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Nov 21, 2014

Iran, U.S., French officials to leave nuclear talks as deadline looms

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will leave the nuclear talks with six world powers on Friday and return to Tehran for top level discussions four days before a deadline for a final agreement expires.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will also return to Paris later on Friday for consultations on the Iranian nuclear issue, U.S. and French officials said.

Nov 21, 2014

Insight – France tempers Iran nuclear stance in nod to wider diplomatic needs

PARIS (Reuters) – A year after France scuppered a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme it is taking a softer stance in current talks, encouraged by a more inclusive U.S. approach and the knowledge that failure this year could have grim repercussions across the broader region.

France, a U.N. Security Council veto-holder, has long held out for strict terms trading a loosening of international sanctions on Iran’s oil-based economy in return for commitments by Tehran to show its nuclear work is as peaceful as it insists.

Nov 21, 2014

France tempers Iran nuclear stance in nod to wider diplomatic needs

PARIS (Reuters) – A year after France scuppered a deal on Iran’s nuclear program it is taking a softer stance in current talks, encouraged by a more inclusive U.S. approach and the knowledge that failure this year could have grim repercussions across the broader region.

France, a U.N. Security Council veto-holder, has long held out for strict terms trading a loosening of international sanctions on Iran’s oil-based economy in return for commitments by Tehran to show its nuclear work is as peaceful as it insists.

Nov 5, 2014

Iran nuclear deal harder after Nov. 24 – Kerry

PARIS (Reuters) – Reaching a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers will be more difficult if negotiations drag beyond a November 24 deadline, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.

Kerry, speaking ahead of his planned weekend talks with Iran’s foreign minister, said the United States and its allies were not – for now – weighing an extension of the negotiations.

Nov 5, 2014

French Socialists eye parliamentary vote on Palestinian recognition

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s ruling Socialist party wants parliament to recognize a Palestinian state, parliamentary sources said, following similar moves by Sweden and Britain that are meant to overcome an impasse in peacemaking but which have angered Israel.

Palestinians seek statehood in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as their capital – lands captured by Israel in a 1967 war, although Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Nov 4, 2014

France, Lebanon sign Saudi-funded arms deal worth $3 bln

PARIS, Nov 4 (Reuters) – France and Lebanon signed on
Tuesday a Saudi-funded deal worth $3 billion to provide French
weapons and military equipment to the Lebanese army to help it
fight jihadis encroaching from neighbouring Syria.

The Lebanese army, one of the few institutions not overtaken
by the sectarian divisions that plague the tiny country, has few
resources to deal with the instability on its border and has
been seeking to modernise its military hardware.

Oct 17, 2014

Somali leader says his advisers not helping Islamist militants

PARIS, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Somalia’s president said on Friday
that nobody close to him had been involved in the unauthorised
diversion of government weapons to Islamist militants and denied
that a man U.N investigators linked to the arms trade had
advised him.

He was responding to a report from the United Nations’
Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group that Somali army weapons and
ammunition were being diverted to open markets despite the
government’s pledges to prevent its arms ending up in the hands
of al Shabaab fighters.

Oct 10, 2014

French forces launch raid in Niger against al Qaeda units

PARIS (Reuters) – French forces destroyed a convoy in Niger transporting weapons from Libya to Mali and captured fighters linked to al Qaeda, the presidency said on Friday as France steps up efforts to stop militants crisscrossing the Sahel-Sahara region.

Paris, which has led efforts to push back Islamist fighters in the region since intervening in its former colony Mali last year, started redeploying troops across West Africa in July to form a counter-terrorism force, leaving U.N. peacekeepers to deploy across Mali’s north to secure the country.

Oct 8, 2014

Iran moved nuclear research body to dodge U.N. inspections: dissidents

PARIS (Reuters) – An exiled Iranian opposition group said on Wednesday that a facility in Tehran that the United States suspects is involved in nuclear weapons research has been moved to avoid detection by the United Nations atomic watchdog.

The dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposed Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water facility at Arak in 2002. But analysts say it has a mixed track record and a clear political agenda. Iran says allegations of nuclear bomb research are baseless and forged by its enemies.

Oct 7, 2014

Lebanese army to get first Saudi-financed weapons soon: former PM

PARIS (Reuters) – Lebanon’s army will soon receive military equipment as part of a $1 billion grant from Saudi Arabia to help it fight Islamist militants encroaching into Lebanon from Syria, former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday.

Hariri, who has close links to the Saudi royal family, originally announced the deal after visiting King Abdullah in August, just days after Islamist militants attacked and briefly seized the Lebanese border town of Arsal.