Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian general who led the United Nations mission that failed despite his desperate efforts to prevent the 1994 Rwanda genocide, resigned from Canada's Senate on Wednesday. Senator Dallaire, now 68, told a press conference: "I have submitted my resignation yesterday to the governor-general with a torn heart." Dallaire campaigns for child soldiers, advises the United Nations on genocide prevention, takes part in war crimes investigations and helps research post-traumatic stress disorder, from which he suffers. The former commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, Dallaire was named to Canada's Senate in 2005 after four decades in the military.
Israeli officials denounced as "political" Wednesday attempts by a Turkish court to secure an international arrest warrant for four former Israeli military commanders over a deadly 2010 maritime assault. But the court ruling, issued on Monday, was unlikely to have a "significant effect" on attempts to restore full diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey, which were badly damaged by the raid, officials said. It seems more political than legal," said Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon during a tour of the Jordan Valley Tuesday, in remarks relayed by his office. "We were ready to set things right with Turkey and regulate relations with them," he said.
Attacks across Iraq, including a spate of car bombs in Baghdad, killed 38 people Wednesday, the latest in a months-long surge in violence that has left more than 4,000 dead this year. Shootings and bombings, which left dozens more wounded nationwide, also struck in restive areas of the north and west, fuelling fears Iraq is slipping back into the sectarian war that killed tens of thousands in 2006 and 2007. In the deadliest attack, a suicide car bomb exploded in the mainly Shiite neighbourhood of Kadhimiyah in north Baghdad, killing at least 16 people and wounding 50, security and medical officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The blasts were the latest in a trend of militants setting off vehicles rigged with explosives during the evening, when Baghdad's residents visit markets, restaurants and cafes.
A takeover battle for parts of French power and rail group Alstom heated up on Wednesday, with US group General Electric promising to create 1,000 jobs in France, a source close to the matter said. The two bidders, General Electric and German group Siemens, now have two to three weeks to complete their moves to win Alstom's power generation division which they value in the range of 10.5-12.5 billion euros ($14.3-17 billion). After a meeting between French President Francois Hollande and GE head Jeffrey Immelt, the source said that "General Electric has undertaken to create 1,000 jobs in France."
Government-mediated talks will start on Thursday to try to break a deadlock between a South African union and top global platinum producers over a crippling four-month strike, the mining ministry said. A panel drawn from the mining, labour and finance ministries will take up the baton dropped by the Labour Court earlier this week when wage talks between the parties collapsed. New mining minister Ngoako Ramathlodi set up the team after meeting executives of Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin on Wednesday. South Africa's platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) have been holding on-off talks since 80,000 workers went on strike on January 23.
Suspected Islamist gunmen killed four policemen at the family home of Tunisia's interior minister, officials said Wednesday, describing it as a "revenge" attack for progress in the fight against jihadists. The overnight assault on Lotfi Ben Jeddou's home at Kasserine, in the western border region, was reminiscent of violence in 2013, when two politicians were assassinated and jihadists killed 20 security force members. The assault by about a dozen gunmen shortly before midnight left dead four policemen and wounded two, interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told AFP. "The terrorist group had infiltrated from Mount Salloum to target the house of the interior minister," Aroui said on national television.
By Daniel Trotta HAVANA (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce defended his visit to Cuba on Wednesday after coming under fire from critics in the U.S. Congress who contend the trip is a publicity coup for the communist government. Chamber President Thomas Donohue said his agenda was unhindered by the Cuban authorities and he was confident he was getting a "fair look" at Cuba, after which the influential lobbying group would report its findings to its "friends" in the United States. He and small group of U.S. business leaders are in the middle of a three-day visit, in part to support the market-oriented reforms enacted by President Raúl Castro that have created a fledgling private sector. I think we'll get a fair look and we're enjoying ourselves." Upon the announcement of the trip a week ago, U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from south Florida, blasted the visit as "just another Potemkin village tour." As Donohue began his tour on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, expressed concerns it would strengthen a government that "jails foreign business leaders without justification, violates international labor standards and denies its citizens their basic rights." Donohue countered that many others in Congress and the private sector differ from the pro-embargo lobby, which has sought to undermine and isolate Cuba since its 1959 revolution.
Attacks across Iraq killed 33 people on Wednesday, the latest in a months-long surge in violence that has left more than 4,000 people dead this year. The shootings and bombings struck in Baghdad and restive parts of the north and west, leaving dozens more wounded, security and medical officials said. The protracted spike in bloodletting has fuelled fears that Iraq is slipping back into the all-out conflict that plagued it in 2006 and 2007, when a brutal sectarian war left tens of thousands dead. In the deadliest attack, a suicide car bomb exploded in north Baghdad, killing at least 16 people and wounding 50 others, security and medical officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
West Point (United States) (AFP) - President Barack Obama mounted a defiant defense of his global leadership Wednesday, rebuking critics who see him as weak but warning that not every global threat justifies a US military response. In a major speech at the West Point military academy, Obama denied US power had ebbed under his watch, after he withdrew troops from Iraq and as he does the same in Afghanistan. He also pledged to ramp up support for Syrian rebels, vowed to stand up to Russia over Ukraine and promised to make drone strikes against terror suspects more transparent. "To say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution," Obama said.
