France To Send Investigators After Lao Airlines Crash Kills 49

“Given what he know on Iran, the Guide (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) being the same, we are compelled to be cautiously open.” Paris has been one of the strongest advocates of sanctions to pressure Iran over its nuclear program. The United States and its allies suspect Iran is seeking nuclear bomb-making capability despite Tehran’s insistence that its program has only peaceful aims. French President Francois Hollande was the first Western leader to meet new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in September, warning that Paris expected “concrete gestures”. “It is too early to draw conclusions,” Fabius said. “France will not mix up appearances with reality.” So far Iran has defied U.N. Security Council demands that it halt enrichment and other sensitive nuclear activities, leading to multiple rounds of crippling international sanctions that have reduced Iranian oil exports, caused inflation to soar and the value of the Iranian rial currency to plummet. Speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks, a Western diplomat said the negotiations had been neither positive nor negative, but the major powers had been able to ask specific questions on key issues and received certain answers creating a basis to move forward. “We can’t say that we will find a solution in the coming weeks, but we now have a tool for a common exchange,” he said. The fact that all the Iranian negotiators spoke English made life easier, he added. The diplomat declined to detail what proposals had been discussed, saying the talks had entered “a serious phase”. Follow-up talks will be held in Geneva on November 7-8. Before that, nuclear and sanctions experts from both sides will meet to discuss in detail the main stumbling blocks. “The objective is to have something more concrete by November.

Flamboyant France heads to playoffs on a high note

There was “no news of survivors” after a aircraft packed with mostly foreign tourists plunged at the end of a domestic flight. France is dispatching investigators because the ATR 72-600 turboprop plane is made by Avions de Transport Regional, a venture owned by Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Space and Defense Co. and Italy’s Finmeccanica. Lao Airlines was sending emergency crews to the site of the accident and expected to release its initial findings Thursday, it said in the statement. The plane, on a domestic flight from the capital Vientiane, crashed into the Mekong River while attempting to land at about 4 p.m. local time, the carrier said in the statement. The aircraft was delivered from the production line in March, the planemaker said separately. The carrier flies to six international and six domestic destinations. Thailand’s Channel 3 television network broadcast footage of people pulling wreckage of the aircraft from the Mekong River. French air safety investigators will send a team of four officials to Laos to participate in the probe. ATR technical experts headed to Pakse, the airline said separately.

France to keep 2,000 troops in Mali until end of year

France woke up in that game and went on to win 4-2, then thrashed Australia 6-0 on Friday night. “We are much more in control than we were before,” Deschamps said. “The players are in really good shape at the moment, as well. I hope nothing happens to any of them and that they’ll all be here next month.” In the past two games, Giroud and Benzema have scored twice – with Giroud also contributing to France’s second goal on Tuesday night when his header led to an own goal – while Ribery has been simply unstoppable. “All of the forwards showed good movement,” Deschamps said. “They have a lot of freedom in attack and their understanding was generally very good.” Having won the treble with Bayern Munich last season, Ribery says he wants to win the Golden Ball and is clearly on a mission. He scored twice against Belarus, netted one and set up three against Australia, and almost tore the back of the net out with a fantastic early strike against Finland. He then set up Benzema’s goal late on after some sublime trickery and a perfectly weighted cross from the left. “He’s in top form, he’s full of confidence and you can see it,” Deschamps said. “He’s always been an influential player, but he also depends on the players around him.” Giroud started at center forward for the third straight match, with Benzema again on the bench, which looks like a successful strategy by Deschamps. It has given the team more of a central focal point in attack, thanks to Giroud’s ability to either hold the ball or lay it off thanks to excellent touch, and it has made Benzema hungry again. After 15 games without an international goal, Benzema’s confidence was clearly sapping away. Dropping him to the bench has given him a wake-up call and the relief was clear at Stade de France when he enjoyed a spot of shadow boxing with the crowd as he celebrated his goal. With France in this form, it is their playoff opponents who could well be facing a knockout next month. Deschamps has switched to a far more high-tempo game and there is clearly more bite and hunger than before – perhaps best typified by Samir Nasri.

View gallery Troops of the French-led Serval Operation in Mali patrol an area on the outskirts of Gao on October 16, 2013 (AFP Photo/Sebastien Rieussec) Paris (AFP) – France will maintain around 2,000 troops in Mali to help secure the December legislative polls before further scaling down its military presence, the defence minister said Thursday. “We’re going keep a little more than 2,000 men until the end of the year,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said. The former colonial power deployed its airforce and sent combat units in January this year to help Mali’s government wrest back the north of the country from Islamist groups linked to Al-Qaeda. It currently has 3,000 troops left on the ground and aims to scale back its presence to only 1,000 by the end of January 2014. Mali’s first parliamentary polls since a coup in March last year are due to begin on November 24 and a second round is scheduled for December 15. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was sworn in as president last month after an August election. French forces have helped the authorities reclaim control of the main cities but Al-Qaeda and its offshoots have remained a threat, launching sporadic attacks from their desert and mountain hideouts. “There no longer is a war, what we’re doing now is counter-terrorism,” Le Drian told reporters in Paris. “We must continue to battle terrorism and remain vigilant.” At the peak of Operation Serval, France had 4,500 troops in Mali. A UN stabilisation force meant to eventually reach 12,640 troops and police is gradually taking over. Politics & Government

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