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‘Trust is like love,’ it must be earned, Macron says after Biden meet

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October 29, 2021

By Jeff Mason and Michel Rose

ROME (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden said his government’s handling of a security agreement with Australia and Britain had been “clumsy” and sought to turn the page during his first meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron since a diplomatic crisis last month between Washington and its oldest ally.

The two leaders shared warm words, and friendly body language, but Macron said later that France’s trust needed to be regained by deeds, not words.

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The relationship came under strain over the U.S.-Australia security alliance, known as AUKUS, which also includes the United Kingdom. It included a submarine sale agreement with Australia that effectively canceled a 2016 Australian-French submarine deal.

The U.S. decision to secretly negotiate https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/aukus-deal-ensure-peace-security-indo-pacific-says-us-admiral-2021-10-14 drew outrage from Paris. France temporarily recalled its ambassador from Washington, canceled a gala in the U.S. capital and officials accused Biden https://www.reuters.com/world/us-move-dislodge-france-australia-submarine-deal-is-incoherent-french-ministers-2021-09-15 of acting like former President Donald Trump.

“I think what happened was, to use an English phrase, what we did was clumsy. It was not done with a lot of grace,” Biden said. “I was under the impression certain things had happened that hadn’t happened. And – but I want to make it clear: France is an extremely, extremely valued partner – extremely – and a power in and of itself.”

Biden also noted the United States does not have an older and more loyal ally than France and said there is no place where the two nations cannot cooperate.

“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through. I, honest to God, did not know you had not been,” Biden told Macron.

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Macron said his meeting with Biden was “important” and that it was essential to “look to the future” as his country and the United States work to mend fences.

Biden and Macron showed warm body language, with clasped hands and arms on each others’ backs when they greeted one another. They shook hands a few times while journalists watched the beginning of their meeting.

“What really matters now is what we will do together in the coming weeks, the coming months, the coming years,” Macron said.

‘PROOF IS BETTER’

Macron told reporters afterward that the meeting with Biden had been helpful, with a “strong” U.S. commitment about European defense, but what happened next was important.

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“Trust is like love: Declarations are good, but proof is better,” Macron said.

A senior U.S. administration official said after the meeting that the two sides were “moving forward” in their relationship and, after difficult conversations in September and October, talks were now more engaging.

Biden and Macron had a discussion about the rise of China and the questions that poses for democracies and market economies, the official said. They also discussed Iran, supply chains, steel and aluminum tariffs and trade.

The two nations issued a lengthy joint statement after the meeting painting themselves as global democratic partners in the fight against a range of challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis and ensuring the “indivisible security” of the NATO alliance.

Washington has taken several steps to fix the relationship with Paris since the rift last month.

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Biden and Macron spoke to each other https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/biden-macron-discuss-european-defense-will-meet-rome-white-house-2021-10-22 last week. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also visited Paris, where he acknowledged the United States could have “communicated better.” Vice President Kamala Harris also announced that she would travel to Paris in November and meet with Macron.

Biden and Macron met at the Villa Bonaparte, the French embassy to the Vatican, which a French diplomat said was a significant mark of goodwill from Biden.

“It’s an important gesture,” the French diplomat said, adding that the United States recognized that it had underestimated the impact of its actions.

France now wants to see if Biden follows his words with actions. “Trust is being rebuilt. This is one step. Tokens of goodwill were given, we’ll see whether they follow through over the long term,” the diplomat said.

Biden and Macron are in Rome for the Group of 20 summit of world leaders, which opens on Saturday.

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(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Michel Rose in Rome, Writing by Nandita Bose and Patricia Zengerle in Washington, Editing by Franklin Paul, Heather Timmons, David Gregorio, Marguerita Choy and Daniel Wallis)

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Russian court remands mine director, inspectors in custody after deadly accident

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November 27, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A court in Siberia on Saturday remanded five people in custody for two months to face charges related to a mining accident that killed more than 50 people this week.

Three managers of the Listvyazhnaya mine, including its director, were ordered to remain in custody until late January for flouting industrial safety standards, a spokesperson for the regional prosecutor’s office said.

The court also ordered two safety inspectors, who had issued a certificate for the mine this month but had not actually checked the facility, to remain in custody until late January.

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The accident, which regional authorities say was likely caused by a methane explosion, claimed the lives of 51 people, including five rescuers who were sent to bring out dozens of men stuck deep underground.

The health ministry said on Saturday that 60 people were being treated in hospital for injuries sustained at the mine, TASS news agency reported.

The accident at the mine, located some 3,500 km (2,200 miles) east of Moscow in the Kemerovo region, was Russia’s worst since 2010 when explosions killed 91 people at the Raspadskaya mine in the same region.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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Russia spy chief says Ukraine invasion plan ‘malicious’ U.S. propaganda

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November 27, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine and suggestions to the contrary are malicious U.S. propaganda, Moscow’s foreign intelligence chief said on Saturday.

U.S., NATO and Ukrainian officials have raised the alarm in recent weeks over what they say are unusual Russian troop movements near the border with Ukraine, suggesting that Moscow may be poised to launch an attack.

Russia has repeatedly said it is free to move its troops on its own territory and that such movements should not be a cause for concern.

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“I need to reassure everyone. Nothing like this is going to happen,” Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, said in an interview broadcast on state television, referring to comments on Russia’s alleged invasion plans.

“Everything that is happening around this topic right now is of course malicious propaganda by the U.S. State Department.”

Naryshkin spoke a day after the State Department’s top U.S. diplomat for European affairs said all options were on the table in how to respond to Russia’s troop buildup near Ukraine’s border and that NATO would decide on the next move after consultations next week.

While U.S. officials have voiced concerns about a possible Russian attack on Ukraine, Moscow has accused Washington, Kyiv and NATO of provocative and irresponsible behaviour near its borders.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Spanish police march in Madrid to protest against ‘Gag Law’ reform

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November 27, 2021

By Miguel Gutierrez and Marco Trujillo

MADRID (Reuters) – Thousands of Spanish police officers marched through Madrid on Saturday to protest against a proposed reform of a security law which they say will hamper their ability to do their work.

Politicians from Spain’s three main conservative parties joined police officers in the protest against proposed changes to the 2015 Citizens Security Law, which critics say violates the right to protest and limits free expression.

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Dubbed the “Gag Law” by those who oppose it, the legislation allows authorities to fine media organisations for distributing unauthorised images of police, strictly limits demonstrations and imposes heavy fines for offenders.

Spain’s leftist government has proposed reforms including no longer classifying the taking of photographs or making of recordings of police at demonstrations as a serious offence.

Under the changes, police will also have to use less harmful materials at protests after a number of people were seriously injured by rubber bullets fired by officers.

The time that suspects who are arrested at protests can be held in custody will be cut from six hours to two and fines will be proportional to how much offenders earn.

“They should either leave the current law as it is or make it better for the police and for the citizens,” Civil Guard officer Vanessa Gonzalez told Reuters.

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Ivan Espinosa de los Monteros, of the far-right Vox party, said: “There is strong opposition against (the reform) of this law. It is against our police and we will not let it happen.”

However, Isa Serra, spokeswoman for the far-left Unidas Podemos party, said at a rally in Cantabria in northern Spain that the law had done a “lot of damage to Spanish democracy”.

Organisers said 150,000 people took part in the Madrid demonstration but the government put the figure at 20,000.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley, Miguel Gutierrez and Marco Trujillo; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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