Europe urges unity on Taliban but is quiet on failed mission
European leaders say they will press for a unified international approach to dealing with a Taliban government in Afghanistan, as they looked on with dismay at the rapid collapse of two decades of a U.S.-led Western campaign in the country.
Teachers lament 'chaotic' virus rules in German schools
(AP Photo/Michael Probst,file)BERLIN – Under pressure to ease Germany's virus restrictions, officials last month agreed to gradually reopen schools. AdBerlin's online teaching platform is so overloaded during the day that some elementary school students must wait until 6:30 p.m. to have their video lessons. “We can’t pretend that schools are isolated from the rest of society,” said Juergen Boehm, who chairs VDR, an association representing certain secondary school teachers across Germany. So far the government has said there's little it can do under Germany’s federal system to enforce nationwide rules for schools. AdGromotka said teachers want schools to be safe and reliable however that is accomplished, but that a clear testing strategy and vaccinating all teachers would be good ways to start.
Germany expects steady rise in vaccine supply through July
FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 file photo, frozen vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are taken out to thaw, at the MontLegia CHC hospital in Liege, Belgium. The European Commission has secured an agreement with Pfizer-BioNTech for an extra 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to tackle a surge of coronavirus clusters that have prompted border restrictions. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)BERLIN – The German government said Wednesday it expects the supply of coronavirus vaccines to rise steadily in the coming months, hitting a peak of almost 10 million doses a week in July. Germany's vaccine campaign has lagged behind far behind countries such as Britain and the United States. Since the outbreak began, Germany has recorded more than 2.5 million confirmed cases and 72,489 COVID-related deaths.
Germany prepares way for its troops to stay in Afghanistan
(Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP, Pool)BERLIN – The German government is preparing the way for the country's troops in Afghanistan — the second-biggest contingent in a NATO force — to stay in place until next year if needed. Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new draft mandate that would enable German troops to stay until Jan. 31, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. German troop deployments overseas require parliamentary approval, which is typically granted on an annual basis. Seibert said that the maximum level of 1,300 German troops is unchanged in the new mandate. Germans will elect a new parliament on Sept. 26, but it typically takes weeks or even a few months before a new coalition government is in place.
Russia rejects Western criticism over Navalny's prison term
A Moscow court has ordered Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to prison for more than 2 1/2 years for violating the terms of his probation while he was recuperating in Germany from nerve-agent poisoning. A Moscow court on Tuesday ordered Navalny to prison for two years and eight months, finding that he violated the terms of his probation while recuperating in Germany from a nerve-agent poisoning. The ruling immediately ignited new protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg that followed massive rallies over the past two weekends. The prison sentence for Navalny and Russia's tough police response to peaceful protests drew harsh criticism from the United States and European Union nations. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Moscow to immediately free Navalny and those who were detained during protests.
Biden tells Merkel he wants to revitalize Germany alliance
President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Joe Biden told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday that he is looking to revitalize the transatlantic alliance with Germany, a relationship that became strained under former President Donald Trump. After meetings with Trump in 2017, Merkel said Europe could no longer completely rely on its allies and must become more independent. Last week, the chancellor said that “there is simply a much broader political overlap with President Biden” than with Trump. Merkel invited Biden to visit Germany as soon as the pandemic situation allowed, Seibert said.
Navalny's team calls new protests in Russia for his release
Navalny strategist Leonid Volkov tweeted Monday for more demonstrations on Jan. 31 in “all Russian cities. For justice.”During Saturday's protests, over 3,700 people were detained, according to OVD-Info, a human rights group that monitors political arrests. Dozens of Navalny associates in various cities were detained in the days before the protests. White House press secretary Jen Psaki urged the immediate and unconditional release of Navalny, as well as those who were detained in the crackdown. The Russian protests and crackdown appeared to have further strained Russia-U.S. relations.
Tech giants banished Trump. Now things get complicated
FILE - This combination of photos shows logos for social media platforms Facebook and Twitter. He’s gone from Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat — even Shopify. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube scrambled to take it down — too late. That protects social platforms, which can host trillions of messages, from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted. Still, few are happy with the often sluggish, after-the-fact, three-strikes takedowns and suspensions that have characterized Twitter and Facebook for years.
Germany's Merkel: Trump's Twitter eviction 'problematic'
FILE - In this Dec. 30, 2020 file photo German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses for photographs after the television recording of her annual New Year's speech at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel considers U.S. President Donald Trump's eviction from Twitter by the company “problematic,” her spokesman said Monday. Twitter permanently suspended Trump from the microblogging platform on Friday, citing a “risk of further incitement of violence” in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the outgoing president. “Seen from this angle, the chancellor considers it problematic that the accounts of the U.S. president have now been permanently blocked.”Facebook on Thursday suspended Trump’s account through Jan. 20, the day of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, and possibly indefinitely. Merkel herself does not have a Twitter account, although Seibert does and many German government ministers do.
France's go-slow coronavirus vaccination strategy backfires
France is starting its first vaccinations Sunday against the coronavirus at a nursing home northeast of Paris, in one of France's poorest regions. President Emmanuel Macron was holding a special meeting with top government officials Monday to address the vaccine strategy and other virus developments. In France, a country of 67 million people, only 516 people were vaccinated in the first six days, according to the French Health Ministry. France started its vaccination campaign on Dec. 27 in nursing homes, because so many elderly people have died with the virus. The European Medicines Agency, the medical regulator for the 27-nation bloc, was meeting Monday to discuss approval of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine.
