BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union governments agreed on Wednesday to extend economic sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine by six months until Jan. 31, diplomats said, maintaining unity in the West’s tough stance toward Moscow.
The six-month extension was agreed by ambassadors from the 28 EU nations meeting in Brussels.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The U.S. and Russian navies met this week for the first time since the Ukraine crisis began to discuss how to avoid an accidental clash at sea or in the air, a U.S. naval commander said on Friday.
Russia has stepped up its probing of NATO’s defenses since Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region last year caused the worst crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War. NATO has responded by increasing patrols and exercises in eastern Europe.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A senior European Union official criticised Macedonian political leaders on Thursday after talks to end a crisis there broke down over a plan for a transitional government to prepare the ground for elections.
“Very disappointed about lack of responsibility and leadership by some,” EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said on Twitter after chairing 12 hours of talks between leaders of Macedonia’s four main political parties that ended shortly before midnight on Wednesday.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Macedonian political leaders failed to reach a final agreement to resolve the country’s political crisis in marathon talks in Brussels on Wednesday, the European Union said.
The EU brokered a deal on June 2 for early elections in Macedonia, potentially ending months of political turmoil triggered by damaging wiretap disclosures against the government, although few details of the deal were made public.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The United Nations launched an appeal on Thursday for half a billion dollars in international aid to tackle a worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq triggered by the conflict with Islamic State militants.
Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said the United Nations would be forced to slash or shut down more than half its aid operations in Iraq without an immediate injection of new funds.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – France and Germany raised concerns on Monday over a European Commission plan to redistribute migrants reaching Italy and Greece, saying it must take better account of efforts they have already taken to help asylum-seekers.
The European Commission proposed last week to ease pressure on Italy and Greece, which are struggling to deal with thousands of immigrants crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy boats from Libya, through an emergency scheme to redistribute 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean asylum-seekers throughout the European Union.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Libya is on the verge of economic collapse as rival factions haggle over a political settlement, the United Nations special envoy said on Thursday.
Bernardino Leon, who has been trying for months to broker an agreement on a national unity government for Libya, said the United Nations was preparing a new draft of a possible political agreement which it hoped to give to the feuding parties in the first week of June.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A European Union plan to disperse 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece to other member countries met with resistance on Wednesday, with Britain saying it would not participate and some eastern states calling for a voluntary scheme.
Under plans put forward by the executive European Commission, the bloc would also accept 20,000 refugees from outside the 28-nation grouping and share them around EU states.
RIGA (Reuters) – British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday he was confident of winning concessions from European Union leaders before he asks voters whether Britain should stay in the bloc.
After his Conservative Party won an unexpected majority in a May 7 election, Cameron is committed to renegotiating Britain’s EU ties before holding the referendum by the end of 2017.
RIGA (Reuters) – British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday began his campaign to persuade European leaders to make changes to the European Union before he holds a referendum to decide whether Britain should stay in or quit the bloc.
Cameron was due to hold talks with European Council President Donald Tusk and a handful of EU government heads on the sidelines of a European Union summit with six ex-Soviet republics in Latvia.