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EU summit: Merkel challenged on growth strategy
EU leaders have started summit talks in Brussels with Germany resisting pressure to launch eurobonds as a way to ease the eurozone crisis.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said the bonds, pooling eurozone debt, would violate EU treaties and would “not contribute to kick-starting growth”.
France’s President Francois Hollande says he wants discussion of eurobonds - and the Irish PM Enda Kenny said the idea would be on the table.
The summit is focusing on growth.
European stock markets fell about 2% amid anxiety that Greece might have to exit the euro. The eurozone is said to be preparing for such a scenario.
Ms Merkel said Wednesday’s informal talks would not result in decisions, but would influence formal summit talks in late June.
The leaders would look at ways to deepen the EU internal market, boost mobility in Europe’s labour market and better target European Investment Bank funding for projects. Such measures could help stimulate growth, she said.
It is the first opportunity for President Hollande to shift the emphasis from austerity to growth - a key message he gave to French voters, who elected him on 6 May. The Socialist leader’s victory is seen as a challenge to the prevailing austerity drive in the EU.
Pictured:Mr Hollande is pressing Germany to do more to ease the eurozone’s debt burden

EU summit: Merkel challenged on growth strategy

EU leaders have started summit talks in Brussels with Germany resisting pressure to launch eurobonds as a way to ease the eurozone crisis.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said the bonds, pooling eurozone debt, would violate EU treaties and would “not contribute to kick-starting growth”.

France’s President Francois Hollande says he wants discussion of eurobonds - and the Irish PM Enda Kenny said the idea would be on the table.

The summit is focusing on growth.

European stock markets fell about 2% amid anxiety that Greece might have to exit the euro. The eurozone is said to be preparing for such a scenario.

Ms Merkel said Wednesday’s informal talks would not result in decisions, but would influence formal summit talks in late June.

The leaders would look at ways to deepen the EU internal market, boost mobility in Europe’s labour market and better target European Investment Bank funding for projects. Such measures could help stimulate growth, she said.

It is the first opportunity for President Hollande to shift the emphasis from austerity to growth - a key message he gave to French voters, who elected him on 6 May. The Socialist leader’s victory is seen as a challenge to the prevailing austerity drive in the EU.

Pictured:Mr Hollande is pressing Germany to do more to ease the eurozone’s debt burden

Filed under European Union economic crisis Eurozone summit europe

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Iran nuclear talks set to begin in Istanbul
Six world powers are to begin talks with Iran aimed at ending the deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Officials from the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany hope the talks, in the Turkish city of Istanbul, halt rising tensions in the region.
Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful, but critics suspect it of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Israel has hinted in recent months that it could carry out a pre-emptive strike on Iran to prevent that happening.
On Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country was “standing firm on its fundamental rights and under the harshest pressure will not retreat an iota from its undeniable right”.
Pictured: Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu welcomed Iran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalil, on Friday

Iran nuclear talks set to begin in Istanbul

Six world powers are to begin talks with Iran aimed at ending the deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Officials from the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany hope the talks, in the Turkish city of Istanbul, halt rising tensions in the region.

Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful, but critics suspect it of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Israel has hinted in recent months that it could carry out a pre-emptive strike on Iran to prevent that happening.

On Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country was “standing firm on its fundamental rights and under the harshest pressure will not retreat an iota from its undeniable right”.

Pictured: Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu welcomed Iran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalil, on Friday

Filed under iran turkey middle east asia nuclear power summit

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Some Latin Leaders Want New Approach To Drug War
When President Obama travels to Colombia this weekend for the Summit of the Americas, he’ll be stepping into a vigorous debate about the drug war that could be awkward for the United States.
Some Latin American leaders, who also happen to be strong U.S. allies, say the American-sponsored war on drugs is failing and that new options need to be considered.
One proposal they want to discuss is legalizing some drugs — a move the U.S. strongly opposes.

