Thursday, May 18, 2017

World News Briefs -- May 18, 2017



Reuters: Fresh Syria peace talks off to another stumbling start

Syria peace talks hosted by the United Nations in Geneva spawned a new series of meetings on Thursday with no hint of tangible progress toward a deal to end the six-year-old civil war.

U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura had promised a refreshingly brisk pace of business-like meetings over a short four-day round, with new elections, a new constitution, reformed governance and counter-terrorism on the agenda.

He opened proceedings on Thursday by proposing setting up a "consultative mechanism", which he would head, to avoid a power vacuum in Syria before a new constitution is in place.

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MIDDLE EAST

UN says struggling to cope with Mosul exodus.

Sunnis seek greater say in post-IS Iraq but face resistance.

Islamic State attacks Syrian state-held areas, 52 killed.

Battle for Raqqa: US-backed forces 'tighten noose' on Islamic State stronghold in Syria. US-backed SDF 'tightens noose' on Syria's Raqqa.

Syrian sides agree to new UN process on constitution.

Turkey's Cavusoglu demands removal of US envoy McGurk.

Iran decries new US sanctions on ballistic missile program.

Iran election: frantic campaigning as high-stakes vote goes down to wire. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: Election rhetoric 'unworthy'.

Saudi Arabia working to dazzle Trump in busy overseas visit.

Israel declassifies Six-Day War archives.

ASIA

U.N.: 10 million North Koreans are starving.

China, ASEAN agree on draft framework for South China Sea code.

China drafts law on broad surveillance powers.

Philippines rejects European development money as China fills the funding gap.

Ferry between North Korea and Russia starts weekly service. Russia steps up North Korea support to constrain US.

Princess Mako to lose Japan royal status by marrying commoner.

AFRICA

Nigeria: Corruption in Nigerian defence sector benefitting Boko Haram.

Grenade attack kills three members of Burundi ruling party.

Libya asks Italy to arm migrant patrol boats.

South Sudan: Wife of exiled rebel leader warns 'genocide in progress', calls for Australian aid.

US court battle gives clues to Nigerian arms scandal.

'More than 3,000 escaped' Makala jail in DR Congo.

Somalia: Cholera outbreak death toll tops 700.

EUROPE

Kremlin mum on prospects of Russia-US ties should Trump be impeached.

Russian FM mocks US media over intelligence-sharing reports.

Secret plans to 'protect' France in the event of Le Pen victory emerge.

French president talks to Putin, faces media uproar. Putin and Macron discuss Ukraine in first phone call: Kremlin.

NATO chief says 'trusts all allies' on intelligence sharing.

Reports: British Prime Minister Theresa May plans migration curbs.

As Britain steps aside, EU states to negotiate joint defense fund.

AMERICAS

Trump decries Russia probe as 'greatest witch hunt' in US history.

GOP senator: Flynn 'not cooperating' in Russia probe.

Brazil: explosive recordings implicate President Michel Temer in bribery.

Brazilian president denies endorsing corruption hush money.

Brazil's stock market plunges after corruption claims.

Venezuela: Troops deployed in Tachira after looting. Growing fears over Venezuela’s deepening crisis. Venezuela deploying 2,600 troops to T├íchira state amid protests.

Colombia court decision likely to slow approval of peace laws.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Jordanian spies provided ISIL bomb intel: officials.

Some NATO allies favour joining anti-IS coalition: Stoltenberg.

NATO top brass recommend joining anti-ISIS coalition.

US and EU reject expanding laptop ban to flights from Europe.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Facebook fined $122M for misleading European Commission. EU fines Facebook over 'misleading' WhatsApp data claim.

Report: $540bn-a-year loss threat for global agriculture.

Roger Ailes: Fox News founder dies at 77.

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