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Talks on Cyprus unification break up without agreement

The latest round of talks on ending Cyprus' 42-year-old division have reached an impasse without agreement. The island has been divided since 1974. Talks aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island of Cyprus broke up after two days of meetings between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci at Mont Pelerin on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The two leaders had made it to the second round of talks this month after 18 months of negotiations, and had announced earlier that they were hopeful to find a solution by the end of the year. "Despite their best efforts they have not been able to achieve the necessary further convergences on criteria for territorial adjustment that would have paved the way for the last phase of the talks," UN spokesman Aleem Siddique said in a statement. "The two sides have decided to return to Cyprus and reflect on the way forward." The island was divided in 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to a military coup seeking union with Greece. The Turkish invasion resulted in thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots displaced while a resettlement program made sure the Turkish presence on the north of the island remained strong. The division has become one of the world's longest-running political disputes. 40 years in the making Anastasiades and Akinci had met earlier in November already, to address the key issue of potential territorial readjustments. Territory has been at the heart of the talks, since any peace deal would involve a redrawing of existing boundaries, resulting in some members of both communities being ousted from their current homes. The percentage of territory to be governed under Turkish Cypriot jurisdiction has been the main sticking point, with Akinci suggesting 29.2 percent of the island and the Greek Cypriots proposing 28 percent. Furthermore, the role of the Turkish military in protecting that territory has also caused a lot of disagreement between the two parties. Reaching a deal on the issue of territory would have paved the way for a final summit to bring together Greece, Turkey and Cyprus' former colonial ruler the United Kingdom to agree on how implement security arrangements on the reunified island. Outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was hoping to leave the solution to the Cyprus conflict as part of his legacy. However, numerous rounds of talks over the past four decades have always ended in failure.

The latest round of talks on ending Cyprus’ 42-year-old division have reached an impasse without agreement. The island has been divided since 1974. Talks aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island of Cyprus broke up after two days of meetings between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci at Mont Pelerin on the shores of Lake ... Read More »

Over a hundred prominent women petition UN’s Ban for treaty to end Korean War

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been petitioned by prominent women from 38 countries to bring a permanent peace to end the Korean War. The conflict ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty. Women leaders from 38 countries have sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to initiate a peace process that would officially end the Korean War before he leaves office. The letter was co-sponsored by Women Cross DMZ, which organized a peaceful walk across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) last year and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, had promised such an initiative before taking office in 2007. North and South Korea technically remain at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. As a result the DMZ, separating the two Koreas is the most heavily fortified border in the world. The letter to Ban was signed by 132 women, including 22 from South Korea. It urges Ban to initiate a peace process via the UN Security Council with the aim of concluding it by 2018, "the 70th anniversary of Korea's division into two separate states." At a press conference to announce the letter, Cora Weiss, president of the Hague Appeal for Peace said: "The secretary-general has the opportunity to build on his own legacy as the world's most important peacemaker." She added "Ban can demonstrate that nuclear threats can be met with a diplomatic recipe of engagement, lifting sanctions, and promise of trade and aid, in exchange for North Korea giving up its nuclear ambition." Napalm girl The signatories of the letter include American women's rights activists Gloria Steinem and Eve Ensler, Nobel Peace laureates Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and UNESCO goodwill ambassador Kim Phuc. Phuc, more commonly known as ‘Napalm girl' became an international symbol for the horrors of war in 1972 when, as a 9-year-old girl, she was photographed running down a road screaming, after a napalm attack on her Vietnamese village. Valerie Plame, reported to be a CIA operative in 2003 also signed the letter. The initiative came as tensions continue to rise on the Korean peninsula. North Korea has alarmed its South Korean neighbor and their western allies with a series of nuclear and missile tests. In response, the US has agreed to deploy a sophisticated missile defense system, known as THAAD, in the South. Further tests by North Korea have accelerated plans for the anti-missile deployment. Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asia, told a US congressional hearing that the timing was up to the Pentagon. But he added: "Given the accelerating pace of North Korea's missile tests, we intend to deploy on an accelerated basis - I would say as soon as possible."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been petitioned by prominent women from 38 countries to bring a permanent peace to end the Korean War. The conflict ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty. Women leaders from 38 countries have sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to initiate a peace process that would ... Read More »

