Saturday, 7 September 2013

Coleman defends Bale move

Chris Coleman: Naming Bale on bench was 'mind games'
Chris Coleman: Naming Bale on bench was 'mind games'
 
Wales boss Chris Coleman admitted that Gareth Bale was never going to feature in the World Cup qualifying defeat to Macedonia.
 
Coleman raised eyebrows when he named Bale on the bench despite the Real Madrid midfielder not having played any football since July.

The world-record signing watched from the dugout as his team-mates slipped to a 2-1 defeat, and Coleman revealed afterwards that the decision to name Bale as a substitute was an attempt at mind games.

Coleman insisted Bale was not fit enough to play any part, and that his presence was merely a ploy to unsettle opposition number Cedomir Janevski.

When asked if he considered bringing Bale on to try and salvage a draw in the late stages, a tetchy Coleman replied: "What part of he's not fit are you not listening to? Why bring him on if he's not fit?

"You think I would not have used him if he was fit? I don't mind what other people think. What I look at is the opposition. If I'm the opposition manager and Bale is on the bench, maybe it would affect his thinking.

"If he was fit he would have played. I spoke to him, he is not ready. Simple. I haven't conned the supporters to say he might play. If there was a chance he would have played, but there wasn't. We can't take the risk."

Coleman was angered further when questioned about losing his passport earlier this week, which delayed his arrival in Skopje until late on Thursday.

Asked if he was planning to apologise over the incident, Coleman said: "To who? What are you talking about? What you don't know is what we do day to day. All the work had been done. If we'd won you wouldn't make much out of it, but you will because we lost and that's up to you."

On the match, Coleman insisted his team were unfortunate to leave Skopje empty-handed after having the better of much of the encounter.

He said: "The pitch was not great and didn't help the way we play, but we stuck at it and were probably beaten by the pitch at the end of the day. They can feel very lucky to get three points.

"Sometimes when you lose and you deserve to lose then at least you can go back and think you could do better but for large periods of the game we were on top and taking the game to Macedonia and had a lot of opportunities."

Coleman was also disappointed with the performance of Swiss referee Sascha Kever, who he thought was too lenient in his treatment of the home side.

He continued: "Nowadays the rules are you can't pull shirts - I'm 60 yards away from both boxes and I can tell you there were a lot of shirts being pulled.

"The referee is closer than I am, why can't he see it? There were a few incidents we weren't happy with at all, one or two bad challenges that on another day are red cards.

"But we got on with it, we didn't come for one point, we came for three. We took the game to them and we came away with nothing. Unfortunately sometimes in football you don't always get what you deserve."

Nigeria Boko Haram gunmen 'tracked and killed'

Soldiers in Borno state, Nigeria - April 2013  
Militant attacks have continued despite the military offensive
 
About 50 Islamist militants have been killed in north-eastern Nigeria after the military raided Boko Haram camps, army spokesman Sagir Musa has said.

Troops tracked gunmen who attacked two towns on Wednesday and Thursday, reportedly killing 20 people.
Boko Haram, which wants to create an Islamic state across Nigeria, has waged a deadly insurgency since 2009.

In May, Nigeria declared an emergency in three north-eastern states in order to battle the militants.

'Invaded from nowhere'
 
"Troops pursued the terrorists to their camps and destroyed them with air support," Lt-Col Musa said on Friday in Maiduguri - the state capital of Borno state where Boko Haram was founded.

The operation began on Wednesday after gunmen attacked Gajiram, about 75km (46 miles) north of Maiduguri, when it was crowded with traders for market day.

Boko Haram at a glance

map

 
Buildings were burnt and 15 people died in the market, said residents who fled to Maiduguri.

"Many traders and pupils in the school, including a few council workers at the secretariat complex, took to their heels for safety... We were shocked and terrified," a Gajiram resident told Nigeria's Guardian newspaper.

A further five people were killed by gunmen early on Thursday in Bulabilin Ngaura, a small town about 35km south-east of Maiduguri.

"They invaded the village from nowhere. They just opened fire… they killed only five people going to mosque for prayers," a Bulabilin Ngaura resident told Nigeria's Leadership paper.

Boko Haram has not commented on the camp raids or town attacks.

