17/04/2014 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today. A diplomatic deal to end the violence


in Ukraine and a call on pro-Russian protesters to end their occupation


of government buildings. The agreement comes after more violence


but will the diplomacy make a difference on the ground? The USA


says was a good day 's work. Russia the Ukrainians need to find their


own solution. Hopes are fading for the school children still missing in


the South Korean ferry disaster. 280 people are still missing. The


captain of the sunken ship is under investigation. Also coming up. He's


77 and he's had a stroke but he's still seeking re-election as


President of Algeria. Why are opposition parties calling for a


boycott? And as Christians get ready to celebrate one of their most


important festivals, Easter, we look at a global test of opinion across


several countries about attitudes towards religion.


Hello and welcome. High-level talks in Geneva aimed at ending the crisis


in Ukraine have concluded with what looks like a breakthough. Before the


talks got under way, three Russian separatists were killed after the


attempted to storm a military base in eastern Ukraine. We'll have more


on that in a moment. But first, it was the Russian Foreign Minister


Sergei Lavrov who announced that inernational talks in Geneva had


resulted in a deal on calming tensions as Rob Watson reports.


For a meeting from which so little had been expected, signs of


progress, an upbeat Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said all


sides had agreed to take steps to calm tensions including removing


militants from buildings and to address their political differences.


What is the most important for us is everybody, all the parties agree


that this is the crisis that needs to be regulated by Ukrainians


themselves. Immediate cessation of conflicts. His US counterpart John


Kerry also talked a good work achieving good faith but said now it


was a question of turning words into action, warning of further sanctions


on Moscow if they went. This day 's work is produced principles and


commitments and it has produced words on paper. And we are the first


to understand and to agree that words on paper will only mean what


the actions are taken as a result of those words produce. Earlier, in a


phone in programme on Russian television, President Putin blamed


the authorities in Kiev for all the tension in trouble in eastern


Ukraine. He insisted there were no Russian forces on the ground at


again, held out the possibility there could be in the future.


TRANSLATION: As a reminder, the Federation Council of Russia, has


the right to use military force in Ukraine. I very much hope we will


not have to exercise this right and with political and diplomatic means,


we will resolve the acute problems in Ukraine today. On Wednesday


night, a reminder of the kind of flash points that could lead to an


even wider crisis. A National Guard base in southern Ukraine came under


attack from pro-Russian militants. The assault failed, but left three


of the pro-Russian is dead. And more than a dozen injured. All further


evidence of Kiev's struggle to maintain control of its territory


without provoking unwanted confrontation. Of course, not all


eastern Ukraine is in the grip of a pro-Russian insurgency. These


protesters were demonstrating for what they called a united country.


How to keep Ukraine United in a way that satisfies all of its citizens,


its Russian neighbour and Europe and the USA, remains the prize so far


out of reach. Sir Tony Brenton is a former British Ambassador to Russia.


He joins me from our studio in Cambridge. People are talking about


a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Is this it? Well, this is a very big


