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EU moves closer to negotiating new cooperation agreement with Cuba

Brussels, Jan 29 (EFE).- The 28 European Union member states moved closer to starting negotiations on a new political and cooperation agreement with Cuba, EU sources told Efe Wednesday. "There's been an agreement on a mandate for talks," according to one official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The consensus was reached by an EU Council working group, and it will be put before the 28 foreign ministers for their endorsement at a meeting scheduled for Feb. 10, that official said.

EU nations favourable on joint military mission to Africa

European Union nations agreed in principle Friday on a plan to launch a joint military operation in Central Africa to help restore security there amid fears of civilian massacres. Ambassadors from the 28 member states gave preliminary approval to plans for the rapid deployment of hundreds of troops to help African and French peacekeepers already on the ground restore "a safe and secure environment" in the Central African Republic, EU officials said.

Georgia, Moldova agree deals with EU, Ukraine refuses

The European Union on Friday initialled association agreements with Georgia and Moldova but failed to draw Ukraine closer in its drive to boost ties with six ex-Soviet states on its eastern flank. Ukraine, the largest of the six, had already initialled a landmark political and trade deal with the EU but did not go ahead with signing an agreement after coming under pressure from Moscow.

European Union and Canada reach landmark free trade deal after 4 years of negotiations

BRUSSELS - Canada and the European Union have struck a tentative free trade agreement meant to boost growth and employment, officials from both economies said Friday in Brussels. The deal would make it easier for Canadian companies to invest in and sell to the 28-member EU and its 500 million consumers. European companies will have easier access to Canada's 35 million people. The deal will lower tariffs, streamline regulation and cut red tape.

EU-Canada trade talks hit snag on wording of human rights clause

OTTAWA - There's a new pothole on the long, bumpy road towards a Canada-Europe free trade deal: whether human rights and weapons of mass destruction should be addressed in a side agreement to the overall pact. Diplomats from the European Union say that Canada is balking at the inclusion of language in a final text that would speak to the importance of affirming human rights and non-proliferation efforts. The clauses would not appear in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement but in a separate so-called Strategic Partnership Agreement.

Chair's absence at key U.N. council reform meeting sparks concerns

Many countries on Thursday expressed concerns about the absence of the Afghan ambassador who has chaired intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform for the past five years from a key meeting on the hotly debated topic. A representative at the Afghan mission told Kyodo News that Zahir Tanin did not attend because he was not asked to do so after the meeting was called by the current General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic. Jeremic said Tanin had been invited, but as a participant rather than as the chair.

EU risks upsetting Turkey with threat to call off talks

By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is on the verge of scrapping a new round of membership talks with Turkey, a move that would further undermine Ankara's already slim hopes of joining the bloc anytime soon and damage its relations with Brussels. Germany, the EU's biggest economic power, is blocking efforts to revive Turkey's EU membership bid, partly because of its handling of anti-government protests that have swept the country in the last few weeks, EU sources say.

President of Arab Parliament stresses importance of cooperation with European Parliament

The sessions of the First Summit of speakers of parliaments of the member states of Union for the Mediterranean, began yesterday.

UPDATE 1-Canada, EU fail to settle differences over free trade pact

(Adds details, background) By David Ljunggren OTTAWA, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Canada and the European Union failed to settle their differences on a proposed free trade deal this week at top-level talks to hammer out an agreement that is already well behind schedule. Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht spent Wednesday and Thursday in Ottawa discussing contentious issues including agricultural exports, intellectual property and public procurement.

Mercosur to unblock talks, EU trade chief sees U.S. negotiations

SANTIAGO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The European Union and the South American bloc Mercosur will exchange offers on opening up their markets by the end of this year, the EU's trade chief said on Saturday as both sides try to unblock long-stalled free-trade negotiations. "A tremendous effort has been made to install new momentum into the discussions," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told Reuters in an interview.
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