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Five EU nations urge immediate transition in Egypt

Five EU nations urge immediate transition in Egypt

PARIS – Five EU nations urged an immediate political transition to end violent unrest in Egypt, in a joint statement on Thursday by Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. “Only a quick and orderly transition to a broad-based government will make it possible to overcome the challenges Egypt is now facing,” said the statement. “That transition process must start now.”
Egypt’s long-standing president Hosni Mubarak is facing mass protests calling for him to quit power, which

EU energy chief says Egyptian regime ‘incomprehensible’

BRUSSELS – The EU’s energy commissioner broke ranks on Monday when he labelled the Egyptian authorities’ handling of mass street democracy protests as careless beyond belief. While European Union foreign ministers meeting at the same time deliberately shied away from criticising President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, focusing on the need for elections, German commissioner Guenther Oettinger spoke bluntly.
“We are all very worried about what is happening in Egypt, with the images”

EU urges Mubarak to immediately talk to opposition

BRUSSELS – EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately hold talks with the opposition Monday and respond to the aspirations of anti-government protesters.
“The legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people should be responded to. Their aspirations for a just, better future should be met with urgent, concrete and decisive answers, and with real steps,” Ashton said.
“There needs to be a peaceful way forward,” she told reporters.

US assures Pakistan of supporting EU trade concessions from WTO

ISLAMABAD – The US has assured Pakistan of playing its due role in the approval of the European Union trade concessions from the next meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). An official source said Senior Adviser to US President on Economy David Lipton gave the assurance at a meeting with officials of the Commerce Ministry on Friday.
“We were asked to provide names of countries that were creating hurdles in the implementation of the concessions and we were assured that the

Approval of EU concessions imperative to sustain exports

KARACHI – Pakistan may lose the current trend of rising exports, primarily textile, if trade concessions proposed by the European Union (EU) are not approved in the forth-coming meeting of World Trade Organisation (WTO). Disapproval of concessions would move foreign buyers, interested in the country’s products, to other countries.
The second WTO meeting, scheduled to be held on January 31, 2011, would discuss the EU proposals following serious reservations expressed by few

India on weak ground to oppose EU trade concessions

KARACHI – India, while opposing the trade concession to Pakistan granted by European Union (EU) in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is in a weaker position to oppose the draft bill. According to experts, India which has shown serious reservations over the draft bill forwarded by EU for unilateral market access to Pakistan citing the contravention of World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rules, could not muster adequate points to back up its position in the first session of WTO. Given

Hungary admits ‘bad start’ to EU presidency

BUDAPEST – Hungary stood firm against French and German criticism of its media law on Thursday, which threatened to tarnish its presidency of the European Union after an already less than ideal start.
“Yes this is a bad start, who would want to start like that?” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. “We adopted a law that we consider perfectly OK and the world criticises it,” he told foreign journalists ahead of a ceremony to mark the start of the six-month EU presidency.

EU leaves it to IAEA to inspect Iran’s nuclear sites

BRUSSELS – The European Union’s executive said on Wednesday it was up to the UN nuclear watchdog to inspect Iranian atomic facilities, after Tehran invited EU envoys to tour the sites this month. The European Commission said it had yet to reply to the invitation, sent to some ambassadors, including the EU’s, accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna just weeks before a second round of talks between Iran and six world powers on its disputed nuclear ambitions.

Pakistan should make inroads into EU via Turkey: APTMA, LCCI

LAHORE – The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman Gohar Ejaz, while giving an SOS call to the government, expressed fears that the Punjab industry would wipe out if due facilitation in energy supply, cut in interest rates and a duty-free market access was not ensured at the earliest.
He said this while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Saturday. The APTMA chairman claimed that the industry possessed the potential to create two million

EU could end China arms embargo early 2011

BRUSSELS – A European Union arms embargo clamped on China in 1989 following the Tiananmen crackdown could be lifted in early 2011, Brussels sources told Thursday’s edition of France’s Le Figaro daily.
The lifting of the embargo on all lethal weapons “could happen very quickly,” a source close to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the paper.
An EU diplomat in Brussels refused to confirm the claim, but acknowledged that Ashton recommended as much in a report

EU imposes travel ban on Gbagbo, associates

BRUSSELS: European Union travel bans on defiant Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo and his powerful wife Simone entered force Wednesday, alongside another 17 influential figures.
A diplomatic source told AFP that ambassadors of the 27 EU nations completed legal procedures allowing the visa ban to take effect. Member states are looking at “lengthening the list” as well as extending sanctions to include asset freezes.
The action came as Ivory Coast’s deadly political

Gbagbo defiant as UN, EU pile on pressure

ABIDJAN: Tension mounted between Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo and the international community on Monday, as the United Nations complained of rights abuses and the European Union slapped sanctions on him. Gbagbo has rejected demands he cede power to his rival Alassane Ouattara, and has instead ordered UN peacekeepers to leave the country, stirring fears the fragile West African state might plunge back into chaos. The United Nations has refused Gbagbo’s order to withdraw its

EU leaders set crisis fund, ECB boosts capital

BRUSSELS – European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to create a permanent financial safety net from 2013 and the European Central Bank moved to increase its firepower to fight the debt crisis that has rocked the euro zone.
But at Germany’s insistence, the 27 leaders said the long-term crisis-resolution mechanism, to be added to the EU’s governing treaty, could only be activated “if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro as a whole”. They also decided there was no

Canada, EU likely to sign free trade pact

OTTAWA: Canada and the European Union are on track towards signing a free trade agreement by the end of 2011, trade representatives said Wednesday. After “taking stock of progress” made to date, Canadian Trade Minister Peter Van Loan and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said that they were “satisfied with the substantial progress that has been made in the negotiations.”
Official talks for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU were launched in

Eurozone bond debate rages ahead of EU summit

BRUSSELS: A dispute over creating joint eurozone bonds to help weak European nations threatened Wednesday to creep into an EU summit aimed at preventing future debt crises amid fresh fears over Spain’s economy.
The head of eurozone finance ministers, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, said he may raise the issue when European Union leaders hold talks in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. Concerns about the eurozone’s health deepened after Moody’s ratings agency warned

EU trade concessions delayed till March

ISLAMABAD: Tariff concessions announced by the European Union (EU) on 75 Pakistani products will not be implemented from January 1, 2011 and the country will have to wait till March when the World Trade Organization (WTO) again takes up the proposed wavier, an official source said.
Opposition from South Asian competitors, India and Bangladesh at the WTO’s council for trade in goods has forced the EU to delay the implementation of concessions announced for Pakistan. EU would again

EU set to sanction I Coast’s Gbagbo

BRUSSELS: The European Union is set Monday to slap sanctions on Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo and any of his allies who dig in and refuse to recognise defeat at the polls last month.
A draft statement seen by AFP, penned by ambassadors of the 27-nation bloc and to be endorsed later in the day by foreign ministers, calls for a visa ban and a freeze on assets “against those obstructing peace” and “threatening the proper outcome of the electoral process.”
These measures, it

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