Over the past four decades, the drug war has become increasingly bloody, and violence is now numbingly common across much of Central America and northern Mexico.
That’s prompting widespread disenchantment with the current approach –- which involves widespread prosecution of drug users and military-style tactics against drug gangs.
The campaign started with former President Richard Nixon, who said: “We must wage what I have called total war against Public Enemy No. 1 in the United States: the problem of dangerous drugs.”
Since then, that war has been taken to the drug cartels across the Americas, with heavy U.S. funding.
Looking For New Options
But now, some presidents, including Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, are asking if there isn’t another way.
Santos told NPR he’s putting the issue up for debate at the Summit of the Americas in the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena. Obama will be one of more than 30 leaders at the summit.
"It’s been the same approach and the same policies," Santos said. "And where are we? This is what we have to ask ourselves. Are we in the ideal place? Or should we at least contemplate alternatives?"
Santos is no critic of the United States. He’s one of Washington’s closest allies and a former defense minister known for his hawkish reputation on security issues.
And he’s not the only one proposing a new approach.
The most forceful proponent of that line has been Guatemalan President Otto Perez, a former military man who has fought traffickers for years.
After taking over the presidency earlier this year, Perez told NPR that he came to the conclusion that the drug war is failing. Drug trafficking has expanded and corruption has tainted government institutions, including the judicial system.
Pictured: Some Latin American leaders want to talk about the possibility of legalizing some drugs, a move the U.S. strongly opposes. Here, a Mexican soldier stands guard at a huge marijuana plantation that was uncovered in San Quintin, Baja California state, near the U.S. border, last year. Antonio Nava/AFP/Getty Images

Some Latin Leaders Want New Approach To Drug War

When President Obama travels to Colombia this weekend for the Summit of the Americas, he’ll be stepping into a vigorous debate about the drug war that could be awkward for the United States.

Some Latin American leaders, who also happen to be strong U.S. allies, say the American-sponsored war on drugs is failing and that new options need to be considered.

One proposal they want to discuss is legalizing some drugs — a move the U.S. strongly opposes.

Over the past four decades, the drug war has become increasingly bloody, and violence is now numbingly common across much of Central America and northern Mexico.

That’s prompting widespread disenchantment with the current approach –- which involves widespread prosecution of drug users and military-style tactics against drug gangs.

The campaign started with former President Richard Nixon, who said: “We must wage what I have called total war against Public Enemy No. 1 in the United States: the problem of dangerous drugs.”

Since then, that war has been taken to the drug cartels across the Americas, with heavy U.S. funding.

Looking For New Options

But now, some presidents, including Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, are asking if there isn’t another way.

Santos told NPR he’s putting the issue up for debate at the Summit of the Americas in the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena. Obama will be one of more than 30 leaders at the summit.

"It’s been the same approach and the same policies," Santos said. "And where are we? This is what we have to ask ourselves. Are we in the ideal place? Or should we at least contemplate alternatives?"

Santos is no critic of the United States. He’s one of Washington’s closest allies and a former defense minister known for his hawkish reputation on security issues.

And he’s not the only one proposing a new approach.

The most forceful proponent of that line has been Guatemalan President Otto Perez, a former military man who has fought traffickers for years.

After taking over the presidency earlier this year, Perez told NPR that he came to the conclusion that the drug war is failing. Drug trafficking has expanded and corruption has tainted government institutions, including the judicial system.

Pictured: Some Latin American leaders want to talk about the possibility of legalizing some drugs, a move the U.S. strongly opposes. Here, a Mexican soldier stands guard at a huge marijuana plantation that was uncovered in San Quintin, Baja California state, near the U.S. border, last year. Antonio Nava/AFP/Getty Images

(Source: NPR)

