Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category

France to double aid for food crisis

April 19, 2008

PARIS (AFP) – France will double its emergency food aid this year, spending 60 million euros (100 million dollars), President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday, as he warned the world’s food crisis was breeding unrest.
“We must act urgently to strengthen food security at a time when 37 countries are going through a very serious food crisis,” Sarkozy told a major meeting on climate change in Paris.

A French farmer at work near Gaillargues. France will double ...
A French farmer at work near Gaillargues. France will double its food aid this year, spending 60 million euros (100 million dollars) as part of its response to the world crisis over soaring food prices, President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced.(AFP/File/Dominique Faget)

“We cannot remain indifferent to the unrest among those people who, in the developing countries, can no longer satisfy their hunger.”

Soaring prices for basic grains — rice, wheat, soybean and corn — have provoked protests and rioting in at least half a dozen developing countries in past months, and has toppled the government of one.

Last weekend, Haiti‘s premier Jacques-Edouard Alexis was ousted in a no-confidence vote after more than a week of violent demonstrations….

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U.S., allies split over NATO expansion

April 2, 2008

By Jon Ward
The Washington Times
April 2, 2008

BUCHAREST, Romania — The looming vote tomorrow to enlarge NATO over Russian objections accelerated yesterday into a showdown between the Bush administration and some of its strongest trans-Atlantic allies, with neither side backing down.

President Bush, just days before his final meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as head of state, vowed to counteract Russian influence on the expansion eastward of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Mr. Bush will deliver a speech today here in the NATO summit’s host city calling on the 26 member nations to “make clear that NATO welcomes the aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine for membership in NATO and offers them a clear path forward toward that goal.”

And the White House sounded a defiant note in the face of comments from France that it would oppose the invitation of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO’s membership process.

Russia, whose huge oil output gives it leverage over European customers, has pressured Berlin and Paris to resist NATO’s continued addition of former Soviet blocs and communist countries.

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China Condemns Pro-Tibet Protests World-Wide

March 17, 2008
By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writers

BEIJING – China accused Tibetan supporters of the Dalai Lama of attacking its embassies around the world, vowing Monday to protect its territory as it clamped down on anti-government protests in Tibet.

Tibetan monks shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi March ...
Tibetan monks shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi March 17, 2008. China said on Monday it had shown great restraint in the face of violent protests by Tibetans, which it said were orchestrated by followers of the Dalai Lama seeking to wreck the Beijing Olympics in August.REUTERS/Adnan Abidi (INDIA)

The Foreign Ministry comments were the first comments by the central government since Tibetan protests against Chinese rule began on March 10. They came just hours before a midnight deadline set by Chinese authorities for protesters in the Tibetan capital Lhasa to surrender or face harsh consequences.

“The Chinese government will unwaveringly protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a news conference.

The protests that began in Tibet have spilled over to neighboring provinces and even to the capital Beijing where students staged a sit-down demonstration on Monday. There have been sympathy protests around the world as well, many of them outside of Chinese diplomatic missions.

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China denies using deadly force in Tibet amid mounting pressure

March 17, 2008

By Karl Malakunas

BEIJING (AFP) – China faced mounting global pressure over Tibet on Monday amid exiles’ claims that hundreds of people may have died in a crackdown on protesters, even though Beijing denied using deadly force.

Chinese riot police march through the city of Kangding, located ...
Chinese riot police march through the city of Kangding, located around 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Chengdu in Sichuan Province March 17, 2008. Chinese officials declared a “people’s war” of security and propaganda against support for the Dalai Lama in Tibet after the worst unrest in the region for two decades racked the regional capital Lhasa over the past few days, killing at least 10 people. The convulsion of Tibetan anger at the Chinese presence in the region came after days of peaceful protests by monks and was a sharp blow to Beijing’s preparations for the Olympic Games in August, when China wants to showcase prosperity and unity.REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA) 

In its first official account of the unrest in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, China blamed protesters who rose up against Chinese rule in what has turned into a public relations nightmare for Beijing ahead of the Olympic Games.

