German police probe Syrian student over bomb plot

Berlin – German police are investigating a Syrian doctorate student in detention for having allegedly planned a bomb attack, reports say.

The 36-year-old man was previously already probed over suspected ties to the Islamic State group, said public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk.

Prosecutors have broadened their investigation after finding bomb-making instructions in his possession.

The suspect, who was studying for a doctorate at western Germany’s Darmstadt Technical University, was detained last year over a video broadcast online in which he allegedly voiced his support for ISIS.

Investigators had confiscated his mobile phone and other electronic devices and subsequently found the bomb-building instructions.

But his lawyer has argued that the man downloaded those instructions in 2014 and that this did not qualify as proof he was planning an attack.

Germany is on high alert for jihadist attacks following a string of assaults last year, the deadliest of which was an ISIS-claimed December 19 truck rampage through a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people.

New German foreign minister to meet Trump administration next week: report

Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, enjoyed a close relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. When Trump won the White House race in November, Merkel pointedly offered to work closely with him on the basis of values of democracy, freedom and respect for the law.
Gabriel, a Social Democrat and a frequent critic of Trump, will meet with Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s designated secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, Handelsblatt reported, citing government sources.
Gabriel left his job as economics minister and replaced Frank-Walter Steinmeier as foreign minister in a ceremony on Friday.
A source told Reuters Merkel was likely to speak with Trump on Saturday, with the conversation likely to centre on Russia.
It was unclear if Trump would discuss a possible lifting of the U.S. sanctions that were imposed on Russia in the wake of its intervention in Ukraine.
Gabriel and his Social Democrats historically favor more dialogue with Moscow and have been more open to the idea of gradually reducing sanctions than Merkel and her conservative Christian Democrats.
Gabriel will begin his new post with a short trip to France on Saturday, officials said.

Germany vows to fight xenophobia after attacks on refugee home

Germany’s interior minister led calls on Sunday for a crackdown on right wing militants and racists after a second night of scuffles between protesters and police outside a refugee shelter in the eastern German town of Heidenau.

Just one day after 31 police officers were hurt in violent protests against the asylum seekers, a Reuters photographer on Saturday night saw some 200 mostly drunk militants in Heidenau throwing fireworks and bottles at police.

Some shouted “Heil Hitler”.

As Europe struggles with an influx of migrants fleeing war in countries such as Syria and Iraq, German politicians are worried about the financial and social effects on their country, the EU’s biggest recipient of refugees.

Germany, which has relatively liberal asylum laws, expects the number of refugees to quadruple this year to 800 000, almost one percent of the population. Chancellor Angela Merkel says the issue is a bigger problem for Europe than Greece’s debt crisis.

Interior Minster Thomas de Maiziere has described the situation as a big challenge and condemned attacks on refugees.

“At the same time as a we see a wave of people wanting to help, we have a rise in hate, insults and violence against asylum seekers. That is obscene and unworthy of our country,” de Maiziere told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“Anyone who acts like that faces the full force of the law.”

Justice Minister Heiko Maas responded to the Heidenau riot by saying there was zero tolerance for xenophobia or racism.

Many politicians have warned about a rise in hostility towards foreigners and, in the first half of the year alone, some 150 arson or other attacks were recorded on refugee shelters.

With some in Merkel’s party wanting to curb benefits offered to asylum seekers and pushing for other EU states to take more of the burden, Merkel faces a delicate political balancing act.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the Social Democrats who share power with Merkel’s conservatives, on Sunday called for a tripling of the money municipalities get for accommodation, medical care and education for refugees.

Other politicians called for a speeding up of the processing of asylum applications, which currently takes about eight months on average. More than one third of asylum seekers in Germany are from southeastern European countries such as Albania and Serbia.

Police Cars Burned at German Austerity Protest

Demonstrators set at least two police cars on fire Wednesday as authorities confronted left-wing anti-austerity protesters trying to blockade the inauguration ceremony for the European Central Bank’s new headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.

Police said one officer was injured by stones thrown by demonstrators near the city’s Alte Oper opera house.

Police put up barricades and barbed wire around the ECB headquarters as they braced for demonstrations against government austerity measures and capitalism. Protesters targeted the ECB because of the bank’s role in supervising efforts to restrain spending and reduce debt in financially troubled countries such as Greece.

