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China denies India envoy mistreated in Yiwu court row

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 China has denied that an Indian diplomat was mistreated during an angry court hearing in the city of Yiwu.Delhi complained after S Balachandran was reportedly denied medication when trying to secure the release of two Indians held hostage by local traders for allegedly failing to pay debts.China said media reports were “not factually accurate”.Indian media report that the two Indians are now being moved from a hotel in Yiwu to Shanghai.The two Indians had earlier told Indian television they were being treated “like animals”.On Tuesday, India warned its businessmen they were not safe to trade in Yiwu.

‘Ruled by laws’

At a press briefing China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “Relevant media reports that the Indian consular official from Shanghai was forbidden from eating or taking his medication while in Yiwu and was surrounded and attacked do not accord with the facts.

“China is a country ruled by laws, which pays great attention to relations with India,” he said.

However, Mr Hong gave no specific account of what China believed had happened.

He said the two Indians had been put under police protection in a hotel and that five people had been arrested for “illegal detention”.

“China hopes that India treats this matter objectively and fairly,” he said.

China’s ambassador to India, Zhang Yan, met foreign affairs officials in Delhi on Wednesday and assured them that “serious attention” was being given to the plight of the two traders.

Later India’s NDTV channel quoted External Affairs Minister SM Krishna as saying the pair were being escorted by Indian consulate officials to Shanghai.

The businessmen, Deepak Raheja and Shyamsunder Agrawal, had pleaded for help in an earlier interview with NDTV.

Mr Agrawal said: “Please save us… get together and help us. They have stripped us, thrown things at us, beaten us, tortured us. We are being treated worse than animals.”

Their hotel had reportedly been surrounded by a large crowd of locals.

The pair had been held hostage by local traders for two weeks for non-payment of dues by their company, whose owner has allegedly fled the country.

On Tuesday, an advisory on India’s Beijing embassy website said businessmen could be “mistreated” in Yiwu and had “no guarantee of legal remedies”.

The strongly worded statement on the embassy website said that “Indian businessmen are cautioned to stay away from Yiwu”.

It added: “In case of disputes arising, experience suggests that there is inadequate protection for safety of persons.”

Delhi believes Mr Balachandran was denied medicine and collapsed in the courtroom in Yiwu on 31 December.

Mr Balachandran is a diabetic. He was taken to hospital in a semi-conscious state and later transferred to Shanghai, where he has improved.

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Big guns get comfortable Euro 2010 draw

Big guns get comfortable Euro 2010 draw

WARSAW, Feb 7 (Reuters) – European champions Spain were handed an easy-looking path to the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine in Sunday’s qualifying draw, although coach Vicente Del Bosque said afterwards he was taking nothing for granted.

Spain, who won Euro 2008 with a series of superb performances culminating in their victory over Germany in the final, are ranked number one in the world and were grouped with Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania and Liechtenstein.

They were the last of the 51 teams drawn at the ceremony at Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science and Del Bosque was cautious about the challenge ahead.

“We face a strong test and will have to be at our best in every match so we do not want to make any mistakes; we are taking nothing for granted,” he told reporters immediately after the draw.

World champions Italy face two World Cup finalists in Serbia and Slovenia, as well as Northern Ireland, Estonia and Faroe Islands in Group C, while France, the 2006 World Cup runners-up, should be too strong for Romania, Bosnia, Belarus, Albania and Luxembourg in Group D.

“Italy’s group is balanced, with Serbia and Slovenia — two teams who will play in the World Cup,” Italy coach Marcello Lippi, who was not present at the draw, was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA.

“There’s an advantage in being in a group of six. Of the other groups, England’s is the most difficult.”

Germany, runners-up to Spain in the Euro 2008 final, face neighbours Austria as well as Turkey in what should be a straightforward group for them.

Group A also includes Belgium, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, whom Germany beat home and away in their World Cup qualifying group. Azerbaijan are coached by former German international and manager Berti Vogts.

Azerbaijan were the first team drawn, and were then grouped with Armenia — the exact scenario UEFA had wanted to avoid.

Political tensions between the two ex-Soviet states meant that UEFA’s executive committee had ruled they would not be allowed to be in the same group.

Under a pre-arranged agreement, Armenia were moved into Group B where they will face Russia, Slovakia, Ireland, Macedonia and Andorra. The two countries had refused to play each other in the qualifiers for Euro 2008 after being drawn together.

OLD RIVALRY

England will renew their old rivalry with Wales whom they have met 99 times. Their last meetings were in the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup finals when England won both games.

England also face World Cup finalists Switzerland in Group G, group along with Bulgaria and Montenegro.

England coach Fabio Capello’s first match in charge of England was a 2-1 win over Switzerland in February 2008 and he said he was looking forward to playing them again.

“We have improved as a team since that first match,” he said. “Although it will be tough it will be good to play them again.”

France, runners-up in the 2006 World Cup final, face a challenge from Romania, Bosnia, Belarus, Albania and Luxembourg.

France and Romania met in the World Cup qualifiers with both matches ending in draws.

The qualifying competition starts in September and concludes with final-place playoffs in November 2011.

The nine group winners and best runners-up automatically qualify for the finals, along with the co-hosts.

The remaining eight runners-up face each other in the playoffs with the four winners completing the 16-team line-up in the finals.

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Chelsea return to top after 2-0 win over Arsenal

Chelsea return to top after 2-0 win over Arsenal

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – First-half goals from Didier Drogba earned Chelsea a 2-0 win over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and secured a return to the top of the Premier League two points ahead of Manchester United.

Drogba, who has scored 12 goals in as many appearances against Arsenal since joining Chelsea in 2004, was left unmarked at the far post and simply poked home captain John Terry’s header from a Florent Malouda corner in the eighth minute.

His second came on the break after some sustained pressure from Arsenal, when England midfielder Frank Lampard burst out of his half in the 23rd minute, galloped 20 metres and laid the ball off to the Ivorian on the right of the Arsenal area. The big striker stepped inside Gael Clichy to ram the ball past a stranded Manuel Almunia.

The result, following a 3-1 defeat at home by Manchester United last weekend, leaves Arsenal nine points adrift of Chelsea and seven behind the champions.

Before the goal Chelsea keeper Petr Cech had had to make two saves in quick succession, diverting a ball at Samir Nasri’s feet behind for a corner and blocking a shot from Andrei Arshavin with his feet as Arsenal used the speed of Nasri, Theo Walcott and the tricky Russian to harass the Chelsea defence.

But Arsene Wenger’s team, so energetic in the build up, lacked the final flourish.

They failed to capitalise on a free-kick just outside the area in the 69th minute after subsititute Nicklas Bendtner was brought down by Ricardo Carvalho, Cech pulling off a fine double save. Despite constant moves down the wings, they could not find a way through a defence stubbornly marshalled by Terry.

The Chelsea captain showed no sign of strain despite being stripped of the England captaincy on Friday following a week of lurid press headlines about alleged extra-marital affairs, including one with the former girlfriend of England team mate Wayne Bridge.

“My captain has a fantastic attitude. He’s done very well every game for the team,” Chelsea coach Carol Ancelotti told reporters. “It’s very important to have this leadership.”

SUBDUED WENGER

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger praised Terry’s defensive qualities.

“I give credit to Chelsea for their defending. They have fantastic defenders. I believe John Terry wants to win every time he plays football. Sometimes playing can be a diversion from events off the pitch,” he said.

Almost every touch of the ball by Terry was greeted with boos from Arsenal fans and cheers from the Chelsea support. The 29-year-old flung his shirt into the Chelsea crowd after applauding them following the final whistle.

Wenger watched mostly stony-faced as his side’s title chances ebbed. Arsenal have not won the league since 2004 and last captured silverware with the FA Cup in 2005.

“Against Manchester United we did not turn up. Here, we were completely dominant,” he said. “I always thought we would come back but you have to give them credit,they defended very well. There were lots of tricks from a very experienced team.”

Arsenal were the last side to beat Chelsea at home, in November 2008, under last-but-one Chelsea coach Luis Felipe Scolari.

Since then Chelsea, under temporary coach Guus Hiddink and then Ancelotti, have put together a 36-match undefeated home run, including 23 in the league.

Another former Chelsea coach, Jose Mourinho, whose Inter side face Chelsea in the Champions League later this month, watched the game from the stands.

In Sunday’s earlier Premier League game Birmingham City came from behind at home to beat West Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 with two goals from substitute Kevin Phillips.

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