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GENEVA, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - European leaders are expressing sadness over the death of former UN chief Kofi Annan at age 80 and praising his graceful leadership.

President Emmanuel Macron says in a tweet Saturday that "we will never forget his calm and resolute look, nor his strength in battles."

British Prime Minister Theresa May in a tweet says Annan "made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into."

"He was a titan amongst world statesman who saw wrong and righted it," says former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says on Twitter that Annan's "warmth should never be mistaken for weakness. ... The U.N. and the world have lost one of their giants."

Former South African archbishop Desmond Tutu is mourning the death of fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan, saying "we give great thanks to god" for him.

The death of the former U.N. secretary-general at age 80 after a short illness was announced Saturday.

Tutu says the Ghanaian-born Annan "represented our continent and the world with enormous graciousness, integrity and distinction."

Annan took over from Tutu as chair of The Elders, an elite group of former leaders founded by Nelson Mandela. Tutu calls it a "tremendous honor" to be succeeded by Annan and calls his death an "unexpected and devastating loss."

The U.N.'s top human rights official says former U.N. chief Kofi Annan was "a friend to thousands and a leader of millions."

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says that "in a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world's loss, becomes even more painful."

Annan's death at age 80 was announced Saturday.

The Jordanian diplomat, whose four-year term ends Aug. 31, says in a statement he once told Annan how everyone was criticizing him and the former U.N. chief responded that "you're doing the right thing, let them grumble."

The death of former U.N. secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan at age 80 has shaken people in the West African nation of Ghana, where he was born.

The government and people of Ghana "are deeply saddened by the news of the death, in Berne, Switzerland, of one of our greatest compatriots," President Nana Akufo-Addo says on Twitter.

Former President John Dramani Mahama says that "Kofi Annan lived well and worked for global peace, security and sustainable development in very challenging times. A proud son of Ghana and Africa."

The focus of some of Kofi Annan's last statements was Zimbabwe, which the Nobel Peace Prize winner visited last month while urging a peaceful election.

While the vote was calm, Annan denounced the violence that erupted in the capital two days later as the military swept into the streets to disperse opposition protesters.

Opposition Nelson Chamisa is among those mourning Annan's death at age 80. "Deeply saddened by the sudden passing of the iconic Kofi Annan whom I met a few days ago," Chamisa says on Twitter. "A rare breed of diplomat; soft spoken but unshakeably firm."

Shocked reactions are pouring in after the death of former U.N. secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan at age 80 after a short illness.

"He was a good friend whom I saw only weeks ago," says former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"A great man, a dear brother," says the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

"He was warm, compassionate & intelligent, exuding dignity & grace," says the new leader of Amnesty International, Kumi Naidoo.

"International leader, wise mentor, valuable adviser, good friend, role model," says U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi. "We at UNHCR - and millions of others around the world - will miss him very much."

LONDON, August 17, 2018 (News Wires) - Euro zone bond yields fell on Friday as upcoming talks between China and the US eased concerns about trade, but further sanctions were threatened on Turkey, tempering a return to riskier assets and leaving bund yields pinned to recent lows.

Asian and European stocks gained, with the dollar coming off the 13-1/2 month highs on Friday morning as next week´s talks between China and the United States eased concerns of a global trade war, and helped stem risk aversion in the broader markets.

Turkish bonds and the lira had also found some support on Thursday after Finance Minister Berat Albayrak assured international investors on a conference call that the country would emerge stronger from its currency crisis and that its banks were healthy.

Earlier supportive measures from the Turkish central bank and key ally Qatar have helped the Turkish lira strengthen, although it was little changed after Albayrak's call.

But threats of further economic sanctions on Turkey from Washington on Thursday caused the lira to weaken to 5.86 against the dollar from its previous close of 5.815, though it then recovered to 5.80.

Peripheral euro zone bonds, particularly in Italy, had been hit by concerns about European bank exposure to Turkey, as well as receding global risk appetite.

With Turkish risk looking to recede, Italian government bond yields found support in early trade on Friday and were 1- 2 basis points lower across the curve. Italy's 10-year was at 3.10 per cent.

Spanish and Portuguese government bonds were also lower in early trading.,

Italian 10-year yields hit a 2 1/2-month high of 3.20 percent on Wednesday, with the spread over German bonds also the widest since late May at 289 bps.

"We´re seeing some improvement, some stabilisation of risk appetite which implies some demand for BTPS," said Michael Leister, rates strategist at Commerzbank. "Looking at the spreads, we´re going to see some demand attracted to those extreme levels."

Despite the improving global backdrop however, investors are reluctant to add risk going into the weekend, meaning that safe haven assets such as Germany's 10-year government bond yield, the benchmark for the euro zone, remain well bid.

Germany's 10 year Bund was almost unchanged from Thursday´s close at 0.31 per cent, with the rest of the government bond curve also flat.