Last month, the army said it had killed Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau but this has not been confirmed and the militants' attacks have continued.

Since the state of emergency was declared, the military has encouraged the formation of vigilante groups to help tackle the Islamists.

In recent weeks, these vigilantes have been the target of attacks.

Observers says it appears Boko Haram is taking revenge against such groups, adding weight to fears that the vigilante groups may trigger an escalation of the violence.

Australia election: Abbott poised for victory

The BBC's Jon Donnison: "If the polls are to be believed, then this is Tony Abbott's race to lose"

Exit polls in Australia suggest Tony Abbott's Liberal-National coalition is on course for a decisive election win, as voting ended in the eastern states.

One poll forecast that the opposition coalition would secure 97 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives.

The campaign has been dramatic, with Kevin Rudd replacing Julia Gillard as prime minister and Labor party leader just weeks from the polls.

The economy, asylum and the carbon tax have been key election issues.

Mr Rudd called the election after ousting Julia Gillard in a leadership challenge in June, amid dismal polling figures that showed Labor on course for a wipe-out.

Under Mr Rudd, Labor initially saw its figures improve significantly. But Mr Abbott, who enjoyed the strident support of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, then broadened the gap again.

The Newspoll exit poll, released just over an hour before polling closed in the east of the country, gave the coalition 53% to Labor's 47% on a two-party basis (votes for the two main parties after both primary votes and preferences are distributed).

Another poll put the two-party figure at 52%-48% in the coalition's favour.

More than 14 million people were expected to vote in Saturday's election. Polling has now closed in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

Polls close later in Western Australia because of the time zone difference.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Syria crisis: Russia and US 'no closer'







 President Barack Obama gives a news conference

The US and Russia have not bridged their differences over the issue of possible military action in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin says.

Mr Putin said it was "counter-productive" to destabilise the situation in the Middle East.

His comments came in a news conference on the final day of the G20 summit in St Petersburg.

US President Barack Obama had been pushing for support among leaders at the G20 for a US strike on Syria.

The US government accuses President Bashar al-Assad's forces of killing 1,429 people in a poison-gas attack in the Damascus suburbs on 21 August.

Mr Assad has blamed rebels for the attack. China and Russia, which have refused to agree to a UN Security Council resolution against Syria, insist any action without the UN would be illegal.

Mr Putin said the discussions about Syria on Thursday evening had gone on well past midnight.

He added that he had a one-to-one meeting with Mr Obama in which they had discussed Syria.

Both men had listened to the other's position but had not agreed, he said.

Also speaking at the end of the summit, Mr Obama said there was a "unanimous" view that chemical weapons had been used in Syria.

He also said most leaders present at the summit thought it was most likely that the regime of President Assad was responsible.

However, Mr Putin described the use of chemical weapons as "a provocation on the part of the militants who are expecting to get support from outside".

South African gold miners return to work

A miner walks as he returns from work outside Driefontein Gold Mine,70 km (43 miles) west of Johannesburg, September 4, 2013.Most of the 80,000 South African gold miners who have been on strike since Tuesday have returned to work after a new pay offer, union officials say.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman said workers for four of the seven companies had accepted the offer of an 8% rise.

The NUM had been demanding 60%, while employers had offered 6% - the same as the current annual rate of inflation.

South Africa's gold industry is one of the biggest in the world.

But it has been in decline in recent years, while the platinum sector is still recovering from violence during last year's strikes.

Power cuts
 
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told the AFP news agency that the remaining workers were still being briefed about the latest offer.

"This may possibly mark the end of the strike," he said.

Mine owners had warned that a long strike could lead to gold mines closing and thousands of jobs being lost, following a fall in the price of gold.

They say that their production costs have increased as they have had to dig ever deeper to extract gold.

For many years, South Africa was by far the world's largest gold producer but it is now the fifth biggest, with just 6% of world production.

However, mining is still the most important sector in South Africa's economy.

The NUM represents about 64% of South Africa's 120,000 gold miners.

South Africans were shocked last year when police shot dead 34 platinum miners during an unofficial strike called by a rival union, which accused the NUM of being too close to the ANC government.

South Africa has already been hit by strikes in the vehicle manufacturing and construction industries.

