The Arab League says Syria has agreed to its proposals to bring an end to the violence which has racked the country for the past seven months. The apparent breakthrough was announced by the Qatari prime minister after a meeting in Cairo, from where Jon Leyne reports.
According to the Arab League, Syria will withdraw tanks and armoured vehicles from the streets, free political prisoners and prepare for the beginning of a national dialogue with the opposition in two weeks’ time. Arab League officials and journalists are to be allowed into the country to monitor implementation. According to Arab League officials, Syria has agreed to the proposals without reservation. There’s no confirmation of the details yet from Damascus. The Syrian opposition will be watching with deep scepticism about whether President Assad’s government keeps its word.
France says Greece must quickly decide if it wants to remain in the eurozone. The warning follows similar comments from Germany. It came just hours before emergency talks on Greek plans to [put] the latest bailout package for its economy to a referendum and on the eve of a G20 summit in Cannes. From there, James Robbins.
Pressure on the Greek prime minister to change course is now intense, and it’s coming from leaders around the world not just in Europe. The Americans, the Chinese, the Indian government all due at this G20 meeting are dismayed that a euro rescue package they regard as critical for the health of economic recovery around the world seems to be unravelling fast. This evening, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Sarkozy will confront George Papandreou with a blunt message: Greece has to stick to its commitment.
A court in New York has found the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout guilty of conspiracy to sell weapons to what he believed were Colombian rebels prepared to kill Americans. Laura Trevelyan reports.
Viktor Bout, the former Soviet military officer-turned-arms dealer nicknamed the Merchant of Death, showed no emotion as the jury delivered a unanimous verdict. Bout has been found guilty of trying to sell a massive weapons haul to people he thought were members of the Colombian rebel group Farc, who wanted the arsenal to kill Americans helping the Colombian government trying to stop Farc’s cocaine trade. In fact, the so-called Farc rebels were informants working for the US drug enforcement agency. Bout had pleaded not guilty, saying he was merely a legitimate businessman who wanted to sell cargo planes.
The French government has condemned the arson attack on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed on its front cover. The Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that freedom of expression was an inalienable right in French democracy and that such an act of violence couldn’t be justified.
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There’s been widespread condemnation of Israel’s decision to speed up the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank. The White House said it made peace efforts more difficult. The EU called the decision illegal, a view echoed by France and Britain. Israel announced the building programme on Monday after the UN cultural organisation Unesco admitted Palestine as a full member, but it says that acceleration isn’t linked to that.
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, says a group of mercenaries may be trying to help Saif al-Islam Gaddafi escape Libya. Colonel Gaddafi’s son is wanted by the ICC on charges of committing crimes against humanity during the early stages of the Libyan uprising. Here’s Barbara Plett.
Mr Ocampo called on all states to disrupt a possible plan by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to escape Libya with the help of mercenaries. The whereabouts of Colonel Gaddafi’s son are unknown, but it’s been reported that he’s hiding with desert nomads in Niger. The ICC prosecutor said his office had also received questions from Saif al-Islam through an intermediary about the legal conditions attached to his potential surrender. And he told the Security Council that he would continue investigating evidence of mass rapes by pro-Gaddafi forces as well as allegations of crimes committed by both Nato forces and rebel leaders.
China says that one of its spacecraft has docked with an orbiting module for the first time in what it calls a major step towards setting up a space station. The Xinhua news agency says the unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft coupled with the module about 340km above the surface of the Earth.
The President of Ghana, John Atta Mills, has reacted angrily to comments by the British Prime Minister David Cameron, in which he said aid could be withheld from countries that deny gay rights. Mr Atta Mills said Britain couldn’t impose its values on his country.