"Investors are sensitive to the headline risk that might come over the weekend," said Commerzbank's Leister.

"We would expect Bund yields to rise given concerns about Turkey and China are receding - we expected a sell-off - but there will be some demand not to be exposed over the weekend."

 

PARIS, August 14, 2018 (AFP) - European countries faced pressure on Tuesday to resolve a fresh standoff with the operators of the migrant rescue ship Aquarius which is stranded for the second time in the Mediterranean carrying 141 people.

France said it was in touch with other EU nations to "rapidly" find a port where the Aquarius could dock after it was refused entry by Italy and Malta, the two countries closest to its current location.

The Aquarius, which was left stranded with 630 migrants on board in June after being turned away by Rome and Valletta, resumed rescue operations off the Libyan coast last week.

In a statement late on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron's office voiced disapproval of Italy's "very tough political stance" -- milder language than two months ago when he accused the populist government of "cynicism and irresponsibility".

The 141 migrants on board the Aquarius were picked up on Friday in two separate operations and are in a stable condition, the French charity that operates the Aquarius, SOS Mediterranee, said.

In the first rescue, 25 people were plucked from a wooden boat bobbing on the seas off the Libyan coast, while another 116 were rescued from another larger vessel later in the day.

The second boat was overloaded and more than half of the passengers were unaccompanied children, mostly from Somalia and Eritrea. They had no food or water supplies at the time of their rescue, SOS Mediterranee said.

"We're asking all European countries to find a solution. We're asking them to be responsible and find a safe port in the Mediterranean," Sophie Beau, head of charity, told AFP on Monday.

NAIROBI, August 14, 2018 (News Wires) - An Ethiopian court has freed 11 police officers on bail after they were detained on suspicion of negligence in a grenade attack on a rally in June attended by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, state-affiliated media said on Tuesday.

The attack in the capital Addis Ababa on June 23 injured more than 150 and raised fears that a group or individual may want to use violence against Abiy, who has presided over a series of reforms and a rapprochement with Eritrea since taking power in April.

Among those freed on bail is the former deputy commissioner of Addis Ababa police commission Girma Kassa, Fana Broadcasting Corporation said. None of the police have been charged.

Earlier this month, Ethiopian federal prosecutors said they had charged five suspects with involvement in the incident, including a man released from prison under a government amnesty, but did not elaborate on the motive for the attack.

BRUSSELS, August 7, 2018 (News Wires) - The European Union and United States on Tuesday condemned violent attacks targeting the Zimbabwe opposition since elections last week, as 27 supporters of the MDC party were released on bail.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, declared winner of the country's first ballot since the downfall of Robert Mugabe, again vowed to protect rights, but the government has been accused of overseeing a brutal post-vote crackdown.

Last week's poll, which was marred by soldiers opening fire at a protest killing six people, was meant to re-launch Zimbabwe on the international stage and attract foreign aid and investment after the repression of the Mugabe era.

Mnangagwa won the presidential vote by a narrow margin, and the opposition Movement for Democratic (MDC) has accused him of rigging the result.

"The eruption of violence... stand(s) in sharp contrast to the high hopes and expectations for a peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible election," said a joint statement from the EU, US, Canada and Switzerland.

It called for the government "to ensure that the Zimbabwean Defence Forces act with restraint, in full respect of international human rights norms".

The MDC has accused security forces of abducting and beating opposition activists and their families since the election result was declared early Friday.

"I've just finished going thru the evidence... We WON this election emphatically," MDC leader Chamisa tweeted, alleging election authorities used falsified figures to ensure Mnangagwa retained power.

Mnangagwa, who says any fraud allegations should be raised through the courts, said on Twitter that "transparency and accountability remain paramount. And despite the naysayers, in this new Zimbabwe, freedom will reign."

LONDON, August 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain is now likely leave the European Union without a deal due to the "intransigence" of the European Union, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told the Sunday Times.

The pro-Brexit minister said that the chances of a no-deal Brexit were now "60-40", laying the blame on EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

"I think the intransigence of the commission is pushing us towards no deal," he said in an interview with the Sunday Times.

"If the EU decides that the theological obsession of the unelected is to take priority over the economic wellbeing of the people of Europe then it's a bureaucrats' Brexit -- not a people's Brexit -- then there is only going to be one outcome."

He said that Barnier had rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's latest plan, agreed by her cabinet, on the grounds that "we have never done it before".

It was therefore up to the EU to "show us one that they can suggest that would be acceptable to us," said Fox.

"It's up to the EU27 to determine whether they want the EU Commission's ideological purity to be maintained at the expense of their real economies."

May met with French President Emmanuel Macron on the Mediterranean coast on Friday to lobby for her Brexit plan, which has divided her government and so far failed to win over EU negotiators.

The prime minister has just a few months before an agreement on Britain's divorce from the European Union -- set for March 29, 2019 -- must be forged in principle ahead of a EU summit in mid-October.

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