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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday called participation by foreign officials in the political events unfolding in Ukraine "interference", rebuking the German foreign minister for a visit to an opposition protest camp. In a televised interview, Medvedev said it was fine for foreign officials to meet Ukrainian opposition leaders "but to participate in such events has, excuse me, a very simple name: interference in internal affairs." On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle walked with opposition leaders through an encampment on Kiev's Independence Square, the focus of protests over the government's U-turn away from the European Union and toward Russia. "But they go right into the heart of political events, to an event that is conducted in contradiction of the existing rules governing demonstrations." "I wonder how our German partners would feel if the Russian foreign minister went into some mob that was (gathered) in contradiction of Germany's rules," he said.
There is no need for centralisation of fiscal policy in the euro zone beyond the planned banking union, European Central Bank Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said on Friday. The euro zone is combining banking supervision under the roof of the ECB and also plans to find a common way to wind down non-viable banks in response to the crisis. "Clearly, the euro area also needs solidarity mechanisms for extreme events that are out of reach of national policies - that is the role of the European Stability Mechanism," Coeure said in the text of a speech. "But beyond that, I do not see a strong case today for further fiscal centralisation," Coeure said.
North Korea is facing what could be its most serious defection in 15 years after a man who managed funds for the ousted uncle of leader Kim Jong Un fled the isolated country, South Korean media said on Friday. The aide has sought asylum in South Korea and is currently being protected by South Korean officials in a secret location in China, cable news network YTN said, citing a source familiar with the matter. YTN said the man managed funds for Jang Song Thaek, whose marriage to Kim's aunt and proximity to the young leader made him one of the most powerful men in North Korea.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday that North Korea would never achieve prosperity as long as it continued to pursue nuclear arms, but added Washington remained open to dialogue if Pyongyang can show its willingness to honour its commitments. North Korea has forged ahead with its nuclear development after declaring the so-called six-party talks dead in 2008, overturning its commitments made under a 2005 disarmament deal aimed at rewarding it with economic incentives. "The United States and the world have to make it absolutely clear to Kim Jong Un that the international community will not accept or tolerate nuclear arms in North Korea," Biden said in a speech in Seoul, referring to the reclusive state's leader. "The simple fact is this - North Korea can never achieve security and prosperity so long as it pursues nuclear weapons, period," Biden said.
Protesters seeking to topple Thailand's government stayed off the street on Friday after halting their demonstration the day before out of respect for the king on his birthday but clashes were reported overnight, one at the occupied Finance Ministry. The protests are the latest eruption of a conflict that pits the Bangkok-based royalist establishment against mostly poorer Thais loyal to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled by the military in 2006 and lives in self-imposed exile. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban was due to address his supporters in the evening. The protesters stayed only briefly in the grounds of the offices they had been trying to storm before pulling back to their rally sites.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Iran next week to discuss issues including the interim deal reached by world powers and Tehran over its nuclear programme, Russian news agencies reported on Friday. After a decade-long standoff, Iran and six powers including Russia reached a deal on November 24 under which Tehran agreed to curb elements of its nuclear activities in exchange for limited relief from economic sanctions. ...
By Stuart Grudgings KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's ruling party, stung by an election setback in May, is burnishing its Islamic credentials, aiming to gain ground among majority ethnic Malay voters in a move that could heighten concern over growing religious intolerance in the multi-racial Southeast Asian country. The coalition led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) suffered its worst election result, hurt by the desertion of ethnic Chinese voters and many urban dwellers, including Muslim Malays, its traditional bedrock of support. Ahead of the party's annual general assembly this week, Prime Minister Najib Razak shored up his support by making concessions to the party's conservative wing, rolling back his previous liberal social reforms, boosting steps to favour ethnic Malays economically and stressing UMNO's role as a protector of the Islamic faith. "UMNO has been upholding Islam over tens of years, setting up Islamic universities and institutions of higher learning and establishing Islamic finance in this country," Najib told delegates in his keynote opening address on Thursday.
The city of Los Angeles has filed a lawsuit against Citigroup and Wells Fargo , seeking damages for a loss in tax revenue due to discriminatory mortgage lending to the city's minority communities, a court filing showed. In complaints filed in the U.S. Federal Court, LA City attorney Mike Feuer said that Citigroup and Wells Fargo "engaged in a continuous pattern and practice of mortgage discrimination in Los Angeles since at least 2004 by imposing different terms or conditions on a discriminatory and legally prohibited basis." Spokeswomen for Citigroup and Wells Fargo told Reuters that the lawsuit is without merit. Major banks are already waging multiple court battles relating to their mortgage lending practices and have so far paid billions of dollars in fines and penalties to various U.S. authorities. Foreclosures are on the rise in many of United States' most vulnerable neighborhoods, particularly those with substantial concentrations of minority households, the complaint said.
(Reuters) - Nelson Mandela was hailed on Thursday as a champion of reconciliation who "achieved more than could be expected of any man," as people the world over mourned his death and celebrated his triumphant fight against apartheid in South Africa. "Today he's gone home, and we've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth," U.S. President Barack Obama said of Mandela, who became South Africa's first black president. "He achieved more than could be expected of any man," said Obama, who is expected to go to South Africa for Mandela's state funeral. "Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time," British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote on Twitter.
South African President Jacob Zuma: "Our people have lost a father. His humility, passion and humanity earned him their love." U.S. President Barack Obama: "He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time." Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus and anti-apartheid activist: "Like a most precious diamond honed deep beneath the surface of the earth, the Madiba who emerged from prison in January 1990 was virtually flawless ... Instead of calling for his pound of flesh, he proclaimed the message of forgiveness and reconciliation, inspiring others by his example to extraordinary acts of nobility of spirit." Former South African President F.W. de Klerk, on CNN: "He was a great unifier and a very, very special man in this regard beyond everything else he did. This emphasis on reconciliation was his biggest legacy." U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: "Nelson Mandela was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration.