German President Joins Armistice Ceremony In London

President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier stands at the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony on Whitehall in central London, on November 11, 2018. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier became the first German leader to take part in Britain’s national service of remembrance on Sunday, 100 years since the end of World War I.

He laid a wreath at the Cenotaph war memorial in central London alongside British Prime Minister Theresa May, who chose not to join other world leaders marking the centenary of the Armistice in Paris.

Across Britain, individuals and communities held two minutes silence at 11 am (1100 GMT) to remember the end of the four-year conflict which claimed 18 million lives.

In London, the moment was marked by the chiming of Big Ben, which has been largely silent since renovation work began in August 2017 but which still sounds for important national events.

Prince Charles laid the first wreath of red poppies, Britain’s emblem of remembrance, at the Cenotaph on behalf of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, who watched from a nearby balcony.

Steinmeier followed with his wreath, in a unique and highly symbolic act marking the reconciliation between the once warring nations.

Senior royals, diplomats, military leaders and politicians also paid their respects at the memorial to all British and Commonwealth service personnel who have died in combat since 1914.

They were followed by the traditional march past by military veterans, their medals glinting in the sunshine, as a crowd of thousands looked on.

AFP

World Leaders Mark 100 Years Since WWI Armistice In Paris

(FromL) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Morocco’s Prince Moulay Hassan, Moroccan King Mohammed VI, US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on November 11, 2018 as part of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I.
ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

World leaders gathered in the driving rain in Paris on Sunday to mark 100 years since the end of World War I, with host Emmanuel Macron warning against nationalism at a time of growing strain between Europe and Donald Trump’s America.

Around 70 leaders including US President Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin marked the centenary of the 1918 Armistice in the French capital at 11 am local time (1000 GMT).

After church bells rang out across France, the leaders sat together at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe for a memorial that included a performance by star cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the reading aloud of letters by WWI soldiers.

Macron delivered a 20-minute speech that called on his fellow leaders not to forget the lessons of the past and worldwide hopes for peace.

“Ruining this hope with a fascination for isolation, violence or domination would be a mistake for which future generations would rightly find us responsible,” Macron told them.

He also delivered a stinging indictment of nationalism, calling it “the exact opposite” of the patriotism shown by soldiers.

“Nationalism is a betrayal,” he said.

“By saying our interests come first and others don’t matter we are erasing what makes a nation precious, what makes it live, what makes it great and most importantly of all, its moral values,” he said, watched by Trump, who prides himself on being called a nationalist.

The service concluded with the bugle call that was played at 11 am on November 11, 1918, to signal the end of fighting on the Western Front.

Elsewhere, ceremonies in New Zealand, Australia, India, Hong Kong and Myanmar began a day of remembrance services around the world for a conflict that involved millions of troops from colonised countries in Asia and Africa.

The leaders of Commonwealth nations — whose forces were deployed under British command 100 years ago — also delivered messages of peace.

“This was a war in which India was not directly involved yet our soldiers fought world over, just for the cause of peace,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.

“For our tomorrows, they gave their today,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told people gathered at a ceremony in Canberra.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince Charles, standing in for Queen Elizabeth, attended a separate remembrance event in London where thousands of well-wishers also paid their respects to fallen soldiers.

‘A world of rules’ 

In Paris, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to give the opening address alongside UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a peace conference following the memorial service on the Champs-Elysees.

The Paris Peace Forum, conceived by Macron, is intended to highlight the importance of international institutions in helping resolve conflicts, avert wars and spread prosperity.

“The aim of the forum is to show that there are lots of forces in the international system — states, NGOs, foundations, intellectuals, companies — who believe we need a world of rules, an open world and a multilateral world,” chief organiser Justin Vaisse told AFP.

Despite the show of unity at the Arc de Triomphe, tensions lurk beneath the surface.

Trump, whose hardline nationalism has badly shaken the Western alliance, arrived in Paris on Friday criticising host Macron for being “insulting”.