“They either burned or hacked to death 13 innocent civilians,” Tibet government chairman Qiangba Puncog told reporters in Beijing, adding Chinese forces had not fired weapons at protesters.

“Throughout the process, (security forces) did not carry or use any lethal weapons.”

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Police arrest a Tibetan exile protesting outside the Chinese ...
Police arrest a Tibetan exile protesting outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi March 17, 2008. China said on Monday it had shown great restraint in the face of violent protests by Tibetans, which it said were orchestrated by followers of the Dalai Lama seeking to wreck the Beijing Olympics in August.REUTERS/Adnan Abidi (INDIA)

Vietnam War Dead Continue to Return Home

December 19, 2007

By John C. Ensslin
The Rocky Mountain News
December 19, 2007

Mike Jefferson remembers the day in April 1969 when he learned that his older brother, Perry, an Air Force major, had disappeared during a reconnaissance flight over the mountains of Vietnam.

At the time, Mike Jefferson was working on a metal reclamation project in Lewistown, Pa. – a job he nearly lost because he insisted on rushing to Chicago before his father, Perry G. Jefferson, was notified by the military that his son was missing in action.

He got there, but not quite in time. His father, Jefferson said, never quite got over the loss and the uncertainty that continued to surround his son’s fate.

But two months ago the Air Force calledm upon the family once again, this time to let them know that the remains of the 37-year- old Northglenn Air Force officer had been recovered and verified.

Wife became an activist

The news was welcome but bittersweet, Jefferson said Tuesday while sitting at his dining room table, which was covered with photos and yellowed newspaper clippings about his brother.

“It’s amazing,” the 68-year-old retired engineer said. “I wish it would have happened while my father was still alive. It really dragged him down. He had lost my mother and then my brother.”

The elder Jefferson died about 16 years ago.

Perry Jefferson’s wife, Sylvia, a former magazine model, died about five years ago. She had become an activist in the movement to find out what happened to prisoners of war who didn’t return and other military personnel missing in action.

At one point, she and a delegation of relatives of missing servicemen traveled to Paris, hoping to press their case with representatives of the North Vietnamese government, to no avail.

Summers in Colorado

Perry Henry Jefferson was born in Indiana in August 1931.

As kids, he and his brother Mike would travel to Colorado every summer to an old logging cabin their grandmother owned near Grant. His brother loved the Colorado mountains, and his fascination with old mines may have sparked his interest in geology.

After graduating from Southern Methodist University, Perry hired on with Aramco and spent two years working on oil field projects in the Middle East.

To fulfill his military obligation, he signed on with the Colorado Air National Guard as a technician and squadron intelligence officer.

Fatal last ride

Perry was an outgoing, fun-loving person who had found his true calling in the Air Force, his younger brother recalled.

“Every letter I got from him was positive,” Mike Jefferson said. “He enjoyed what he was doing, probably for the first time. He probably would have re-upped and gone back, if he had come back.”

Jefferson read from one letter his brother sent him, dated Sept. 21, 1968.

“Things have been pretty hectic over here. Went through jungle survival school from the 10th to the 16th. Believe it or not, camping out in the jungle is fun in a weird sort of way.”

He also wrote of a trip to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines: “I had great trip. It was nice to get good food for a change. The change of scenery was good for my morale. Bikinis. Mini-skirts. Etc.”

On April 3, 1969, Perry was near the end of his tour of duty in Vietnam when he and pilot Arthur G. Eklund flew out on a single-engine O-1 Bird Dog airplane from Phan Rang air base in Ninh Thuan province.

“He was going to take a joy ride. One last shot,” his brother said.

During the flight, Eklund radioed their location over the mountainous region of Ninh Thuan. It was the last anyone heard from them.

Remains turned over

A three-day search-and-rescue mission followed, but eventually was curtailed by hostile threats in the area.

In 1984, a former member of the Vietnamese air force turned over to a U.S. official human remains he said were from one of two U.S. pilots whose aircraft was shot down.

