BRUSSELS, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Nuclear talks between Iran and
world powers this week were more constructive and positive than
in the past, but Iran’s willingness to negotiate seriously will
not become clear until an April meeting, a senior Western
diplomat said on Thursday.
The diplomat was more upbeat about the talks in Kazakhstan
than other Western officials have been, suggesting there could
be a chance of diplomatic progress in the long standoff over
Iran’s nuclear activities.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers this week were more constructive and positive than in the past, but Iran’s willingness to negotiate seriously will not become clear until an April meeting, a senior Western diplomat said on Thursday.
The diplomat was more upbeat about the talks in Kazakhstan than other Western officials have been, suggesting there could be a chance of diplomatic progress in the long standoff over Iran’s nuclear activities.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU leaders on Monday gave visiting Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich until May to show his nation had made progress towards political reform if it is serious about clinching a free trade deal which would move it away from Moscow’s orbit.
Both the European Union and Ukraine are keen to cut their dependency on gas giant Russia, but Ukraine has yet to make a clear choice between closer EU ties or tighter links with Moscow.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Defense cuts and U.S. budget gridlock are jeopardizing NATO’s effectiveness, outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned on Friday.
Leaving his last NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels, Panetta joined those warning of the effects of deep Defense cuts in many Western countries and said it would be an “irresponsible act of political dysfunction” if the U.S. Congress permitted sweeping across-the-board Defense cuts to take place.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO Allies are discussing keeping a training force of between 8,000 and 12,000 troops in Afghanistan after most foreign soldiers leave in 2014, the United States said on Friday.
NATO-led forces are gradually handing over responsibility for security to their Afghan counterparts as the bulk of foreign combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of next year.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO officials are strongly considering a proposal to keep Afghan forces at their peak strength of 352,000 until at least 2018, as opposed to current plans to cut the force by a third after 2015, alliance officials said on Thursday.
Backers say the proposal, disclosed to a small group of reporters during NATO talks in Brussels, would send a crucial signal of enduring support for Afghanistan and bolster Afghan confidence after the United States and its allies declare their long, unpopular war in the country over at the end of 2014.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged allies on Thursday to reverse damaging defense-spending cuts once their economies improve as U.S. officials warned of the impact that across-the-board U.S. budget reductions could have on the alliance.
“If defense cuts continue, it will have a negative impact on our ability to provide effective defense and protection of our populations,” Rasmussen told reporters at the start of a NATO defense ministers’ meeting.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO is considering holding a summit in mid-2013 to mark a milestone in the handover of security responsibilities in Afghanistan to local forces, alliance Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday.
NATO-led forces are expected to cede the lead role for security in Afghanistan this spring to Afghan soldiers, 12 years after the United States invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban government harboring Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader who masterminded the September 11 attacks on U.S. cities.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union eased sanctions on Zimbabwe on Monday to reward it for political reforms and also agreed to lift sanctions on a state-run Zimbabwe diamond mining company if the country holds fair elections.
A spokesman for Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party criticized the EU’s step, saying in Harare that the partial lifting of sanctions was “outrageous and preposterous”.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union will tighten sanctions on North Korea to curb trade in gold and diamonds and crack down on financial links in protest at Pyongyang’s recent rocket launch and nuclear bomb test, EU diplomats said on Friday.
Diplomats have agreed on a new list of sanctions which will be formally approved by EU foreign ministers on Monday.