Trump took umbrage at a recent interview in which Macron talked about the need for a European army and cited the US, along with Russia and China, as potential security risks.

During talks with Trump, Saturday Macron said his remarks had been misinterpreted and that he was merely saying Europe needed to take greater ownership of its own security.

The “America First” leader, who faced criticism on Saturday for cancelling a trip to an American cemetery because of rainy weather, will snub the Peace Forum.

A day of remembrance 

Other notable attendees of Sunday’s Paris memorial service and Forum included Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau and Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu.

Despite maximum security in a city repeatedly targeted by jihadists since 2015, a protester from the radical feminist group Femen managed to jump over a barricade and got within metres of Trump’s motorcade as he made his way up the Champs-Elysees.

She was hauled away by security along with two others who were stopped on the edge of the famous avenue.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner later said Trump’s security had “in no way been threatened”.

About 70 current-day nations were involved in WWI, which had six empires and colonial powers at its heart: Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the Ottoman Empire.

Around 10 million soldiers are estimated to have been killed during the fighting and more than double that number wounded.

Between five and 10 million civilians are estimated to have been killed.

AFP

Trump, Other World Leaders To Mark WWI In France

 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday kicks off a week of commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, which is set to mix remembrance of the past and warnings about the present surge in nationalism around the globe.

Some 70-80 world leaders including US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are preparing to fly to the French capital next weekend for a ceremony marking a century since the guns fell silent.

This Sunday, Macron begins his own week-long tour around the country, which will see him criss-cross war-hit areas in northern and eastern France and attend individual ceremonies with the leaders of Germany, Britain and Mali.

The 40-year-old French centrist is expected to use the international spotlight to issue a rallying cry against nationalism, having recently warned that the world risked forgetting the lessons of the 20th century’s great conflicts.

“I am struck by similarities between the times we live in and those of between the two world wars,” he told a French newspaper last week, adding that nationalism was a “leprosy” spreading worldwide.

Trump, who has made “America First” his rallying cry, will be among the leaders gathered for the main ceremony on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on November 11, 100 years to the day since the armistice.

The commemorations at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the Champs-Elysees avenue will be held under tight security following a string of deadly jihadist attacks in France over the past three years.

Remembrance events begin this Sunday with a concert celebrating the friendship between former war-time enemies France and Germany, in the border city of Strasbourg, attended by Macron and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Macron will then spend the week visiting the Western Front battlefields, from Verdun to the Somme.

On Tuesday, in honour of the “black army” of former colonial troops who fought alongside the French, he and Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will visit Reims, a city defended by the African soldiers.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May will join Macron on the Somme on Friday, while on Saturday he heads to the village of Rethondes, where the armistice was signed, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 Macron’s war on nationalism 

War commemorations aside, Macron is set to use his tour of northern France to visit areas hit hard by industrial decline, where far-right leader Marine Le Pen performed strongly in last year’s presidential election.

“After paying homage to those who died for their country it will be back to dealing with social and economic problems,” said Bruno Cautres of political think-tank CEVIPOF.

The former investment banker — who has struggled to shake off an image as a “president of the rich” — will zip through 17 towns, holding Wednesday’s weekly cabinet meeting in the Ardennes where the German army had its headquarters for four years.

“Each stop will be an opportunity to speak about the current concerns in those areas, which are trying to bounce back from de-industrialisation or major changes in agriculture,” an aide to Macron said last week.

The 40-year-old president, whose approval rating is languishing at a dismal 21 percent according to a YouGov poll released Thursday, has dismissed rumours that he is suffering from burn-out.

He sparked rampant speculation by taking a few days off ahead of the tour, which aides have insisted were to gather his energy before an intense week of diplomacy.

This week is an opportunity for the centrist to “reflect a strong presidential image” both at home and abroad, Cautres said.

Macron is attempting to position himself as a champion of centrist politics and multilateralism in the run-up to European parliamentary elections in May, saying he expects the duel to be one between “progressives” and “nationalists”.

After next Sunday’s ceremony, world leaders are set to attend a three-day peace forum opened by Merkel, an event which France wants to turn into an annual multilateral peace conference.