Some electricity workers have also gone on an unofficial strike, leading to severe power cuts in the biggest city, Johannesburg.

An extra generator has been installed near the home of former President Nelson Mandela, who arrived there on Sunday after almost three months in hospital.


South-east PDP backs Jonathan, Tukur

South-east PDP backs Jonathan, TukurThe Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) South East zone has passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, describing last Saturday’s purported split of the party as regrettable.

In a statement issued on Friday and signed by the National Vice Chairman for the South East Zone, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), the party requested all aggrieved members to shield their swords and work for a united PDP that will always deliver the mandate of the people.

The statement reads, “The PDP South East Zone hereby places its implicit and unreserved vote of confidence on the leadership of the Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan-led Federal Government and the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP.

“We regret the incident that trailed our Special Convention last Saturday at the Eagles Square, Abuja where some of our members staged a workout and wish to advise those aggrieved members to yield themselves to the on-going re-conciliatory measures for an amicable resolution of the standoff.

“The PDP as a large family is bound to have some altercations because of the different shades of opinions and interests. However, the ability to resolve the crisis as swiftly as it arises is what makes a party a truly national one.

“The PDP as a democratic organization maintains internal democracy and also gives room for resolution of grievances whose scope had been raised to the highest pedestal of party politics to accommodate elders and critical Stakeholders in the PDP since last Saturday.”

President Jonathan in Kenya

 
 FROM LEFT: PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN; PRESIDENT UHURU KENYATTA OF KENYA; FIRST LADY DAME PATIENCE JONATHAN AND WIFE OF THE KENYAN PRESIDENT, MAGARETH, DURING THE STATE VISIT OF PRESIDENT JONATHAN TO NAIROBI
 
 
PRESIDENT JONATHAN ON STATE VISIT TO KENYA
 
 
PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN (M), HIS WIFE, DAME PATIENCE JONATHAN AND OTHER OFFICIALS ARRIVING AT THE JOMO KENYATTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
 
 
FROM LEFT: GOV. PETER OBI OF ANAMBRA; CHAIRMAN, SENATE COMMITTEE ON AVIATION, SEN. HOPE UZODIMMA; NIGERIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER TO KENYA, AMB. AKIN OYATERU; PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN AND FIRST LADY, DAME PATIENCE JONATHAN, DURING A MEETING WITH THE NIGERIAN COMMUNITY IN KENYA
 
 
MEMBERS OF THE NIGERIAN COMMUNITY IN KENYA DURING THEIR MEETING WITH PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN
 

My best friend seduced my wife, blind man tells court

A blind man, Mr Shaibu Ibrahim, 56, of Aso Pada in Mararaba, Nasarawa State on Thursday told a Grade 1 Area Court in Mararaba that his friend, Shehu Sarki, 62, allegedly enticed his wife with money and seduced her.

In his testimony to the court, Ibrahim said that he became friends with the accused some time last year when the accused assisted him to secure accommodation at Gwagalape, near Nyanya in the FCT.

“He enticed my wife with money because he is rich.

“He took advantage of a little misunderstanding I had with my wife over N1,000.

“He was my very good friend. When he intervened, I thought he was concerned for me. I did not know that he had other evil plans,”

Ibrahim told the court that the accused was the one who instigated his wife against him.

“When I could not provide the N1000 daily savings to to secure a house, he took my wife and gave her another room in his compound.

“Each time I go to see her or sit on her bed, she will send me out and say she has no business with me and that she has gotten herself a real husband now.

“The accused began threatening me. He even told me that he has the money power to take my wife and marry her,”

Ibrahim alleged that his wife through Sarki’s influence, has offered to pay him back the N19,000 he paid as dowry on her.

After hearing Ibrahim’s testimony, the Presiding Judge, Mr Albert Maga, adjourned the case to Sept. 16, for defence.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that on Aug.27, Ibrahim dragged Sarki, his friend and Chairman of the Blind Peoples’ Association in Aso Pada to court for allegedly enticing his wife, Lami, 23.