Filed under americas colombia Guatemala mexico War on drugs summit

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'War on drugs' has failed, say Latin American leaders
Watershed summit will admit that prohibition has failed, and call for more nuanced and liberalised tactics
A historic meeting of Latin America’s leaders, to be attended by Barack Obama, will hear serving heads of state admit that the war on drugs has been a failure and that alternatives to prohibition must now be found.
The Summit of the Americas, to be held in Cartagena, Colombia is being seen by foreign policy experts as a watershed moment in the redrafting of global drugs policy in favour of a more nuanced and liberalised approach.
Otto Pérez Molina, the president of Guatemala, who as former head of his country’s military intelligence service experienced the power of drug cartels at close hand, is pushing his fellow Latin American leaders to use the summit to endorse a new regional security plan that would see an end to prohibition. In the Observer, Pérez Molina writes: “The prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that global drug markets can be eradicated.”
Pérez Molina concedes that moving beyond prohibition is problematic. “To suggest liberalisation – allowing consumption, production and trafficking of drugs without any restriction whatsoever – would be, in my opinion, profoundly irresponsible. Even more, it is an absurd proposition. If we accept regulations for alcoholic drinks and tobacco consumption and production, why should we allow drugs to be consumed and produced without any restrictions?”
He insists, however, that prohibition has failed and an alternative system must be found. “Our proposal as the Guatemalan government is to abandon any ideological consideration regarding drug policy (whether prohibition or liberalisation) and to foster a global intergovernmental dialogue based on a realistic approach to drug regulation. Drug consumption, production and trafficking should be subject to global regulations, which means that drug consumption and production should be legalised, but within certain limits and conditions.”
The decision by Pérez Molina to speak out is seen as highly significant and not without political risk. Polls suggest the vast majority of Guatemalans oppose decriminalisation, but Pérez Molina’s comments are seen by many as helping to usher in a new era of debate. They will be studied closely by foreign policy experts who detect that Latin American leaders are shifting their stance on prohibition following decades of drugs wars that have left hundreds of thousands dead.
Pictured: Guatemala’s president Otto Perez Molina believes a new approach to Latin America’s war on drugs is urgently needed. Photograph: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images 

'War on drugs' has failed, say Latin American leaders

Watershed summit will admit that prohibition has failed, and call for more nuanced and liberalised tactics

A historic meeting of Latin America’s leaders, to be attended by Barack Obama, will hear serving heads of state admit that the war on drugs has been a failure and that alternatives to prohibition must now be found.

The Summit of the Americas, to be held in Cartagena, Colombia is being seen by foreign policy experts as a watershed moment in the redrafting of global drugs policy in favour of a more nuanced and liberalised approach.

Otto Pérez Molina, the president of Guatemala, who as former head of his country’s military intelligence service experienced the power of drug cartels at close hand, is pushing his fellow Latin American leaders to use the summit to endorse a new regional security plan that would see an end to prohibition. In the Observer, Pérez Molina writes: “The prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that global drug markets can be eradicated.”

Pérez Molina concedes that moving beyond prohibition is problematic. “To suggest liberalisation – allowing consumption, production and trafficking of drugs without any restriction whatsoever – would be, in my opinion, profoundly irresponsible. Even more, it is an absurd proposition. If we accept regulations for alcoholic drinks and tobacco consumption and production, why should we allow drugs to be consumed and produced without any restrictions?”

He insists, however, that prohibition has failed and an alternative system must be found. “Our proposal as the Guatemalan government is to abandon any ideological consideration regarding drug policy (whether prohibition or liberalisation) and to foster a global intergovernmental dialogue based on a realistic approach to drug regulation. Drug consumption, production and trafficking should be subject to global regulations, which means that drug consumption and production should be legalised, but within certain limits and conditions.”

The decision by Pérez Molina to speak out is seen as highly significant and not without political risk. Polls suggest the vast majority of Guatemalans oppose decriminalisation, but Pérez Molina’s comments are seen by many as helping to usher in a new era of debate. They will be studied closely by foreign policy experts who detect that Latin American leaders are shifting their stance on prohibition following decades of drugs wars that have left hundreds of thousands dead.