A decade later, a joint U.S.- Vietnamese team led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command interviewed two witnesses who said the aircraft crashed into a mountainside. The pilots died and were buried at the site.

The team excavated the crash site and found aircraft wreckage but no human remains.

In 2000, the remains turned over in 1984 were identified as Eklund’s. The next year, a Vietnamese national living in California turned over to officials human remains that he said were recovered at a crash site.

They were identified this year as Perry Jefferson’s.

While Mike Jefferson said he is baffled why his brother’s remains were not turned over sooner, he takes some comfort in knowing now that his brother died in the crash and not as a prisoner of war.

Perry Jefferson also is survived by two stepchildren.

His remains will be buried April 3 at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

Aussie Returns Home from Vietnam

By Rob Taylor

CANBERRA (Reuters) – The remains of an Australian soldier killed during the Vietnam War were returned home to a ceremonial welcome on Wednesday, 36 years after his helicopter was shot down by enemy fire.

Lance Corporal John Gillespie, a 24-year-old army medic, died on April 17, 1971, when his helicopter crashed and caught ablaze after coming under fire during a medical evacuation in the Minh Dam Mountains of southern Phuoc Tuy province.

“From one soldier to another, I say to Lance Corporal John Gillespie, welcome home mate,” said Major-General Richard Wilson of the Australian Defence Force as Gillespie’s body was brought home in a flag-draped coffin.

Gillespie’s widow, Carmel Hendrie, and daughter, Fiona Pike, who was aged 2 when her father was killed, were among family members to see the body taken from a military aircraft at an air force base south of Melbourne.

“We’re just so happy that he’s home on home soil, and that we can go and say hello,” Hendrie said.

“Fiona said something very poignant to me the other day: ‘Mum, I’ve got something to touch’, which before she’s never, ever, ever had.”

Gillespie’s legs were pinned under the helicopter. After a search failed to find the body the next day, it was assumed to have been consumed by fire.

But an Australian veterans search team found the crash site in 2004 and the body was discovered last month.

“The helicopter burned beyond recognition, so to find him was extremely fortunate,” Ron Coxon, president of Australia’s Vietnam Veterans’ Association, told local television.

Australia, a close U.S. ally, first sent soldiers to Vietnam in 1962 and by the time the last troops left in 1973, more than 50,000 Australian soldiers, air force and navy personnel had served there. A total of 520 died in the war, while almost 2,400 were wounded.

The remains of another three Australian soldiers are yet to be recovered from Vietnam battlefields.

Gillespie was to be buried in a private non-military service in Melbourne.

Bush: Iran Still Dangerous

December 4, 2007

At a morning press conference today, President Bush said Iran was dangerous before the NIE and Iran remains dangerous.

“Nothing has changed,” the President said.

Don’t let Iran off the hook just yet

By Angela Charlton, Associated Press 

PARIS – Don’t let Iran off the hook quite yet.

That’s the message European and U.N. officials are sending after a U.S. intelligence report concluded Iran is not building nuclear weapons.

Europeans say the U.S. U-turn strengthens their argument for negotiations with Tehran. But they also said that sanctions are still an option to compel Iran to be fully transparent about its nuclear program.

The report, a composite of findings from several U.S. intelligence agencies released Monday, said Iran halted nuclear weapons development in 2003; a stunning reversal for an administration whose conviction that Iran was seeking nuclear arms has driven two rounds of U.N. sanctions and stoked worldwide proliferation fears.

European officials, eager not to appear thrown off balance by the surprising report, insisted that the international community should not walk away from years of talks with an often defiant Tehran that is openly enriching uranium for uncertain ends. The report said Iran could still build a nuclear bomb by 2010-15.

“We must maintain pressure on Iran,” said French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani, whose country has taken an increasingly tough stance against Iran in recent months.