On the same date, Ibrahim told the court that the accused was the one who introduced him to Lami amd later enticed her and took her away from him (NAN)

Dangote attributes success to Jonathan’s ‘favourable’ policies

Dangote attributes success to Jonathan’s ‘favourable’ policiesBusiness mogul, Aliko Dangote, on Thursday said his achievements as Africa’s richest man and 25th richest person on earth was due to the favourable policies of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Dangote spoke on Thursday night in Nairobi when President Jonathan met with the Nigerian community in the East African country.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the meeting was part of the activities lined-up for the three-day visit of President Jonathan to Kenya which began Thursday.

Dangote, who was on the President’s entourage told the gathering that Jonathan had done a lot to improve business climate in Nigeria.

He said, “I want to tell you what the President has been doing in Nigeria. He is very humble and may not want to sing about what he has been doing.

“I will tell you what he has been doing to Nigerians and to some of us who are in business in Nigeria.

“We are very grateful for some of the policies he has introduced.

“As you all know, without the good policies of government, there is no way a person like me from the big town like Kano can rise from a humble beginning to become the 25th richest person on earth.

“Without the policies of Mr. President and also making sure that yes, there is consistency in the policies of government this could not have happened.

“If Government has bad policies, the whole economy will crumble, and if they have good policies people will be able to prosper, and that is what it is happening now.”

Dangote also attributed his success story to the reforms carried out by the Federal Government in the banking sector.

Echiejile dismisses Besiktas switch report

Echiejile dismisses Besiktas switch reportNigeria international left back, Elderson Echiejile, has denied that he has joined Turkish Super League side Besiktas.

“It’s not true that I have signed for Besiktas. There was no agreement between Braga and Besiktas. I am still a player of Braga,” MTNFootball.com quoted the defender, whose contract at Braga expires in June 2014, as saying on his official website – www.elderson3.com

Echiejile also denied the transfer on his twitter handle @eldersonech, insisting he is focused on Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Malawi in Calabar.

“Please disregard any report that I have signed for besiktas. I’m still a player of sporting braga,” he tweeted.

“Everything abt a transfer is behind me as I’m focused on Saturday’s match vs Malawi.”
 
Interestingly, Besiktas on Thursday unveiled Corinthians of Brazil left back Ramon Motta on a season-long loan deal.

President Obama pushes G20 leaders for support on Syria


Russia's President Vladimir Putin stands with G-20 leaders during a group photo  The G20 leaders: Standing together but deeply divided
 
 US President Barack Obama is using his final day at the G20 summit to continue pushing for foreign support for a US military strike on Syria.

British sources say the leaders of France, Turkey, Canada and the UK gave Mr Obama strong backing.

But a Russian spokesman said a US strike would drive a "nail into the coffin of international law".

The head of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, has also denounced talk of military action, calling it "ill-considered".

Mr Ban said such attacks - responding to the apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria - could lead to more sectarian violence. 

The UN says it needs another $3.3bn (£2bn) to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis up to the end of this year. 

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim told the BBC that the refugee situation was "disastrous", and required "all hands on board".

"As a medical doctor, I've seen the pictures; I've seen the medical data. It really is appalling," he said.
Deep divisions
 
Mr Obama discussed the deepening crisis in Syria with other G20 delegates at a lengthy working dinner on Thursday night - and it was there, correspondents say, that their differences in opinion became obvious.

The BBC's Bridget Kendall, who is at the St Petersburg summit, says that on the final day of their talks these divisions are even more entrenched. 

The US government accuses Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces of killing 1,429 people in a poison-gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus on 21 August. 

But Mr Assad has blamed rebels for the attack - and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, says it still is not clear which side used the weapons.

While the UK, Canada and Turkey all support Mr Obama's call for action, the only leaders at the G20 meeting to commit to force in Syria are the US and France.

Correspondents in St Petersburg say opponents of US military intervention appear to far outnumber supporters within the G20.

China and Russia, which have refused to agree to a Security Council resolution against Syria, insist any action without the UN would be illegal. 

Joint UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi also said no state had the the right to take action without the approval of the Security Council.

Also on Friday, the US embassy in Lebanon said that it would be evacuating its non-essential staff.

The move was prompted by "threats to US mission facilities and personnel," a statement said. The US Consulate General in the Turkish city of Adana is also withdrawing non-essential staff. 

 Aid for Syria









 
Jeremy Bowen spoke to Syrians in Damascus about what they think of the divisions at the G20

The UN is appealing for more aid for people in Syria, and also for the estimated two million Syrians who have fled their country. 