AFP

World Leaders At UN Look For Progress On North Korea

Russia 'Welcomes' North Korea's Nuclear Declaration
North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un.                                                        Photo: STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

 

North Korea and Iran will dominate this week’s gathering of world leaders at the United Nations, where President Donald Trump will be in the spotlight as he continues to upend global diplomacy.

After warming up to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and ditching the Iran nuclear deal, the unpredictable Trump takes the podium on Tuesday to face foes and increasingly uneasy allies at the UN General Assembly.

On Wednesday, he will for the first time chair a Security Council meeting on non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction that will focus heavily on Iran — likely triggering a clash with other big powers.

“It will be the most watched Security Council meeting ever,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said of Trump’s first time wielding the gavel.

The diplomatic gathering will take stock of the thaw in relations between North and South Korea, and groundbreaking US-North Korea moves to address the threat from Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Last year, world leaders shuddered when Trump threatened to totally destroy North Korea and belittled Kim as “Rocket Man” who was “on a suicide mission.”

An exchange of insults ensued, with Kim calling out the “mentally deranged US dotard.”

U-turn on North Korea

Trump’s address to the assembly will be the “polar opposite of what we heard last year,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, an expert on North Korea and Iran at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The president will tout his June face-to-face with Kim as a major diplomatic win but “he should think twice if he plans to repeat his claim that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat,” she said.

Despite the Trump-Kim landmark summit in Singapore, there has been little concrete progress on denuclearization.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho has been invited by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for talks on the sidelines of the assembly meeting. Ri is scheduled to deliver his address on September 29.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in will encourage Trump to press on with the rapprochement, but the US president is likely to get a different message from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has taken a tough stance on maintaining sanctions pressure on Pyongyang.

When he takes the podium shortly after Trump on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will meanwhile address the fall-out from the US decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal which lifted international sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program.

European countries along with Russia and China are still working to salvage the accord and will use the council meeting chaired by Trump to defend what they consider a milestone in non-proliferation.

“The members of the Security Council are not going to take kindly to being lectured by President Trump on the subject of Iran,” said DiMaggio.

“These very countries, which include our closest allies, are now facing US sanctions as they scramble to save the agreement.”

Pompeo reiterated Sunday that Trump is willing to meet Rouhani as part of a “constructive dialogue” — but added on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that that seemed unlikely at present.

In a weekend op-ed in the Washington Post, Rouhani charged that Trump’s offer of direct talks was not “genuine” and came with a list of “openly insulting pre-conditions.”

And Haley — while she condemned “any terrorist attack” after the deadly assault on a military parade in southwest Iran — urged Rouhani to acknowledge popular discontent.

“He has oppressed his people for a long time,” Haley told CNN on Sunday.

UN under fire

The UN rendezvous takes place during a sharp divide between the United States, accused of turning its back on multilateralism, and countries that view the global rules-based order as their best hope to tackle the world’s problems.

Struggling with tighter budgets from US cuts, the United Nations has been put on the defensive as its peace efforts in Syria, Libya and Yemen fall short.

“Multilateralism is under attack from many different directions precisely when we need it most,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

About 130 heads of state and government are turning up for the six-day marathon of speeches and meetings on tackling a long list of issues from climate change to poverty.

Russia and China will be represented by their foreign ministers.

Among those making their debut on the world stage will be Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has signed a historic peace deal with Eritrea, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

AFP

World Leaders Back UK’s Findings On Novichok Attack

Britain’s United Nation’s (U.N.) ambassador Karen Pierce speaks at a U.N. Security Council meeting to officially announce the latest findings behind the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter last March on September 6, 2018 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP

 

The leaders of Britain, the United States, France, Germany and Canada said Thursday they had “full confidence” that the Novichok attack suspects were officers from Russia’s military intelligence service.

In a joint statement reiterating their “outrage”, the five leaders also said they were completely confident the attempted killing of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal on British soil in March “was almost certainly approved at a senior government level” in Russia.

