More than $450 million has been raised by a donors’ conference in Ethiopia for the military campaign against Islamist extremists in Mali, an African Union official said Tuesday. Ramtane Lamamra said that nations gathered at the African Union’s headquarters in Ethiopia pledged $455.5 million. The African-led Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) called for an initial budget of $461 million. Additional support required by the Malian army and the West African bloc ECOWAS raised the overall financial need to nearly $960 million.
Japanese PM ‘open’ to holding economic summit with China
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that he was open to the possibility of meeting with Chinese leaders to rebuild economic ties damaged by a recent territorial dispute. “We should hold the summit between leaders and have high-level talks,” Reuters quoted Abe as saying on television. Maintaining strong economic ties is vital for both countries, the conservative premier said. However, he also reiterated Japan’s stance on its ownership of the disputed islands: “The Senkaku Islands are our land and China has taken provocative steps against them,” he said, adding that “there is no room for negotiation on this matter.”
Myanmar abolishes ban on public gatherings
Myanmar’s reformist government has abolished a 25-year-old ban on public gatherings of more than five people. The ban was enacted in 1988, on the day a military junta took power after crushing nationwide pro-democracy protests. Order No. 2/88 has been abrogated as it was not in line with the constitution, state-run newspaper Myanma Ahlin said Tuesday. The ban had been applied selectively to crush dissent, until the elected government of President Thein Sein took office in 2011.
Kurdish militants to halt Turkey hostilities in February – report
Kurdish militants are expected to announce in February a ceasefire in hostilities against Turkey, Hurriyet daily said Tuesday. The truce is part of the timetable for a peace process aimed at ending a 28-year-old insurgency. Around 100 fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group will disarm and withdraw from Turkish territory as an initial confidence-building step, the paper reported. Turkish intelligence officials began talks with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in late 2012, and negotiations had also been held with the PKK in northern Iraq. More than 40,000 people have been killed since the rebels took up arms in 1984 to carve out a Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey.