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Germany hopes for Snowden meeting on US spying

The German government says it is keen to hear directly from the fugitive NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about the US spy agency's activities. "If the message is that Mr Snowden wants to give us information then we'll gladly accept that," said German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich.

Mr Snowden's lawyer said a meeting could occur in Moscow, but not Germany. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has said that in some cases, US spying has gone too far.

He said he would work with President Barack Obama to prevent further inappropriate actions by the National Security Agency. Mr Snowden, 30, fled to Russia in June after leaking details of far-reaching US telephone espionage. He has temporary asylum, allowing him to live in Russia until next June.

In a surprise move, a German Green MP, Hans-Christian Stroebele, has met Mr Snowden in Moscow and revealed the former intelligence contractor's readiness to brief the German government on NSA spying. Mr Snowden set out his position in a letter, which Mr Stroebele showed to reporters at a news conference on Friday. The scale of the alleged US espionage has provoked international concern and calls for tighter supervision. Asian countries have protested at claims that Australia was involved in a US-led spy network.

Continue reading the main story How intelligence is gathered How intelligence is gathered Accessing internet company data Tapping fibre optic cables Eavesdropping on phones Targeted spying Read more in our in-depth report India now a 'Big Brother' state? Fugitive Snowden 'may help Germany' Anger over Australia Asia spy claims China has demanded an explanation of the reports, while Indonesia has summoned the Australian ambassador to Jakarta.

'Not on' Reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone was bugged by US spies for years overshadowed last week's EU summit and she remarked with irritation that spying on friends is "really not on". According to Mr Stroebele, Mr Snowden is not keen on German investigators going to see him in Moscow, but would be ready to go to Germany if it could be guaranteed that he would not be extradited to the United States. It is not clear whether Mr Snowden would get legal protection in Germany.

The US authorities want to get him extradited to stand trial for revealing official secrets. But the German government says it would welcome a meeting with the whistleblower.

"We will find a way, if Mr Snowden is willing to talk,'' Mr Friedrich said. "Any clarification, any information and facts that we can get, is good." In other developments: Major technology companies including Google, Apple and Yahoo have called for the US government to do more to rein in the NSA's activities Indonesia's foreign minister said reports that the NSA used Australian embassies to eavesdrop on Asian countries would indicate a "serious breach" of diplomatic rules. 'Amazingly talkative' Mr Snowden "will not go to Germany", his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said. "This is not possible because he has no right to cross Russian borders.

"Within the framework of international agreements Snowden can give testimony in Russia but this should be decided by the German authorities." But Mr Stroebele said there was a possibility that Mr Snowden could travel to Germany, the BBC's Stephen Evans reports from Berlin. The Bundestag - the lower house of parliament - has the power to decree that someone addressing it has immunity.

Speaking to German ARD television, Mr Stroebele said that Mr Snowden "is fundamentally ready to help bring things to light". "The conditions for that have to be established. We had a long discussion about that." The MP said he had suggested that investigators could question Mr Snowden in Moscow about the NSA.

Mr Snowden "made it clear that he knows a very great deal," he went on. Mr Stroebele described the former intelligence contractor as "amazingly talkative - he has a mission, an urge to communicate, he wants things to be put back on a legal basis". Mr Snowden is starting work on Friday for a major private website in Russia, his lawyer has said. Mr Kucherena would not disclose which site has employed Mr Snowden, citing security concerns.

German MP Hans-Christian Stroebele (right) with Edward Snowden Mr Stroebele (right) met Mr Snowden at a secret location in Moscow

Germany allows 'indeterminate' gender at birth

The BBC's Stephen Evans in Berlin says that it's not yet clear what this will mean for German law on marriage. Germany has become Europe's first country to allow babies with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female. Parents are now allowed to leave the gender blank on birth certificates, in effect creating a new category of "indeterminate sex".

The move is aimed at removing pressure on parents to make quick decisions on sex assignment surgery for newborns. However, some campaigners say the new law does not go far enough. As many as one in 2,000 people have characteristics of both sexes.

'Bruised and scarred' Silvan Agius, ILGA-Europe: "It does not address the surgeries... and that's not good" They are known as "intersex" people because they have a mixture of male and female chromosomes or even genitalia which have characteristics of both genders.

The intense difficulty for parents is often that a gender has to be chosen very quickly so that the new child can be registered with the authorities, the BBC's Steve Evans in Berlin reports. Sometimes surgery is done on the baby to turn its physical characteristics as far as possible in one direction or the other, our correspondent says. The law in Germany has been changed following a review of cases which revealed great unhappiness.

In one case, a person with no clear gender-defining genitalia was subjected to surgery. The person said many years later: "I am neither a man nor a woman. I will remain the patchwork created by doctors, bruised and scarred." German passports, which currently list the holder's sex as M for male or F for female, will have a third designation, X, for intersex holders, according to the interior ministry.

