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Mar 5, 2014

Russia rebuffs West on Crimea ahead of Paris talks

PARIS/KIEV, March 5 (Reuters) – Russia said on Wednesday it
could not order “self-defence” forces in Ukraine’s Crimea region
back to their bases ahead of crucial ministerial talks in Paris
aimed at easing tensions of over Ukraine and averting the risk
of war.

The European Union meanwhile offered Ukraine’s new
pro-Western government 11 billion euros in financial aid in the
next couple of years provided Kiev reaches a deal with the
International Monetary Fund.

Mar 5, 2014

Russia says can’t control Crimea troops ahead of U.S. talks

PARIS/KIEV, March 5 (Reuters) – Russia said on Wednesday it
could not order “self-defence” forces in Crimea back to their
bases ahead of the first face-to-face talks with the United
States on easing tensions over Ukraine and averting the risk of
war.

Russia and the West are facing the most serious
confrontation since the end of the Cold War over influence in
Ukraine, a major commodities exporter and strategic link between
East and West.

Mar 5, 2014

U.S. and Russia set for talks on Ukraine tension

PARIS/KIEV (Reuters) – The United States and Russia will hold talks on easing East-West tension over Ukraine on Wednesday as the West steps up efforts to persuade Moscow to pull its forces back to base in Crimea and avert the risk of a war.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet face-to-face for the first time since the crisis escalated, after a conference in Paris attended by all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

Mar 4, 2014

Powers to give Lebanon military, economic boost against Syria spillover

PARIS (Reuters) – France is preparing to seal a multi-billion-dollar plan to help modernize Lebanon’s armed forces as part of international efforts to stabilize a country hard hit by spillover from Syria’s civil war next door.

At a meeting in Paris on Wednesday, the International Support Group for Lebanon, which includes the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, will also muster more help for almost 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and create a fund to mitigate the economic fallout from Syria’s conflict.

Feb 27, 2014

Morocco raises stakes in diplomatic spat with ally France

RABAT/PARIS (Reuters) – Morocco has halted judicial cooperation with France, blocking procedures from prisoner transfers to joint investigations, officials said on Thursday, in a growing dispute with its former colonial ruler over allegations of human rights abuses.

French President Francois Hollande spoke to the Moroccan king this week to try to defuse the rare row with Rabat, an ally under fire from rights groups over police abuses, press freedom and judicial independence.

Feb 26, 2014

Arab Spring will fail unless Tunisia transition succeeds: foreign minister

PARIS (Reuters) – Tunisia said on Wednesday that it needs more help from its European partners in its transition to democracy because if it fails no other country in the Arab region will succeed.

During a visit to Paris to boost economic ties and seek help to bolster security to fight Islamist militants, foreign minister Mongi Hamdi said his country had done “exemplary” work to move towards elections by the end of the year, but more support was needed.

Feb 25, 2014

France draws up Central African Republic sanctions list, includes ex-leader Bozize

PARIS (Reuters) – France has drawn up a list of eight citizens of Central African Republic, including former President Francois Bozize, on whom it believes the United Nations should impose sanctions, diplomatic sources said.

The U.N. Security Council backed an African and French intervention in December to quell sectarian conflict in Central African Republic (CAR), which began when Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the mostly Christian country.

Feb 23, 2014

France risks long stay after misjudging Central African Republic

PARIS/DAKAR (Reuters) – When France sent troops to halt violence between Christians and Muslims in Central African Republic, commanders named the mission Sangaris after a local butterfly to reflect its short life. Three months later, it is clear they badly miscalculated.

Buoyed by a swift victory in last year’s war against Islamists in Mali, France’s military predicted six months would be enough to quell sectarian conflict in Central African Republic, which began in March when Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country.

Jan 24, 2014

Syrian opposition demands a future without Assad

GENEVA (Reuters) – Syria’s opposition leader laid out his demands for talks on ending his country’s civil war, calling for the creation of a transitional government that does not include President Bashar al-Assad.

Ahmed Jarba told reporters in Geneva, where rival sides in the Syrian conflict are on Friday due to begin several days of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations and major world powers, that he was looking to a future without Assad.

Jan 22, 2014

Syria peace conference opens with rifts over Assad

MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) – Syria’s government and its enemies came face to face for the first time on Wednesday at a one-day peace conference in Switzerland which world powers hope can at least start a process to end three years of civil war.

There was immediate evidence of sharp differences, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that President Bashar al-Assad must step down, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cautioned against outsiders meddling in Syria’s affairs.