All About: Eritrea human rights, NATO, Sistine Chapel Choir, Brexit advice papers
Pope Francis has authorized an investigation into possible financial irregularities in the world-renowned Sistine Chapel Choir, the Vatican said on Wednesday.
U.S. diplomat says Eritrea human rights record is still a concern
The top U.S. diplomat for Africa welcomed a rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea ending two decades of hostility but said concerns over Eritrea's human rights record hindered cooperation with Washington. The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea re-opened crossing points on their shared border for the first time in 20 years on Tuesday, raising hopes of reduced tensions in the region.
U.S. Republicans seek sanctions on Iraqi militias with Iran ties
Republican U.S. senators plan to introduce legislation on Wednesday seeking to counteract what they see as Iran's increasing influence in Iraq, amid concern about attacks in Iraq by groups U.S. officials consider Iranian proxies, a Senate aide said on Wednesday. Among other things, the bill, whose text was seen by Reuters, would impose terrorism-related sanctions on Iranian-controlled militias and require the U.S. Secretary of State to publish and maintain a list of armed groups receiving assistance from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.
European NATO jets showcase unified Russian deterrence
British, French and German fighter jets simulated flight interceptions over Western Europe on Wednesday as part of NATO drills to deter Russian planes from entering allied airspace and to showcase European efforts to integrate their air defenses. Fighter pilots carrying air-to-air missiles from 10 NATO nations took turns to simulate the interception of a Belgian air force transport plane en route to Spain, performing visual inspections of the aircraft's status by hovering off the wings at speeds of 900 km/hour (560 mph).
Sistine Chapel Choir under financial investigation: Vatican
Pope Francis has authorized an investigation into possible financial irregularities in the world-renowned Sistine Chapel Choir, the Vatican said on Wednesday. The Vatican issued a statement confirming an investigation hours after a report in La Stampa newspaper about the choir, one of the world's oldest singing groups.
Protests dash Iraqi PM's chances of new term, hit U.S. hopes of shaping government
Violent protests in the Iraqi city of Basra have all but ended U.S.-backed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's chances of winning a second term and shattered Washington's hopes of shaping the next government. Fifteen people have been killed protesting against power cuts, polluted water, poor services and perceived corruption in Iraq's second city, many of them in clashes with security forces.
Britain to publish next batch of 'no deal' Brexit advice papers
Britain will publish the second batch of papers on Thursday giving the public and businesses advice on coping with disruption in case the country leaves the European Union next year with no deal on future relations with the bloc. Mobile phone roaming charges, environmental and vehicle standards will be among the topics covered by the technical notices, the government's Brexit department said in a statement.
Pompeo says Saudi, UAE trying to avoid civilian harm in Yemen
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that he certified to Congress that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were working to reduce civilian casualties in Yemen, avoiding a limitation on U.S. help for its ally Saudi Arabia. Without the certification, U.S. tanker aircraft would have been restricted in the refueling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft conducting strikes against Houthi rebels backed by Iran.
Special forces presence at anti-graft protest angers Guatemalans
Guatemala deployed members of the feared Kaibil special forces unit on Wednesday to stop protesters from interrupting a session of parliament, triggering anger among opposition leaders who say President Jimmy Morales is using the military to cow critics. The deployment of thousands of police and soldiers was the latest example of Morales resorting to displays of military strength since he announced the shuttering of a U.N.-backed anti-graft commission late last month.
Colombia's ELN rebel group on Wednesday freed six more hostages it seized last month, the guerrillas and the government said, as right-wing President Ivan Duque evaluates whether to resume peace negotiations with the insurgents. Duque, who took office on Aug. 7, has said the Marxist rebels need to free a total of 19 hostages they have been holding and halt criminal activity like drug trafficking before he will restart the negotiations, which began with the previous government 18 months ago.
Former El Salvador president sentenced to 10 years in prison
An El Salvador tribunal sentenced former President Antonio Saca to 10 years in prison on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to embezzlement and money laundering charges involving more than $300 million of public funds. Saca, 53, pleaded guilty to the charges last month. His lawyer said at the time that he had pleaded guilty in exchange for a reduction in his prison sentence.