first step, very good news, and, given the unpromising background to


it, both sides looked into the abyss, the Russians never really


wanted to invade Ukraine, but with the deaths yesterday, it is harder


to evade. The Westerners were worried about a Russian


dismemberment of Ukraine, both sides are found in agreement which enables


them to step back. That's the good news. A lot depends on the


implementation but my feeling is both sides, having seen how bad


things could have got, are genuine about carrying this link through


now. What other tangible signs we can see this resolution being


occupied on ground? Occupied buildings being given up? If you


read a statement, there are explicit requirements, the disbandment of


illegal groups, the abandonment of illegally occupied buildings,


monitors being brought in, so things should happen quite quickly and that


will be an early test of how genuine both sides are on delivering on the


agreement. What about pro-Russian protesters in Ukraine? Will they do


what Moscow tells them to do or will they do their own thing? I think


there will be some grumbling, but since it was quite a lot of Moscow


activity behind-the-scenes in getting them out, to protest, I hope


they will quickly withdraw. Has Russia got what it wants? It never


had any designs on eastern Ukraine but got Crimea. Yes, Crimea is a


problem left over for another time. The big thing Russia has got in the


statement is a guarantee of an open constitutional process, and what


they see as guarantees of autonomy for regional populations which


includes the Russian population. There is a shift in tone of not


talking so explicitly about autonomy for the Russian speaking population


in eastern Ukraine. Much more just saying their rights should be


acknowledged more firmly. As I understand it, behind-the-scenes,


Ukrainian representatives, John Kerry said he spoke to the Prime


Minister of Ukraine, and there were assurances on autonomy for the


Russian population and all populations in Ukraine. It's very


clear. What would you say the balance of power between Russia and


the West is after this agreement today and the whole crisis over


Ukraine? It's an interesting moment. What has become very clear is it


impossible for the West simply to take Ukraine in the direction it


wants to go. The Russian hand and involvement remains very strong. And


that will have to be taken into consideration as Ukraine looks at


its future economic and political orientation. And therefore, the West


will have to take Russia a lot more seriously going forward. Thank you


very much indeed for sharing your insights with us. South Korea's


coastguard says it's investigating every detail of the final hours of a


ferry which sank with hundreds of schoolchildren on board. 179 people


have been rescued but almost 300 are missing. And the country's President


says time is running out to find more survivors. There are


unconfirmed reports that the crew delayed giving orders to abandon the


ship and launch the lifeboats. Divers are waiting to search South


Korea's stricken ferry but they can't get in. Held back by strong


currents today, this was all the rescue teams could do.


And in case there was anyone alive to hear them, they brought in oxygen


to pump inside the hull. Parents believe their children may be


clinging on in air pockets. Their disappointment at not finding them


turning on the rescuers themselves. "Children are dying," they shouted.


"Why aren't you doing something?" Out there is a disaster that no one


can get to. Perhaps hundreds of people, most of them children,


trapped inside a sunken ship. Surrounded by rescue boats, but cut


off from them by these terrible conditions. This man came here last


night to find his 67-year-old mother on her way to a cycling holiday with


friends. It takes him a while to find her photograph. She hates


having their picture taken, he says. TRANSLATION: Everyone wishes their


relatives would survive this accident. But right now, I don't


have the energy to get angry. I want to cry but I can't. I have no one to


talk to. I don't want to worry other relatives so I have decided to face


this alone with my brother. This video, apparently shot from inside


the ferry, shows how passengers struggled to stand up in the listing


ship. The captain hid his face of the police station today feeling the


pressure of getting out alive. TRANSLATION: I am really sorry. I am


deeply ashamed. I cannot put it into words.


For some of those here, the wait is over already. This mother, reunited


with her child too late. But grief is felt across the country. Most of


those on board the ferry were pupils of this high school outside Seoul.


The names of those still missing from the registers far outweighing


the numbers found. And then there are stories like this


one. Six years old and pulled from the wreckage yesterday. A chocolate


bar to mark the end of her ordeal. Stories like hers are getting rarer


here. But it's stories like hers which give the families still


waiting hope. Now a look at some of the day's


other news. The parents of some of the 100-plus schoolgirls abducted by


suspected Islamic militants in Nigeria, have begun searching local


forests for them. There's been confusion over how many of the girls


are still being held by their kidnappers. The governor of Borno


state originally said nearly all of them had escaped. But it now seems


more than 100 are still unaccounted for. The murder trial of the


Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been adjourned for just over a


fortnight. He's accused of deliberately shooting his girlfriend


Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. The judge interrupted


this morning's hearing to warn those watching a televised feed of the


trial outside that they could be heard cheering and shouting inside


the court. There's been a lukewarm reception for shares in Weibo, the


Chinese version of Twitter, which has been floated on the Nasdaq stock


exchange in New York. It's sold 16.8 million shares, raising $286 million


so far, well below the $340 million it was aiming for. Weibo is not


currently making a profit and the number of active users has fallen


since China's censors strengthened their control of online discussions


last year. Scientists in the United Sates say they've discovered the


most Earth-like planet yet found in another solar system. It's called


Kepler-186-F and NASA have released these artist impressions of what it


might look like close up. It's almost the same size as Earth, and


temperatures on it are mild enough to allow surface water. Prosecutors


in New York are outlining their case against the radical Muslim cleric,


Abu Hamza. The Egyptian-born preacher, who was extradited from


Britain to the US in 2012, denies all 11 terrorism charges against


him. The charges he faces include conspiring in a 1998 kidnapping of


tourists in Yemen that resulted in the deaths of three Britons and an


Australian. Abu Hamza rose to notoriety in the UK for preaching


violent messages at Finsbury Park mosque in London after the 9/11


attacks. We are now joined by our correspondent Barbara Plett-Usher


who's outside the court in New York where the hearing is taking place.