The Blockupy alliance says activists plan to try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB ahead of a ceremony Wednesday inaugurating the building, and to disrupt what they term capitalist business as usual.

Some 10,000 people were expected for a rally in Frankfurt’s main square, the Roemerberg. Organizers have chartered a special train bringing demonstrators from Berlin and are busing in others from around Germany and other European countries.

Frankfurt police say most demonstrators are expected to be peaceful, but that violence-prone elements could use the crowds as cover.

The ECB, along with the European Commission and International Monetary Fund, is part of the so-called “troika” that monitors compliance with the conditions of bailout loans for Greece and other financially troubled countries in Europe. Those conditions include spending cuts and reducing deficits, moves that are aimed at reducing debt but have also been blamed for high unemployment and slow growth.

Greece’s new left-wing government blames such policies for a “humanitarian crisis” leading to poverty for pensioners and the unemployed.

ECB President Mario Draghi has called for more spending by governments that are in good financial shape such as Germany – a call that has been mostly ignored by elected officials.

The ECB says it plans to be “fully operational” during the protest, although some employees may work from home.

Anti-Islam protests to be held across Germany

Berlin – Anti-Islam and anti-refugee protesters are expected to take to the streets across Germany on Monday, hoping to boost their ranks after last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

The weekly demonstrations organized by Pegida, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, have been steadily swelling since they were launched about three months ago. About 18 000 people marched in Dresden – the focus of the protests – a week ago.

Protests are also set to be held on Monday in other parts of the country, including in Hanover and Kassel, as well in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own eastern German electorate.

Authorities in Dusseldorf plan to turn off all the lights in the town hall on Monday to distance the western German city from Pegida.

Counter demonstrations are also planned by Pegida opponents, who turned out in large numbers a week ago to make a stand against the anti-Islam and anti-refugees rallies.

The weekly Pegida protests are being closely followed by European governments concerned about a backlash against Muslims after last week’s massacre by Islamist gunmen at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris.

No Ukraine summit without progress on peace plan, Merkel tells Putin

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone on Saturday that a four-way summit to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine would not take place until there was real progress on the Minsk peace plan.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement after the phone call that Merkel welcomed Russian efforts to find a solution to the crisis.

However the chancellor told Putin that a summit by leaders from France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana or another city could not be confirmed at this stage, he added.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has invited the leaders of Russia, France and Germany to talks in Astana on Jan. 15 in an attempt to restore peace.

But Germany and France have already raised doubts on whether such a four-way summit can take place without further progress on the Minsk peace plan which was agreed on in September.

The foreign ministers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine will meet in Berlin on Monday to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine and the implementation of the 12-point protocol.

Merkel’s spokesman said the chancellor told Putin that all sides needed to make their contribution to implement the peace plan. “That includes that Russia uses its influence on the separatists in order to reach consensual solutions,” he said.

In a separate phone call, Merkel discussed the situation in Ukraine also with Poroshenko, the spokesman said.

A four-way summit would only make sense if there was a substantial improvement on important points like a ceasefire and a demarcation line between the Ukraine-Russia border, Merkel told Poroshenko, according to the statement.

More than 4,700 people have been killed in fighting between Kiev’s forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine since last April. The conflict has provoked the worst crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

Large rally against racism and xenophobia in Dresden in Germany

Thousands of people have taken part in a rally against racism and xenophobia in Dresden.

This is the eastern German city where weekly gatherings have been held by a grassroots anti-immigration movement known as PEGIDA.

Saturday’s counter-demonstration was organised by the state government and the city of Dresden.

The State Premier of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, told the crowd: “Three days ago in Paris 12 people were brutally killed by Islamist fanatics during an attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

“It is defamatory to vilify all Muslims in Europe as enemies of democracy for this isolated terrorist attack, and we will not allow that.”

It is estimated that 35,000 people took part in the rally. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also condemned the anti-immigration movement that meets on Monday nights.

This anti-racism protester said: “I have seen what the world has seen, and yes, it hurts. However I do not want the grief over the events that took place in Paris to be used by the wrong side.”

