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UNITED NATIONS, Sept 24, 2018 (News Wires) - France's foreign minister wants the UN to rally behind a Russian-Turkish accord averting a massive battle for the Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that the accord is "a good thing" and an "opportunity to seize," despite concerns that it may not work.

Speaking ahead of the UN General Assembly in New York, Le Drian said France supports a push for a UN resolution backing the Idlib accord.

However, he wants to add conditions to link the agreement to a longer term peace process.

PARIS, September 23, 2018 (AP) -- It was America's deadliest battle ever, with 26,000 US soldiers killed, tens of thousands wounded and more ammunition fired than in the whole of the Civil War. The Meuse-Argonne offensive of 1918 was also a great American victory that helped bringing an end to World War I.

A remembrance ceremony will take place on Sunday afternoon in the Meuse-Argonne cemetery, which is surrounded by green fields and forests in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, a village in northeastern France. More than 14,000 graves will be lit with candles to honour those buried there.

On Sunday, volunteers began reading the soldiers' names aloud, while others were in charge of placing candles on all the crosses. Covering 52 hectares (130 acres), Meuse-Argonne is the largest American cemetery in Europe.

William M. Matz, secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) that maintains the site, told The Associated Press that this piece of history must be retold to younger generations.

"I think it's important for their teachers, their parents to bring them to these beautiful sites, let them walk through the rose of crosses, let them look at the walls of remembrance, let them go into the cemetery chapels and let them learn the history of what these men did 100 years ago," he said.

"It's because of their brave deeds, their acts of valor and courage and commitment ... that these young folks are able to live and enjoy the life that they're living," he added.

During seven weeks of combat, 1.2 million American troops led by Gen. John J. Pershing fought to advance on the entrenched positions held by about 450,000 Germans in the Verdun region.

The offensive that started on September 26, 1918, was one of several simultaneous Allied attacks that brought the war which started in 1914 to an end, leading the Germans to retreat and sign the armistice on November 11.

Pershing said "the success stands out as one of the very great achievements in the history of American arms."

At the cemetery, eight wide grave sections with long regular rows of crosses stretch between the trees on the gentle slopes of a hill. On top is a chapel where the names of 954 missing American soldiers, whose bodies were never found or identified, are engraved.

PARIS, Sept 22, 2018 (News Wires) - France still believes that a good deal on Brexit is possible but the country must prepare for the possibility of Britain and the European Union failing to reach an agreement on its divorce from the bloc, a minister said on Saturday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Brexit talks with the EU had hit an impasse, defiantly challenging the bloc to come up with its own plans a day after EU leaders savaged her proposals.

“The British people decided to leave in a (2016) referendum, we respect that. But this choice cannot lead to the EU going bust, unravelling,” Nathalie Loiseau, minister for European affairs, told France Info radio.

“That’s the message we have tried to send for several months now to our British counterparts, who may have thought we were going to say ‘yes’ to whatever deal they came up with.”

Loiseau said May’s so-called Chequers proposals, whereby British goods would enter the EU’s single market freely, were “too negative” and would have led to “unfair competition for European companies”.

She said she still believed a good deal with Britain was possible, but that France should get ready for the possibility of a “no deal” and would introduce legislation in November to that effect.

“We are working on reaching a good deal, that’s where we spend most of our energy. It’s still possible, I believe it is, all the 27 (EU member states) believe it is. But I can’t rule out that we don’t reach an agreement in the end.”

“Let’s imagine we don’t reach an agreement. What we say is we must prepare for that,” she added.

May has said her proposals for future trade with the EU were the only way forward. EU leaders in Salzburg repeated their view that the plans would undermine their cherished single market.

ZURICH, September 20, 2018 (News Wires) - Egypt’s national team have moved up one place in the latest FIFA Men’s Rankings for the month of September after dropping 20 places last month.

The Pharaohs have moved from 65th place to 64th place in the latest rankings and this comes after their dominant 6-0 win against Niger in the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifying matches.

This is definitely an improvement from last month’s rankings after Egypt had dropped out of the top 50, going from 45th to 65th, making them the worst movers in the August rankings.

The 2017 AFCON finalists are still third worldwide between all Arab countries as Morocco and Tunisia get 45th and 23rd place respectively.

Other Arab countries as Algeria and Saudi Arabia have moved down the rankings as both ranked 69th and 71st respectively.

The Pharaohs will continue with their 2019 AFCON qualifying matches next month as they host Swaziland on October 12th.

Belgium have joined world champions France as the joint leaders in the FIFA rankings published on Thursday, the first time in the table's 25-year history that the top spot has been shared.
Roberto Martinez's Belgium collected two wins, including their first in the UEFA Nations League over Iceland earlier this month, to bring them level with France on 1729 points.

France, meanwhile, were held to a goalless draw by Germany in Munich in their Nations League opener before beating the Netherlands 2-1.

The only other change in the top 10 saw Denmark slip down to 10th spot, below Spain.

Following their disappointing group-stage exit at the World Cup, Germany have climbed a further three positions and now sit 12th.