Barbara, tell us what the prosecution had been saying in this


court hearing today. The prosecution made its opening statement basically


saying that Abu Hamza had used his influence at the Finsbury Park


mosque to aid terrorism and terrorism training. He said he used


religion as a cover to hide in plain sight and then went through a fairly


detailed explanation of the case against Abu Hamza, saying for


example, he sent two men in 1999 to Oregon to set up a terrorist


training camp, assisted them in Yemen in 1988 by giving them a


satellite telephone and he talks about the witnesses he was going to


call. The defence attorney also gave his opening statement saying Abu


Hamza had not participated in any of these acts and presenting in


basically other decent man who had been misunderstood. He told the


Journal of the the context and a lot of what they were going to hear in


the trial had actually happened between -- before 911 when the world


was viewed differently. When he went to Bosnia and Afghanistan, to some


extent, he had been on the same side as the West at that point, and he


said British intelligence in London had repeatedly approached him to try


to keep situations that non-violent. And under control. So, he said to


the jurors also that they would hear some very harsh things, that Abu


Hamza has said in his speeches which would be played in the trial, but he


-- they must member these are expressions of views and not crimes.


Reminders about Abu Hamza because he had been hitting the headlines are


graded in the UK, where he was at this very prominent mosque in north


London. He fought in Afghanistan, where he suffered injuries.


That is right. He was radicalised during the Afghan war against the


Soviets. He also went to Bosnia to aid the Muslims there, and then he


rose to prominence in the 1990s at the Finsbury Park Mosque in London


where he had these very fiery speeches. MI5 did start watching him


after 1997 but they never really took him that seriously at first.


They thought he was sort of a noisy troublemaker. Eventually, though,


they did invite him and jail him for inciting racial hatred and calling


for murders in his very fiery speeches. Right around that time,


the Americans decided he was also a factor in global jihad, as they


called it, and they called for him to be extradited to New York. That


was delayed for many years, partly because he was serving jail time in


Britain, and partly because he and other terrorist suspects really


fought extradition. He was brought here in 2012 and the trial has


started now. Thank you. A presidential election is taking


place in Algeria, with the veteran incumbent President Abdelaziz


Bouteflika widely expected to win a fourth term in office. Mr


Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke last year and rarely appears in


public, cast his vote in a wheelchair. A coalition of Islamist


and secular opposition parties have called for a boycott, saying the


election will be a sham and that Mr Bouteflika is too ill to govern.


With me is Mohamed Ben-Madani. He's editor and founder of the Maghreb


Review, covering North Africa and the Middle East. Nice to meet you.


He is going to win, isn't he? He is going to win. Everyone expected him


to win. But his main principal challenger said that even if he


loses, he will not accept the result. So if he wins, there will be


chaos. It is hard to see how it will end. You are talking about the main


opposition candidate, Ali Benflis. I'm talking about resident macro, if


he wins. Why are the opposition calling for a boycott? The


opposition organised a protest last Friday with 40,000 to protest


against the election. They are protesting because Abdelaziz


Bouteflika has not fulfilled his promise -- obligations. What


obligations? Employment, jobs, poverty. It is a very rich country


in natural resources, Algeria, but that does not create many jobs and


you have a very young population. Is there a generation gap in Algeria,


that older voters, perhaps like Abdelaziz Bouteflika because they


remember the stability. There was all that terrible violence in the


1990s and thousands of people died. He has 24% of the Algerian


population with no jobs, despite the resources. You have almost 25% who


are living under the poverty line. You have made that point but on this


question of the fact that the RB, which backs Abdelaziz Bouteflika,


the deep state, they have brought stability. -- the fact that the


Army, which backs president-macro... Is he the candidate for stability?


That is what he is proposing, but there are problems because of his


old age and his health. He has not brought the economy... OK, but if he


is ill and unable to take care of the day-to-day process of


Government, who is running the show? His brother and the Army, and the


small group around him will run the show. He's completely unfit to rule


the country for now. And the Army will be watching very closely, and


the reason they are supporting him is because they feel first that he


has brought a little stability. He is the man who can manipulate and


control the other political parties. Thank you very much.