The UN humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, told the BBC that donor countries should "look again" at their contributions and be "as generous as they can". 

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Friday that the UK would give an additional £52m ($80m) in aid for Syria - much of which will go towards medical training and equipment to help civilians targeted by chemical attacks.

Some analysts say Mr Cameron has been sidelined at the summit because the UK parliament has already voted against military strikes.

A senior Russian aide reportedly dismissed Britain as "just a small island: no-one pays any attention to them" - comments later denied by Mr Putin's chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

'Divisions confirmed'

Our correspondent Bridget Kendall says the views of the G20 leaders could be the least of Mr Obama's worries, as his real difficulties might lie back in the US, where Congress is preparing to vote next week on whether to back military strikes. 

A poll commissioned by the BBC and ABC News suggested more than one-third of Congress members were undecided whether or not to back military action - and a majority of those who had made a decision said they would vote against the president.

Syria's parliamentary speaker has written to the speaker of the House of Representatives urging members not to rush into an "irresponsible, reckless action".

Meanwhile the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, has accused Russia of holding the Security Council hostage by blocking resolutions.

Ms Power said the council was no longer a "viable path" for holding Syria accountable for war crimes.

She told a news conference in New York: "Even in the wake of the flagrant shattering of the international norm against chemical weapons use, Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities.

Fighting continues
 
Meanwhile, on the ground in Syria, rebels have withdrawn after briefly entering an ancient Christian town north of Damascus, the main opposition alliance has said.

Free Syrian Army (FSA) units captured military positions outside Maaloula after heavy clashes with government forces and militiamen on Thursday.

The National Coalition said they were in the vicinity for several hours, "but did not attack any church or convent".

Analysts say the fighting highlights the delicate position of Syria's Christian minority.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Manchester United: Nani signs new five-year contract

NaniManchester United is delighted to announce that Nani has signed a new five year contract to June 2018.

The Portuguese winger signed for United in May 2007 and has won four Barclays Premier League titles, two League Cups, a FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Champions League in his six seasons at Old Trafford.

David Moyes said: "I'm really pleased Nani has re-signed for the next five years. He has great ability and experience beyond his 26 years. I've been impressed with his approach to training and look forward to working with him in the coming seasons."Nani
Nani said: "Playing at United has been a fantastic experience for me. When I came to the Club, I never imagined the success we have enjoyed. Training every day with top players who want to win trophies every year is a great motivation to me. I'm very happy that the new manager has shown this faith in me and I'm looking forward to helping the team compete for more honours this season."

UK has new Syria chemical evidence - David Cameron

David Cameron David Cameron is welcomed to St Petersburg by Vladimir Putin
The UK has fresh evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Damascus, David Cameron has told the BBC as he arrives in Russia for the G20 summit.

Scientists at the Porton Down laboratories have been "examining samples" from Syria's capital, he said.

Mr Cameron denied claims he had "no hand to play" over Syria after losing a vote last week on UK military action.

He said the UK would lead calls for more action on aid for refugees and push for fresh peace talks.

In an interview with BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson, Mr Cameron said he took "full and personal responsibility" for the decision to recall Parliament and could not have guaranteed MPs a say in whether Britain should take part in US-led action had he not acted so swiftly.

His "only regret" was that Labour, which voted with Tory and Lib Dem rebels against the government motion, had chosen "the easy and the political path not the right and the difficult path".

'Appalling signal'
 
Asked if he had no hand to play at the St Petersburg summit, which is expected to be dominated by discussions about Syria, he said: "Not in the slightest."

Mr Cameron added: "Britain will be leading the argument on humanitarian aid. Britain will be one of the leaders in bringing forward plans for a peace process for Syria. Britain will be leading the argument across the globe for continuing to respond strongly on chemical weapons."

He said: "I absolutely believe that, having set a red line on the further big use of chemical weapons, it would be wrong if America was to step back and, having set that red line, to do nothing. I think that would send an appalling signal to President Assad and also to dictators elsewhere."

The Damascus government is accused of using chemical weapons against civilians on several occasions during the 30-month conflict - most recently on a large scale in an attack on 21 August on the outskirts of the capital. 

