
were here, you would not last five minutes.
The Kurdish people showed us a jail for captured militants. A group of
prisoners paraded for cameras. They were all Syrians from ices or
Al-Qaeda and we were not allowed to speak to them. But we were shown
people with papers from several countries. They found on the bodies
of Islamist fighters. Evidence of outside involvement in Syria's war.
This is a war with any words. Kurdish people fighting Islamic
extremists while the regime watches on. Like the wider war, it shows no
sign of ending, as Syria moves further deeper into conflict and
disintegration. We can now speak to Andrew Tabler, a
Syria specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East policy. On
this grim anniversary, I would like to ask you where we are at
diplomatically in trying to find a resolution?
Were at a dead stop. The recent peace talks in Geneva and Montreux,
came up with no solution. The deal was between Russia and the United
States that the United States would deliver the opposition and the
Russians would deliver the regime and they would hammer out a
transitional Government, based on the Geneva communique. The regime
refuses to discuss it. It only once talk about fighting terrorism.
Therefore, the talks broke down. Special representative Dave a top to
the Security Council yesterday and his words back that up to stop why
do you suppose the international community has lost the momentum a
bit in trying to bring the Geneva talks back to any kind of meaningful
pathway? Is it because of Ukraine? Is the
situation simply too difficult? The regime simply will not discuss
it. It is a strange situation where everybody realises that the only way
to peace Syria together again is through a transition, the bona fides
transition. Unfortunately that is simply not happening. Particularly
for the Russian side, there has been no pressure placed on the Assad
regime to comply. And that, I think, has led to the current breakdown in
talks. Is there also a sense, which some
people in Washington have expressed, of concern about certain elements in
the opposition being Islamist? Even jihadist West were hanging on?
Yes. I think that particularly among the Sunni opposition it is extremely
chaotic. Not just on the extremist side, but there are literally
hundreds of groups and I think that in the absence of a coherent
structure, but people can trust, the height next to a very brittle leader
like President Assad. -- a very brittle leader. It is one that is
not easily rectified. Thus far, the only programme that President Assad
has put forward to try and change this is his transition, his third
re-election as president of Syria. I have observed a number of elections
in my life and really, the elections there are just a big joke. President
Assad won the last election by 97%. Quite overwhelming. Do you see the
friends of Syria, perhaps, using military force in some shape or
form? I do not mean in the way of boots on the ground, but perhaps a
no-fly zone? Unfortunately, I do not see that. I see consensus where, the
regime is behind on delivering chemical weapons and there is
international agreement if they do not comply, there could be military
strikes, but until now, we do not have the strong arguments for direct
military intervention. People are suffering in the meantime and we
will see how much the international community can stomach this. We still
have a way to go before intervention is likely. Thank you for talking to
us. And now some of the other news in
brief. The police officer who initially investigated the death of
Oscar Pistorius' girlfriend was cross-examined again today at the
athlete's murder trial in Pretoria. He told the court that Pistorius had
blood on his arm after shooting Reeva Steenkamp. Photos from the
night, of the athlete with blood and of the gun were also shown in court.
Pistorius denies intentionally killing his girlfriend.
The president of Bayern Munich Uli Hoeness says he will not appeal
against his conviction for tax evasion. He's been sentenced three
and a half years in prison, for defrauding the German tax
authorities out of more than $35 million. A former star player,
Hoeness is stepping down immediately as president of Bayern Munich.
Information has emerged that the the Malaysian airliner that has been
missing for seven days sent routine automatic signals for several hours
after the aircraft was reported lost. 239 people were on board.
There is still no trace of the aircraft, and still no idea of what
happened to it. The search area has widened again. That search began in
the South China Sea. The authorities have since expanded that area
several times. First to the Straits of Malacca, then they shifted focus
toward the Andaman Islands. In the latest development, the search has
stretched further west to include the Indian Ocean, as well as deeper
into the South China Sea. Rupert Wingfield- Hayes sent this report
from Kuala Lumpur. In Beijing today, but hostility
towards Malaysia Airlines officials was palpable. One of the most
important things Malaysia Airlines has been doing is not speculating.
Nobody here is satisfied. How can love ones have simply disappeared?
It is incomprehensible. Astonishingly, a week later, there
is no trace of the flight. Today, the BBC confirmed the aeroplane
continued sending out a signal, via satellite, for several hours after
radar contact was lost. In the past 24 hours, we have seen a shift of
resources, ships and aircraft from the original search area, in the
Gulf of Thailand, over here, to the Straits of Malacca, and even far out
into the Indian Ocean. The latest to join this shift has been the U.S.