She said France would pursue a new U.N. resolution with “constraining measures” against Iran over its refusal to comply with international obligations. A tougher stance on Iran was a campaign promise of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, elected in May.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, has led Europe‘s push to get Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment; an effort that will not be derailed by the U.S. report, said an EU official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

“It’s very important for us not to say, ‘Oh thanks for that, this whole thing is over now.’ It isn’t over. Iran is still in defiance of the U.N. Security Council and the Nonproliferation Treaty,” said William Hague, foreign affairs spokesman for Britain’s opposition Conservative Party.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown‘s spokesman Michael Allam said, “The report confirms we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons. It also shows that the sanctions program and international pressure has had some effect.”

The report may relieve European fears about a possible U.S. move toward war in Iran. Sarkozy has evoked the risk of “a catastrophic alternative: an Iranian bomb, or the bombing of Iran” if diplomacy and sanctions fail.

“Those who believe dealing with Iran can only be done through a military attack are weakened,” said Yossi Mekelberg, a Middle East expert at Chatham House, an international affairs think tank in London.

The report was a vindication for the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been criticized as too cautious on Iran.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said the report “should help defuse the current crisis,” the agency said in a statement.

“The estimate tallies with the agency’s consistent statements over the last few years,” it said. The IAEA urged further negotiations on the future of Iran’s nuclear program.

Despite the continued talk of sanctions, the viability of a new U.N. resolution was uncertain in the face of the new report. After high-level talks in Paris on Saturday, world powers predicted a third U.N. sanctions resolution within weeks.

The United States, Britain and France have been leading a push for more sanctions, while Russia and China, the other two veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, have been less enthusiastic.

China’s Foreign Ministry would not say Tuesday whether the new report could undercut the case for sanctions or whether Beijing would support new measures against Tehran.

Ministry spokesman Qin Gang instead reiterated China’s standard position of using “diplomatic negotiations first” and said China hopes that “Iran can earnestly fulfill the U.N. Security Council resolutions and carry out comprehensive cooperation with the IAEA and make clarifications on relevant issues.”

Francois Gere, an Iran specialist and head of the French Institute of Strategic Analysis, said the report would have more impact on U.S. politics and strategy than in Europe.

“Europeans were, and remain, in a logic of diplomacy,” he said.

Sarkozy and Putin Meet in Russia

October 9, 2007

Published: October 10, 2007

MOSCOW, Oct. 9 — President Nicolas Sarkozy of France came to Moscow today and met with President Vladimir V. Putin for the start of talks that are expected to focus on Iran and Kosovo.

The opening moments of their meeting at Mr. Putin’s country residence were cordial and correct, as shown on Russian state television. “France has been, is and, I hope, will continue to be one of our main partners in Europe and the world,” Mr. Putin said, the Interfax news agency reported. “Our relations are developing successfully.”

Mr. Sarkozy, who has been critical of Moscow and offered a frank exchange of views, replied: “I want to understand you and I hope you will try to understand our convictions.”

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France’s War Talk Riles Iran

September 18, 2007

By Elizabeth Bryant
The Washington Times
September 18, 2007

PARIS — On the eve of his first trip to Washington, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has sparked an international furor with a warning that the West should prepare for war as a last resort to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

Iranian officials reacted angrily yesterday to Mr. Kouchner’s remarks, but the minister’s call Sunday evening for unilateral European Union sanctions on Tehran if the United Nations fails to act has already drawn support from some EU members.

“We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war,” Mr. Kouchner said.

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Iran says France stoking crisis with war talk

Israel Tested Iran War Plan Says American Diplomat

U.S. watches Syria, Israel after air strike

France: Prepare For War With Iran

Rights groups shine Olympic spotlight on China

August 6, 2007

by Karl Malakunas

BEIJING (AFP) – The Olympic spotlight is making the communist rulers of China more vulnerable to global pressure than ever before, rights groups and activists say as they ready for 12 months of intense campaigning.

Threatening to spoil the Beijing Olympic party are issues such as the violence in Sudan’s Darfur region that has left hundreds of thousands dead, China’s rule over Tibet, and its domestic curbs on religion and the media.

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China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

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