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied involvement and said the rebels were responsible.

But Mr Cameron said evidence of the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons was "growing all the time" and scientists at the UK's chemical warfare research laboratories were investigating the attacks on 21 August.

"We have just been looking at some samples taken from Damascus in the Porton Down laboratory in Britain which further shows the use of chemical weapons in that Damascus suburb," he told Nick Robinson.

Russian President Vladimir Putin: "The risk of another (economic) crisis is still there"

Syria is not officially on the G20 agenda in St Petersburg, which is meant to be about global economic recovery, but it is expected to dominate informal meetings.

'Sidelined'
 
US President Barack Obama has begun informal talks with other leaders as he pushes for military action over Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that military action without UN approval would be "an aggression".

Earlier, former UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the government's Commons defeat on military action had left Mr Cameron "sidelined".

The Conservative MP said the prime minister had been "sent into negotiations on Syria with no hand to play and that was bad for the UK".

Speaking on the BBC's Daily Politics programme, he said the vote had "given pause for thought amongst our allies about the deliverability of any promise that future prime ministers might make".

He added that Parliament needed to reflect on how the events of last week had been interpreted internationally. 

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "If the G20 does not agree about military action against the Assad regime, it can surely unite around a determined effort to improve humanitarian relief.

"The summit would be a qualified success if it could agree to do everything possible to achieve a ceasefire so that the humanitarian effort can proceed unhindered.

"David Cameron should make this a priority."

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Syria crisis: Obama says world's credibility on the line

Barack Obama: "The world set a red line when the governments representing 98% of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent"

President Barack Obama has said the credibility of the US, its Congress and the international community is on the line over their response to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons.

Speaking in Sweden, he said the world should stick to its own "red line" against the use of chemical weapons.

Mr Obama is trying to build support in the US for punitive military action against the Syrian government.
 
The US Congress will vote next week on whether to support his proposed action.

France - whose government has strongly backed the US plan for intervention - is holding an extraordinary debate in the National Assembly, though MPs will not vote on the matter.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault stressed the need to take action together with France's partners, saying: "Faced with barbarism, doing nothing is not an option." 

He said it was "France's honour, France's duty" to act and that President Francois Hollande was continuing efforts to bring together a coalition.

"What message would this send to other regimes, and I am thinking like you of Iran and North Korea? The message would be clear: You can continue," he added.

Iran has rejected Western claims that it is seeking to build a nuclear weapon, while North Korea has a nuclear bomb but not yet the means to deliver it via a missile.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault: ''Bashar al-Assad has become a war criminal and has committed a crime against humanity'' 
 
The UK parliament voted last month against military intervention in Syria.

Russia remains firmly opposed, with President Vladimir Putin warning on Wednesday that any strike without UN approval would be "an aggression".

But Mr Putin said Russia did not rule out supporting a UN Security Council resolution authorising force, if it was proved "beyond doubt" that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons.

He said it was "too early" to talk about what Russia would do if America took action without a UN resolution.

Meanwhile, Jordan's Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour told the BBC that it would back intervention in neighbouring Syria if proof emerged that chemical weapons had been used. 

But he said any strikes would have to be precise, and that Jordan itself would not be involved.

'World's red line' 
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is accused of using chemical weapons against civilians on several occasions during the 30-month conflict, most recently on a large scale in an attack on 21 August on the outskirts of Damascus.

The US has put the death toll from that incident at 1,429 - though other countries and organisations have given lower figures - and says all the evidence implicates government forces.

President Assad has said such an attack would have been "illogical" because UN chemical weapons experts were visiting Damascus at the time.

On Tuesday evening, senior members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations agreed a draft resolution on military action to go before Congress - it specified that any operation would be "limited and tailored" and prohibit the use of any ground forces.

The full committee may vote on the draft on Wednesday.

Mr Obama has won the support of key Congressional leaders, though influential Republican John McCain said there were "number of people who are unhappy". 

In Stockholm, Mr Obama was asked if he believed asking Congress to vote - which he was not constitutionally obliged to do - had put his credibility at stake.

"My credibility is not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line," he replied.
"America and Congress's credibility is on the line, because we give lip-service to the notion that these international norms are important."

