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Aug 13, 2015

North Korea will pursue “defensive” nuclear programme – envoy

GENEVA (Reuters) – North Korea will pursue its “defensive” nuclear programme as long as it feels threatened by the United States, its U.N. disarmament envoy in Geneva told Reuters on Thursday.

In a rare interview, Ambassador So Se Pyong also denounced the latest joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, due to start next week, saying they fanned tensions on the divided peninsula as it marks the 70th anniversary of liberation from Japanese occupation at the end of World War Two.

Aug 12, 2015

Heavy clashes in Libya undermine UN peace talks

BENGHAZI, Libya/GENEVA (Reuters) – Islamic State fought separate battles with forces loyal to Libya’s official government and with a rival group on Wednesday, as growing violence threatened to make U.N.-mediated peace efforts irrelevant.

Libya is in chaos as two governments and parliaments vie for power, while Islamic State and other armed groups exploit a security vacuum four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

Aug 12, 2015

Libyan factions end talks with pledge to clinch deal within weeks

GENEVA (Reuters) – Libya’s warring factions agreed on Wednesday to end the political crisis and military conflict in the country within weeks, the United Nations said at the end of two days of peace talks in Geneva.

Libya is split between two governments backed by armed factions fighting each other, with Islamic State and other armed groups exploiting the resulting security vacuum.

Aug 11, 2015

UN urges Libyan factions to agree unity government this month

GENEVA, Aug 11 (Reuters) – The United Nations special envoy
to Libya called on the country’s warring parties on Tuesday to
agree on a national unity government by the end of August and
endorse it with a vote in September.

Libya is split between two governments backed by armed
factions fighting for control. Libya Dawn, an alliance of local
militias, drove the internationally recognised government out of
the capital, Tripoli, and declared its own government a year
ago, leaving the oil-rich country on the verge of anarchy.

Aug 11, 2015

U.N. urges Thailand to amend tough law on insulting royalty

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations on Tuesday denounced “shockingly” long prison terms imposed by Thailand for insulting the monarchy and urged authorities to amend the law and release those convicted.

Thai military courts on Friday jailed two people for insulting the monarchy, one for 30 years and the other for 28, the heaviest sentences for the crime in Thai history, lawyers and a legal monitoring group said.

Aug 11, 2015

Yemen ‘crumbling’ from war, sieges causing starvation: aid groups

GENEVA (Reuters) – Yemen is “crumbling” under a deepening humanitarian crisis after months of civil war, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Tuesday, and a U.N. investigator said sieges imposed by combatants were causing starvation.

ICRC President Peter Maurer, ending a three-day visit to the Arabian Peninsula country, called for free access to deliver life-saving food, water and medicines, while urging the warring parties to work toward a negotiated solution.

Aug 7, 2015

Greece says cannot handle migrants; UNHCR calls crisis ‘shameful’

ATHENS/GENEVA (Reuters) – Greece’s infrastructure cannot handle the thousands of people landing on its shores from places like war-torn Syria and Afghanistan and needs European Union help, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday.

“Now is the time to see if the EU is the EU of solidarity or an EU that has everyone trying to protect their borders,” he said after a meeting with ministers dealing with the influx.

Aug 7, 2015

U.N. urges Greece to end ‘total chaos’ on islands where migrants land

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations refugee agency called on Greece on Friday to take control of the “total chaos” on Mediterranean islands where thousands of migrants have landed.

European Union member states must also do more to share the burden of Greece, where 50,000 people arrived in July alone, said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR director for Europe, after visiting the Greek islands of Lesbos, Kos and Chios.

Aug 6, 2015

Remains of two Japanese climbers on Matterhorn identified after 45 years

GENEVA (Reuters) – The remains of two young Japanese climbers missing on the Matterhorn mountain since a 1970 snow storm in the Swiss Alps have been identified through DNA testing of their relatives, police said on Thursday.

Human bones spotted by a climber last September on a shrinking glacier at an altitude of 2,800 meters were sent to the medical examiner for identification, cantonal (state) police in the Valais said.

Aug 5, 2015

U.N. rights boss urges Iran to halt death penalty, free spiritual figure

GENEVA (Reuters) – The top U.N. human rights official called on Iran on Wednesday to release a spiritual figure sentenced to death at the weekend and end its longtime “problematic” use of executions.

Iran’s human rights record is under increasing international scrutiny following a deal last month with world powers in which Tehran will see economically crippling sanctions against it lifted in exchange for curbing its disputed nuclear program.