Climate activists lashed to EU building as leaders gather

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a press statement on the European Green Deal at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (AP)
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Updated 12 December 2019

Climate activists lashed to EU building as leaders gather

  • An Associated Press TV reporter said around 20 activists on the ground were detained
  • The EU leaders are set to debate ways for the 28-nation bloc to become carbon neutral by 2050

BRUSSELS: Greenpeace activists on Thursday scaled the European Union’s new headquarters, unfurling a huge banner warning of a “climate emergency” hours before the bloc’s leaders gather for a summit focused on plans to combat global warming.

Around 30 environmental activists clad in red and wearing climbing gear stood on ledges of the Europa building in Brussels as police gathered below and a helicopter circled overhead.

An Associated Press TV reporter said around 20 activists on the ground were detained. The group managed to climb the building by using the ladder of an old fire truck and has enough food to last for two days, according to Greenpeace spokesman Mark Breddy.

The EU leaders are set to debate ways for the 28-nation bloc to become carbon neutral by 2050. But poorer coal-dependent nations fear they could be hardest hit by the effort to transform their energy sources.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled Wednesday a new “European Green Deal” with an offer of some 100 billion euros ($130 billion) to help fossil-fuel reliant EU nations that make the transition to lower emissions.

The EU leaders will also discuss their long-term budget plans, the euro single currency and Brexit in the light of British election results.


Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.