Mr Obama, who has previously said that the use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line", told reporters that it was not him who set this line but the world, "when governments representing 98% of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war". 

"Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty," he added.

He said he believed Congress would give its backing, because it recognised that the world would become "less safe" if chemical weapons were allowed to become the norm. 

But he also stressed that as commander-in-chief, he had the right to act in his country's national interest. 

The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Assad began in March 2011.

On Tuesday, the UN refugee agency said more than 2 million Syrians had now registered as refugees, and an estimated 4.25 million had been displaced within Syria, making it the worst refugee crisis since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

The foreign ministers of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq - which border Syrian and have taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees - are meeting at the UN in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss the humanitarian issue.

The ministers hope to persuade other richer countries to offer more support.


Mesut Ozil sale impossible to understand, says Joachim Low

Mesut Ozil Germany manager Joachim Low has described Real Madrid's decision to sell Mesut Ozil to Arsenal as "incomprehensible". 

The Gunners completed a £42.4m deal for the Germany midfielder, 24, on Monday following Real's signing of Gareth Bale from Tottenham.
But Low has questioned the decision to allow Ozil to leave the Bernabeu. 

"For me, it's incomprehensible that Real would sell one of their top scorers," Low said. 

"Many Real players like Sami Khedira or Cristiano Ronaldo are sad about the transfer."

Mesut Ozil
World Cup 2010: Mesut Ozil scores against Ghana
Low feels that Ozil will benefit at the Emirates from the determination Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger showed to secure his signing. 

The Germany manager, whose team face Austria in a World Cup qualifier on Friday, claims that the Gunners' style of football, as well as Wenger's support, will bring the best out of the former Werder Bremen midfielder. 

He added: "Mesut is a sensitive player and he needs the faith from the club and the coach. 

"It seems that was no longer 100% there at Real whereas Arsenal and their coach Arsene Wenger pulled out all the stops to get him. 

"He has a top coach there and, with Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker, he has two German colleagues. Arsenal are a strong team who play technically high-quality football."

Gareth Bale not guaranteed Real Madrid start - assistant coach

Gareth Bale is not certain to start for Real Madrid despite being the world's most expensive player, says assistant coach Paul Clement. 

Wales international Bale, 24, who joined the Spanish side for £85.3m from Tottenham, could make his debut at Villarreal on 14 September. 

But Clement told BBC Sport: "There's a lot of competition for places - no-one will be guaranteed anything. 

"Coach Carlo Ancelotti has a clear idea how to use him but things can change." 

Bale began his career as a left-back at Southampton before going to Spurs where he was first employed in the same position before moving further up the pitch. Gareth Bale
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas then used him in an even more advanced role, giving him freedom to roam along the forward line. He was the club's top scorer last season, with 21 goals in the league. 

Former Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo, like Bale, has moved further up the field during his career. He found the net 34 times for Real in La Liga last season and scored his 200th goal for the club in May in just his fourth season with the Bernabeu outfit. 
 
And there has been debate whether Bale or Ronaldo will play the furthest forward. 

"Carlo is flexible enough to use Gareth and other players in different capacities," Englishman Clement said. 

"At Southampton, Bale played at left-back which he also did at Spurs where he became a more left-sided player. 

"He recently became more central. He's got that versatility. 

"It'll be interesting to see how players fit in together. We'll be trying to find their best position and what's best for the team as quickly as possible. 

"Gareth has the goalscoring talent and ability to set up goals for others. We have a lot of exciting players here. [Striker Karim] Benzema is a great talent, while Isco plays in midfield but has chipped in with three goals already." 

After finalising the deal on Sunday and having been presented to fans on Monday, Bale has rejoined the Wales squad for their World Cup qualifiers - in Macedonia on 6 September and at home to Serbia four days later. 

"Depending on how much or little he plays will depend whether he trains a week on Wednesday or Thursday leading into the first game at Villarreal away [Saturday, 14 September]," added Clement.
Clement himself is still settling in at Real. He arrived in late June having been brought to the club by Ancelotti, with whom he worked at Chelsea and Paris St-Germain, after the Italian was appointed as Jose Mourinho's replacement.

