French and Russian leaders to hold video summit Friday

French and Russian leaders to hold video summit Friday
French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on June 24, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 25 June 2020

French and Russian leaders to hold video summit Friday

French and Russian leaders to hold video summit Friday
  • The coronavirus pandemic, and the crises in Libya and Syria are on their agenda
  • France has already voiced its unease at Russia’s role in Libya

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will hold a videoconference with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday, with the coronavirus pandemic and the crises in Libya and Syria on their agenda, France announced Wednesday.
The situations in Iran and Ukraine will also be raised, as well as “cooperation in the fields of health and the environment” the French presidency said.
The virtual meeting comes after Macron hosted Putin in Paris last August, stating that he wanted to bring Russia and Europe back together and that he believed “Europe stretches from Lisbon to Vladivostok.”
Macron believes there is “a need to deal with all the difficult subjects,” with Russia, his office said.
For this “clarification and cooperation” is necessary, particularly in regards to European security in the face of international cyberattacks, it added.
German leader Angela Merkel has recently expressed exasperation at several hacking attacks that Berlin believes were carried out by Moscow.
France has already voiced its unease at Russia’s role in Libya.
Macron made two visits to Russia in 2018. During one trip he watched the World Cup final.
The French leader had also planned to attend the events in Red Square last month to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.
But that event was canceled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
It went ahead in Moscow Wednesday without foreign dignitaries attending.


Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks

Updated 33 min 51 sec ago

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks
  • The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion
  • Taliban insurgents have refused to agree to a cease-fire during the preliminary stages of talks

KABUL: Afghan government and Taliban representatives said on Wednesday they had reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war.
The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion but is considered a breakthrough because it will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues, including talks on a cease-fire.
“The procedure including its preamble of the negotiation has been finalized and from now on, the negotiation will begin on the agenda,” Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan government’s negotiating team, told Reuters.
The Taliban spokesman confirmed the same on Twitter.
The agreement comes after months of discussions in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in negotiations encouraged by the United States. In Afghanistan, the two sides are still at war, with Taliban attacks on government forces continuing unabated.
Taliban insurgents have refused to agree to a cease-fire during the preliminary stages of talks, despite calls from Western capitals and global bodies, saying that that would be taken up only when the way forward for talks was agreed upon.
UN envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons welcomed the “positive development” on Twitter, adding that “this breakthrough should be a springboard to reach the peace wanted by all Afghans.”
Last month, an agreement reached between Taliban and government negotiators was held up at the last minute after the insurgents balked at the document’s preamble because it mentioned the Afghan government by name.
The Taliban refused to refer to the Afghan negotiating team as representatives of the Afghan government, as they contest the legitimacy of the administration led by President Ashraf Ghani.