The number of registered unemployed in France climbed by 0.04 percent in April to a record of 3.36 million, the labour ministry said Wednesday, in a further setback for the government. The government of President Francois Hollande has so far be unable to deliver on his key campaign pledge of halting the rise in unemployment.
A top US military official on Wednesday called for better missile defense cooperation between Japan and South Korea, in the face of strained ties between America's two closest Asia allies and a belligerent North Korea. "We're encouraging our allies and partners to acquire their own missile defenses and to strengthen regional missile defense cooperation that will result in better performance than individual countries acting alone," said James Winnefeld, vice-chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff. "We will continue to emphasize the importance of developing regional ballistic missile defense systems," Winnefeld said during a speech at the Atlantic Council think tank. "This is a very politically sensitive topic for several of our regional allies, but progress in this area would only increase our confidence in the face of persistent North Korean provocations," Winnefeld said.
Blantyre (Malawi) (AFP) - Results from Malawi's controversial presidential elections will be withheld until a raft of court challenges to the disputed ballot have been resolved, an official said Wednesday. The outcome in the election was thrown into chaos last week when outgoing President Joyce Banda called the vote "null and void", saying it was marred by "serious irregularities". Court orders and injunctions have flown back and forth ever since, as supporters of rival Peter Mutharika urge the release of results that show Banda a clear loser. "The positions have not changed," said the official who is close to the electoral commission but spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, referring to preliminary results announced last Friday after about a third of the votes had been counted.
Attacks across Iraq killed 22 people Wednesday, the latest in a months-long surge in violence that has left more than 4,000 people dead this year. The shootings and bombings struck in Baghdad and restive parts of the north and west, leaving dozens more wounded, security and medical officials said. The protracted spike in bloodletting has fuelled fears that Iraq is slipping back into the all-out conflict that plagued it in 2006 and 2007, when a brutal sectarian war left tens of thousands dead. In the deadliest attack, a suicide car bomb exploded in north Baghdad, killing at least eight people and wounding 49 others, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said.
Taliban insurgents Wednesday denounced US plans to keep troops in Afghanistan up to the end of 2016, threatening to wage war against the "occupation" until the very last foreign soldier pulls out. But outgoing President Hamid Karzai welcomed the timetable for the US's complete withdrawal and called on the insurgents to seize a "historic" opportunity to seek peace after more than a decade of war. Outlining the US strategy to end America's longest war, President Barack Obama confirmed on Tuesday that the 32,000-strong US deployment in Afghanistan would be scaled back to around 9,800 by the start of 2015. But underscoring the instability still roiling Afghanistan, two Americans were slightly wounded in an attack on a US consulate vehicle in Afghanistan's western city of Herat on Wednesday.
Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian general who led the UN mission in Rwanda at the time of the 1994 genocide, is retiring from politics, Canada's public broadcaster reported Wednesday. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Senator Dallaire said he planned to spend more time on post-traumatic stress disorder and promoting various international causes. The former commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, Dallaire was named to Canada's Senate in 2005 after more than four decades in the military. In the lead-up to the Rwanda genocide, Dallaire provided the United Nations with information about the planned massacre, but permission to intervene was denied and the UN peacekeepers were withdrawn after Belgian members of the force were murdered.
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday lashed out at fugitive spy Edward Snowden urging him to "man-up" and do his patriotic duty by returning to face trial for leaking intelligence secrets. Kerry's comments came only hours after Snowden revealed that he was not just a low-level contractor working for the CIA, as the White House has consistently portrayed him. "I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas -- pretending to work in a job that I'm not -- and even being assigned a name that was not mine," he told NBC. In his first interview in US media, Snowden said he had worked covertly as "a technical expert" for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, and as a trainer for the Defense Intelligence Agency.
By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of children unaccompanied by parents or relatives are flooding across the southern U.S. border illegally, forcing the Obama administration and Congress to grapple with both a humanitarian crisis and a budget dilemma. An estimated 60,000 such children will pour into the United States this year, according to the administration, up from about 6,000 in 2011.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration is seeking up to $5 billion to train and equip partners in other countries in order to fight violent extremism and other threats, the White House said on Wednesday. The Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund would "will provide the flexibility and resources required to respond to emerging needs as terrorist threats around the world continue to evolve," the White House said in a statement. (Reporting by Susan Heavey Editing by W Simon)