It remains unclear what impact the change will have on marriage and partnership laws in Germany. Current laws define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and civil partnerships are reserved for same-sex couples. Silvan Agius of IGLA-Europe, which campaigns for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people, said the law needed to go further.

"While on the one hand it has provided a lot of visibility about intersex issues... it does not address the surgeries and the medicalisation of intersex people and that's not good - that has to change," he told the BBC.

Meeting of irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan will be held on time

Addis Ababa, 31 October 2013 (WIC) - A meeting of the irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will be held on time on Monday 4/11/2013 in Khartoum, said Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Motaleb on Tuesday 29/10/2013.

In press statements on the sidelines of his visit to Siwa Oasis, he added that the meeting will be a beginning for several other meetings to follow in an attempt to reach an agreement among all parties concerned regarding the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

He also said that we have no bad intentions towards the Ethiopian people, as we do not aim to harm any country of the Nile Basin countries. The meeting aims at hammering out an agreement on a joint vision regarding setting up projects on the Nile in a way that does not affect the water share of the two downstream Nile countries; namely Egypt and Sudan, he added.

On the other hand, Abdel Moteleb denied disputes with the Ministry of Agriculture, stressing that both ministries are coordinating efforts to magnify the benefit of Siwa water wells.

In press statements on the fringe of a two-day visit to Siwa, Abdel-Moteleb said there is a comprehensive plan to realize the utmost benefit of Siwa water and encourage investments in the agricultural domain in this area. Meanwhile, the minister noted that the drinking and irrigation water problem in Matrouh has ended since the Armed Forces set up a station with a daily capacity of 24,000 cubic meters. (sis.gov.eg)

AU condemns holding of unilateral referendum in Abyei

Addis Ababa, October 30/2013 (WIC) - The African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma condemned the organization by the leadership of the Ngok Dinka community of a unilateral “referendum”, to determine the final status of Abyei, AU said. The Chairperson stressed that this unilateral act is unacceptable and irresponsible, according to a press release issued by the AU.

She said this act is in violation of the relevant decisions of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), and can only heighten tension on the ground and further complicate the search for a mutually acceptable solution within the framework of existing commitments.

She called on those orchestrating this illegal act to put an immediate halt to their actions, as they pose a threat to peace in the Abyei Area, and in the relations between Sudan and South. Such escalation could also put the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) peacekeepers in a very dangerous position, the Chairperson said.

The Chairperson acknowledged the rejection by the Government of South Sudan of any unilateral action in Abyei. She also called on the international community, including the United Nations, to condemn the ongoing unilateral and irresponsible action in Abyei, and to prevail upon those concerned to cease it immediately.

The Chairperson also called for the expeditious implementation the Agreement on Temporary Administrative and Security Arrangements for the Abyei Area. In this respect, she welcomed the decisions reached by the Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan during their recent Summit in Juba.

According to ENA, she further urged the Abyei communities to exercise utmost restraint and give maximum cooperation to UNISFA in order to ensure the maintenance of peace and stability in Abyei.

PM Hailemariam invites Canada to invest in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, 30 October 2013 (WIC) - Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has invited Canada to invest in energy and mining sectors in Ethiopia.

The Premier extended the invitation while holding talks at his office with Canadian, Deputy Minister of International Development, under the new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Paul Rochon.

Hailemariam noted that Canada and Ethiopia have enjoyed longstanding relations. He said Canadian investors would be effective if they invest in energy, mining and other sectors in Ethiopia. Paul Rochon for his part expressed the interest of his country to work with Ethiopia in education, agriculture and food security areas. He also stated Canada’s readiness to give support in training entrepreneurs, particularly youth and women. (ERTA)

Ministry lauds public participation in basin development

Addis Ababa, October 30 (WIC) – The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) lauded the role played by farmers and communities in the basin development projects across the country.

The ministry boasts a huge success in basin development projects aided by huge public participations. According to Ermias Bayu, public relations officer at MoA, has managed to mobilize well over 170 thousand farmers in various basin development projects. The communities participate in activities such as soil and water conservations, forest development and protection as well as small scale irrigation development projects.

“In monetary terms, the participation is estimated to be in excess of 10.7 billion birr,” Ermias told WIC. According to the ministry, small scale irrigation schemes, which have the capacity to irrigate 1.8 million hectares of land, have been undertaken last budget year.

Ethiopia is hydrological divided into 12 basins, out of which eight are river basins, one lake basin and three dry basins. Four of the River Basins, Abbay, Baro-Akobo, Mereb and Tekeze are part of Nile River System. Rift valley basins include the Omo-Gibe, Awash, Rift-valley Lakes, Denakil and Aysha. The remaining three, Genale-Dawa, Wabishebelle and Ogaden are part of the Eastern Ethiopian Basin.

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