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France Says It Will Not Be ‘held Hostage’ by Britain Over Migrant Crisis

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France is ready for a serious discussion with Britain on issues relating to illegal migration, but will not be held hostage to London’s domestic politics, the country’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

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The two countries are already at loggerheads over post-Brexit trading rules and fishing rights and last week relations soured further after 27 people died trying to cross the Channel.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote to President Emmanuel Macron setting out five steps the two countries could take to deter migrants from making the perilous journey. One of those – sending illegal migrants back to France – particularly angered Paris.

France responded by cancelling an invitation to British Interior Minister Priti Patel to attend a meeting on Sunday with European counterparts to discuss the issue after Johnson published the letter on Twitter.

“Britain left Europe, but not the World. We need to work seriously on these questions … without being held hostage by domestic British politics,” Darmanin told reporters after meeting his Belgian, German and Dutch counterparts in Calais.

He added that London’s tone in private was not the same as in public.

France had been handling the issue of illegal migration to Britain for 25 years and it was now time London woke up, Darmanin said.

“If migrants are coming to Calais, Dunkirk or northern France, it’s because they are attracted by England, especially the labour market which means you can work in England without any identification,” he said.

“Britain must take its responsibility and limit its economic attractiveness.”

Britain needs France’s cooperation to curb the flow of migrants escaping war and poverty over the English Channel from Europe, health minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday, defending Johnson’s letter.

Little was agreed at Sunday’s meeting with his European partners beyond further cooperation between police, but the European Border and Coast Guard Agency agreed to provide a plane from Dec. 1 to monitor France’s northern coastline, Darmanin added.

(REUTERS)

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Article: france24.com

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World at ‘inflection Point’ Warns Biden, Raising Alarm at Democracy Summit

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Democracy faces “sustained and alarming challenges” worldwide, US President Joe Biden said Thursday at the opening of a virtual summit on democracy with representatives from some 100 countries.

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Biden said trends were “largely pointing in the wrong direction” and that democracy needed “champions.”

“We stand at an inflection point,” he said. “Will we allow the backward slide of rights and democracy to continue unchecked?”

The two-day event, held by video link due to the coronavirus pandemic, was billed by the White House as US leadership in an existential struggle between democracies and powerful autocracies or dictatorships.

“Make no mistake, we’re at a moment of democratic reckoning,” said Uzra Zeya, the US under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights. “Countries in virtually every region of the world have experienced degrees of democratic backsliding.”

The summit featured opening remarks from Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with representatives from some 100 governments, as well as NGOs, private businesses, philanthropical organisations and legislatures attending.

China, Russia not invited

The conference is a test of Biden’s assertion, made in his first foreign policy address in February, that he would return the US to global leadership to face down authoritarian forces led by China and Russia.

Both countries were not invited to this week’s event, which coincides with questions about the strength of America’s democracy. Biden is struggling to pass his agenda through a polarised Congress following the turbulent and disruptive Trump presidency.

Amid rising US-China tensions, the Biden administration’s decision to invite Taiwan has irked Beijing.

China considers Taiwan, a democratically ruled island, part of its territory.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the invitation of Taiwan showed the US was only using democracy as “cover and a tool for it to advance its geopolitical objectives, oppress other countries, divide the world and serve its own interests.”

‘Lip service’

Washington used the run-up to the summit to announce sanctions against officials in Iran, Syria and Uganda it accuses of oppressing their populations, and against people it accuses of being tied to corruption and criminal gangs in Kosovo and Central America.

US officials hope to win support during the meetings for global initiatives, such as use of technology to enhance privacy or circumvent censorship, and for countries to make specific public commitments to improve their democracies before an in-person summit planned for late 2022.

Annie Boyajian, director of advocacy at non-profit Freedom House, said the event had the potential to push struggling democracies to do better and to spur coordination between democratic governments.

“But, a full assessment won’t be possible until we know what commitments there are and how they are implemented in the year ahead,” Boyajian said.

Zeya at the State Department said civil society would help hold the countries, including the United States, accountable. Zeya declined to say whether Washington would disinvite leaders who did not fulfill their pledges.

Human Rights Watch’s Washington director Sarah Holewinski said making the invitation to the 2022 summit dependent on delivering on commitments was the only way to get nations to step up.

Otherwise, Holewinski said, some “will only pay lip service to human rights and make commitments they never intend to keep.”

“They shouldn’t get invited back,” she said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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Original Source: france24.com

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Top US Scientist Fauci: Omicron ‘almost Certainly Not More Severe’ Than Delta Variant

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Top US scientist Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that while it would take weeks to judge the severity of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, early indications suggested it was not worse than prior strains, and possibly milder.Read More

Source: france24.com

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Suspected Member of Khashoggi Hit Squad Arrested at Paris Airport

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French police Tuesday arrested at Paris’s main airport a suspected member of the team that murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, sources said.Read More

Source Here: france24.com

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