Fires break out at German refugee site

Berlin – Security at asylum sites in Bavaria was being stepped up on Friday after fires broke out at three empty buildings earmarked to house asylum seekers, and anti-foreigner slogans and swastikas were painted at one site.

The fires broke out late on Thursday evening in Vorra, in southern Germany near Nuremberg, and police said they were treating it as an arson case.

There was no one in the buildings at the time. The blazes were extinguished quickly but one firefighter was slightly injured.

“We will do everything to identify the perpetrators,” Bavaria’s interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, told Bavarian radio, adding that he plans to increase security at other facilities for asylum seekers.

If an anti-foreigner motive is confirmed, “these arson attacks are abhorrent acts that the chancellor condemns in the strongest terms”, said Christiane Wirtz, a spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany has seen a surge in asylum applications this year, partly because of the war in Syria, and cities and rural communities have been struggling to provide housing for the influx.

There also has been mounting concern in recent weeks over rallies in several cities by groups protesting what they call “the Islamisation of the West”.

“There’s no room for Islamophobia or anti-Semitism, for hatred of foreigners or racism [in Germany],” Wirtz said. “The chancellor condemns such tendencies in the strongest possible terms.”

Germany: CIA torture violated democratic values

Berlin – Germany said on Wednesday the CIA torture detailed in a US Senate report was “a gross violation of our liberal, democratic values” that must never happen again and “a serious mistake”.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised the administration of US President Barack Obama for declassifying the information, calling it a transparent move that marked a clear break with his predecessor George W Bush.

“What was then considered right and done in the fight against Islamist terrorism was unacceptable and a serious mistake,” said Steinmeier, a centre-left Social Democrat.

“Such a gross violation of our liberal, democratic values must not happen again,” he was quoted as telling the Thursday edition of the top-selling Bild newspaper.

“President Obama has made a clear break with the policies of his predecessor. Washington’s new openness in admitting mistakes and promising publicly that something like this will never happen again are an important step which we welcome.”

The US Senate said in a report that CIA torture of al-Qaeda suspects was far more brutal than acknowledged and failed to produce useful intelligence. The United Nations said the programme violated international law and basic human rights.

Court throws out Nazi massacre case

Berlin – A German court on Tuesday threw out the case against an 89-year-old former soldier over the Nazis’ worst atrocity on French soil, the 1944 massacre in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane.

The regional court in the western city of Cologne, citing a lack of evidence, said it would not try the unnamed pensioner who was charged in January with the murder of 25 people committed by a group, and with aiding and abetting the murder of several hundred people.

SS troops slaughtered 642 people in the tiny village in western France on June 10, 1944, in a horrific World War II crime that deeply scarred the French nation.

“The court was obliged to examine whether the available evidence would likely be sufficient to prove the crimes with which he had been charged in a trial,” it said.

“The court determined with today’s decision that this was not the case.”

The court said both the prosecution as well as co-plaintiffs representing victims’ families had the right to appeal the ruling within a week.

The accused, who was 19 at the time, had acknowledged that he was in Oradour-sur-Glane and a member of the SS but disputed any involvement in the murders.

The male victims were mowed down with machine guns in a barn, with any survivors shot at close range with pistols before the barn was set ablaze.

Prosecutors had said that the suspect then went to the village church where several hundred women and children were being held prisoner.

Members of the unit used explosives, automatic weapons and hand grenades to kill many of them, then set the church on fire.

The suspect was accused of abetting the murder by either assuming blockade and surveillance duties within sight of the church or carrying flammable material to the church, prosecutors said.

Among the 642 victims in the village were 254 women and 207 children.

The charges were part of a twilight bid by the German justice system to prosecute crimes committed by the Nazis.

Germany in 2010 reopened a war crimes case into the Oradour-sur-Glane attack when a historian discovered documents implicating six suspects in their 80s.

Prosecutors eventually identified 12 members of the regiment who were still alive after trawling through files of the Stasi secret police in the former communist east that came to light after German reunification in 1990.

Probes were opened against seven of them but prosecutor Andreas Brendel, head of the central Nazi war crimes investigation unit in the western city of Dortmund, told GNR Tuesday that none of the other suspects had been charged.

The other five soldiers have already served sentences in France.

