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Jan 6, 2013

Mali crisis paving way for militant attacks on France: judge

PARIS (Reuters) – The insurgency that has seized the north of Mali is paving the way for attacks on France as more French Muslims of African origin are finding a cause in the conflict, Paris’s top anti-terrorism judge warned on Sunday.

As Mali’s former colonial ruler, France fears al Qaeda’s north African arm, AQIM, is cementing a base in the West African state that would provide a launch pad against French political and economic interests at home and abroad.

Jan 5, 2013

France won’t buy troubled Petroplus refinery: Hollande

VAL-DE-REUIL, France (Reuters) – France will not take over insolvent Swiss refiner Petroplus’ oil refinery in Normandy, but could help the plant financially once a suitable buyer is found, President Francois Hollande said on Saturday.

About 500 jobs at the 161,000 barrels-a-day Petit-Couronne refinery are at risk, the latest industrial headache for the Socialist leader who has vowed to stem rising unemployment by the end of the year.

Dec 20, 2012

French national kidnapped in northern Nigeria

PARIS/ABUJA (Reuters) – A French energy worker has been kidnapped in northern Nigeria after 30 gunmen attacked a residence and killed a policeman and a security guard protecting the foreign employee, officials said on Thursday.

No group claimed credit for the abduction but Islamist groups linked to Boko Haram, which has killed hundreds in an insurgency this year, have been behind similar kidnappings in the past and have become the biggest security threat to Africa’s largest oil exporter.

Dec 20, 2012

French colonisation of Algeria “brutal” -Hollande

ALGIERS/PARIS, Dec 20 (Reuters) – President Francois
Hollande acknowledged on Thursday that France’s colonisation of
Algeria had been “brutal and unfair” but stopped short of making
an apology to the oil-rich North African state which Paris sees
as a major trading partner.

With France’s own economy spluttering, Hollande had hoped
his visit would not only strengthen trade ties but improve
security cooperation, as Paris pushes for intervention against
Islamists who have seized control of northern Mali.

Dec 18, 2012

France confident it can bridge gap with U.S. on Mali

PARIS (Reuters) – France will address U.S. concerns about an international military mission to retake northern Mali from Islamist rebels, in time for a U.N. Security Council vote on the issue this week, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.

U.S. diplomats have voiced skepticism over a French draft resolution to approve an African Union (AU) military force that would seek to oust al Qaeda-linked insurgents who seized vast swathes of the African country last March.

Dec 17, 2012

Eyeing growth, France seeks to smooth Algeria ties

PARIS/ALGIERS (Reuters) – President Francois Hollande travels to Algeria on Wednesday to try to heal wounds left by a bloody war of independence half a century ago and to seek greater access to the former colony’s oil wealth in an attempt to lift France’s own flagging economy.

The trauma of the 1954-1962 Algerian war, in which hundreds of thousands were killed, left deep scars in both countries which continue to hamper a partnership that Paris believes could help revive the Mediterranean basin.

Dec 16, 2012

France’s conservative opposition wins by-elections

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s opposition UMP conservative party won three by-elections on Sunday despite its own internal problems, in the latest sign of trouble for Socialist President Francois Hollande.

A six-week-old row over who won a November 18 vote for the UMP leadership has plunged the opposition party into disarray, but it finally looked to be capitalizing on the government’s difficulties over the weak economy.

Dec 16, 2012

Actor Depardieu hits back at French PM over tax exile

PARIS (Reuters) – Actor Gerard Depardieu, accused by French government leaders of trying to dodge taxes by buying a house over the border in Belgium, retorted that he was leaving because “success” was now being punished in his homeland.

A popular and colourful figure in France, the 63-year-old Depardieu is the latest wealthy Frenchman to seek shelter outside his native country after tax increases by Socialist President Francois Hollande.

Dec 16, 2012

French leaders’ popularity tumbles after Mittal deal

PARIS, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Approval ratings for French
President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault
hit new lows in December, a poll showed, as left-wing voters
showed their discontent over the government’s handling of the
economy.

Hollande’s government has faced criticism over the tactics
it used in a two-month battle over the future of ArcelorMittal’s
Florange steel plant, which unnerved investors in the
euro zone’s second largest economy and confused France’s unions.

Dec 12, 2012

France says not ready to arm Syrian opposition

MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 (Reuters) – France said on
Wednesday it was not ready to supply weapons to Syrian
insurgents fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad and would
be studying the role of an Islamist rebel group branded a
terrorist organisation by the United States.

Western powers and Arab nations have recognised Syria’s new
opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the
Syrian people at talks in Morocco, according to a draft
declaration. But feelings about arming the rebels are mixed.