BBC News with Fiona Macdonald.
Palestinian representatives have accused Israel of trying to sabotage next week's peace talks after it had announced another expansion of its settlement program on occupied territories. A senior leader told the BBC that Israel was deliberately trying to scupper any chance of peace. But there have been no Palestinian threats of pulling out of the talks. In an interview with the BBC, the Israeli government’s spokesman Mark Regev dismissed at the criticism.
“The truth is that in every peace plan even those put on the table by the international community, whether you’re talking about the Geneva Initiative, or the Clinton parameters, all those different international ideas to solve the solution, in all of them that the Jewish neighbours of Jerusalem and the large blocks remain part of Israel in final status at peace. Now, I'd ask you once again, If we are building in areas that in any way going to stay part of Israel, why is it such a problem?”
The peace talks are due to resume in three days time in Jerusalem. And Israel has approved a list of the first group of Palestinian prisoners to be released ahead of those talks. The government said 26 prisoners would be released including 14 from Gaza and 12 from the West Bank. Their names will be published overnight. The Israeli cabinet has approved the release of more than 100 Palestinian prisoners over the coming months as part of efforts to restart the peace talks.
China is stepping up efforts to reduce the worst effects of environmental pollution caused by its breakneck economic expansion. The State Council has announced new measures to boost the growth of the environmental technology protection sector. Marcus Herbert has more.
“The Chinese government is alarmed by recent social unrest caused by environmental disasters, such as chronic urban smog, or thousands of rotting pig carcasses in water supplying the city of Shanghai. Now, the State Council has announced that it will accelerate an existing plan to ensure growth of the environmental protection industry by 15% annually by 2015. Over the next two years, it will pay subsidies worth more than $700bn, and eligible foreign, as well as domestic, companies will receive tax breaks.”
The father of the fugitive American national security agency contractor Edward Snowden says he will soon visit his son in Russia where he has been given temporary asylum. Mr. Snowden is wanted by the US authorities for leaking sensitive details about US surveillance programs. Lon Snowden said that he does not believe his son will receive a fair trial in the United States. From Washington Katy Watson.
“Lon Snowden said his son had spoken the truth and made huge sacrifices. His lawyer said they've been granted Russian visas and will be travelling to Moscow very soon, there, though be suggesting criminal defence lawyers who've got experience with people prosecuted under the Espionage Act, but there’s still no indication from Edward Snowden himself that he will be prepared to face the counts he's been charged with in a US court.”
Thousands of protesters calling for the reinstatement of the ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi are preparing themselves for expected moves by the security services to clear them from two huge sit-in camps in Cairo. Street vendors have been quoted as saying they've sold hundreds of gas masks to protesters. Senior army officers suggested that disperse could start as early as daybreak on Monday.
Polls have officially closed in Mali's run-off election to decide who will be the next president. The day has been marked by pouring rain which observers say could have led to a lower turnout than in a previous round of voting. One of the candidates is the former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who said the elections marked a change for the country.
“We are laying down the foundations of a new Mali, the foundation stone of which will, from now, be absolute integrity from the point of view of ethics and morality and, zero tolerance for corruption.” Mr. Keita is running against the former Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse, who said the country needed basic facilities like drinking water, schools and adequate health care.
A huge fire has broken out in one of the largest oil refineries in Venezuela, sending large plumes of black smoke into the sky. Venezuelan authorities have ordered the evacuation of the area around the Puerto La Cruz refinery. Refinery officials say a storage tank was hit by lightening sparking the blaze. There is no word of any casualties.
Rescue workers in Argentina found another three bodies in the rubble of the residential building hit by a blast in the city of Rosario in the north of the country on Tuesday. The authorities, now, say 17 people were killed and four still missing. The explosion, thought to have been caused by gas leak, injured more than 60 people, at least 10 remain in hospital. The blast destroyed the front of a 10-story block.