They also urged Moscow to come clean to the organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) about its Novichok programme.

The leaders added they would strengthen their activities to defend their societies against “malign state activity” and disrupt the hostile actions of foreign intelligence networks.

“We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, reiterate our outrage at the use of a chemical nerve agent, known as Novichok, in Salisbury on March 4,” they said in the statement, issued in London.

They welcomed the progress made in the investigation and the attempted murder charges brought against Russian suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, announced by Britain on Wednesday.

They also noted the OPCW’s findings that “the exact same chemical nerve agent” was used in the fatal poisoning of Dawn Sturgess. She was the girlfriend of Charlie Rowley, who had picked up a fake perfume bottle containing Novichok.

“We urge Russia to provide full disclosure of its Novichok programme to the OPCW,” they said.

“We have full confidence in the British assessment that the two suspects were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, and that this operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level.”

They said the mass expulsion of undeclared GRU officers in Russian embassies in the wake of the Salisbury attack had disrupted the service’s activities.

“Yesterday’s announcement further strengthens our intent to continue to disrupt together the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks on our territories, uphold the prohibition of chemical weapons, protect our citizens and defend ourselves from all forms of malign state activity directed against us and our societies.”

A Downing Street spokesman said Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Canadian leader Justin Trudeau Wednesday and French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier Thursday.

AFP

Trump Warns World Against Doing Business With Iran

US President Donald Trump in Arlington, Virginia                                                         JIM WATSON / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump warned countries against doing business with Iran on Tuesday as he hailed the “most biting sanctions ever imposed”, triggering a mix of anger, fear, and defiance in Tehran.

“The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level,” Trump wrote in an early morning tweet.

“Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less.”

Within hours of the sanctions taking effect, German automaker Daimler said it was halting its business activities in Iran.

Trump’s withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement in May had already spooked investors and triggered a run on the Iranian rial long before nuclear-related sanctions went back into force.

“I feel like my life is being destroyed. Sanctions are already badly affecting people’s lives. I can’t afford to buy food, pay the rent…” said a construction worker on the streets of the capital.

The sanctions reimposed on Tuesday — targeting access to US banknotes and key industries such as cars and carpets — were unlikely to cause immediate economic turmoil.

Iran’s markets were actually relatively buoyant, with the rial strengthening by 20 percent since Sunday after the government relaxed foreign exchange rules and allowed unlimited, tax-free gold and currency imports.

But the second tranche on November 5 covering Iran’s vital oil sector could be far more damaging — even if several key customers such as China, India and Turkey have refused to significantly cut their purchases.

In a statement on Monday before the sanctions were reimposed, Trump said: “The Iranian regime faces a choice.

“Either change its threatening, destabilising behaviour and reintegrate with the global economy or continue down a path of economic isolation.

“I remain open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism,” Trump said.

But his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani dismissed the idea of talks while crippling sanctions were in effect.

“If you’re an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife, and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife,” he told state television..

“They want to launch psychological warfare against the Iranian nation,” Rouhani said. “Negotiations with sanctions doesn’t make sense.”

 ‘Legitimate business’ 

European governments are infuriated by Trump’s strategy, which leaves their businesses in Iran faced with the threat of US legal penalties.

British Foreign Office Minister Alastair Burt told the BBC that the “Americans have really not got this right”.

He said it was a commercial decision for companies whether to stay in Iran, but that Britain believed the nuclear deal was important “not only to the region’s security but the world’s security.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters the global reaction to Trump’s move showed that the US was diplomatically “isolated”.

But many large European firms are leaving Iran for fear of US penalties, and Trump warned of “severe consequences” for firms and individuals that continued to do business with Iran.

Daimler said it had “suspended our already limited activities in Iran in accordance with the applicable sanctions”.

There is also mounting pressure at home, where US hostility has helped fuel long-running discontent over high prices, unemployment, water shortages and the lack of political reform.

Those protests have proliferated over the past week, though the verifiable information is scarce due to heavy reporting restrictions.

