Opinion

Paul Taylor

PM says France “at war” with al Qaeda over hostage

Paul Taylor
Jul 27, 2010 13:13 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – France said on Monday it was at war with al Qaeda’s North African branch and will intensify military support for governments in the region combating the Islamist fighters who killed an elderly French hostage.

But Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Paris would continue to negotiate with hostage-takers whenever possible to save the lives of French citizens, provided their captors did not cross a “red line” by endangering their lives.

He was speaking in a radio interview a day after President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that Michel Germaneau, 78, kidnapped in Niger and held by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, had been killed following a failed French rescue mission in Mali.

“We are at war with al Qaeda and that’s why we have been supporting Mauritanian forces fighting al Qaeda for months,” Fillon told Europe 1 radio, saying that AQIM consisted of about 400 fighters operating in a desert area the size of Europe.

Asked what Sarkozy meant when he said the killing of the retired engineer would not go unpunished, the prime minister said: “It means the fight against terrorism will continue and will be reinforced.”

PM says France “at war” with al Qaeda

Paul Taylor
Jul 27, 2010 09:50 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – France is at war with al Qaeda’s North African branch and will intensify military support for governments in the region combating the Islamist fighters, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Tuesday.

He was speaking in a radio interview a day after President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that a 78-year-old French hostage kidnapped in Niger and held by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had been killed following a failed French rescue mission.

“We are at war with al Qaeda and that’s why we have been supporting Mauritanian forces fighting al Qaeda for months,” Fillon told Europe 1 radio, saying that AQIM consisted of about 400 fighters operating in a desert area the size of Europe.

Investors find some reassurance in Europe’s bank tests

Paul Taylor
Jul 26, 2010 04:52 UTC

SINGAPORE/PARIS, July 26 (Reuters) – Investors in Asia took
some reassurance that European banks had passed “stress tests”
on their ability to deal with a debt crisis, which has been a
cloud over the global economic recovery.

But scepticism remained about the credibility of the tests
because they showed a combined capital shortfall of the 91
banks put under the microscope that was much smaller than
expected.

“On the surface, if anything, you have to take these tests
with a pinch of salt,” said Jonathan Cavenagh, currency
strategist at Westpac, Sydney. “Sovereign debt problems remain,
funding constraints for their banks are still there and these
have the potential to weigh on the euro.”

EU bank stress tests face their own test in markets

Paul Taylor
Jul 25, 2010 14:23 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – EU tests of banks’ ability to withstand financial shocks, criticized as too easy after only 7 out of 91 failed, face their own stress test in the markets on Monday with early signs pointing to a more positive response.

European Union policymakers and regulators voiced relief at Friday’s results but some market analysts and many media commentators derided an exercise in which all listed banks passed as lacking in credibility.

“I see nothing stressful about this test. It’s like sending the banks away for a weekend of R&R,” said Stephen Pope, chief global equity strategist at brokers Cantor Fitzgerald.

Bettencourt to be questioned by police: lawyer

Paul Taylor
Jul 23, 2010 22:03 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Liliane Bettencourt, France’s richest woman at the center of a scandal over alleged tax evasion and illegal political funding, will be questioned by police next week, her lawyer said on Friday.

“Mrs Bettencourt will be questioned in the course of next week by the financial police,” the lawyer, Georges Kiejman, told Reuters without specifying when exactly the questioning would take place.

The 87-year-old heiress to the L’Oreal cosmetics fortune demanded an end to what she described as harassment by her daughter and intrusions into her private life after a prosecutor blocked a bid to have her declared mentally unfit.

French heiress to be questioned by police – lawyer

Paul Taylor
Jul 23, 2010 22:02 UTC

PARIS, July 23 (Reuters) – Liliane Bettencourt, France’s
richest woman at the centre of a scandal over alleged tax
evasion and illegal political funding, will be questioned by
police next week, her lawyer said on Friday.

“Mrs Bettencourt will be questioned in the course of next
week by the financial police,” the lawyer, Georges Kiejman, told
Reuters without specifying when exactly the questioning would
take place.

The 87-year-old heiress to the L’Oreal (OREP.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) cosmetics
fortune demanded an end to what she described as harassment by
her daughter and intrusions into her private life after a
prosecutor blocked a bid to have her declared mentally unfit.

Analysis: France’s urban “powder kegs” ready to blow again

Paul Taylor
Jul 19, 2010 14:46 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – As police struggle to clamp a lid on violence in a poor neighborhood of Grenoble, officials say the latest riot shows that France’s high-rise neighborhoods are a disaster waiting to happen — again.

The latent violence in the overcrowded concrete jungles on the fringes of French cities poses a challenge to conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, who won election vowing to restore security and flush out delinquent “vermin” with a power-hose.

Claude Dilain, president of the Association of Cities and Suburbs, a cross-party group of elected officials from some of the roughest areas, calls the high-rise estates “powder kegs.”

Torture victim’s saga mirrors Iran’s history

Paul Taylor
Jul 15, 2010 07:13 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Houshang Asadi is an equal opportunity torture victim.

He was tortured under the Shah and tortured again after Iran’s Islamic Revolution. He still feels the pain, every night.

Now the 59-year-old former communist journalist, who lives in exile in Paris, is finally getting even with his former torturer — a man he came to know and fear as Brother Hamid — via the Internet.

Asadi’s tale of woe mirrors the modern history of Iran. He recounts the horrors and intrigue with humanity, touches of poetry and humor in a book entitled “Letters to my Torturer,” which has just been published in English (*).

Sarkozy tries to draw line under donations scandal

Paul Taylor
Jul 12, 2010 21:27 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy, trying to draw a line under a damaging furore over alleged illegal political donations, urged a minister at the centre of the affair to step down as treasurer of his ruling UMP party.

Sarkozy said Labour Minister Eric Woerth had been exonerated of any wrongdoing by an official report, had his full confidence and would remain in charge of a crucial pensions reform.

Asked whether he would fire Woerth, one of his closest political allies, Sarkozy said in a live television interview: “He is cleared of all suspicion, so there is no reason why I should get rid of him.”

French police search heiress’ home in scandal

Paul Taylor
Jul 12, 2010 18:12 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Police searched the homes of France’s richest woman and a close friend on Monday, shortly before President Nicolas Sarkozy was to be interviewed on television about a scandal that has rocked his government.

The searches of L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, 87, and society photographer Francois-Marie Banier came amid calls for the appointment of an independent magistrate to investigate the case involving alleged illegal political donations and suspected tax evasion.

In all, police carried out seven raids on Monday, the public prosecutor’s office said. In a gesture of courtesy to the billionairess, the prosecutor’s spokeswoman described the police action at Bettencourt’s villa in the exclusive suburb of Neuilly as “a visit to take receipt of documents”.

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