The former PE teacher from the south London borough of Sutton, who progressed up the ranks as coach at Chelsea, said he had been taking regular Spanish lessons to help adjust to his new surroundings and to help with coaching the players.
Gareth Bale
Bale's best Premier League goals

Clement suggested it would benefit Bale to "knuckle down" and learn the language. 

"It's more challenging for a coach and manager than a player," he continued. "Communication is everything - you have to instruct and organise. 

"It's up to Gareth to learn. A lot of players start having lessons at the club when they arrive. [Croatian] Luka Modric, who played with Gareth at Tottenham, had some lessons initially - he speaks in Spanish and English with the players. 

"I'm sure Gareth will do the same. He spoke some lines during the news conference. It's a great life quality if he knuckles down and learns. Our communication with the team as a whole will be in Spanish."

Mali's new President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita sworn in

Malian new President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (R) arrives to pay his respects in front of the Independence Monument after taking the oath of office on 4 September 2013 Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (R) promised to unify the country at his inauguratio

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has been sworn in as Mali's new president at the Supreme Court in the capital, Bamako.

Before he took his oath of office, transitional leader Dioncounda Traore handed over power at a ceremony inside the presidential palace.

Mr Keita, a former prime minister, won last month's run-off election.

The election of the new president is intended to restore normality after a coup and French-led military action against Islamist rebels in the north.

France sent more than 4,000 troops to Mali in January and together with West African troops regained control of towns and cities from groups aligned with al-Qaeda.

They captured territory with the backing of Tuareg separatists in 2012, taking advantage of a coup in Bamako during which the army accused the civilian government of not doing enough to repel the Islamists.

'Crazy challenge'
 
Mr Traore and defeated presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse were among the more than 1,000 politicians, diplomats and military personnel at Wednesday's inauguration, the AFP news agency reports.

"I will not forget for a moment that you put me where I am to take care of all aspects of the life of our nation," Mr Keita said after taking his oath of office.

The 68-year-old also reiterated that national reconciliation was his priority.

"I want to reconcile hearts and minds, restore true brotherhood between us so that all the different people can play their part harmoniously in the national symphony," he said.
A United Nations peacekeeper in Kidal, Mali - July 2013  
UN peacekeepers are deployed in the north of Mali
 
A larger inauguration ceremony, to which French President Francois Hollande has been invited, will be held later this month.

At his last cabinet meeting on Monday, Mr Traore had said that his team had able to meet a "crazy challenge" following last year's coup, including regaining territory from Islamist rebels with France's help and organising a peaceful presidential election.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita One of the first tasks for Mr Keita, often known as "IBK", will be to open peace talks with Tuareg separatist groups.

After France's military intervention, the separatists captured Kidal, the only town in Mali where the Tuaregs form a majority. But they agreed in June to allow nationwide elections to go ahead as long as negotiations continued within two months of a new president taking office.

Abdourahmane Dia, from BBC Afrique, says other urgent matters for the president will be reforming the army and tackling corruption - one of his campaign promises.

Many Malians believe corruption to be endemic among high-ranking officers and politicians, he says.
The crisis of the last 18 months has deepened the economic difficulties in Mali and sectors like cotton production as well as tourism have been hit hard, our correspondent adds.

But the president will have more than $4bn (£2.6bn) in foreign aid promised to rebuild the country following the return to democratic rule.

A 12,600-strong United Nations peace force is currently deploying to the West African nation, as France begins to withdraw its 3,000 remaining troops.

Wayne Rooney posts head injury picture on Facebook

Wayne RooneyWayne Rooney has posted a graphic picture on Facebook showing the head injury that forced him out of England's next two World Cup qualifiers. 

The 27-year-old suffered the deep cut in a freak training ground collision with the boot of Manchester United team-mate Phil Jones last week. 

Old Trafford boss David Moyes said the striker could be out for three weeks.
England team-mate Theo Walcott has described the photograph as "like something out of a horror film". 

Roy Hodgson's side face Moldova at Wembley on Friday and then a difficult trip to Ukraine on Tuesday. 

Rooney is one of three players who have withdrawn from the squad due to injury. 

Glen Johnson was forced off with an ankle injury during Liverpool's 1-0 win over Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday, while United's Jones was also substituted with a similar problem.