French President Francois Hollande has already written to US President Barack Obama in defence of BNP Paribas bank, threatened with huge sanctions on charges of embargo breaches, Hollande's office said on Wednesday. In a statement before Hollande and Obama meet for dinner, the Elysee Palace said that two months ago the French president urged Obama to take account of what it described as "disproportionate" penalities being lined up to hit the bank. These penalties, which could also include action crimping the bank's ability to provide services in dollars, are reported to amount to more than $10 billion (7.4 billion euros) on charges that BNP broke US sanctions against Iran, Sudan and Cuba between 2002 and 2009. A diplomatic source said that the threat hanging over the bank would would be one of the issues Hollande will raise when he meets Obama for the dinner, against the background of D-Day World War II celebrations.
By Natalia Zinets and Roberta Rampton WARSAW (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama endorsed Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday, offering Kiev financial and security help and saying he was the right choice to lead the country locked in a stand-off with Moscow. At their first meeting since the billionaire confectionary magnate was elected last month against a backdrop of armed clashes in Ukraine's east, Obama said he was impressed by Poroshenko's vision for pulling his nation out of crisis. They reject violence," and want the opportunity to determine their own future, Obama told reporters after meeting Poroshenko in the Polish capital. "That's the hope that President Poroshenko represents," Obama said.
The United States on Wednesday called on China to account for those killed, detained, or missing in the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989, as Washington marked the 25th anniversary of the pro-democracy revolt. "Twenty-five years ago, the United States deplored the use of violence to silence the voices of the peaceful demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square," the statement from the White House said. It comes as tensions simmer between the two countries on issues ranging from alleged hacking by the Chinese military into private US firms to displeasure in Washington with what it calls Beijing's aggressive behavior in the South China Sea.
Japan edged closer to banning the possession of child pornography on Wednesday, the last major developed country to do so, but paedophilia portrayed in the country's popular manga comics will be exempt. Under current laws, only the production and distribution of child pornography are banned, a situation that campaigners say is damaging to children. A revised law would ban possession of photographs and videos depicting real children, but would exclude "manga" comics and "anime" video, following calls to protect freedom of expression. "The primary reason (for the new rule) is to protect the rights of real children.
By Edith Honan NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett, considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent governors in the country, trails Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by 20 percentage points five months ahead of November's election, a poll released on Wednesday showed. Wolf, a businessman who poured his personal fortune into the four-way race for the Democratic nomination in May, leads Corbett 53 to 33 percent in the governor's race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. "There's no good news anywhere for Gov. Corbett," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said in a statement. "Gov. Tom Corbett looks like easy prey for Democratic challenger Tom Wolf." Corbett has struggled with poor approval ratings for much of his first term as governor.
A new round of talks on ending South Sudan's nearly six-month-old civil war have been delayed, mediators said Wednesday. No explanation was given for the latest delay in the talks, which are aimed at building on a ceasefire agreement signed last month and paving the way for more face-to-face talks between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, a former vice president. "We won't have the talks today," a source close to the peace process told AFP in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital and seat of the African Union, where previous rounds of talks have been held. Face-to-face talks between the warring parties will likely "be determined after the symposium," the source said.