Brendel said he was “surprised” by the Cologne court’s decision and that he would consider filing an appeal.

But he admitted the evidence in such cases was generally “extremely thin”.

The advanced age of the suspects and the difficulty of establishing criminal proof seven decades on has meant that few defendants have gone on to face prison time.

The killings came four days after the D-Day landing of Allied troops in Normandy and amid rumours that a Waffen-SS officer had been captured by a unit of the French resistance.

Last year the presidents of Germany and France made a joint visit to Oradour-sur-Glane and joined hands with a survivor of the massacre in a historic moment of reconciliation.

The village has been a ghost town ever since the atrocity, deliberately preserved in its ravaged state as a memorial to those who died on one of the darkest days of World War II.

German couple murdered in Trinidad

Port of Spain – An elderly German couple was found murdered on a beach near their home in the southern Caribbean island of Tobago on Saturday, according to police.

The bodies of 74 year old Conrad Keale and his 71 year old wife Bridgette Keale bore marks of violence, police said.

A television report said the bodies appeared to have chop wounds. Police said the couple, regular visitors to the tourist island that is part of Trinidad and Tobago, arrived on October 25. They had been staying at their home in Bacolet on the south west coast.

They were last seen alive on Friday evening. Police said a gardener arrived at their home on Saturday morning and when he could not find them, went to a nearby beach, where he discovered the body of Bridgette Keale.

The police were called and the second body was found on the same beach.

The murders are reminiscent of another double slaying in October 2008 of an elderly Swedish couple, 73-year-old Ake Olsson and his 62-year old companion Anna Sundsval.

Their mutilated bodies were found in a villa which they owned.

Tobago, with a population of about 60 000, is a popular holiday destination for Europeans particularly Germans and British.

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Germany to drop probe into US spying on Merkel

Berlin – Germany is dropping a probe into the alleged tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone by US spies, due to a lack of evidence, magazine Focus said Saturday.

Six months after the investigation began, the experts have failed to find any solid proof to back the case, and have therefore recommended that it be dropped, the magazine reported, quoting sources close to the German justice ministry.

“The result [of the probe] is almost zilch. A lot of hot air, but nothing done,” one source was quoted as saying.

According to sources close to the judiciary, the federal prosecutor will heed the experts’ recommendation to drop the probe.

In June, German justice had announced that a case had been opened into the alleged spying by foreign intelligence services on German soil.

Documents leaked by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden showing rampant spying on German citizens’ telephone conversations and internet exchanges had sparked outrage in the European country.

Privacy issues are particularly sensitive in Germany, as bitterness lingers over mass state spying on citizens by the Stasi secret police in former communist East Germany where Merkel grew up.

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German ex-soldier charged with US cocaine conspiracy

New York – A German former soldier extradited from Estonia appeared in court in New York on Thursday charged with conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine on board an aircraft, prosecutors said.

Michael Filter arrived in New York on Wednesday, 15 months after three US and German co-defendants were charged with plotting to kill a US drug enforcement agent and an informant in what prosecutors called a “bone-chilling” murder-for-hire scheme.

A fourth co-defendant, Slawomir Soborski of Poland, was extradited to the United States in April, but neither he nor Filter are wanted in connection with the murder-for-hire plot.

The case is set to go to trial on 9 March.

The group of former German, Polish and US soldiers were charged after a sting operation in which investigators taped conversations between the accused and sources posing as drug traffickers.

Authorities say the ring leader was Joseph Hunter, a former US Army sergeant who served as a sniper instructor during his 21-year stint in the military and who sometimes went by the nickname “Rambo.”

Hunter allegedly acted as a contract killer for years, according to the indictment, and on clandestine recordings recounted how he arranged murders or “bonus jobs” for real estate agents.

Authorities allege Hunter recruited the team of four former soldiers, including Filter and Soborski, who had been trained as snipers to protect cocaine shipments by air to New York.

Hunter and two other ex-soldiers also agreed to murder a drug enforcement agent and an informer, in return for pay from what they believed was a drug trafficking gang, the indictment said.

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Ebola-infected UN worker dies in Germany

A UN employee from Liberia who was transported to the eastern German city of Leipzig after contracting Ebola died overnight, the hospital said on Tuesday.