Poison cup 

Most Iranians see US hostility as a basic fact of life, so their frustration is largely directed at their own leaders for not handling the situation better.

“Prices are rising again, but the reason is government corruption, not US sanctions,” said Ali, a 35-year-old decorator in Tehran.

Many hope and believe that Iran’s leaders will need to “drink the poison cup” and negotiate with the US eventually.

There have been rumours that Trump and Rouhani could meet in New York in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly — though Rouhani reportedly rejected US overtures for a meeting at last year’s event.

Two countries that have welcomed the tough new US policy are Iran’s regional rivals, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the renewed sanctions as “an important moment for Israel, for the US, for the region, for the whole world.”

Iran’s currency has lost around half its value since Trump announced the US would withdraw from the nuclear pact.

But the last two days have seen an impressive 20 percent rally in the value of the rial after the government announced new foreign exchange rules and launched a corruption crackdown that included the arrest of the central bank’s currency chief.

The new rules mean exchange bureaus will reopen after a disastrous attempt to fix the value of the rial in April backfired spectacularly with corrupt traders making a fortune out of a mushrooming black market.

AFP

World Leaders Urged To Boycott Russia Tournament Over Syria

FILE PHOTO Russia Stadium

 

World leaders should boycott Russian President Vladimir Putin’s VIP box at next month’s World Cup opening unless he takes steps to protect Syrian civilians, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

Russia, which hosts the world’s most-watched sporting event for the first time this year, is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and arguably the most powerful broker in the seven-year-old war.

“In hosting one of the most televised events in the world, Russia is courting world public opinion and looking for respect,” HRW’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, said in a statement.

“World leaders should signal to President Putin that unless he changes track and acts to end atrocities by Russian and Syrian forces in Syria, they won’t be in their seats in the VIP box with him on opening night.”

Billions of people worldwide are expected to watch the World Cup on television and HRW argued that Moscow’s responsibility in the suffering of Syrian civilians should not be forgotten.

Russia is the main exporter of weaponry to the Syrian regime and its forces provide on-the-ground support to government forces and allied militia.

The New York-based watchdog has documented Russian-Syrian joint military operations that “have caused thousands of civilian casualties”, including recently in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

Roth warned that millions of other civilians faced the same fate in upcoming operations, especially in the northwestern province of Idlib that still largely escapes government control.

“World leaders should not allow a sporting event to gloss over a pattern of atrocities in Syria that now looms over two million civilians,” he said.

AFP

G20 Protesters Set Fire To Barricades

Protesters injured at least 160 police officers, set up burning barricades, damaged street signs and scaffolding and ripped up paving stones on Friday seeking to wrest control of the streets of Hamburg as leaders from the world’s biggest economies enjoyed a concert at the newly finished Elbphilharmonie.

The escalating violence prompted Hamburg’s police to call in reinforcements from around Germany to help the 15,000 officers already deployed to the northern port city for the G20 summit.

Three officers required treatment in hospital, police said, noting that protesters had used slingshots as well as thrown bottles and stones. At least 70 people were detained and 15 were taken into custody, police said.

Police used water cannon to repel protesters as police lines were also pelted with objects.

President Buhari Congratulates Trump On Victory

Muhammadu Buhari, Donald TrumpNigeria’s President, Mohammadu Buhari, has sent his “best wishes” to Donald Trump as he emerges AS winner of the U.S Presidential elections 2016.

This comes after other world leaders have also sent congratulatory messages to the U.S President-elect, who had a stunning victory over his female counterpart, Hillary Clinton.

One person that had been described as Trump’s supporter by Mrs Clinton, Mr Vladimir Putin, also sent a congratulatory message to the president-elect.

In a telegram to Mr Trump, Russian president congratulated Mr Trump and expressed confidence that Washington and Moscow would deepen relations.

President Buhari who sees the outcome as a triumph of the will of the people, also expressed that he looks forward to working with Trump.

This according to him is to strengthen the already established friendly relations between both countries on several fronts including foreign policy priorities, anti-terrorism, peace and security, economic growth and democracy.

