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Dec 15, 2014

France urges African nations to take charge of their security

DAKAR (Reuters) – France urged African nations on Monday to step up cross-border cooperation to tackle security challenges from Islamist groups in southern Libya to Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, as it seeks to scale back its military commitments on the continent.

Amid budgetary pressures at home, France is looking to reduce security commitments in Africa. It is scaling back the 2,000 troops it deployed a year ago to curb Christian-Muslim violence in Central African Republic, a former colony.

Dec 15, 2014

U.N. Sahel envoy says Libya turmoil could destabilize neighbors

DAKAR (Reuters) – The United Nations special envoy to the Sahel region said on Monday talks to resolve a crisis in Libya had stalled and warned several countries in the region risked being destabilized unless it was resolved quickly.

Hiroute Gebre Selassie said instability in the Sahel region south of the Sahara desert had worsened due to the fragile state of regional governments and expansion of Islamist militants.

Dec 11, 2014

French forces in Mali kill Islamist on U.S. wanted list

PARIS (Reuters) – French forces in northern Mali have killed a senior commander of the al Mourabitoun Islamist group who was wanted by the United States, a defense ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

The United States had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Ahmed al Tilemsi, who took part in the 2011 kidnapping of two French nationals in Niger and three aid workers in Algeria later that year.

Dec 10, 2014

Corrected – Last French hostage freed by Al Qaeda’s north African arm

PARIS/NIAMEY (Reuters) – (Corrects location of press conference in par 3 to presidency)

Serge Lazarevic, a Frenchman who was kidnapped in northern Mali and was France’s last hostage abroad, has been freed after being held by al Qaeda’s North African wing for nearly three years.

Dec 9, 2014

Last French hostage freed by Al Qaeda’s north African arm

PARIS/NIAMEY (Reuters) – Serge Lazarevic, a Frenchman who was kidnapped in northern Mali and was France’s last hostage abroad, has been freed after being held by al Qaeda’s North African wing for nearly three years.

The freeing of France’s last hostage is a boost for President Francois Hollande but questions linger over a reported prisoner exchange and a possible ransom payment that led to Lazarevic being freed by the Sahara-based group.

Dec 5, 2014

France to pay $60 million for Holocaust victims deported by state rail firm

PARIS (Reuters) – France said on Friday it had agreed to put $60 million into a fund managed by the United States to compensate Holocaust victims deported by French state rail firm SNCF to Nazi death camps, a deal that protects it from future U.S. litigation.

About 76,000 Jews were arrested in France during World War Two and transported in appalling conditions in railway boxcars to concentration camps such as Auschwitz, where most died.

Dec 5, 2014

Revenge killings in Central African Republic leave at least 14 dead

BANGUI/PARIS (Reuters) – At least 14 people have been killed in tit-for-tat sectarian violence in Central African Republic, a Red Cross official said on Friday, and hundreds of Christians have sought shelter in the main church in the central town of Bambari.

Muslim youths had rampaged through Christian districts after a Muslim taxi driver was killed in revenge for a Seleka rebel shooting a soldier in Bambari two days before, Mandaba Delphin, head of the Red Cross in Bambari, told Reuters by telephone.

Dec 4, 2014

France begins withdrawing Central Africa troops as U.N. deploys

PARIS (Reuters) – France is withdrawing troops from Central African Republic as a United Nations peacekeeping force nears its full deployment, but will keep a presence to support the U.N. with a rapid reaction force, officials and diplomats said.

France has 2,000 troops in its former colony after intervening a year ago to stem violence between Christian militias and largely Muslim Seleka rebels, who took power.

Dec 2, 2014

French parliament votes for recognition of Palestinian state

PARIS (Reuters) – French lawmakers on Thursday urged their government to recognise Palestine, a symbolic move that will not immediately affect France’s diplomatic stance but demonstrates growing European impatience with a stalled peace process.

While most developing countries recognise Palestine as a state, most Western European countries do not, supporting the Israeli and U.S. position that an independent Palestinian state should emerge from negotiations with Israel.

Dec 1, 2014

French parliament to call for recognition of Palestinian state

PARIS (Reuters) – French lawmakers are set to vote on Tuesday to call on the government to recognize Palestine, a symbolic move that will not immediately affect France’s diplomatic stance but demonstrates growing European impatience with a stalled peace process.

While most developing countries recognize Palestine as a state, most Western European countries do not, supporting the Israeli and U.S. position that an independent Palestinian state should emerge from negotiations with Israel.