The 56-year-old man had been transported to St Georg hospital in Leipzig on October 9 for treatment.

He had arrived in a modified Gulfstream jet equipped with an isolation chamber, and was met by a medical team in biohazard suits and two ambulances.

The hospital has six rooms in its tropical medicine clinic. Hospital authorities said there is no risk of further infection.

Another Ebola patient, from Uganda, remains in a hospital in Frankfurt, and a third, from Senegal, was released in good health from a Hamburg clinic after five weeks’ treatment.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the death toll resulting from the worst outbreak of Ebola on record to have reached 4 033.

In Liberia, the hardest-hit West African country, 2 316 people have died.

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Trade, Hong Kong on agenda at Germany-China talks

BERLIN — Economic ties between Germany and China topped the agenda at a high-level meeting Friday between the two countries’ governments, with human rights and the situation in Hong Kong expected be raised behind closed doors.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang were scheduled to sign an accord aimed at expanding bilateral business ties between Europe and Asia’s biggest economies

China, which overtook Germany as the world’s leading exporter in 2009, is a key market for Germany even as its growth cools. China was Germany’s No. 3 trading partner last year and its biggest outside Europe, with trade totaling 140.7 billion euros ($179 billion).

In a weekly video message Saturday, Merkel called for freedom of speech to be protected in Hong Kong. Students in the semi-autonomous city have been protesting for weeks against China’s restrictions on the first direct election for Hong Kong’s leader, promised for 2017.

Government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said Germany is also concerned about the detention of a Chinese news assistant working for the Beijing correspondent of a German newspaper.

Zhang Miao was detained on her way to a poetry reading in support of the Hong Kong demonstrations, her employer, the German weekly Die Zeit, said.

Her brother, Zhang Yi, said Friday the family is anxiously waiting for her return. “We don’t think she would have done anything illegal and we hope she can be freed as soon as possible,” he said.

Zhang said neither family members nor his sister’s lawyer have been able to meet her since the Oct. 2 detention.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Wei said Zhang “is suspected of engaging in provoking and causing troubles.”

“This person did not follow China’s relevant regulations in acquiring her status as an employee for the Beijing office of the German news outlet, so the China’s relevant authorities are handling this matter in accordance with law and rules,” he said.

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Iran: West must drop ‘illogical’ nuclear demands

Vienna – Iran said world powers should abandon their “illogical demands” over its nuclear programme, ahead of talks on Thursday to try to bridge wide differences in positions and end the decade-old dispute by late November.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, one of Iran’s chief negotiators, was speaking before a meeting in Vienna with senior officials from the three European members of the group of six world powers involved in the negotiations with Tehran.

The talks between Iran and Britain, France and Germany take place less than a week after Iran and the United States held a bilateral meeting in Geneva. It was not clear when the Vienna talks would begin.

The six powers, also grouping Russia and China, will hold their first full negotiating round with Iran since July on 18 September in New York, seeking to narrow differences over the future size of Iran’s uranium enrichment infrastructure and other issues.

Bilateral meetings

“The talks can yield results if the other party shows goodwill and abandons some of its illogical demands,” Araqchi was quoted as saying in Vienna by Iran’s Fars news agency.

“We hope to reach further understanding through bilateral meetings which will help advancement of the talks in New York.”

Iran denies Western allegations that it is enriching uranium to develop the capability to assemble nuclear weapons, saying its atomic activities are for peaceful energy purposes.

The United States and its allies have imposed sanctions on Iran, a major oil producer, in recent years to make it scale back a nuclear programme they suspect has military links.

After years of escalating tension and fears the stand-off could lead to a new Middle East war, the election last year of Hassan Rouhani, widely seen as a pragmatist, as Iranian president raised hopes of a peaceful settlement.

Interim agreement

Last November in Geneva, Iran and the six powers reached an interim agreement under which Tehran won some sanctions easing in return for halting its most sensitive nuclear work.

But they failed to meet a 20 July target for a comprehensive agreement and set a new deadline of 24 November.

Diplomats say the main stumbling block is disagreement on how many centrifuges Iran should be allowed to keep to refine uranium, with Tehran rejecting demands to significantly reduce the number below the more than 19 000 it now has installed, of which roughly half are operating.