Navy, which is sending a destroyer to the Straits of Malacca today.
What remains unclear is why. This captain was a Malaysia Airlines
pilot for 35 years and says there is no way they are starting to search
the Indian Ocean on a hunch. I have a feeling. This is not your own
property. You are telling America, give me a ship, send it there. The
British, probably, have you any ships around the area? Can you
please send it now? It is our own property, we can do what we want.
There must be a level of strong conviction that something has
happened. Malaysia 's prime minister joined prayers for the missing. Many
think is government knows much more about the fate of the flight than it
is letting on. Our science correspondent has
conducted his own research, looking at satellite systems on the flight.
One of the systems was operated by the big London telecommunications
company who confirmed their system was on board and they received
automated signals. I understand they received the signals for up to five
hours after the aircraft went out of Malaysia and S space. It is probable
the information was automated, it does not really carry any real
information. But the fact they received the signal means the plane
must be intact and powered. It cannot have crashed.
Jonathan Amis. -- Amos. The veteran British Labour
politician Tony Benn has died at his home in London at the age of 88.
Tony Benn was one of the most influential left- wing figures in
British politics, and was a popular public speaker, anti-war campaigner
and political diarist. He was a life-long Socialist and in a moment
we will be discussing how relevant his kind of politics is in today's
world, first Iain Watson looks back at his life. 100% support to those
who do not, cannot, or, will not pay the poll tax. For much of his career
he was seen as a left-wing firebrand, indulging in what he
called extraparliamentary to the tee, or put simply taking the
argument for socialism into the streets. -- activity. As Anthony
Wedgwood Benn, he refused to inherit a title to become an MP. You have
defeated the House of Lords. As a minister in the Wilson government he
was seen as a modern eyes and technocrat and help to clear the
supersonic Concorde project for take-off. He later said that Tony
Benn later immature -- immatured with age. His critics say the
deficiency highlighted help get labour from power the two decades.
He argued the nationalisation of the Big Bang is and the withdrawal from
the European Union. The Humphrey Applebys have got together. You
cannot do this, Minister, because we agreed with the Dutch, and the
Belgians and the Italians, and so the minister has no power anyway. In
2001 he said he was leaving Parliament to take up politics. He
was a leading figure in the campaign to stop the Iraq war. People paid to
hear his thoughts. Confirming he had completed the journey from radical
to national institution. He chronicled contemporary events. Last
year, he told the BBC he remained convinced politics should not be
about shoddy compromise. My mother said to me that all decisions,
including political, are basically moral, is it right, is it wrong? He
often declared politics should be about policy as not personality.
Today, Westminster lost one of its most distinctive and distinguished
figures. With me is Hilary Wainwright,
founding editor of the magazine Red Pepper, and an author and
commentator on left-wing politics and social movements. Looking at the
political beliefs Tony Benn had, socialism. A bit out of date today?
I do not think so. His socialism was about people collaborating, acting
collectively. It was not about the state. He believed in workers'
control and industrial democracy. It was going back to original ideas of
socialism as a form of collaboration and cooperation rather than the
market ethos of individualism. Even countries who have socialist
somewhere in their title, such as Cuba, with the socialist system,
China, if you look at them now, especially the economic systems,
they have embraced capitalism. I would not say capitalism. Market
forces. It is a particular kind. The state still plays an important role.
On the other hand, you have coming from the people, whether it is next
to Wall Street, or the City of London here, all the squares of
Spain and Greece, you have the emergence of incredibly strong,
youthful movements, wanting a different system, which are clearly
against capitalism and the kind of experiment with new kinds of collect
to democracy, which is what Tony Benn would have looked towards and
been inspired by. Is the term socialism an albatross, and people
espouse socialism but the term is a bitch... ? I
-- the term is a bit... It is the worship of capital. It is worth
keeping alive. It is important to distinguish the social from the
state. There have been many different forms of social and that
should not be overwhelmed by simply the notion of the state. Tony Benn,
he said the older he got the more of a socialist he was and that is
unusual. Because he radicalised in office. He had a vision. He was
blocked by business and the state. He was looking all the time for
alternatives. That is it. Enjoy your weekend.
With more of a breeze picking up, we have lost the risk of fog in the
morning. Into the weekend, it is looking pretty decent the most.