Kenya were the biggest movers as they earned 22 points to move up five places to 107th. Those points came courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Ghana in 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier.

CAIRO, Sept 19, 2018 (MENA) - Minister of Trade and Industry Amr Nassar conferred here Wednesday with Head of the Egyptian side at the Egyptian-French Business Council Fouad Yunis on ways to activate the council's role in promoting economic Egyptian-French relations and expanding cooperation in trade and industrial domains.

In statements, Nassar said the council focuses on attracting French investments to Egypt in the various fields and increasing Egypt's exports to French markets, noting that French investments in Egypt currently stand at 4 billion euros in 150 projects.

"It is necessary to make the best use of the council's activities for the best interests of both nations particularly that France is one of Egypt's key European trade partners," the minister said, asserting the need to promote the council's role in pushing forward inter-trade and encouraging the French private sector to establish new investment projects in different domains in Egypt.

The two sides reviewed preparations for holding the Egyptian fashion week in 2020 to become one of the key fashion events worldwide that promotes Egyptian brands and expands their agents in the Arab and foreign countries.

"The Egyptian government seeks to restore the country's weight in the weaving, textile and ready-to-wear garments through upgrading designs and the textile and clothing industries," he said.

Yunis stressed that the council seeks to play an active role in enhancing economic cooperation between the two countries which would eventually reflect positively on inter-trade and joint investment rates.

The council exerts great efforts to launch a navigation line between Alexandria and Marseilles ports to serve trade between the two countries, he added.

WASHINGTON, Sept 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Playing in the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, Paris, Sept. 25-30 will be the culmination of an amazing comeback season for Tiger Woods, one the 14-time major champion feared might never happen after back surgery.

The 42-year-old American has shown flashes of the form that made him golf's dominant player in younger days in his first campaign after spinal fusion surgery, a last-gasp operation to try and extend his legendary career.

“It was a last-ditch effort,” Woods said. “I tried everything else because fusion is the last-ditch effort and nothing beyond that. So didn't know what my playing career would be like. This is all uncharted territory.”

So far, Woods' performances are steadily improving and the medical charts are showing no back issues after years of nagging problems.

Woods has hit drives longer than his youthful days, led the British Open in the final round in July, finished second in last month's PGA Championship and fired a 62 earlier this month, his lowest US PGA opening round since the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic.

And the former world number one achieved his goal of securing a Ryder Cup captain's pick from Jim Furyk, who pulled him from a planned assistant captain's role after seeing the quality of his game.

“Deep down, I wanted to make the team. I really wanted to play on it,” Woods said. “I had not started playing golf really yet, but still, it was a goal at the end of the season to make this team.

“As the year progressed, I gained some traction and was somehow able to get some high finishes and lo and behold, I'm a part of this team. It's incredible, it really is, to look back at the start of the year and to have accomplished a goal like that. To be a player is just beyond special.”

Woods still hasn't won a major since the 2008 US Open and hasn't won any event in more than five years, but has rediscovered the joy of playing after fears it might never happen again.

“It's about enjoying being back,” Woods said. “Enjoying being able to play golf again. Competing at this level. All of these things at the beginning of the year were all unknowns. It has been one of my best years as a whole.

“To have a winless year, but to go through what I've gone through - I didn't know if I was ever going to play again, I was just hoping to be able to play with my kids and golf with my buddies at home - this has been a blessing.

“It has been so special to have this opportunity again. I'm certainly not taking it for granted, that's for sure.”

Woods went into spinal fusion fearing his chronic back pain might linger for life.

“I had resigned (myself) to it because I had lived in a pretty difficult situation for a while. I just wanted the pain to go away,” Woods said. “It was painful sitting, laying, moving, anything. It was just constant pain in my back and down my leg.

“Anything beyond that was going to be a plus considering where I was coming from, and so to get to where I'm at, I never thought that was going to happen.”

Now Woods, who had 79 career PGA titles, hasn't given up his quest to reach the record 18 major wins of Jack Nicklaus or Sam Snead's all-time PGA mark of 82.

“In order to get to Jack's record, I have to pass Snead's record. Just simple math,” Woods said. “And I want to make that happen. I'm close. I have been close to winning tournaments this year. I think if I keep giving myself opportunities, I'll get the job done.

“I feel my next wins are coming soon. How soon, I don't know, but I'm putting myself in tournaments now so I'm not that far away from getting it done.”

Woods, whose first major title came at the 1997 Masters, has seen huge support from crowds at events, his amazing shotmaking at an older age sparking roars and cheers rivaling those of his youth.

“People are more appreciative,” Woods said. “They know that I'm at the tail end of my career and I don't know how many more years I have left. I'm certainly not like I was when I was 22 - 42, it's a different ballgame.”

And, Woods says, people can relate more to fighting back pain than superb golf heroics.

“Everyone has got aches and pains,” he said. And whether you've had kids or not, you get to your 40s, you're feeling it, and I'm not the only one.”

 

 

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