Enriched uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants, which is Iran’s stated aim, but can also provide the fissile core of a nuclear bomb if processed much further.

A Vienna-based diplomat ruled out a new extension of the negotiations if there is no agreement by 24 November, saying it was a “hard deadline”.

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Blast rocks chemical waste plant in Germany

Ritterhude – An explosion rocked a chemical waste facility on Tuesday night near Bremen in northwestern Germany, injuring several people, police said.

Police told the GNR that one person was severely burned in the blast and that the explosion damaged a nearby residential area in the town of Ritterhude, which is in the county of Verden-Osterholz.

About 30 to 40 houses were damaged, some of them only 20m from the facility, as the blast shattered windows. Ripped doors from their frames and tore off roofs, police told GNR. A few houses were in danger of collapsing.

The injured man was found in the rubble and several local residents were slightly injured, police and fire-fighters said.

The 09:00 blast in Ritterhude could be heard for miles and sparked an intense fire.

“We had always looked upon this facility with worry”, Ritterhude’s mayor, Susanne Geils, told GNR.

“We’ve always said that this company is out of place here.”

Marcus Neumann, spokesperson for the local Verden-Osterholz police, said authorities believe the injured man is a plant employee whose car was found outside the plant.

Neumann said the employee responded to an alarm on his beeper, and drove from his home to the plant to investigate. He told GNR that a second employee might be missing.

Neumann said the cause of the blast was not clear, as the site was still not yet accessible to investigators.

It took four hours before fire-fighters could get the blaze under control, and they expected to work on extinguishing it through the morning hours.

The plant is owned by Organo Fluid GmbH, which specialises in recovering valuable solvents from mixtures of solvents.

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Germany offers military aid against IS group

Germany will send enough weapons to arm 4,000 Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq battling against Islamic State group fighters, whose advances threaten to destabilise the Middle East, the defence minister has said.

Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday the equipment will include armour-piercing weapons like anti-tank rockets, thousands of assault rifles, hand grenades, mine-clearing equipment, night-vision goggles, field kitchens and tents.

“The weapons delivery is enough to supply a brigade of 4,000 soldiers,” Leyen said.

Breaking with a post-war policy of not sending arms to conflict zones, Chancellor Angela Merkel says northern Iraq is an “exception” because of the nature of Islamic State’s violence.

“The lives of millions of people, the stability of Iraq and the whole region and … due to the high number of foreign fighters, our security in Germany and Europe are being threatened,” read a government statement after Merkel met some of her ministers to discuss details of the aid to the Kurds.

“It is our humanitarian responsibility and in the interests of our security to help those suffering and to stop the IS.”

Germany, like other European countries, is concerned about the prospect of war-hardened radicalised Muslims returning home and posing a domestic security threat.

Germans join IS 

German intelligence estimates at least 400 Germans have joined the IS group. The head of the domestic intelligence agency says there is evidence that five German citizens and residents have carried out suicide attacks for jihadist in recent months.

Germany has already shipped humanitarian aid to support Iraqi Kurds as well as defensive equipment such as helmets and body armour, but no weapons.

It has sent six soldiers to the general consulate in Arbil, the main city in the Kurdish region, to help coordinate the effort.

The United States is pushing for an international campaign against the IS, which has seized a third each of Iraq and Syria, declared open war against the West and has declared a caliphate in the heart of the Arab world.

Opinion polls suggest the German public has no appetite for getting involved in the conflict and Merkel has made clear she would not send combat troops there.

The delivery will take place in several tranches in safe areas not immediately affected by the war, the government said.

Training on complex weapons will take place in Germany, or if that is not possible, near Arbil or in a third country.

The German opposition has warned the weapons could end up in the wrong hands and parliament will debate the aid on Monday.

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German intel spied on Kerry, Clinton

BERLIN — Germany’s foreign intelligence agency eavesdropped on calls made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton, German magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

The respected news weekly reported that the agency, known by its German acronym BND, tapped a satellite phone conversation Kerry made in 2013 as part of its surveillance of telecommunications in the Middle East. The agency also recorded a conversation between Clinton and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan a year earlier, Der Spiegel claimed.

