Merkel, Trump talk over concerns over Afghanistan, Ukraine

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel’s spokesman says the German chancellor has talked with US President Donald Trump, exchanging thoughts on the current situation in Afghanistan and in eastern Ukraine.

Steffen Seibert said in a statement Thursday that the two leaders had talked by phone Wednesday afternoon. He says Merkel emphasized her concerns about the implementation of the so-called Minsk agreement in the Ukraine conflict, and that the two agreed to remain in close contact.

No further details were released.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament on Thursday approved visa-free travel for Ukrainians in the EU, meaning this will likely happen from June in a sign of support in Kiev’s confrontation with Moscow.

EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, adopted the measure by 521 votes to 75 with 36 abstentions, leaving formal approval by the EU’s 28-member states as the final hurdle.

“Ukrainian citizens will be exempted from EU short-stay visa requirements, after Parliament endorsed an informal deal with the Council on Thursday,” a statement from the Parliament said.

Mariya Gabriel, the member of the European People’s Party (EPP) bloc who steered the measure through Parliament, said the visa waiver will be “another very strong message that Ukraine is a key partner for the EU in the Eastern Partnership.”

The measure will allow Ukrainians with biometric passports to travel in the EU without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for tourism, business or family visits, but not to work.

The exemption does not apply to Ireland or Britain, nor to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are part of the EU’s Schengen passport-free area despite not being members of the bloc.

The vote comes after nationals of Georgia, whose country fought a week-long war with Russia in 2008, began visa-free travel to the EU last month.

In 2014 Georgia and Ukraine, both former Soviet states, signed an EU Association Agreement to deepen political and economic relations with the 28-nation bloc, including through free trade.

Ukraine’s then-president Viktor Yanukovych had tried to back out of the deal in late 2013, sparking mass pro-EU protests which led to his toppling in 2014.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine shortly afterwards and Kiev has been battling pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine ever since.

The EU has been diplomatically supporting the western-backed government in Kiev in its showdown with Moscow, which Ukraine accuses of providing military support for the rebels.

Court convicts 5

A German court on Thursday convicted five extremists of supporting jihadist groups in Syria and handed down jail terms of up to six years and three months.

The four men and one woman helped Daesh and other militant groups with recruits, cash and by sending vehicles, the court in the western city of Duesseldorf ruled.

A German flower seller identified only as Mirza Tamoor B., 60, was sentenced to six years and three months.

Another German, Kais B. O., 34, received a jail term of four-and-a-half years.

Suspended custodial terms of eight to 16 months were handed to Germans Leila B. O., 29, and Mohammed D., 37, and Pakistani Muhammad R., 34.

Several of the accused were arrested in sweeping raids targeting radical Islamists in late 2014.

Those defendants who spoke in court denied the charges against them, said the statement.

The 79-day trial heard 45 witnesses and testimony from five experts.


UN urges 72-hour ceasefire to allow aid to Syria’s eastern Ghouta
Somalia leader declares country a war zone, replaces chiefs
%d bloggers like this:
Powered by : © 2014 Systron Micronix :: Leaders in Web Hosting. All rights reserved

| About Us | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Disclaimer | Contact Us |