UN staffers return to Western Sahara after spat with Morocco

Morocco has allowed United Nations employees to return to their mission in Western Sahara. Rabat expelled more than 70 staff after UN Secretary General branded the Moroccan annexation of the territory "an occupation." Five UN civilian members of staff returned to their mission in the disputed territory on Thursday, the first of a group of 25 initially being allowed back by Morocco. Dozens had been expelled in March, as Rabat protested Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's use of the word "occupation" to describe Morocco's annexation of Western Sahara more than four decades ago. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday that the first batch of civilian peacekeepers had arrived in Morocco on Wednesday evening, with 25 more staff due to return in the coming days. After months of talks, Dujarric said it had been agreed that the full mission could be resumed soon. "I think we've had what I would call constructive discussion with Morocco and it was agreed as a result of those discussions to restore full functionality of the peacekeeping mission through a gradual process," Dujarric said. Security Council demand Diplomats had warned the expulsion could set a dangerous precedent for the UN's peacekeeping missions around the world if it wasn't reversed. The UN Security Council had adopted a resolution in April demanding that the operation should be restored to full capacity within three months. Morocco annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975, after Spanish troops withdrew from the mineral rich zone, and fought a local independence movement called the Polisario Front. In 1991, the UN brokered a ceasefire that established a peacekeeping mission to monitor it and help prepare a referendum on the territory's future. The vote has never taken place. Morocco considers Western Sahara to be its "southern provinces," but the Polisario Front has continued to demand self-determination through a referendum for the local population.

Morocco has allowed United Nations employees to return to their mission in Western Sahara. Rabat expelled more than 70 staff after UN Secretary General branded the Moroccan annexation of the territory “an occupation.” Five UN civilian members of staff returned to their mission in the disputed territory on Thursday, the first of a group of 25 initially being allowed back ... Read More »

Ukraine takes offense at UN chief’s view of Russian role peace talks

یورپی کمیشن کے سربراہ ژاں کلود یُنکر نے کہا ہے کہ یوکرائن تنازعے میں روس کے کردار کے باعث پیدا ہونے والے تناؤ کے باوجود یورپی یونین اور ماسکو حکومت کو تعلقات کی بحالی کے لیے اقدامات اٹھانا چاہییں۔ معروف عام سینٹ پیٹرز برگ بزنس فورم میں خطاب کے دوران یُنکر کا یہ تازہ بیان ایک ایسے وقت میں سامنے آیا ہے، جب 28 رکنی یورپی یونین روس پر عائد سخت ترین پابندیوں کو توسیع دینے کی تیاری کر رہی ہے۔ یُنکر کا کہنا تھا، ’’آنے والے ہفتوں میں یورپی یونین روس کے ساتھ اپنے تعلقات کے حوالے سے مزید بات چیت کرے گی۔ میں اس نقطہ نظر کا حامی ہوں کہ ہمارا روس سے بات کرنا ضروری ہے۔‘‘ یُنکر نے مزید کہا، ’’مجھے مکالمے کی طاقت پر یقین ہے اور اس صورت میں جب تعلقات کشیدہ ہوں تو بات چیت جاری رکھنا ضروری ہو جاتا ہے۔ اس وقت بھی جب مذاکرات کے راستے میں اقتصادی پابندیاں حائل ہیں۔ ہمیں گفتگو کا دروازہ کھلا رکھنا چاہیے اور اسی لیے میں آج یہاں موجود ہوں کیونکہ میں دونوں فریقین کے درمیان رابطے کا پل تعمیر کرنا چاہتا ہوں۔‘‘ تاہم یُنکر کا موقف ہے کہ یوکرائن تنازعے میں روسی اقدامات کو نظر انداز نہیں کیا جا سکتا۔ انہوں نے زور دیتے ہوئے کہا کہ روس پر عائد اقتصادی پابندیاں اس وقت تک برقرار رکھنا چاہییں جب تک مشرقی یوکرائن کے لیے امن معاہدے کو مکمل طور پر لاگو نہیں کر دیا جاتا۔ یورپی کمیشن کے صدر کے مطابق روس کے کریمیا کے ساتھ غیر قانونی الحاق اور یوکرائن کے ارد گرد تنازعاتی صورت حال نے یورپی یونین اور روس کے تعلقات کو آزمائش میں ڈال رکھا ہے۔ توقع ہے کہ یورپین بلاک رواں ماہ کے آخر میں یہ فیصلہ کرے گا کہ آیا روس پر عائد اقتصای پابندیوں کی مدت میں مزید توسیع کی جائے یا نہیں۔ یہ پابندیاں فی الحال جولائی کے آخر تک عائد ہیں۔ ایسی اطلاعات بھی ہیں کہ دونوں فریقین یہ پابندیاں قائم رہنے کے امکانات کے باوجود باہمی تجارت کے لیے نئے راستے تلاش کر رہے ہیں۔ یُنکر نے بیلا روس کے دارالحکومت منسک میں سن 2015 میں طے پانے والے امن معاہدے کی طرف اشارہ کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ یورپی یونین اس معاہدے کا مکمل نفاذ چاہتی ہے اور یہ کہ اس پر مزید بات نہیں ہو سکتی۔ یُنکر نے اپنی بات کو آگے بڑھاتے ہوئے مزید کہا، ’’مذاکرات ہی ہمارے درمیان بات چیت کی فضا ہموار کرنے اور اقتصادی پابندیاں اٹھانے کا واحد راستہ ہے۔‘‘ ینکر کے مطابق وہ آج جمعرات کے روز روسی صدر ولادی میر پوٹن سے بھی اس مسئلے پر بات کریں گے، جو گزشتہ 19 ماہ میں ان کی پہلی روبرو ملاقات ہو گی۔ یاد رہے کہ فروری سن 2015 میں منسک معاہدہ کے تحت مشرقی یوکرائن میں روس نواز علیحدگی پسندوں اور کییف کی حکومتی فوج کے درمیان فرنٹ لائن پر جنگ بندی کی ڈیل طے پائی تھی۔

