WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In his first week as U.S. president, Barack Obama told Iran’s leaders he would extend a hand if they would “unclench their fist” and persuade the West they weren’t trying to build a nuclear bomb.
So far, they have not. In response, the United States and the European Union this year took a step they had long resisted, imposing trade sanctions to choke off Iran’s lifeblood: oil revenue.
BRUSSELS/GENEVA (Reuters) – Fighters from around the world have filtered into Syria to join a civil war that has split along sectarian lines, increasingly pitting the ruling Alawite community against the majority Sunni Muslims, U.N. human rights investigators said on Thursday.
The deepened sectarian divisions in Syria may diminish prospects for any post-conflict reconciliation even if President Bashar al-Assad is toppled. And the influx of foreign fighters raises the risk of the war spilling into neighboring countries, riven by the same sectarian fault lines that cut through Syria.
BRUSSELS, Dec 14 (Reuters) – All options are on the table to
support the Syrian opposition fighting President Bashar
al-Assad, European Union leaders said on Friday, raising the
possibility that non-lethal military equipment or even arms
could eventually be supplied.
In their strongest statement of support for the Syrian
opposition since the uprising began more than 20 months ago, EU
leaders instructed their foreign ministers to assess all
possibilities to increase the pressure on Assad.
BRUSSELS, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Big powers hope soon to agree
with Iran to hold a new round of nuclear talks in another bid to
resolve a protracted dispute over Tehran’s atomic programme and
avert the increasing threat of a downward spiral into Middle
Iran is seen by the six powers to be covertly trying to
develop the means to produce nuclear weapons. They want to rein
in the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment programme, to
ensure it is geared only for civilian energy as Iran maintains
it is, through a mix of diplomacy and economic sanctions.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union sharply criticized Israel on Monday over its plans to build settlements in a highly sensitive part of the West Bank, and rebuked Hamas Islamists for questioning Israel’s right to exist.
“The EU is deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements,” foreign ministers of the 27 EU states said in a statement after meeting in Brussels.
BRUSSELS, Dec 10 (Reuters) – EU foreign ministers, meeting
the leader of the Syrian opposition on Monday, moved towards
full recognition of a new coalition ahead of a diplomatic
gathering aimed at bolstering aid for rebels fighting President
In part because of concerns about the presence of radical
Islamists among the rebels, the European Union did not offer
full recognition to the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), as
Britain and France have. The bloc also has called on the
grouping to become more inclusive.
JERUSALEM/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Israel moved ahead with plans to build 3,000 settler homes in one of the most sensitive areas of the West Bank, as the European Union summoned Israel’s envoy to add its voice to a storm of international protest.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday the global condemnation, some of it from the Jewish state’s closest traditional allies, would not deter it from defending its “vital interests”.
BRUSSELS/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Rebels said on Wednesday they had surrounded an air base near Damascus, a fresh sign of battle closing in the capital a day after NATO drew a line in the sand by agreeing to send air defense missiles to Turkey.
The Western military alliance’s decision to send U.S., German and Dutch Patriot missile batteries to help defend the Turkish border would bring European and U.S. troops to Syria’s frontier for the first time in the 20 month civil war.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union states struggled to agree on Tuesday on a common response to Israel’s plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, highlighting the divisions within the bloc over how to tackle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
At a meeting in Brussels, ambassadors responsible for security issues discussed the possibility of all 27 EU states writing to Tel Aviv to express their displeasure or calling in Israeli ambassadors for consultations, as five EU countries have already done.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO agreed on Tuesday to send Patriot missiles to Turkey to defend against a possible Syrian missile attack and voiced grave concern about reports that Damascus may be preparing to use chemical weapons.
“To the Turkish people we say: We are determined to defend you and your territory. To anyone who would want to attack Turkey we say: Don’t even think about it,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the 28-nation alliance foreign ministers took the decision at a meeting in Brussels.