Cyprus gets new foreign minister in cabinet shake-up

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (C) delivers a speech after casting his ballot at a polling station in the coastal city of Limassol on February 4, 2018 during the second round of the Cyprus presidential elections. (AFP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Cyprus gets new foreign minister in cabinet shake-up

NICOSIA: Cyprus will have a new foreign envoy but keep the same finance minister, it was announced Tuesday, as the country seeks to restart unity talks and boost its economy.
The cabinet reshuffle comes after President Nicos Anastasiades won re-election for a second term earlier this month on promises of resuming negotiations to unify the Mediterranean island and cementing a fragile economic recovery.
Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides will take up the key post of foreign minister in the new administration to be sworn in on March 1.
The 44-year-old joined the diplomatic corps in 1999 before serving as government spokesman from 2013.
He was widely expected to be given the position after veteran diplomat Ioannis Kasoulides, 69, decided to retire from office.
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades is to keep his job after having navigated Cyprus out of a painful bailout deal, while George Lakkotrypis remains in charge of energy and a booming tourism sector.
Since his re-election on February 4, Anastasiades, 71, has sought to appoint ministers of wider public acceptance and without strong political allegiances.
He has added one woman to the cabinet, with parliamentary official Vasiliki Anastasiadou to become transport and communications minister.
But the new 11-member cabinet will still only include two women.
Other new faces include lawyer Savvas Angelides as defense minister.
Education ministry official Costas Hambiaouris has been promoted to minister, while businessman Constantinos Ioannou is tasked with introducing the new national health scheme as health minister.
Anastasiades has pledged fresh talks to end the nearly 44-year partition between the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus in the south and a Turkish-backed statelet in the north.
UN-backed negotiations collapsed in July last year after coming closer than ever to sealing a deal.
In his first term, Cyprus made an impressive recovery from a 2013 financial crisis after he agreed to a harsh 10-billion euro (more than $12-billion) bailout.


Taliban say no peace with ‘occupation,’ want US talks

Updated 19 min 49 sec ago
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Taliban say no peace with ‘occupation,’ want US talks

  • The Taliban have always said the war can only end through direct talks with the US
  • Thousands of people - military and civilian - have been killed since the war began

KABUL, Afghanistan: The leader of the Taliban says there will be no peace in Afghanistan as long as the foreign “occupation” continues, reiterating the group’s position that the 17-year war can only be brought to an end through direct talks with the United States.
In a message released Saturday in honor of the Eid Al-Adha holiday, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah says the group remains committed to “Islamic goals,” the sovereignty of Afghanistan and ending the war.
The Taliban have had a major resurgence in recent years, seizing districts across the country and regularly carrying out large-scale attacks.
From 1996 until 2001, the Taliban ruled in accordance with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Women were barred from education and largely confined to their homes, and the country hosted Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.