Ukraine has reacted strongly to remarks by the UN secretary-general that appeared to praise Russia in settling the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Kyiv envoy said Ban Ki-moon could not be a “provider of good offices.” Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Volodymyr Yelchenko has said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “cannot be a provider of good offices” in the Ukraine ... Read More »

UN’s Ban Ki-Moon decries Balkan refugee restrictions

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has spoken out against filtering asylum-seekers by nationality, claiming that the procedure "infringes" on their rights. Several Balkan states are only accepting migrants from war-zones. EU member Slovenia recently decided to allow entry only to migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, prompting Serbia and Macedonia to do the same. Croatia, another EU country on the so-called Balkan route, is also allowing in refugees from Palestine. The UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon "expresses his serious concerns on the recent border restrictions imposed by a number of states in the Balkans," the UN said in a statement on Tuesday. "Profiling asylum seekers on the basis of their alleged nationality infringes the human right of all people to seek asylum, irrespective of their nationality and to have their individual cases heard," it added. Respond with 'compassion' The measures introduced last week come after months of Europe-wide bickering on the response to the refugee crisis, with thousands of refugees entering the EU every day. Refugees from Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistanis and various African countries have been among those influenced by the recent decision. The UN head also urged European governments to boost their capacities to receive and relocate refugees. Ban called on authorities "to respond with compassion, solidarity and shared responsibility," and to ensure that their policies on screening refugees adhere to international regulations, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. The head of the global organization also stressed that collective expulsion and return of asylum seekers were strictly prohibited under international law.

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has spoken out against filtering asylum-seekers by nationality, claiming that the procedure “infringes” on their rights. Several Balkan states are only accepting migrants from war-zones. EU member Slovenia recently decided to allow entry only to migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, prompting Serbia and Macedonia to do the same. Croatia, another EU country on the ... Read More »

Obama: World must not give in to fear of terror

US President Obama has called for resolve in the face of terrorist threats. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the United States and Russia to cooperate on terrorism while other leaders call for IS' destruction. "It's absolutely vital for every country, every leader, to send a signal that the viciousness of a handful of killers does not stop the world from doing vital business," US President Barack Obama said on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur. He was ending a nine-day trip to international summits in Turkey and Asia that was clouded by the Paris terrorist attacks and threats that prompted a lockdown in Brussels. The jihadi attacks in Paris resulted in the death of 130 people. The perpetrators of the Paris attacks were not "masterminds," but rather "a bunch of killers with good social media," Obama said at the East Asia Summit in Malaysia. The US president insisted that citizens must not succumb to fear, urging world leaders not to abandon the climate summit in Paris. "Destroying (Islamic State) is not only a realistic goal, we're going to get it done," he told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also said IS must be destroyed at all costs. "We must annihilate Islamic State worldwide ... and we must destroy Islamic State on its own territory," Le Drian said, speaking on Sunday morning news shows. "That's the only possible direction." France has intensified its aerial bombing in Syria and Le Drian said French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which has been sent to help operations against IS militants in Syria, will be "operational" from Monday and "ready to act." Ban Ki-moon calls for more cooperation On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the United States and Russia to cooperate in rooting out terrorism. He said he counted on their support to wipe out a common enemy, adding that he would present a comprehensive plan to fight extremism and violence early next year. "All these terrorists and ideology extremists should be defeated in the name of humanity," Ban stated during a meeting in Malaysia with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at the annual East Asia Summit. The Russian prime minister and the US president separately called on all countries to coordinate and fight "Islamic State." Obama said it "would be helpful" if Russia directed its focus on dealing with the "Islamic State" and expressed his hope that Moscow would agree to a leadership transition in Syria that involves President Bashar al-Assad stepping down. Russia and Iran have been Assad's strongest foreign supporters during Syria's civil war. But the United States, its Gulf allies and Turkey have insisted he should step down.

