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William Hague to urge reform on visit to Burma

William Hague is visiting Burma, the first British foreign secretary to do so for more than 50 years.

He is expected to use meetings with the country’s leaders to press for the release of more political prisoners.
His visit is the latest in a series by top diplomats from around the world, amid steps towards reform by the new government in Burma.
Burma held its first elections in 20 years in 2010, replacing military rule with a nominally civilian government.
Since then the new administration has freed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and begun a process of dialogue.
Last month she formally registered her National League for Democracy as a political party, after boycotting the 2010 polls because of electoral laws that prevented her taking part.

In December US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Burma, in what was seen as an endorsement of the reform process – although Western observers say much more is needed.
‘Political freedom’

Speaking ahead of his arrival in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, William Hague welcomed the “encouraging” steps taken by the government.

“I am visiting the country to encourage the Burmese government to continue on its path of reform, and to gauge what more Britain can do to support this process,” he said.

Mr Hague is the first British foreign secretary to visit Burma since 1955.

In Nay Pyi Taw he will hold talks with President Thein Sein, a former top general who stepped down to contest the polls as a civilian.

He will then travel to Rangoon, Burma’s commercial capital, to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, representatives of some of Burma’s ethnic minority groups and dissidents.

Ms Suu Kyi’s party plans to contest by-elections in April that could see her elected to parliament. Her party secured a landslide victory in polls in 1990 but was never allowed to take power.

The new government has released some political prisoners in recent months but between 600 and 1,000 journalists, dissidents and monks who led anti-government protests in 2007 are thought to remain behind bars.

Mr Hague said he wanted to see more progress on reform.

“Further steps are needed that will have a lasting impact on human rights and political freedom in Burma,” he said.

“In particular, we hope to see the release of all remaining political prisoners, free and fair by-elections, humanitarian access to people in conflict areas, and credible steps towards national reconciliation.”

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Hulkenberg replaces Sutil at Force India

Nico Hulkenberg is determined to make the most of his second chance in Formula One after being given one of Force India’s two race seats for 2012.

The 25-year-old will replace fellow German driver Adrian Sutil, who departs after six years at the UK-based team.

Hulkenberg was Force India’s reserve driver this year behind Sutil and Scottish rookie Paul di Resta, who will retain his seat after finishing 13th overall with 27 points in his debut season.

“It wasn’t easy to watch from the sidelines this season, but I did my best to help the team and show what I was capable of,” said Hulkenberg, who was released by Williams in 2010 despite earning his maiden pole position in his rookie season.
I’m extremely motivated for 2012 and would like to thank everyone for believing in me and giving me this chance. I’m keen to get down to work over the winter to develop our new car and help the team build on this year’s achievements. The first test in Jerez can’t come soon enough.”

The 28-year-old Sutil’s future is uncertain despite finishing ninth overall with 42 points. The only teams with seats available are Williams and HRT.

“Our new line-up means we say ‘goodbye’ to Adrian Sutil, who has been with the team since we entered the sport,” said Force India boss Vijay Mallya.

“He has been an integral part of our success over the past four seasons and we wish him well for the future.”

Di Resta hopes to build on his promising first season.

“I’m really excited about 2012 and there is a real sense of belief that we can continue to push the top teams and take another step forward,” the 25-year-old said.

“I’d also like to thank the team for all their hard work this year and for all the support they’ve given me. I’ll take some time out over the next few weeks to recharge my batteries and hopefully come back even stronger in 2012.”

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Bravo ton takes Windies to mammoth total

 MUMBAI: Darren Bravo continued his dream run with a third century in four Tests to help the West Indies post a mammoth 575-9 on the second day of the third and final Test against India on Wednesday.
Bravo, cousin of former West Indies batting great Brian Lara, dominated the Indian attack with a superb 166 as the tourists scored 308 runs on a batsmen’s day after resuming at 267-2.
Kieran Powell (81), who replaced injured batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and Marlon Samuels (61) also made merry on a batting track at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
The West Indies’ batting flourished for a second successive day, with the top-six batsmen all scoring a half-century or more — only the fifth instance in the history of Test cricket.
The left-handed pair of Bravo and Powell consolidated their team’s position with a 160-run stand for the fourth wicket to virtually shatter India’s hopes of making a clean sweep.

The hosts lead 2-0 in the series after winning the opening Test in New Delhi by five wickets and the second match in Kolkata by an innings and 15 runs.

Powell hit nine fours in his second half-century in four Tests before being caught behind off spinner Pragyan Ojha while Bravo became debutant seamer Varun Aaron’s first Test victim, caught behind while attempting to drive.

The day belonged to Bravo, whose superb run in Test cricket began in Bangladesh where he scored 195 in Dhaka for his maiden hundred in his team’s series-clinching victory early this month.

The 22-year-old then cracked a brilliant 136 against India in the last innings of the previous Test in Kolkata before scoring a second successive hundred on Wednesday.

Bravo, 57 overnight, completed his century in the morning with an aggressive shot when he square-drove off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for a boundary. He hit 17 fours in his 284-ball knock.

It was another frustrating day for India on a pitch offering no help to bowlers as they could take just two wickets in the opening two sessions, with paceman Ishant Sharma and Ojha bagging one each.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also pressed part-timers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag into the attack in a desperate bid to break the Bravo-Powell stand before Aaron struck thrice in four overs in the evening.Aaron also bowled Carlton Baugh (four) and had skipper Darren Sammy (three) caught by wicket-keeper Dhoni, who took five catches.He nearly got another wicket but Dhoni missed a difficult chance off Samuels when the batsman was on 46.Sharma was rewarded for his hard work in the opening session when he had Kirk Edwards (86) caught behind with a delivery that moved away.Edwards, 65 overnight, looked set for his third century in six Tests as he began on an impressive note, flicking and pulling Aaron for two fours in the opening hour.
He hit 13 fours in his 165-ball knock and added 164 for the third wicket with Bravo. (AFP)

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