Voting has been taking place on the biggest day so far of India's


marathon general election. Today, 121 parliamentary seats are up for


grabs in 12 states. The main challenger to India's ruling


Congress party is the Hindu nationalist BJP. Its candidate


Narendra Modi is seen by critics as anti-Muslim. One of the key states


going to the polls today is Rajasthan in Western India. Sanjoy


Majumder reports from the state capital, Jaipur.


A helping hand to enable her to enter the polling station. She is


one of the many who streamed in steadily to cast their vote. This is


the most significant day of polling, and every vote counts in what is


turning out to be a bitterly fought election. The voters are in an


unforgiving mood. TRANSLATION: India should progress. We should get rid


of corruption so that the poor and middle classes get the chance to


move forward. TRANSLATION: Make things cheaper. Everything is


becoming so expensive. We are finding it harder to manage. This


building is more than 100 years old. It is one of the city's oldest


schools and it has now been converted into a polling station.


You can just see the number of women who have turned out to vote today.


It is something we have seen in earlier phases of these elections as


well, large turnouts, many women as well. It usually means that they are


trying to send a strong message. Wherever we go, they say the same


thing - they are fed up with the politicians. 100km from Jaipur, they


are focused on the elections, too. This is the village of Rajnota. The


pace of life here has not changed over the years and it has hardly


seen any development. In the village square, the elders tell me, "We only


see the politicians during the election times." TRANSLATION: There


are no jobs here. Delhi is 250km, 300km away, and Mumbai is even


further. It's too far for our children to go looking for work.


TRANSLATION: The politicians just lie to us all the time. In ten


years, no one has built a road or a hospital. People here have been left


out of India's progress, but they are hungry for change. And this is


the one time they can push for it. As Christians get ready to celebrate


one of their main festivals, Easter, a survey of 65 countries suggests


that most people believe religion has a beneficial role in society.


66,000 people were surveyed by the company WIN/Gallup. Indonesia came


out as the country most supportive of religion. Africa was the most


supportive region. The United States topped developed countries. Let's


talk some more about this. I am joined by our religious affairs


correspondent, Robert Pigott. An interesting survey. And one not done


very regularly but what it showed, what it hides is as interesting as


what it reveals. They asked people how positively they regarded


religion in its role in their own country and they subtracted from


that how negatively people thought as well. Some felt positive, some


negative. They got a score for each country. 95% of people in Indonesia


thought of religion played a positive role in their country.


Africa came at... The vast majority of people in Indonesia are Muslim.


Yes. Africa is partly Muslim and partly Christian, and has


traditional religions as well. The Middle East and North Africa was the


next region. Roughly 55% positive. Then you begin to look at roles


which are less positive than that. Is it across already genes? Some of


the areas you have cited, Indonesia, end of the nation, although it has


non-Muslim people living there as well, Middle East, Africa, was it


mainly Muslims who said they value religion? Muslims came out top of


the people who view religion as being a positive force in their


country. But Protestant Christians also. Hindus were one of the least


favourable of the role religion played in the country. Which region


was the most negative towards religion? Western Europe was


conspicuously the most negative and there are also to be just impossible


reasons. Could it be because religious institutions are


unpopular, could it be to do with the sex scandal in the church? There


is also the link between educational achievement and the religion. The


higher your education is, the least likely you are to favour religion.


At each stage, you find a greater negative net feeling towards


religion. So could it be that the most educated areas of the world


have that view? Did atheists see any merit at all in religion for their


fellow citizens the believers? Not a lot in the overall school but four


out of ten it think so, so they did see a positive role for religion. --


the overall score. And that is because religion, in essence, is a


good code for leading a good life when you take out ritual elements.


If you live in Africa do you see the big conflict between the themes and


Christians in Nigeria as being a religious one or tribal one? Thank


you. Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, have been


visiting one of the areas devastated by Australian bush fires just six


months ago. The royal couple visited the Blue


Mountains, speaking to people affected by the fires, before taking


in the view. They met local leaders, members from the emergency services,


and fire volunteers. The Duke and Duchess began their ten-day tour of


Australia on Wednesday. That is it from us. Goodbye.


After today's extra cloud, pressure is building for the start of the


Easter weekend. Friday and Saturday not the warmest,


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