Pictured: Guatemala’s president Otto Perez Molina believes a new approach to Latin America’s war on drugs is urgently needed. Photograph: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images 

Filed under Guatemala americas War on drugs summit

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Obama and Hu to co-ordinate on North Korea rocket launch
China and the US have agreed to co-ordinate their response to any “potential provocation” if North Korea goes ahead with a planned rocket launch, the White House says.
North Korea says the long-range rocket will carry a satellite. The US says any launch would violate UN resolutions and be a missile test.
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao met on the margins of a nuclear summit in South Korea.
The launch is scheduled for April.
Its timing - between 12 and 16 April - is intended to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s late Great Leader Kim Il-sung.
'Destabilising'
The White House said Mr Hu indicated to Mr Obama that he was taking the North Korean issue very seriously and was registering China’s concern with the government in Pyongyang.
"We both have an interest in making sure that international norms surrounding non-proliferation, preventing destabilising nuclear weapons, is very important," Mr Obama said ahead of the meeting.

Obama and Hu to co-ordinate on North Korea rocket launch

China and the US have agreed to co-ordinate their response to any “potential provocation” if North Korea goes ahead with a planned rocket launch, the White House says.

North Korea says the long-range rocket will carry a satellite. The US says any launch would violate UN resolutions and be a missile test.

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao met on the margins of a nuclear summit in South Korea.

The launch is scheduled for April.

Its timing - between 12 and 16 April - is intended to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s late Great Leader Kim Il-sung.

'Destabilising'

The White House said Mr Hu indicated to Mr Obama that he was taking the North Korean issue very seriously and was registering China’s concern with the government in Pyongyang.

"We both have an interest in making sure that international norms surrounding non-proliferation, preventing destabilising nuclear weapons, is very important," Mr Obama said ahead of the meeting.

Filed under north korea china USA nuclear weapons summit asia

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Barack Obama visits the demilitarised zone, a heavily fortified 2.5 mile-wide stretch of land that has separated North and South Korea since 1953. The US president was seen peering over the border through binoculars and his visit will be followed by an international summit to discuss ways to prevent nuclear terrorism amid ongoing concerns over nuclear activity in North Korea

(Source: Guardian)

Filed under south korea north korea asia nuclear power nuclear weapons summit

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Central American drug summit inconclusive
Three Central American presidents meeting in Guatemala to discuss overhauling drug laws to curb gang violence fail to arrive at a consensus. A follow-up will be held soon in Honduras.
Reporting from Bogota, Colombia, and San Salvador— A conclave of Central American presidents meeting in Guatemala to discuss a major overhaul of their drug laws — including legalization or decriminalization — failed to arrive at a consensus Saturday and agreed to meet again soon in Honduras.
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina had invited five counterparts to discuss what he described as growing frustration with Washington’s anti-drug policy, which many in the region say is exacting too high a price in crime and corruption.
Some sort of policy declaration was expected after the meeting, yet at day’s end there was no reason given for its absence.
But a disappointing turnout may have been a factor: Panama’s Ricardo Martinelli and Costa Rica’s Laura Chinchilla attended; the presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua stayed home.
Central America has experienced a surge in violent crime in recent years as it has become a favored transit route for cocaine and heroin processed in South America and moved north to consumers in the United States. Weak economies, democratic institutions and judicial systems have made the area fertile ground for drug gangs.
In an unprecedented move that reflects many leaders’ desire for a new approach to fighting drugs, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recently put legalization and decriminalization of drugs on the agenda for discussion at next month’s Summit of the Americas. Thirty-four heads of state, including President Obama, are schedule to attend.
It apparently was Santos’ bold action that spurred Perez to attempt to forge a unified front with regional leaders in advance of the April summit.
The U.S. remains firmly opposed to liberalizing drug laws. Vice President Joe Biden said on a visit to Mexico this month that there was “no possibility” that the U.S. would support a move toward legalizing drugs.
In an interview with The Times last week, a U.S. counter-narcotics official said: “We looked at decriminalizing and legalizing, and it just doesn’t work for us.”
But Central American leaders increasingly protest that they are ill-equipped to contain powerful drug traffickers. While coca cultivation, cocaine trafficking and related violence have declined in Colombia, for which the U.S.-financed Plan Colombia anti-drug program is partly credited, crime is on the upswing in Central America.
Pictured: Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina waves during the summit with Central American leaders in Antigua. (Johan Ordonez, AFP/Getty Images / March 24, 2012)

Central American drug summit inconclusive

Three Central American presidents meeting in Guatemala to discuss overhauling drug laws to curb gang violence fail to arrive at a consensus. A follow-up will be held soon in Honduras.