US President Obama has called for resolve in the face of terrorist threats. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the United States and Russia to cooperate on terrorism while other leaders call for IS’ destruction. “It’s absolutely vital for every country, every leader, to send a signal that the viciousness of a handful of killers does not stop the world ... Read More »

UN chief Ban Ki-moon to visit North Korea

After a rare diplomatic overture by Pyongyang, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to visit North Korea this week. A previous visit planned earlier this year was cancelled at the last minute. Quoting a United Nations source, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said Ban would visit the isolated north Asian country this week, without giving more details about the trip. But the source said the UN secretary general would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the trip to Pyongyang, becoming the first head of the world body to set foot in the isolated state for more than 20 years. "There can't be such a situation where the UN secretary general visits North Korea and does not meet with the supreme leader of the UN member state," the source told Yonhap, adding that the trip would likely provide significant momentum to resolve issues on the Korean Peninsula. Ban, who is South Korean, had to cancel plans to visit North Korea in May after Pyongyang retracted its approval for the trip at the last minute without explanation. Some analysts say the cancellation was seen as a response to comments Ban made in Seoul warning the North against raising tensions on the divided peninsula. The two countries signed an accord last summer to prevent a further escalation of animosity. First UN visit since 1993 Two UN secretary generals have visited the Hermit Kingdom in the past - Kurt Waldheim in 1979 and, in 1993, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who met with then-leader Kim Il Sung to discuss tensions over North Korea's nuclear ambitions. But Ban has previously visited the North when he was South Korea's foreign minister. He crossed the border in 2006 to visit the joint industrial zone of Kaesong with a delegation of foreign diplomats. During his tenure as foreign minister, he oversaw a period of intense multinational negotiations aimed at ending the North's nuclear program. Those talks led to a 2005 deal that later fell apart.

After a rare diplomatic overture by Pyongyang, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to visit North Korea this week. A previous visit planned earlier this year was cancelled at the last minute. Quoting a United Nations source, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Ban would visit the isolated north Asian country this week, without giving more details about the ... Read More »

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon fears deterioration of human rights in Central Asia

United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has warned of a worsening rights situation across Central Asia. It was his first trip to the energy-rich region in five years. Speaking on Saturday in Turkmenistan, Ban said he had “heard concerns about the deterioration of some aspects of human rights – a shrinking of democratic space.” The UN general secretary told students ... Read More »

Burundi’s president warns protesters, praises troops in televised address

Nkurunziza has warned protesters against further demonstrations, linking them to the coup attempt against him. Washington has called on the president to cancel his controversial third bid for the country's top office. Burundi's president, Pierre Nkurunziza, thanked troops loyal to his administration for quelling a coup attempt on Friday in a televised address to the nation. He also called for an end to the protests against him, linking demonstrators with those who tried to unseat him. "On the occasion of this memorable day, we want to thank from my heart the forces of defense and security," for putting down #link:18450905:the putsch attempt after two days of heavy battles in the capital Bujumbura. "It is obvious that the current upheavals are related to the group that wanted to overthrow government institutions," the president said, demanding the protesters, who he has previous called "terrorists," stop their demonstrations immediately. Failed coup Violent, deadly protests erupt in Burundi at the end of last month after Nkurunziza announced his candidacy for a controversial third term in office, a move protesters say violates the constitution. However, the country's high court approved his bid, citing that in his first term Nkurunziza was appointed by parliament and not elected, so he is not violating the limit if he runs again in the general election at the end of June. Coup leader Major General Godefroid Niyombare was forced to flee earlier this week by forces loyal to Nkurunziza two days after declaring he had toppled the president's government. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued a warning to Burundi on Friday not to engage in reprisals or revenge, asking instead for "inclusive dialogue" from both sides. "Due process and full respect for human rights must be observed," he added. "It is also essential that Burundians are able to fully exercise their freedoms of expression and assembly." The secretary general's spokesman said that Ban plans to speak with Nkurunziza in the coming days in an effort to resolve the crisis without further bloodshed. Washington on the other hand called on Nkurunziza to abandon the presidential race, saying it would "exacerbate" the situation and create a "potential for further violence," though the US maintains that it recognizes Nkurunziza's legitimacy as leader. Nkurunziza concluded his speech by announcing that "there is peace in the whole country," that Burundi had reopened its borders, and that Bujumbura's airport was once again up and running.

Nkurunziza has warned protesters against further demonstrations, linking them to the coup attempt against him. Washington has called on the president to cancel his controversial third bid for the country’s top office. Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, thanked troops loyal to his administration for quelling a coup attempt on Friday in a televised address to the nation. He also called for ... Read More »

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