Israel's foreign minister said Saturday the UN's special envoy could be declared persona non grata for offering to help transfer Qatari funds to the Gaza Strip, Channel Two television reported. Avigdor Lieberman said Robert Serry, the world body's special envoy on the Middle East peace process, had first tried to convince the Palestinian Authority (PA) to transfer $20 million (14.7 million euros) from Qatar to resolve a pay crisis for Hamas employees in Gaza. Serry's spokesman Murad Bakri told AFP it was the PA that approached the UN envoy over the issue, and insisted that no decision would be taken without Israeli agreement. "The UN position is clear -- there will be no assistance (in making a transfer) without the agreement of all parties concerned, including Israel," he said.
After the devastating debt crisis of 2001, Argentines have become rather sanguine about economic strife. "That doesn't interest us," said Rolando Perez, a 58-year-old newspaper merchant in Buenos Aires. "What's important for Argentina right now is the money in our pockets, our children, security and the World Cup." Sociologist Jorge Giacobbe explained that at the moment, the 40-million-strong population is turning a blind eye toward the latest twists and turns in the lengthy legal battle, with the end result still unknown.
Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is seeking a new term in a vote Saturday, has become known for his iron rule and a relentless campaign against Al-Qaeda extremists. The former general, 57, seized power in the largely desert northwest African nation in a 2008 coup, ousting Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, whom he had served as presidential chief of staff. A quiet career soldier, Abdel Aziz criticised his predecessor for being too soft on Islamist extremists behind attacks and kidnappings. He soon won renown and Western support for decisive action against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The board of directors of French power-to-rail group Alstom on Saturday unanimously approved US conglomerate General Electric's 12.35 billion euro ($16.8 billion) bid to acquire its energy business. The statement comes a day after the French government stepped firmly into the battle over Alstom, saying it favoured General Electric's bid, chosen over a rival offer from Germany's Siemens and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The GE bid still hangs in the balance while the government negotiates to acquire that 20 percent stake, which it plans to do by purchasing two-thirds of the shares owned by another French group, Bouygues. Discussions on the price were ongoing between the government and Bouygues on Saturday night after a long day of negotiations.
Brasília (AFP) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff formally launched her re-election bid on Saturday, leading in opinion polls despite lingering discontent over World Cup costs. Her leftist Workers Party (PT) approved her candidacy in a voice vote of 800 members meeting at a convention in Brasilia, with the popular former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on hand. The former guerrilla member, who was jailed and tortured during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship, is well ahead of Social Democratic Senator Aecio Neves, with 21 percent, and socialist ex-governor Eduardo Campos, a former ally, with 10 percent. The PT convention turned into a defense of the World Cup, with promises of changes in a new Rousseff administration following protests over hosting the tournament that began June 12 and ends July 13.
Russia and Saudi Arabia Saturday stressed the importance of preserving Syrian and Iraqi territorial integrity after talks in the Western city of Jeddah. Riyadh and Moscow have opposing positions on the conflict in Syria, with Russia backing President Bashar al-Assad and Saudi Arabia supporting the rebels seeking to topple him for more than three years.
Nigeria has trained 167,000 police officers to manage an election next year in which President Goodluck Jonathan is widely expected to seek another term, an official said on Saturday. In an effort to ensure a fair and peaceful vote in a country with a chequered electoral past, authorities have been trained "on various aspects of policing elections," national police spokesman Frank Mba told AFP. He said Nigeria hopes to train between 350,000 and 370,000 police officers ahead of the poll. Nigeria has had a history of electoral malpractice since gaining independence from Britain in 1960.
Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Lisbon on Saturday in the latest demonstration against the austerity policies of Portugal's centre-right government. "Living conditions in Portugal are only getting worse as a result of unfair policies. We've had enough of this government," said Jorge Macau, 35, a local government worker who had travelled from the southeastern region of Evora. A three-year bailout European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout programme that ended last month forced stringent reforms on Portugal in exchange for 78 billion euros ($106 billion) to avert bankruptcy.
Turkey said Saturday it will provide fuel to Iraq's Kurdistan region to make up for a shortage caused by a militant offensive that has shut down the country's biggest oil refinery. Militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have seized a vast swathe of territory in northern Iraq since overrunning the city of Mosul on June 10. As a result of the fighting, the Baiji refinery in Salaheddin province has been shut down and the supply route to Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region cut off. The fuel shortage has caused long queues to form at gas stations in Kurdish cities.
Hundreds protested against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the French city of Lyon on Saturday as he visited Europe ahead of an expected bid for the presidency. Organisers said 1,000 people took part in the protest organised by pro-democracy and minority groups near a local government office, where Erdogan met regional officials. It scorns democracy by violently repressing peaceful demonstrations and minorities," said Mehmet Demirbas, head of a local cultural centre for the Alevi community in Lyon. The community, which follows a moderate form of Islam and accounts for 10-15 million of Turkey's 76 million citizens, has frequently clashed with Erdogan's government.