Reporting from Bogota, Colombia, and San Salvador— A conclave of Central American presidents meeting in Guatemala to discuss a major overhaul of their drug laws — including legalization or decriminalization — failed to arrive at a consensus Saturday and agreed to meet again soon in Honduras.

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina had invited five counterparts to discuss what he described as growing frustration with Washington’s anti-drug policy, which many in the region say is exacting too high a price in crime and corruption.

Some sort of policy declaration was expected after the meeting, yet at day’s end there was no reason given for its absence.

But a disappointing turnout may have been a factor: Panama’s Ricardo Martinelli and Costa Rica’s Laura Chinchilla attended; the presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua stayed home.

Central America has experienced a surge in violent crime in recent years as it has become a favored transit route for cocaine and heroin processed in South America and moved north to consumers in the United States. Weak economies, democratic institutions and judicial systems have made the area fertile ground for drug gangs.

In an unprecedented move that reflects many leaders’ desire for a new approach to fighting drugs, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recently put legalization and decriminalization of drugs on the agenda for discussion at next month’s Summit of the Americas. Thirty-four heads of state, including President Obama, are schedule to attend.

It apparently was Santos’ bold action that spurred Perez to attempt to forge a unified front with regional leaders in advance of the April summit.

The U.S. remains firmly opposed to liberalizing drug laws. Vice President Joe Biden said on a visit to Mexico this month that there was “no possibility” that the U.S. would support a move toward legalizing drugs.

In an interview with The Times last week, a U.S. counter-narcotics official said: “We looked at decriminalizing and legalizing, and it just doesn’t work for us.”

But Central American leaders increasingly protest that they are ill-equipped to contain powerful drug traffickers. While coca cultivation, cocaine trafficking and related violence have declined in Colombia, for which the U.S.-financed Plan Colombia anti-drug program is partly credited, crime is on the upswing in Central America.

Pictured: Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina waves during the summit with Central American leaders in Antigua. (Johan Ordonez, AFP/Getty Images / March 24, 2012)

Filed under Guatemala americas War on drugs summit

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Seoul, South Korea (CNN) — It may not be on the official agenda, but North Korea’s ears will be burning during the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.

Over 50 heads of state will be meeting in South Korea on March 26 and 27 to discuss nuclear security, just 50 kilometers from a state that is secretive and striving for nuclear weapons.

(Source: CNN)

Filed under south korea north korea nuclear power summit asia

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voa60news:

Today’s VOA60 Africa

Ethiopia: African Union leaders end summit without agreeing on new head for organization’s main decision-making body, forcing new election in six months.   

Ethiopia: On sidelines of AU summit UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon calls for dialogue in Libya to promote national reconciliation.
Sudan: Khartoum agrees to release ships carrying cargos of crude oil from South Sudan in bid to help two states reach deal over oil revenues.

Somalia: Teachers who fled country’s civil war are returning to help develop educational system.

Uganda: Members of the gay community mark the first anniversary of the killing of a gay rights activist in Kampala. 

(via )

Filed under africa african union ethiopia summit

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African Union holds first post-Gaddafi summit - Africa - Al Jazeera English

African Union leaders are meeting for their first summit since the death of Muammar Gaddafi, the bloc’s founder, with the selection of top officials and discussion of crises on the continent dominating the agenda.

The leaders, gathered in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday for a two-day summit have choosen Thomas Boni Yayi, Benin’s president, as the 54-member bloc’s new chairman.

Filed under Ethiopia africa summit libya benin african union