After an election campaign that has been described as divisive and intensely contested; Donald Trump is set to become the 45th U.S. president following his victory.

Delivering his victory speech, Trump said he would uphold a united America and reclaim the nation’s destiny when he takes over.

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, US ElectionHe went on to praise his opponent saying: “she fought very hard. She has worked
very long and hard over a long period of time. We have a sense of gratitude for her service”.

Furthermore, while Trump preached unity, he also promised to be  a “President to all American people”, a statement which has so far been greeted with much criticism by analysts who say it is in sharp contrast to many obnoxious comments made by him during his campaign trail.

He however stated that “while the campaign is now over, the work on this movement, is not only just beginning”.

After it was observed that Donald Trump has edged closer to winning the White House with a series of shocking wins in battleground states on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, had asked supporters to go home.

She is yet to give her concession speech.

World Leaders Gather To Pay Tribute To Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres, former israeli president, dies at 93,Dozens of world leaders gather in Israel to pay tributes to Shimon Peres, one of the country’s founding fathers, who died on Wednesday at the age of 93.

Guests include the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is visiting Israel for the first time since 2010, U.S. President, Barrack Obama, Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton with her husband, among others, who gathered at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery.

shimon peres fune
Shimon Peres’ body being taken for interment

There has been tight security in Israel ahead of the state funeral of the former prime minister, Shimon Peres.

Israeli police chief Roni Alsheikh said preventative arrests were carried out on Arab and Jewish suspects who they feared might disrupt the ceremony.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, led the series of eulogies, as he delivered his emotional address.

He described the former Isreali leader as “a great man of the world” adding that even as the world grieves his death, he had “left behind a true legacy of hope”.

shimon peres funeralFormer U.S. President Bill Clinton, who helped negotiate the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990’s that led to a Nobel Peace Prize for Shimon Peres, also described him as Israel’s “biggest dreamer”.

President Obama, who shared a close friendship with the deceased, expressed grief while also praising his optimism.
Peres had fostered ties with him, that went beyond bilateral interests as he appeared to be more in synch with Obama’s vision of global politics and regional peace than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He praised his optimism saying “It is that faith, that optimism, that belief, even when all the evidence to the contrary that tomorrow will be better, that makes us not only honor Shimon but love him.

Thousands of Israelis passed by his coffin outside the Knesset (parliament) throughout Thursday, to pay their last respects.

Burkina Faso: African Leaders To Mediate With Coup Leaders

Burkina_Faso_ProtestersA day after the military took over power in Burkina Faso, two West African Presidents, Senegal’s Macky Sall and Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin, have taken steps to mediate with the leaders of the coup.

The putsch was announced after the presidential guard stormed a cabinet meeting, detaining the Interim President and Prime Minister.

A close ally of ex-President Blaise Compaore has been named the new leader.

World leaders and the African Union (AU) have condemned the takeover.

At least three people have been killed by the presidential guard, RSP, amid protests in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Report says that an unknown number of protesters have also been detained.

Hollande, World Leaders March Against Extremism

World leadersFrench President, Francois Hollande, flanked by other French and world leaders, on Sunday led thousands of citizens on a solidarity march in honour of the victims who died in terror attacks on Paris.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali’s President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, European Council President, Donald Tusk, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi and Switzerland’s President Simonetta Sommaruga who were all at the forefront of the procession linked arms as they marched.

Commentators said the last time a huge crowd of such size filled the streets of the capital was at the Liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany in 1944.

Tight security measures were in place with some 2,200 police and soldiers on patrol in Paris to protect marchers from would-be attackers, with police snipers on rooftops and plain-clothes detectives mingling with the crowd.

Thousands of people showed their solidarity waving flags of France as well as several other countries, throughout the march which kicked off at central Place de la Republique.

After world leaders left the march, Hollande stayed to greet survivors of the Charlie Hebdo attack and their families, while hundreds of thousands of people marched slowly and in near-total silence through Paris streets.