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.
Brasília (AFP) - Brazil's 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. She 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.
Secretary of State John Kerry this weekend plunges back into the tumultuous Middle East seeking to overcome sectarian divisions in Iraq, amid US frustration with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. While American leaders have stopped short of calling for Maliki to step down -- arguing that it is up to the Iraqis to choose their own leaders -- they have left little doubt that they feel the Shiite premier has squandered the opportunity to rebuild his country since US troops withdrew in 2011. "We gave Iraq the chance to have an inclusive democracy. To work across sectarian lines, to provide a better future for their children," President Barack Obama told CNN Friday.
The new king and queen of Spain, Felipe VI and Letizia, carried out their first official function on Saturday, meeting "victims of terrorist violence". In sombre dress -- the queen in white, the king with a blue tie -- the new monarchs spent an hour with representatives of around 20 victims' groups in the Zurbano Palace in Madrid. Accompanied by Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, they observed a minute's silence to the memory of those killed in attacks by the Basque separatist ETA and left-wing GRAPO, as well as the Madrid train bombings by Islamist radicals in 2004.
Hundreds of Yemenis protested outside the presidential residence in Sanaa Saturday over what they say is the authorities' inaction over a Shiite rebel advance on the capital. The demonstrators, some from Amran province north of the city where Huthi rebels, also known as Ansarullah, are clashing with the army, chanted "Stop the Huthi advance!" "I think the Huthis have taken to arms so they can take territory from Saada province to Amran, and I suspect they also want to enter Sanaa itself," said one protester, Nadia Abdullah. Some demonstrators accused Shiite Iran of supporting the rebels, while others said they suspected former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was arming them "so he can overthrow President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi".
The US ambassador to Kenya on Saturday moved to dismiss what he said were "false and misleading" rumours, asserting that embassy staff were not evacuating and the facility would remain open. "A number of rumours have circulated regarding the US embassy and our relationship with Kenya that are false and misleading. The US embassy in Nairobi has not closed and is not closing. Washington announced last month it was preparing to cut staff levels at its Nairobi embassy because of the mounting threat of attacks in Kenya by Islamist militants.
European centre-left leaders on Saturday backed Jean-Claude Juncker's contentious candidacy to head the EU's executive body, setting the stage for a fiery Brussels summit later this week. After talks between nine EU Social Democratic leaders in Paris, French President Francois Hollande said they were supporting Juncker, cementing his spot as the frontrunner to replace Jose Manuel Barroso as European Commission head. Hollande said the leaders would "respect" the tradition that the largest grouping in the European Parliament nominates a candidate to head the commission, "in this case Mr. Juncker". Juncker has been put forward by the centre-right European People's Party, which won the most seats in a European Parliament vote last month that also saw strong gains for anti-EU parties.
The editor of a Zimbabwean state-owned newspaper appeared in court Saturday on charges of subversion and undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe. Edmund Kudzayi, editor of the Sunday Mail, was not asked to plead and was remanded in custody until a bail hearing on Monday. Kudzayi is also facing charges of creating a fictitious Facebook account in the name of Baba Jukwa, who has a cult following for his claims to expose Mugabe government secrets. Earlier this month, Mugabe accused his information minister, Jonathan Moyo, of using his influence over the state media to attack rivals within the ruling ZANU-PF party, which is riven by divisions over who should succeed the ageing president.