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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal
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(CNN) -- The LA Times compares the similarities between diplomacy and book publishing, saying that in both, "timing is everything." This as Pakistan's President Musharraf refused to elaborate on his claim that a senior Bush administration official threatened to bomb Pakistan unless it cooperated with the U.S. war on terror, instead saying that people should wait for his book to be released later on Monday.

"International diplomacy has always been dependent on external factors, but it has seldom hinged on the terms of a book contract. At a time when the developing world is protesting what it sees as U.S. unilateralism and bullying -- as evidenced by the stark anti-American speeches (and their friendly reception) at last week's annual United Nations General Assembly session -- Musharraf's claim threw gasoline on the bonfire.

"Yet rather than discuss and help resolve the matter during his U.S. visit, Musharraf decided instead simply to plug his upcoming autobiography."

Pakistan's Dawn focused on the diplomatic talks between the two. "President Musharraf wants American support in resolving critical economic problems facing Pakistan. With the external sector under pressure from a massive trade deficit, his first priority is to have more access to the world's most prosperous market for Pakistani merchandise. He is seeking more American investment and trade, not aid.

"Unfortunately, a bilateral free trade agreement has been linked by the U.S. government to the conclusion of a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) which has been delayed."

Keep Talking, Ahmadijenad

The Boston Globe says that Iranian President Ahmadinejad's "exasperating" speech at the U.N. last week had the "transparent purpose" of "delegitimizing the resolution that the council passed at the end of August calling on Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium and comply with the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency."

"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran lived up to his reputation for assertiveness and sophistry during an address last week to the United Nations General Assembly, a prickly interview on CNN, and a stilted exchange with about two dozen members of the Council on Foreign Relations.

"Exasperating as his performance may have been, there is a value in giving public exposure to the prideful leader of the radical faction within the Iranian regime.

"The idea that Ahmadinejad should not be given a forum for expressing abhorrent or false views assumes that his listeners might fall prey to his persuasive powers. But in his appearances he was tellingly rigid. He repeated a few simple, self-serving notions, telling questioners they had their facts or their history all wrong and avoiding any real dialogue."

Renewing Thai democracy

The Bangkok Post blaims the failure of democracy in Thailand on "[politicians] who failed to place the collective good of the country ahead of their own petty, personal interests."

"Thailand's reputation as a beacon of democracy within Southeast Asia now is in tatters, its public image ruined. Perhaps rightly so. One can never condone the use of force to supplant the will of the people. But what was the will of the people?

"Opinion polls last week showed a remarkable 80 percent vote of support for the military coup. Rural provinces voiced even greater support for the coup than their Bangkok brethren. It was not the people's desire for democracy that failed, but rather public confidence in our politicians.

"A constitution consists of rules and principles that outline the powers and duties of the government and the rights and freedoms of the people. Yet It is clear that laws in themselves are insufficient, so long as the politicians responsible for protecting these rights and freedoms are unaccountable to the people and uncommitted to the principles of ethics and good governance."

The Times of India says that while the deposed PM Shinawatra could end up in prison, one should not rule out a return to power.

"He could end up on trial for corruption and mishandling the southern insurgency, potentially landing in jail. His exile in the immediate term is now likely, probably in London where he has purchased and stored extensive assets, thanks to his connections, including the owner of a world-famous department store. And his offspring and school-age in-laws are ensconced in public schools in the UK.

"But Thaksin is not completely out of the picture in the longer term. He knows that he can still return and reclaim an electoral mandate if circumstances change. After all, his Thai Rak Thai party won a 57 per cent majority of popular votes in the April 2 election. Thaksin's opponents, on the other hand, will do everything they can to make sure that the legal charges against him are so insurmountable that he will not want to come back."

War on terror

The UK's Guardian newspaper says the war on terror is "unwinnable" with Bush and Blair in charge.

"The Labour party has so much to make itself unhappy about in Manchester this week that only the demonstrators outside the hall will give Iraq, Afghanistan, George Bush and the 'war on terror' the attention they deserve. Yet there is little doubt that when the history of this government is written, the collapse of confidence in Tony Blair will be attributed principally to his foreign policy.

"Most people care not about the consequences of this for the prime minister, but about those for the rest of us. By far the worst is that we are committed to a confrontation with radical Islam, in which the British and American peoples, never mind the rest of the world, find it hard to believe the leaders of 'our side.'

"They have deceived the public so often, misread events so grievously, adopted so many mistaken policies. Thus, when they tell us that it is necessary to accept a loss of civil liberties to fight terrorism, to sustain a Nato force in Afghanistan, to continue the struggle in Iraq, or even to stop carrying toothpaste in airline hand baggage, even if some of these propositions are true, it is hard to accept the credentials of those making the judgments."

Japan's Asahi Shimbun echoes the view: "The British public has grown tired of his long stay in office. On top of that, scandals within the Cabinet and a cloud of mistrust over the disbursement of election funds have all added to general dissatisfaction with the Labour Party.

"The decisive negative factor was Blair's decision to support the United States and join the war against Iraq, and the failed aftermath of that commitment.

"Blair miscalculated on many fronts. When planning to attack Iraq, Blair persuaded the United States to obtain United Nations Security Council backing for military action. U.S. President George W. Bush did at first try to gain Security Council approval, but in the end decided to bulldoze ahead with support only from the 'coalition of the willing,' which created a huge transatlantic rift with France and Germany and other countries."

Phone a friend

Haven't studied for your examinations? Phoning a friend is the preferred get-out-clause, says the UK's Daily Star.

"There is a growing fear that pupils are cheating by putting their revision notes on to handheld organisers and MP3 players, according to a probe for the government's exam watchdog."

The paper quotes an academic saying there have been a spate of cases in the Far East where schoolchildren used mobile phones to cheat in exams, and says children in the UK are following suit.


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