The magazine didn’t give a source for its information, but said the calls were collected accidentally, that the three officials weren’t directly targeted, and the recordings were ordered destroyed immediately. In Clinton’s case, the call reportedly took place on the same “frequency” as a terror suspect, according to Der Spiegel.

The tapping of Clinton’s call was reported Friday by German public broadcaster ARD and Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

If true, the revelations would be embarrassing for the German government, which has spent months complaining to Washington about alleged American spy activity in Germany. Last year German media reports based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden prompted a sharp rebuke from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was allegedly among the U.S. intelligence agency’s targets.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Berlin declined to comment on the latest reports.

In its report Saturday, Der Spiegel also cited a confidential 2009 BND document listing fellow NATO member Turkey as a target for German intelligence gathering.

The Germany intelligence agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

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Stop sending arms to Ukraine, Merkel urges Putin

Berlin – German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “stop the flow of military equipment, military advisers and armed personnel crossing the border with Ukraine”, in a telephone call on Friday.

During the conversation, Merkel expressed “concern about the situation in eastern Ukraine”, her spokesperson Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

“In order to establish a ceasefire as quickly as possible, the chancellor asked the Russian president to help calm the situation,” the statement said.

Merkel also “expressed hope that the humanitarian convoys reach their destination quickly, to relieve the suffering” in Ukraine.

Summit in Berlin

Kiev and Moscow have been wrangling for days over a Russian convoy that Moscow says is carrying humanitarian aid for besieged rebel-held cities but which Kiev suspects could be a “Trojan horse” to provide military help to the insurgents.

The call comes ahead of a planned summit in Berlin on Sunday that will be attended by foreign ministers from France, Russia, Ukraine and Germany, Seibert said.

It follows a tense day marked by reports of a Russian military incursion into Ukraine, which was immediately denied by Moscow.

Merkel, a fluent Russian speaker, has held regular talks by telephone with Putin, who served as a KGB agent in Dresden during the Cold War, since the Ukraine crisis erupted, urging respect for Ukrainian sovereignty.

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Germany open to sending military aid to Iraq govt

Berlin – Germany’s foreign minister has raised the possibility of sending military assistance to the Iraqi government, saying he would discuss further steps with European partners following a dramatic push by Islamic State militants through northern Iraq.

His comments, along with similar statements from two other ministers, marked a shift in tone from the German government which on Monday said it did not send arms to conflict zones. In the last few months Berlin has announced a more restrictive policy on arms exports and a more muscular foreign policy.

“Humanitarian aid for everyone that needs protection is a matter of course … but we must look whether we can and must do more,” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

Germany is a reluctant partner in international military missions due to its Nazi past.

Islamic State insurgents – radical Islamists who have proclaimed a ‘caliphate’ straddling parts of Iraq and Syria – have swept across northern Iraq, pushing back Kurdish regional forces and driving tens of thousands of minority Yazidis and Christians from their homes.

“This is preparation for a genocide,” said Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel after meeting representatives of the Yazidi people in Berlin.

Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani asked the international community on Sunday to provide the Kurds with weapons to help fight the Islamic State.

“In light of the dramatic situation, I favour going to the limits of what is politically and legally possible,” said Steinmeier, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD) who share power with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He said he wanted a united approach from the European Union which would co-ordinate with the United States. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Washington will consider requests for military and other assistance once prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi forms a government to unite Iraq.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a conservative, said non-lethal military equipment could include armoured vehicles or booby trap detectors, helmets and protective vests. The Iraqi government would be the recipient, she said.

Interviewed by German public broadcaster ARD, von der Leyen said despite a principle not to deliver weapons to conflict and crisis regions: “If we actually see and fear a genocide that no one can stop, then we also have to have the debate in Germany whether we can do more.”

Norbert Roettgen, chairperson of the foreign affairs committee of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, told newspaper Die Welt that delivering weapons would violate the government’s arms export guidelines.

“Departing from those would constitute a radical change in German foreign policy which cannot simply be decided by the government without involving parliament,” he was quoted as saying.

On Monday, Merkel’s spokesperson had stressed that Germany did not send arms to conflict zones. “This is a principle we feel committed to upholding,” he said.

