France says ‘no punishment’ over Brexit

French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2017

France says ‘no punishment’ over Brexit

PARIS: France has no intention of “punishing” Britain over Brexit, the French foreign minister said Thursday in response to comments from his British counterpart Boris Johnson.
Johnson said Wednesday he feared French President Francois Hollande wanted to inflict “punishment beatings” on Britain, comparing proposed trade tariffs to punishments meted out to prisoners who tried to escape in World War II movies.
Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Johnson’s claim was an attempt to divert attention from the potential consequences of leaving the European Union.
“This is not about ‘punishing’ the United Kingdom, that is not France’s stance,” Ayrault told reporters.
Johnson’s statement was a “smokescreen to allow those who supported Brexit to play down the impact on people, because they can clearly see the negative consequences,” Ayrault added.
France has been particularly critical of the post-Brexit British government, with Finance Minister Michel Sapin saying this week it appeared to be “improvising” and had no real plan for an exit.
British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed this week that Britain would leave Europe’s single market and warned the EU against imposing harsh terms on its divorce from the bloc.


Pope Francis hosts historic meeting of Higher Committee of Human Fraternity

Pope greeted the members and heads of the secretariat of the committee and presented the members with a copy of the Document on Human Fraternity. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 min 33 sec ago

Pope Francis hosts historic meeting of Higher Committee of Human Fraternity

  • The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity consists of religious, educational and cultural leaders from across the world
  • The Committee expressed its gratitude to Pope Francis for his welcome and thanked the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb for his encouraging words

DUBAI: The first meeting of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was recently hosted by Pope Francis at the Vatican, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

The inaugural convening of the Committee brought all members of the newly-established, independent body together. The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, first announced in August, consists of religious, educational and cultural leaders from across the world who are inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together that was signed in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, during the pontiff’s visit in February this year.

The meeting focused on establishing the organizational structure and mandate of the new body, as well as endorsing its independence as an advisory committee empowered to progress the goal of peaceful coexistence. The Pope greeted the members and heads of the secretariat of the committee and presented the members with a copy of the Document on Human Fraternity. He then expressed words of gratitude and commended the group as “artisans of fraternity”, encouraging them to be at the origin of new policies “not only of outstretched hands but of open hearts.”

After being received by the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, Edgar Peña Parra, the committee returned to Casa Santa Marta to start its work. The Committee expressed its gratitude to Pope Francis for his welcome and thanked the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb for his encouraging words.