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Mar 21, 2013

Chad foreign minister warns against early Mali exit

PARIS (Reuters) – Chad warned France and its African allies on Thursday against crying victory too soon in the fight against Islamist rebels in northern Mali, saying only 70 percent of the battle was won in the country’s desolate far north.

Chad’s Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat urged African nations to send troops to the frontline in the rugged Adrar des Ifoghas mountains where 2,400 Chadian soldiers are battling pockets of die-hard Islamists, together with French forces.

Mar 20, 2013

ICC prosecutor says Kenyatta case will go to trial

PARIS (Reuters) – The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Wednesday that Kenya president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta would face a trial on charges of crimes against humanity but when that would happen was unknown.

Kenyatta, whose election earlier this month is being challenged by his rival, faces charges at the ICC over bloodshed in the aftermath of Kenya’s 2007 election.

Mar 20, 2013

Central African Republic rebels end truce

PARIS/BANGUI, March 20 (Reuters) – Rebels in the Central
African Republic called off a truce on Wednesday, accusing the
government of reneging on a January peace deal, but said they
would give regional mediators a chance to settle the dispute
before they resumed fighting.

The Seleka rebel group, which came close to taking the
capital Bangui late last year, said a 72-hour deadline for the
president to honour the terms of the deal had now passed.

Mar 19, 2013

Mali needs aid to rebuild north, stop militant return: France

LYON, France (Reuters) – Donors need to pour aid into Mali over the next six months to rebuild its strife-hit north and stop defeated militants taking advantage of the chaos to return, France’s development minister said on Tuesday.

Paris launched a ground and air operation in its former colony in January to break Islamist rebels’ hold on the northern two-thirds of the country, saying the militants posed a risk to the security of West Africa and Europe.

Mar 18, 2013

Nigerian blasts kill at least 25, Islamists suspected

KANO, Nigeria/PARIS (Reuters) – Five explosions at a bus park in northern Nigeria’s main city of Kano killed at least 25 people on Monday, a Reuters witness said, in an area where Islamist sect Boko Haram is waging an insurgency against the government.

The coordinated bombing came as an audio tape emerged of a man saying he was the father of a family of seven French tourists kidnapped by Boko Haram militants.

Mar 14, 2013

France pushes EU to end Syria arms ban

BRUSSELS/PARIS (Reuters) – France will urge other European Union governments at a summit on Thursday to lift an embargo on supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition, President Francois Hollande said, saying Europe could not allow the Syrian people to be massacred.

Hollande justified his call to increase European help to the Syrian opposition after a two-year uprising against President Bashar al-Assad by saying that weapons were being delivered to Assad’s government, particularly by Russia.

Mar 14, 2013

France, Britain to push EU to end Syria arms ban: Fabius

PARIS (Reuters) – France and Britain want an urgent European Union meeting, possibly this month, to persuade their allies to lift an embargo on supplying arms to the Syrian opposition, France’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

The two countries accuse Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of gambling on a military victory, and hope the threat of arming the rebels will force him into talks and a transition of power after a two-year-old conflict that is destabilizing the region.

Mar 13, 2013

French Senate warns Hollande against big defence cuts

PARIS, March 13 (Reuters) – France’s Senate threatened on
Wednesday to reject plans by the government to slash the
country’s defence budget as part of cost-cutting measures,
saying it would leave the military at “breaking point.”

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

Mar 13, 2013

France, allies want special force for Mali U.N. mission

PARIS/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – France and its African allies want a heavily-armed force able to counter any resurgent Islamist threat in Mali as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission, diplomats said.

The United Nations is considering setting up a 10,000-strong force in the former French colony before presidential and legislative elections in July, a deadline a European diplomat described on Tuesday as “a race against time”.

Mar 12, 2013

Britain, France, push EU to drop Syria arms ban

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) – Britain and France raised the pressure on other European Union members on Tuesday to lift a ban on supplying arms to Syria, where anti-government rebels are outgunned by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Britain warned that it could break with the embargo altogether, which requires unanimous agreement by the EU’s 27 members to take effect, while France hinted it would push to get the bloc to agree to amend the ban to allow the supply of arms.