JERUSALEM(Agency): Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reached a broad agreement to move people and goods in and out of Gaza to enhance the territory's viability and strengthen the moderate leadership of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, the U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, announced Tuesday after a full day and night of marathon negotiations.
The agreement represented a breakthrough in an impasse over several issues that had caused mounting bitterness between Israel and the Palestinians after the withdrawal of Israeli forces and settlers last August.
The intent is to open up several crossings from Gaza into neighboring Israel and Egypt while giving Israeli security personnel a role behind the scenes in checking trucks, buses and individuals to guard against terrorist attacks.
Powerful earthquake shakes Japan, small tsunami waves measured
TOKYO, (AP): A powerful earthquake shook northern Japan early Tuesday, triggering small tsunami waves that struck towns along the northeastern coast about 350 kilometres (215 miles) away. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
Japan's Meteorological Agency said the magnitude-7.1 quake hit at 6:39 a.m. (2139 GMT) off the east coast of Japan's main island of Honshu, and issued a tsunami warning.
About 400 households along the coast were temporarily ordered to evacuate, public broadcaster NHK reported. Local authorities also ordered fishing boats to move to open water to avoid being washed up on the shore.
Small tsunami waves measuring up to 50 centimetres (20 inches) hit Ofunato city on the coast of Iwate prefecture (state) nearly an hour after the quake, the agency said.
Smaller tsunami waves hit at least four other coastal towns in Iwate, Aomori and Miyagi provinces, but there were no immediate reports of damage.
The agency called off the tsunami warning about two hours after the quake.
Tsunami waves -- generated by earthquakes -- are often barely noticeable in the ocean but can rise to great heights once they arrive at shore.
Germany's SPD elects new chief as ‘Grand Coalition’ emerges
BERLIN (Xinhuanet) : Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) on Tuesday elected Matthias Platzeck as its new chairman ahead of the formation of a coalition government with designated chancellor Angela Merkel's alliance.
Platzeck (51) was approved by an almost unanimous vote, winning 512 votes from the 515 participants at a party conference in the city of Karlsruhe.
Both Platzeck and Merkel, who leads the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), are from the eastern part of Germany.
On Monday, both SPD and the CDU/CSU (Christian Social Union) gave the green light to a grand coalition government. They are due to install Merkel as new chancellor to replace Gerhard Schroeder on Nov. 22. Enditem
Tamils urged to boycott Lankan polls
COLOMBO, (AP): Student groups with ties to Sri Lanka's feared insurgents called for minority Tamils to boycott Sri Lanka's presidential election, widely seen as a referendum on the country's faltering peace process.
Groups linked to the Tamil Tigers have for weeks urged Tamils to stay away from the poll.
But the students' announcement was the first call for an outright boycott.
"As far as the Tamil people are concerned, both candidates from the main parties are chauvinists," said a statement from the University Students' Union at the University of Jaffna, in northern Sri Lanka on Monday.
Sonia breaks silence on oil-for-food scam, says guilty will be punished
NEW DELHI, (AP): India's ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi vowed Tuesday to punish anyone found guilty of benefiting illegally from the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq, and denied she was protecting the former foreign minister at the center of the controversy.
"It is a very serious issue," Gandhi said in her first comments on the issue, which forced the resignation of Foreign Minister Natwar Singh on Nov. 7 after he was named as one of the beneficiaries by an independent U.N. inquiry.
China's industrial output rises 16 pc in Oct
SHANGHAI, (AP): China's industrial output grew at a robust annual rate of 16.1 percent in October, the government reported Tuesday, but economic planners warned that major industries such as steel and autos are producing too much to keep up with demand.
China's industrial output in October totaled 632 billion yuan (US$78 billion; euro67 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said, with the annual rate of growth slowing to 16.1 percent from 16.5 percent in September.