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Nov 9, 2015

Kosovo fails in bid to gain UNESCO membership

PARIS (Reuters) – The United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO narrowly voted against granting Kosovo full membership on Monday in a decision that Serbia hailed as a diplomatic victory.

The vote had been fiercely opposed by Russia and Serbia, which attempted to get it postponed earlier in the day. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had warned on Friday against using UNESCO to legitimize what he called Kosovo’s self-proclaimed state.

Oct 6, 2015

France plans U.N. resolution targeting Syrian barrel bombs

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday his country was working on a United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at stopping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces from using barrel bombs against his population.

The resolution has little chance of clearing the Security Council, where Assad’s staunch ally Russia has often blocked efforts to condemn him and his government, but could be seen as an alternative to a Russian resolution currently being circulated at the world body.

Sep 30, 2015

Dozens of nations back French appeal to limit use of U.N. veto

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Dozens of nations signed on to a French proposal on Wednesday that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council refrain from exercising their veto in cases of mass atrocities and genocide.

Some 75 countries in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia backed the proposal, and French officials say they expect more nations to join. There are 193 U.N. member nations.

Sep 30, 2015

Syrian opposition head says Russia intervening to prolong Assad

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Russia only wants to keep Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in power and has no intention of fighting Islamic State militants in Syria, the head of Syria’s Western-backed political opposition said on Wednesday.

Khaled Khoja, who became president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in January, told Reuters in an interview that Russian air strikes on Wednesday had hit four districts in the Homs area, killing 36 civilians, but no rebel fighters.

Sep 30, 2015

France: ‘curious’ Russian strikes in Syria not against Islamic State

UNITED NATIONS/PARIS (Reuters) – France said it was “curious” that Russian air strikes in Syria on Wednesday had not targeted Islamic State militants and a diplomatic source added that Moscow’s action appeared aimed at supporting President Bashar al-Assad against other opposition groups in the country’s civil war.

The diplomatic source said it was in line with Russia’s stance that until there was a viable alternative to Assad, Moscow would not drop its support for him in the war that began in 2011 after a government crackdown on anti-Assad protests.

Sep 29, 2015

Powers struggle to agree on Syria; Russia urged to strike Islamic State

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – France challenged Russia to back its words with deeds over fighting Islamic State militants in Syria as major powers on Tuesday struggled to resolve differences between Moscow and the West over ending the civil war in the Middle Eastern country.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has sent warplanes and tanks to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, called for a new anti-Islamic State coalition, diplomats pursued new ways to build a solid front against the militants.

Sep 29, 2015

At U.N., Hungary defends blocking migrants, says fences not ‘for fun’

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Hungary’s foreign minister on Tuesday rejected criticism of his country’s handling of migrants fleeing to Europe from war zones and said the decision to build fences on its borders was not done “for fun,” but to protect the European Union.

Thousands of refugees cross the border daily to Hungary, a landlocked country of 10 million and an eastern outpost of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone, and hope to travel on to Germany or northern Europe.

Sep 29, 2015

France calls on Russia to make ‘real strike’ against Islamic State

NEW YORK (Reuters) – France’s foreign minister took a swipe at Russia on Tuesday saying that Moscow has talked a lot about striking Islamic State, but if it wanted to prove its real intentions in Syria then it should stop “media strikes” and carry out real ones.

“The international community has hit Daesh (Islamic State). France has hit Daesh, Bashar al-Assad very little, and the Russians not at all. So one has to look at who does what,” Laurent Fabius told reporters in New York. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for Islamic State militant group.

Sep 29, 2015

Qatar says Putin’s Syria plan ignores root cause of crisis

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Qatar’s foreign minister said on Monday there was general international agreement with Russia on its call to fight Islamic State, but cautioned that it failed to tackle the root cause of the crisis in Syria, which was President Bashar al-Assad.

In an interview with Reuters, Khaled al-Attiyah also said it was time for Gulf Arab states and Iran to hold “serious dialogue” and discuss all issues to normalize ties.

Sep 28, 2015

Central African Republic leader leaves U.N. early due to violence in Bangui

BANGUI/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The interim president of Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza left the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Monday to return home due to the worst violence in the capital of her country this year, two Western diplomats said.

Around 30 people have been killed and dozens more injured in three days of inter-communal clashes in Bangui, a city secured by United Nations and French peacekeepers. The violence has sparked fears that Samba-Panza could be overthrown.