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NEWS IN BRIEF

EUROPE

01 Jan 07. New Year: Notable Events. Among the events on 1 Jan 07:-
Germany assumes the presidency of both the European Union (EU) and the Group of Eight (G-8) countries. Bulgaria and Romania join the EU while Slovenia becomes the 13th full member of the Euro zone. (The Euro also circulates in Kosovo and Montenegro.)
Comment: Bulgaria’s 7.5m people and Romania’s 22.3m increase the EU’s population to about 485m.
In Slovenia, the Euro is valued at 239 Tolars (the rate which was established in 2004). Prices are to continue to be displayed in both currencies until 1 Jun 07. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0701, 01 Jan 07)

18 Dec 06. Iraq: OP TELIC. The Prime Minister visited Basrah on 17 Dec 06 to meet British troops, many of whom were from 19 Light Brigade. (MoD, 18 Dec 06.)
The Defence Secretary welcomed the handover of An-Najaf Province (adjacent to Multinational Division (South East) (MND(SE)) to Iraqi control. (MoD, 20 Dec 06.) Some 1,000 British troops carried out a major Operation in Basrah (OP THYME) on 25 Dec 06 in order to curtail the activities of a Police detachment known as the Serious Crimes Unit. Royal Engineers destroyed the Jameat Police Station at the end of the Operation. (MoD, 26 Dec 06.) A Sergeant from 2nd Bn The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment was killed following an attack on his Warrior vehicle in Basrah City on 28 Dec 06. (MoD, 29 Dec 06.) The number of UK deaths since the start of hostilities thus rose to 127 (six from natural causes, 38 accidentally, six from friendly fire and 77 killed in action).
Comment: During an interview for BBC News 24 (27 Dec 06), Major General A R D Shirreff, Commanding MND(SE), called for national support for soldiers serving in Iraq. Some of the issues affecting the Army were “the result of a generation of under-funding and relative neglect”. The popularity of the Iraqi campaign was not discussed. General Shirreff’s selection for promotion to Lieutenant General had previously been announced.
Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi President, was hanged at dawn on 30 Dec 06. The Foreign Secretary said that Saddam Hussein had “been held to account” although the British Government did not support the use of the death penalty. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0701, 01 Jan 07)

18 Dec 06. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. The MoD purchased 0.5in ammunition from Canadian sources in June 2006 and 81mm mortar ammunition from US sources in August 2006. (Defence Procurement Minister, 18 Dec 06.) The Armed Forces’ Minister visited UK Forces in Southern Afghanistan on 22 Dec 06. (MoD, 22 Dec 06.) A Lance Bombardier from 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery, was killed when his vehicle struck an anti-tank mine near Garmsir on 27 Dec 06. (MoD, 29 Dec 06.) UK deaths since the start of Operations in November 2001 thus rose to 44 (21 accidentally and 23 killed in action).
Comment: There is continuing speculation that the Marine who was killed in Southern Helmand on 5 Dec 06 died as a result of ‘friendly fire’ from a US aircraft. The MoD’s original report of death due to injuries sustained while on an Operation has not been amplified. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0701, 01 Jan 07)

03 Jan 07. Leading industrialised countries are seeking an explanation from Britain of its controversial decision to halt a probe into the alleged bribery of Saudi Arabian officials by BAE Systems, the arms maker. The head of a committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a grouping of 30 big economies, has taken the unusual step of writing a formal letter to the Foreign Office to ask why the Serious Fraud Office stopped its investigation last month. The move means that the government faces continuing controversy over the case, even though it succeeded on Wednesday in delaying a landmark legal challenge over its decision. The letter, sent on behalf of the OECD’s working group on corporate bribery, has asked for the information to be provided ahead of w

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