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Israel pulls troops out of Gaza

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Six powers reach historic nuclear deal with Iran

Iran has agreed to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of tough international sanctions, in a historic deal that follows a decade of on-off negotiations aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons.

Foreign ministers representing six world powers – the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and the UK – clinched the agreement in the early hours of Sunday morning after four days of tough talks in Geneva.
The White House said the interim agreement would give Tehran sanctions relief worth $7bn over the next six months, in exchange for a halt to Iran’s production of higher-grade enriched uranium and vigorous international inspections of its nuclear facilities, setting the stage for the six powers to negotiate a comprehensive settlement.

In a major concession, the six powers agreed that Iran could continue to enrich uranium up to the level of 5 per cent required for generating power from a nuclear reactor. Previous UN Security Council resolutions had required Iran to freeze its enrichment activities.

A senior US official insisted that the sanctions relief being offered to Iran was “limited, temporary, targeted and reversible” and would automatically expire after six months if there were no final agreement.


2. Ukraine crisis: Geneva talks produce agreement on defusing conflict

US, Russia, Ukraine and EU agree measures including end of violence, disarming of illegal groups and amnesty for protesters

The US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union have reached agreement on a series of immediate steps aimed at pulling eastern Ukraine back from the brink of war.

The deal, clinched after a dramatic extended meeting in Geneva, calls for the disarming of all illegal groups. In the next few days they would have to vacate all the government buildings and public spaces they have occupied over the course of the crisis.

In return, the protesters in eastern Ukraine would be offered amnesty for all but capital crimes and the government in Kiev would immediately start a process of public consultation aimed at devolving constitutional powers to the provinces.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will be given the job not only of making sure the agreement will be put into practice but also of helping to implement it. The US, Russia and European countries would provide monitors to beef up the OSCE's manpower, which would be given access across Ukraine.

Israel pulls troops out of Gaza

Israel has withdrawn its troops from the Gaza Strip to "defensive positions" outside the Palestinian territory.

Israel says it has withdrawn its troops from Gaza as it has completed its main goal in this operation, the destruction of 32 cross-border tunnels.

However, it is possible that some tunnels may have gone undetected and it is likely that the Israeli army's search along the border will go on. The threat of Gaza militants entering Israel from under the ground has caused great concern in Israel.

There is some suggestion that an Israeli delegation may be preparing to go to Cairo for talks on a more long-term truce. There has been intense international pressure on Israel to try to negotiate an end to the fighting, particularly given the incidents at UN schools in Gaza and the high number of Palestinian civilian casualties.

There have been several truces called during the conflict but few have lasted, with each side accusing the other of violations.

The new agreement proposes that delegations from all sides should attend further talks in Cairo. The main Palestinian demands remain on the table, notably a full Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza, the end of the blockade of the territory and the opening of border crossings.


4. Kerry says 'driving towards finish' on Iran nuke deal

US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed Wednesday he was "driving towards the finish" to secure what would be a historic deal with Iran over its nuclear programme as a November 24 deadline looms.

Speaking to reporters in Paris, Kerry said there was "no intention at this point of talking about an extension" as ministers stepped up shuttle diplomacy ahead of the deadline.

"We are not contemplating an extension," stressed Kerry, ahead of what are likely to be crunch talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and outgoing EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Muscat on November 9-10.

The meeting in Oman comes amid recognition that serious gaps still remain between global powers grouped under the so-called P5+1 powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany – and Iran.

Kerry has previously warned that the coming weeks will finally reveal whether the Islamic Republic is truly prepared to make the tough decisions needed to curb its suspect nuclear programme and win a lifting of international sanctions.

5. Obama's marathon Putin Ukraine call: candid, direct but no meeting of minds

New details have begun to emerge of the extraordinary 90-minute phone call between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin on Saturday night, during which the US president warned his Russian counterpart that Moscow could face “serious repercussions” unless it halted military operations in Ukraine.

The call, made at Obama’s initiation and carried out from the telephone at his desk in the Oval Office, was described by one US government official as “candid and direct”.

Read-outs from the call distributed by the White House and the Kremlin demonstrated how far apart the two leaders remained on key issues.

Obama told Putin that his actions were a “clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law”, according to the US. The Kremlin statement said Putin told Obama, bluntly, that the US-backed interim Ukraine administration was threatening “the lives and health of Russian citizens and the many compatriots” in Crimea.

Obama urged Putin to instead pursue “direct engagement with the government of Ukraine” and support the “dispatch of international observers under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council or the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)”, the White House said.

The Russian leader’s response was blunt, according to Moscow. “In the case of any further spread of violence to eastern Ukraine and Crimea,” Putin’s office said he had warned, “Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.”

“I don’t ever remember a call with Putin that long before,” said Michael McFaul, who served as the president’s ambassador to Moscow until earlier this year.


Date: 2016-01-05; view: 847

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