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Mar 9, 2015

Mali FM tells rebels ‘time running out’ for peace deal

PARIS (Reuters) – Mali’s foreign minister said on Monday Tuareg rebels were running out of time to seal a peace accord that would distance them from jihadi groups who are staging violent attacks in the West African country.

Mali’s government signed up to a preliminary peace proposal on March 1 meant to end fighting with the Tuarag-led northern separatists, but the rebels have demanded more time before agreeing to any accord.

Mar 7, 2015

Islamist militants kill 5 in restaurant attack in Mali capital

BAMAKO/PARIS (Reuters) – A Sahara-based Islamist group on Saturday claimed responsibility for a rare attack in Mali’s capital that killed five people, including two foreigners, highlighting continued volatility in the African nation two years after France helped retake territory from al Qaeda-linked militants.

The attack early Saturday morning on La Terrasse, a popular restaurant with expatriates in Bamako, left a French citizen, a Belgian security officer and three Malians dead and nine others wounded, a senior Malian security official told Reuters.

Mar 7, 2015

U.S., France ‘on same page’ over Iran, want stronger deal

PARIS (Reuters) – The United States and France sought on Saturday to play down any disagreements over nuclear talks with Iran, saying they both agreed the accord now under discussion needed to be strengthened.

“We are on the same page,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after talks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris. “If we didn’t think that there was further to go, as Laurent said, we’d have had an agreement already,” Kerry added.

Mar 5, 2015

Syria opposition turns to internal opponents

PARIS (Reuters) – The head of Syria’s Western-backed political opposition is trying to ally with opposition groups based in Syria to boost its legitimacy and help revive peace talks that center on a political transition in the country.

Khaled Khoja, who became president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in January, told Reuters in an interview that the group’s goal was still for President Bashar al-Assad to leave power, but that it was no longer a precondition to begin talks.

Feb 24, 2015

Leading powers seek stepped-up monitoring in Ukraine

PARIS (Reuters) – The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany agreed on Tuesday to seek a reinforcement of the international monitoring mission in Ukraine and renewed their calls for an oft-breached ceasefire agreement to be respected.

The meeting of about three hours in Paris was called in a bid to rescue an agreement the four powers brokered this month in Belarus capital Minsk, setting out terms for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of arms in the conflict in east Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian rebels.

Feb 18, 2015

Four years on, some in Europe support talking to Assad

BEIRUT/PARIS (Reuters) – Some European Union countries which withdrew their ambassadors from Syria are saying privately it is time for more communication with Damascus even though Britain and France oppose it, diplomats said.

Those states have become more vocal in internal meetings about the need to talk to the Syrian government and have a presence in the capital. London and Paris reject this, saying President Bashar al-Assad has lost all legitimacy.

Feb 15, 2015

Libya conflict, order gap spurred French Rafale sale to Egypt

PARIS, Feb 13 (Reuters) – The arms deal that eluded France
for 20 years, its first foreign order for the Rafale combat jet,
came with a Thursday evening phone call crowning weeks of
diplomacy carried out with unusual speed and stealth.

Egypt’s decision to buy 24 of the Dassault Aviation
fighters follows failures by successive French
governments to sell the plane and leapfrogs three years of
inconclusive talks for a 126-plane contract with India.

Feb 12, 2015

France’s Hollande says Egypt to buy Rafale fighters, frigate

BRUSSELS, Feb 12 (Reuters) – French President Francois
Hollande said Egypt would order 24 Rafale fighter jets, a naval
frigate and related military equipment in a deal to be signed in
Cairo on Monday worth more than 5 billion euros ($5.70 billion).

The contract would make Egypt, aiming to upgrade its
military hardware amid fears the crisis in neighbouring Libya
could spill over, the first export customer for the warplane,
built by Dassault Aviation.

Feb 10, 2015

French Rafale fighter jet sale to Egypt “imminent” -source

PARIS, Feb 10 (Reuters) – France is close to selling
Dassault Aviation-built Rafale fighter jets to Egypt,
sources close to the matter said on Tuesday, as Cairo looks to
upgrade its military hardware over fears the crisis in
neighbouring Libya could spill over.

France and Egypt have been negotiating since a November
state visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over 24
Rafale jets, a Fremm naval frigate and MBDA air-to-air missiles
in a deal worth 5 billion to 6 billion euros ($5.65-$6.78
billion), two industrial sources told Reuters last week.

Feb 5, 2015

France sends advisers to Nigeria border to coordinate Boko Haram fight

PARIS, Feb 5 (Reuters) – France has sent military advisers
to Niger’s southern border with Nigeria to help coordinate
military action by regional powers fighting the Islamist group
Boko Haram, a French army official said on Thursday.

The deployment was announced as warplanes pounded Boko Haram
positions just over the border in Nigeria, a resident in the
Niger town of Bosso said, and hundreds of Chadian troops massed
at the frontier to prepare an attack.