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Showing posts from February 3, 2013

Hollande pledges French withdrawal from Mali

French president says France will continue operations in north Mali with the intention to leave the country in time.

After stopping in Timbuktu, French President Francois Hollande visited Mali's capital, Bamako, where he held formal talks with his Malian counterpart Dioncounda Traore on the eventual hand-over of the French operation to a UN-backed African force.

Hollande, accompanied by his ministers for defence, foreign affairs and development, was on a one-day trip to the Sahel nation to support French troops who in three weeks have ousted fighters allied with al-Qaeda from Mali's main northern towns.

The French president said that his country's operation, which has 3,500 soldiers on Malian soil backed by warplanes, helicopters and armoured vehicles, aims to make way eventually for a UN-backed African force, which is still being deployed.

Hollande told the French soldiers on Friday that he was happy with their efforts "but the fight is not over and it would be a mistak…

Iran says Kazakhstan to host nuclear talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi says nuclear talks with world powers will be held in Kazakhstan on February 25.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said that talks with world powers on Iran's nuclear drive would be held in Kazakhstan on February 25.

"I have good news, I've heard yesterday that 5+1 or EU3+3 will be meeting in Kazakhstan 25th of February," Salehi said during a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday.

Iran and six world powers - the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - held three rounds of talks last year aimed at resolving the standoff over Iran's nuclear activities.

Reacting to an offer by US Vice President Joe Biden in Munich on Saturday to hold two-way talks with Iran on its nuclear programme, Salehi said Washington must come to the table with "authentic intention".

"We have no red line for negotiations, bilateral negotiations when it comes to negotiating over a particular subject,…

Myanmar and Kachin rebels to hold peace talks

Meetings in China set to start on Monday after intensified fighting between the two sides.

Myanmar's government and ethnic Kachin rebels have said they will hold peace talks in China in the coming days after some of the worst fighting between the two sides in the country in years.

The talks will begin on Monday in the Chinese border town of Ruili, officials from both sides said.

The meeting comes after the army captured several strategic guerrilla-held hilltops this month in the hills around the town of Laiza, which serves as a headquarter for the rebel movement in Kachin state.

The army used fighter jets, helicopter gunships and intense artillery barrages to seize the rebel outposts during its offensive. There has been speculation that the government launched the assault to strengthen its hand at the negotiating table.

Laiza has been largely quiet since government troops took control of Hka Ya Bhum, the highest hill in the area, on January 26.

However, Kachin Independence Army officer…

Dozens killed at Iraq police headquarters

At least 30 people killed after gunmen and suicide bomber attack police complex in the city of Kirkuk.

An attack on a police headquarters in northern Iraq has killed at least 30 people and wounded 70, officials say.

Gunmen stormed the headquarters in the city of Kirkuk after a car bomb was detonated by a suicide attacker on Sunday, police said.

Witnesses said the vehicle that was detonated was painted to appear as though it was a police car, and the fighters who sought to seize the compound were dressed as policemen.

Natah Mohammed Sabr, the head of the city's emergency services department, said the attackers were armed with guns, grenades and suicide vests and were trying to force their way into the police headquarters after the turmoil caused by the car bomb.

He said the explosion damaged nearby buildings.

Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said she was receiving "conflicting reports on what exactly happened in the attack".

"This attack took place i…