- - Sunday, October 31, 2010

UNITED KINGDOM

Britain, France on verge of partnership

LONDON | Britain and France are to announce on Tuesday an unprecedented partnership on defense in a bid to allow two medium-sized powers to remain global players, officials and diplomats said.

Economic austerity appears to have achieved what years of diplomacy have failed to do by forcing the historic rivals to work together.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron have expressed their determination to open a new chapter in cooperation, although officials from both countries stress that national sovereignty will be preserved.

At the Franco-British summit in London on Tuesday, “this relationship will be taken to a new level — the closest it has ever been,” British Defense Secretary Liam Fox wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

SPAIN

Basque separatist group dwinding

MADRID | Europe’s last big violent political militancy has been decimated by arrests and dwindling support. Its outlawed political wing wants to create a party that rejects violence and turn its leaders into legitimate politicians.

This whirlwind of events in recent weeks has sparked a raging debate across Spain: Is this the beginning of the end for the Basque separatist group ETA?

The armed movement has not killed anyone in Spain in more than a year, and it declared a cease-fire in September. Although nearly a dozen such truces have come and gone over the years, with hopes dashed by more bloodshed and tears, this time something bigger and potentially historic might be afoot.

ETA “has never been as weak and cornered as it is now,” Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez told the parliament last week. “The end of ETA is near.”

Besides ridding Europe of its last major separatist group, ETA’s disappearance could rescue a socialist government that is struggling with a nearly 20 percent jobless rate and a crippling debt crisis — and trailing conservatives badly in the polls with general elections 18 months away.

DENMARK

Party calls for ban on Arab TV channels

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