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Apr 22, 2013

U.N. failure boosts Western Sahara conflict risk: Polisario

PARIS (Reuters) – Failure by the United Nations to let peacekeepers monitor human rights in the disputed Western Sahara risks pushing the region toward armed conflict, a senior official from the Polisario Front independence movement said on Monday.

The dispute over Western Sahara dates back to 1975 and pits Morocco, which claims the region is part of its territory, against the Algeria-backed Polisario.

Apr 19, 2013

France says to negotiate U.N. text on Western Sahara

PARIS (Reuters) – France signaled on Friday it would push to modify a U.S. proposal to the United Nations to allow U.N. peacekeepers to monitor human rights in the disputed Western Sahara before deciding which way it would vote.

The dispute, dating back to 1975, pits Morocco, which says the Western Sahara is its territory, against the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which says it is an independent state.

Apr 15, 2013

Wealth inventory exposes millionaires in French government

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Socialist government contains eight millionaires, a list of ministers’ personal assets showed on Monday, dealing a blow to the image built by President Francois Hollande of a team enduring frugal salaries and no-frills travel.

The inventory, part of a scramble by Hollande to quieten an outcry over an ex-budget minister’s undeclared Swiss bank account, exposed Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as having a 6.5 million euro ($8.50 million) fortune, excluding his art collection.

Apr 9, 2013

French chief rabbi says will not quit over plagiarism scandal

PARIS (Reuters) – Gilles Bernheim, the grand rabbi of France, refused to quit on Tuesday despite admitting to several counts of plagiarism and to deception about his academic credentials.

The revelations have shocked France’s 600,000-strong Jewish community and he has come under pressure to quit, but Bernheim said that resigning would be a “desertion” as he came clean on one of the faithful’s main radio stations in the country.

Apr 5, 2013

France wants to keep 1,000 soldiers in Mali permanently

BAMAKO/PARIS (Reuters) – France has proposed keeping a permanent force of 1,000 French troops in Mali to fight armed Islamist militants, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday.

Fabius, on a visit to Bamako, said France was pushing ahead with plans to reduce its 4,000-strong military presence from the end of this month but planned to keep a combat force in Mali to support a future U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Apr 3, 2013

Mali insurgency endangers French pull-out plan

PARIS (Reuters) – France wants to cut its forces in Mali sharply by the year-end and is urging its ex-colony to hold elections in July, but an Islamist insurgency is threatening that timetable.

Many people in northern Mali who lived under the rebels’ brutal form of Islamic law last year are apprehensive about French plans to leave just 1,000 of the current 4,000 troops in the country by December, with U.N. peacekeepers filling the gap.

Apr 3, 2013

Analysis: Mali insurgency endangers French pull-out plan

PARIS (Reuters) – France wants to cut its forces in Mali sharply by the year-end and is urging its ex-colony to hold elections in July, but an Islamist insurgency is threatening that timetable.

Many people in northern Mali who lived under the rebels’ brutal form of Islamic law last year are apprehensive about French plans to leave just 1,000 of the current 4,000 troops in the country by December, with U.N. peacekeepers filling the gap.

Mar 28, 2013

Azerbaijan, Armenia deal on disputed area unlikely: Karabakh PM

PARIS (Reuters) – Azerbaijan and Armenia are unlikely to reach a deal this year over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and there is a risk of the region sliding towards a war, the enclave’s prime minister said on Thursday.

A conflict between ethnic Azeris and Armenians erupted in 1991 over the area – a mountainous enclave within Azerbaijan with a majority Armenian population – after Armenian-backed forces seized it and seven surrounding Azeri districts.

Mar 27, 2013

Kosovo hopeful on deal with Serbia to end ethnic partition

PARIS (Reuters) – Kosovo’s foreign minister said on Wednesday he anticipated a breakthrough with Serbia when the two countries’ prime ministers meet next week to discuss an end to the ethnic partition of the former Serbian province.

Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s 2008 secession, but is under pressure from the European Union to improve ties and help overcome a split between Kosovo’s Albanian majority and a small Serb enclave in the north.

Mar 26, 2013

Mali mission forces Hollande to rethink French defence cuts

PARIS, March 26 (Reuters) – French President Francois
Hollande is delaying a decision until later in the year on
slashing the country’s defence budget as part of cost-cutting
measures after meeting stiff resistance from parliament in the
aftermath of the Mali war.

The Socialist government is battling to reduce state
spending by 60 billion euros ($78 billion) over Hollande’s
five-year term, and was forced this month to order ministries to
save an extra 5 billion in 2014 as its deficit target receded.