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Nov 21, 2013

France, Iran trade barbs, tempering hopes of nuclear deal

GENEVA (Reuters) – France and Iran traded tough words on Thursday before major powers began to negotiate the details of a preliminary accord to curb Tehran’s nuclear program with Paris warning the West had to remain firm and Tehran deploring a loss of trust.

Each side appeared to be tempering anticipation of an imminent agreement after the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany came close to winning concessions from Tehran in the last round of negotiations two weeks ago.

Nov 14, 2013

French troops should hunt Qaeda beyond Mali borders: army chief

PARIS (Reuters) – French troops should be allowed to hunt down al Qaeda-linked militants beyond Mali’s borders, French army chief Admiral Edouard Guillaud said in a rare interview on Thursday.

Nine months after they were scattered across the Sahara by a French military offensive, Islamists in Mali have named new leaders and are making a comeback as France whittles down its military presence. They have launched attacks on U.N. peacekeepers and killed two French journalists this month.

Nov 13, 2013

Syrian Kurdish leader claims military gains against Islamists

PARIS (Reuters) – Islamist groups in northern Syria are weakening after months of fighting and Kurdish militias are gaining ground, a top Kurdish leader said on Wednesday, vowing to continue their advances.

Saleh Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), told Reuters in Paris that Tuesday’s announcement of an interim administration that aims to carve out an autonomous Syrian Kurdish region was only “provisional” until there was a viable solution to Syria’s civil war.

Nov 11, 2013

Kerry sees Iran nuclear deal in months, will protect allies

ABU DHABI/PARIS (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he hoped an agreement to end a dispute over Iran’s nuclear program would be completed within months, although Washington was not engaged in a race to seal a deal.

Iran and six world powers came close to a preliminary agreement at the weekend during talks in Geneva and decided to resume negotiations on November 20 in their attempt to defuse a decade-old standoff and allay fears of a drift towards a wider Middle East war.

Nov 10, 2013

Iran standoff sees France winning Gulf friends, influence

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s tough line in major power talks with Iran may frustrate those looking for an early deal over Tehran’s nuclear program, but is helping Paris to seal strategic new links with Gulf states and Israel.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius emerged just after midnight from Saturday’s talks in Geneva to insist more work was needed to remove the risk of an Iranian nuclear bomb, rankling those Western allies who believed they were on the brink of an accord that has eluded negotiators for a decade.

Nov 8, 2013

Congo says to sign peace deal with M23 rebels on Monday

PARIS (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo will sign a peace deal on Monday with the M23 rebel group that laid down its arms this week after a string of military defeats, Congo’s Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda told Reuters on Friday.

The Tutsi-led M23, the most important rebel movement in lawless eastern Congo, announced on Tuesday it would disband after a 20-month uprising that displaced some 800,000 people. A two-week U.N.-backed army offensive had dislodged M23 from its last hilltop strongholds near the Rwandan and Ugandan borders.

Nov 7, 2013

Sudanese rebels tell world to ‘wake up’ to war

PARIS (Reuters) – The main rebel alliance fighting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir called on the world on Thursday to “wake up” to the war, saying atrocities in Sudan were as bad as those in Syria.

Sudan has suffered decades of conflict. Fighting has intensified in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states since South Sudan won independence in 2011, while international efforts have failed to bring peace to the westerly region of Darfur.

Nov 6, 2013

Iran’s Zarif charms Paris with smiles, optimism and a rug

PARIS (Reuters) – Iran’s Foreign Minister ended a two-day visit to France on Wednesday, a country he said was the most intransigent among the six world powers – including the United States – that he will face at nuclear talks this week.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, the international face of the government that replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hardline administration in August, said he wanted a “new role” in the world for Iran, a nation increasingly isolated over its nuclear program.

Nov 5, 2013

Iran negotiator says outline nuclear deal possible this week

PARIS (Reuters) – Iran’s top negotiator said on Tuesday that a framework deal with world powers on its nuclear program was “possible this week”, although it would not be a disaster if there were a further delay.

Iran resumes negotiations in Geneva on Thursday with six world powers known as the “P5+1″ – the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany. The talks are aimed at ending a standoff over the nuclear program, which Western powers suspect may be aimed at developing nuclear weapons, despite Iran’s denials.

Nov 5, 2013

France won’t delay Mali troop drawdown despite killings

PARIS/BAMAKO (Reuters) – France will stick to its timetable for withdrawing troops from Mali despite a resurgence in violence and the killing of two French journalists, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday.

France, which sent soldiers to its former colony in January to combat militants who had taken over large swathes of Mali, has already delayed by two months plans to reduce troop numbers from 3,200 to 1,000 by the end of the year.