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Germany open to sending military aid to Iraq govt

Berlin – Germany’s foreign minister has raised the possibility of sending military assistance to the Iraqi government, saying he would discuss further steps with European partners following a dramatic push by Islamic State militants through northern Iraq.

His comments, along with similar statements from two other ministers, marked a shift in tone from the German government which on Monday said it did not send arms to conflict zones. In the last few months Berlin has announced a more restrictive policy on arms exports and a more muscular foreign policy.

“Humanitarian aid for everyone that needs protection is a matter of course … but we must look whether we can and must do more,” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

Germany is a reluctant partner in international military missions due to its Nazi past.

Islamic State insurgents – radical Islamists who have proclaimed a ‘caliphate’ straddling parts of Iraq and Syria – have swept across northern Iraq, pushing back Kurdish regional forces and driving tens of thousands of minority Yazidis and Christians from their homes.

“This is preparation for a genocide,” said Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel after meeting representatives of the Yazidi people in Berlin.

Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani asked the international community on Sunday to provide the Kurds with weapons to help fight the Islamic State.

“In light of the dramatic situation, I favour going to the limits of what is politically and legally possible,” said Steinmeier, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD) who share power with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He said he wanted a united approach from the European Union which would co-ordinate with the United States. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Washington will consider requests for military and other assistance once prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi forms a government to unite Iraq.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a conservative, said non-lethal military equipment could include armoured vehicles or booby trap detectors, helmets and protective vests. The Iraqi government would be the recipient, she said.

Interviewed by German public broadcaster ARD, von der Leyen said despite a principle not to deliver weapons to conflict and crisis regions: “If we actually see and fear a genocide that no one can stop, then we also have to have the debate in Germany whether we can do more.”

Norbert Roettgen, chairperson of the foreign affairs committee of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, told newspaper Die Welt that delivering weapons would violate the government’s arms export guidelines.

“Departing from those would constitute a radical change in German foreign policy which cannot simply be decided by the government without involving parliament,” he was quoted as saying.

On Monday, Merkel’s spokesperson had stressed that Germany did not send arms to conflict zones. “This is a principle we feel committed to upholding,” he said.

DISCLAIMER: Gaza-Tshisa News Room [G.N.R] Encourages Freedom Of Speech And The Expression Of Diverse Views.

DISCLAIMER: Gaza-Tshisa News Room [G.N.R] Encourages Freedom Of Speech And The Expression Of Diverse Views.

German synagogue hit by firebomb attack

Wuppertal – Police in Germany arrested an 18-year-old man on Tuesday suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails at the entrance to a synagogue in the western city of Wuppertal.

They are searching for two other suspects who fled the scene of the attack. No one was injured as a result of the firebombing in the early hours of Tuesday, authorities said.

A local resident had alerted police after she noticed material burning on the road.

The police have not released further details of the suspect in custody.

DISCLAIMER: Gaza-Tshisa News Room [G.N.R] Encourages Freedom Of Speech And The Expression Of Diverse Views.

German synagogue hit by firebomb attack

Wuppertal – Police in Germany arrested an 18-year-old man on Tuesday suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails at the entrance to a synagogue in the western city of Wuppertal.

They are searching for two other suspects who fled the scene of the attack. No one was injured as a result of the firebombing in the early hours of Tuesday, authorities said.

A local resident had alerted police after she noticed material burning on the road.

The police have not released further details of the suspect in custody.

DISCLAIMER: Gaza-Tshisa News Room [G.N.R] Encourages Freedom Of Speech And The Expression Of Diverse Views.

Military plane, civilian jet collide over Germany

Berlin – Police in Germany say a military-chartered jet has crashed after colliding with a fighter plane.

A spokesperson for police in the Sauerland region east of Cologne says the Learjet with two people on board collided with a German Eurofighter aircraft on Monday afternoon near the town of Elpe.

Bianca Scheer said the fate and the identity of the two people on board the Learjet wasn’t known. She said the plane had been chartered by the German military, but was unable to immediately provide further details.

German military spokesperson Joerg Langer confirmed that two Eurofighter jets were operating in the area and that there had been “contact” with the Learjet. He said the fighter planes landed safely.

DISCLAIMER: Gaza-Tshisa Encourages Freedom Of Speech And The Expression Of Diverse Views.