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*Regional and International Affairs:

Political Headlines:

1.    International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Gadhafi

2.    Libya rejects ICC arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi

3.    Survey: Europe, U.S. should bolster role in Tunisia

4.    UN official urges human rights probe in Abyei, South Kordofan

5.    NCP shrugs off U.S objection to Al-Bashir’s attendance of South Sudan independence

6.    EU Iceland accession: Tough talks ahead on fisheries

7.    Greece debts: General strike held amid cuts debate

8.    France nuclear power funding gets 1bn euro boost

*Regional and International Affairs:

Political Headlines:


1.     International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Gadhafi

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants yesterday for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and two of his relatives.

ICC Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng read aloud the decision to issue warrants for Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Sanussi.

Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi is a close adviser to his father. His arrest warrant came two days after his 39th birthday. Al-Sanussi serves as Gadhafi's head of intelligence.

The warrants are "for crimes against humanity," including murder and persecution, "allegedly committed across Libya" from February 15 through "at least" February 28, "through the state apparatus and security forces," the court said in a news release.

 2.     Libya rejects ICC arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi

Libya has rejected a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for the arrest of Col Muammar Gaddafi, saying the tribunal has no authority.

The ICC earlier accused the Libyan leader of crimes against humanity.

The court had grounds to believe he had ordered attacks on civilians during Libya's four-month uprising, it said.

The Hague-based court also issued warrants for two of Col Gaddafi's top aides - his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the conflict.

Anti-Gaddafi forces said on Monday they had launched a new push towards Tripoli, with heavy fighting near the strategic town of Bir al-Ghanam, to the south-west of capital.

The rebel defence minister told the BBC that forces opposed to Col Gaddafi may also make a move on the capital from the east.

3.     Survey: Europe, U.S. should bolster role in Tunisia

Europe and the U.S. should bolster their roles in Tunisia with the aim of building goodwill in the country that ignited uprisings across the region, the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center recommended.

The recommendation by the center is part of a report released yesterday that analyzed Tunisian public perception before the uprising that ousted President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, a long-time Western ally.

The survey, titled "Tunisia: Analyzing the Dawn of the Arab Spring," used data collected prior to the uprisings to examine conditions that led to mass demonstrations across the country.

Protests against Ben Ali -- who had ruled Tunisia since 1987 -- began to erupt late last year. Fed up with corruption, unemployment and escalating prices of food, people began demonstrating en masse after the self-immolation suicide of a fruit cart vendor in December.

4.     UN official urges human rights probe in Abyei, South Kordofan

A senior UN official has called for thorough human rights in Sudan’s flashpoint regions of Abyei and South Korodfan, currently the scene of occupation and clashes between forces of north and south Sudan.

Relations between north and south Sudan frayed last month after the northern army known as Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) seized the fertile and oil-producing region of Abyei, also claimed by the south, in retaliation for an attack by southern troops. The occupation of Abyei forced thousands to flee amid reports of widespread looting of UN offices.

The already-tense relations further plummeted after SAF clashes with elements aligned with South Sudan army in the north-south border state of South Kordofan. The fighting escalated into heavy artillery and aerial bombardment amid reports of widespread abuses and ethnically-targeted attacks. The UN says more than 70,000 people were displaced by the fighting.

In a press statement released on June 27, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, highlighted several human rights concerns in both north and south Sudan.,39360

5.     NCP shrugs off U.S objection to Al-Bashir’s attendance of South Sudan independence

The governing National Congress Party (NCP) in north Sudan has reacted indifferently to reports suggesting that the U.S president Barack Obama has conditioned his attendance of South Sudan independence ceremony on the absence of President Al-Bashir.

The possibility that Sudan president Omer Al-Bashir may attend South Sudan independence ceremony, which is slated for 9 July in the region’s capital Juba, has in the past few days stirred up both diplomatic and media confusion.

Al-Tayyar Arabic daily newspaper in Khartoum reported this week that a number of Western leaders had conditioned their attendance of South Sudan independence ceremony on 9 July on the absence of President Al-Bashir.

“A number of European heads of state, including the French President Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister as well as the U.S President Barack Obama, have in principle welcomed the invitation to attend the South’s independence ceremony, but they conditioned their appearance in Juba on the non-attendance of the president of the republic Omar Al-Bashir, pointing to the crimes with which he is charged by the International [Criminal] Court,” the paper quoted an anonymous southern official.

Sudan president Al-Bashir is sought by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide he allegedly masterminded during the long-running conflict in the country’s westernmost region of Darfur. Al-Bashir denies the charges and denigrates the ICC as a tool of neocolonialism aimed at changing his regime.,39359

 6.     EU Iceland accession: Tough talks ahead on fisheries

Iceland has formally opened what is expected to be a long negotiating process with the EU over accession, as a dispute over fishing rights persists.

Speaking in Brussels, Iceland's Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson said his people were still not committed to joining because of the issue.

He did not expect Iceland to join the EU for at least two years, he added.

A strong fisheries lobby is opposed to surrendering exclusive access to fishing grounds to other states.

When Iceland recently increased its mackerel catch to exploit a glut in its waters, the EU threatened to block Icelandic boats from using its ports.

Another outstanding issue is the country's settlement of a row with the UK and the Netherlands over debts linked to the collapse of its banking industry in 2008.

However, the tiny nation of 323,000 is otherwise well-positioned to join the other 27 members of the EU.

It has a stable, centuries-old democratic tradition and is already part of the European Economic Area and the Schengen visa-free travel zone.

 7.     Greece debts: General strike held amid cuts debate

A 48-hour general strike has begun in Greece, as parliament prepares for a key vote on tough austerity measures.

Large crowds of protesters are gathering on the streets, with public transport in Athens grinding to a halt.

Yesterday, Prime Minister George Papandreou said only his 28bn-euro (£25bn) austerity programme would get Greece back on its feet.

If the government loses, the EU and IMF could withhold 12bn euros of loans and Greece could run out of money in weeks.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said French banks are ready to offer new 30-year loans to Greece when its current debts fall due.

He said other European countries whose banks had lent money to Greece were considering the same model to help prevent a default. But the UK denied it was pressing banks to "take a haircut".

 8.     France nuclear power funding gets 1bn euro boost

France will invest 1bn euros (£0.8bn) in nuclear power despite warnings after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, President Nicolas Sarkozy says.

The new investment will include a boost for research into nuclear safety.

The French nuclear giant Areva is developing the fourth generation of reactors. France gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear power.

Earlier this year neighbouring Germany, Switzerland and Italy voted against nuclear power, following Fukushima.

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris says that as president of the G8 and G20 industrial groups, Mr Sarkozy has been pushing for an international standard on nuclear safety.

"We are going to devote a billion euros to the nuclear programme of the future, particularly fourth-generation technology," Mr Sarkozy told a news conference.

"We are also going to release substantial resources from the big loan to strengthen research in the sphere of nuclear safety."

He stressed his government was still investing "massively" in renewable energy. He announced 1.35bn euros of investment for that sector.

But our correspondent says it is obvious how important nuclear power is to the French economy and its energy security.




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