The Latest: China makes parts of province high danger zones
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)BEIJING — China has designated parts of Hebei province near Beijing as a coronavirus high danger zone after 14 new cases of COVID-19 were found. The other three COVID-19 cases were in the city of Yantai. Approximately 174 private clinics have also requested vaccines, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said. County health officials fear the incoming Christmas and New Year’s surge. Superintendent Henderson Lewis said a spike in positive cases in the city prompted the “unfortunate but necessary” decision to go back to distance learning.
The Latest: S Koreans line up for virus tests as cases surge
The Pentagon has authorized nearly 50 top civilian and military leaders to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks to prove to the shots are safe and effective. Indoor restaurant dining will continue to be barred under the new state health department order that takes effect Monday. Laura Kelly is expressing little concern over a smaller-than-expected second shipment of a coronavirus vaccine for the state. The state also reported total 2,341 COVID-19 deaths, adding 88 to the tally since Wednesday. ___BERN — The Swiss government is ordering the closure of restaurants, bars, cultural venues and sports facilities next week because of increasing coronavirus cases.
Retirees protest Belarus leader on 100th day since vote
“Lukashenko, you and my children will remember this disgrace,” said one of the banners the retirees carried. Such protests have roiled Belarus ever since the Aug. 9 election handed Lukashenko a crushing victory over his widely popular opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. According to human rights advocates, over 19,000 people have been detained since the election. The Interior Ministry said over 700 people were detained Sunday across the country, while the Viasna human rights center put the figure at 1,291. Support media (and) human rights defenders.
Germany criticizes new Russian sanctions over Navalny case
Last month, EU foreign ministers imposed sanctions on six Russian officials and a state research institute over the incident. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that retaliatory sanctions against “senior staff of the offices of the leaders of Germany and France” have already been approved. It disregards international interest in this case being cleared up and it takes a Russian problem into bilateral relations with Germany and France.”Asked whether German officials know who is being targeted by the Russian sanctions, Foreign Ministry spokesman Christofer Burger said they know nothing beyond Lavrov's public comments. The Kremlin denied involvement and says that before Navalny’s transfer to Berlin, Russian labs found no sign of poisoning. Lavrov charged that Navalny may have been poisoned in Germany or on a plane that transported him from Russia to Berlin.
Germany: OPCW confirms nerve agent used in Navalny poisoning
(Navalny instagram via AP)BERLIN – The global chemical watchdog group has confirmed Germany and other countries' findings that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a Soviet-era nerve agent, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said Tuesday. German officials said last month that labs found traces of a chemical agent from the Novichok family in the Russian politician’s system. “This once again confirms unequivocally that Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group,” Seibert said. Earlier Tuesday, Germany and its allies at a meeting of the OPCW's Executive Council called on Moscow to fully investigate and explain how Navalny was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent. Germany has noted that Russian doctors have their own samples from Navalny since he was in their care for 48 hours.
Azerbaijan and Armenia brush off suggestion of peace talks
An Armenian serviceman fires a cannon towards Azerbaijan positions in the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. The U.N. Security Council called on Armenia and Azerbaijan Tuesday evening to immediately halt the fighting and urgently resume talks without preconditions. But first, Azerbaijan must “immediately end (its) aggression towards Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia," Pashinyan said. Armenia also alleged that Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan, was involved. Earlier in the day, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said Armenian forces shelled the Dashkesan region in Azerbaijan.
Kremlin chafes at Navalny team taking suspected evidence
Navalny's colleagues revealed Thursday that they removed the bottle and other items from the hotel room in Siberia and brought them to Germany as potential evidence. “Regrettably, what could have been evidence of poisoning was taken away,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. Members of the Navalny team said they searched his hotel room in the city of Tomsk upon learning that he collapsed on the flight home. The German government had no comment Friday on the Navalny team’s statement that Novichok was found on the water bottle taken from Russia. The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also is having samples from Navalny tested.
German govt: Labs confirm Navalny was poisoned with Novichok
(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. BERLIN – The German government says specialist labs in France and Sweden have confirmed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. A German military laboratory previously confirmed the substance in his samples. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has also received samples and is taking steps to have those tested at its reference laboratories. Navalny fell ill on a Russian domestic flight on Aug. 20 and was transferred to Germany two days later, where he has been treated since.
Germany approves Russian request to assist in Navalny probe
FILE - In this July 20, 2019, file photo, Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny gestures while speaking to a crowd during a political protest in Moscow, Russia. Berlins Justice Ministry has approved a request from Moscow for legal assistance in the investigation of the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and has tasked state prosecutors with working with Russian authorities. Navalny, the most visible opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany two days after falling ill on Aug. 20 on a domestic flight in Russia. The move to task Berlin prosecutors to work with Russian investigators came a week after Russia's request for assistance was received by the Berlin state Justice Ministry. Separately, Seibert denied reports that Germany had received a Russian request for permission to send investigators to interview Navalny.
Merkel won't rule out halting pipeline over Navalny
Exterior view of the Charite hospital where Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny receives medical treatment in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. The chancellor also believes that it's wrong to rule anything out, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters after being asked about Maas' comments. Previously, Merkel had insisted on decoupling the Navalny case from the pipeline project, which the U.S. strongly opposes. Germany announced that samples taken from Navalny showed clear evidence he was poisoned with substances from the Novichok group. Russia has denied that the Kremlin was involved in poisoning Navalny and accused Germany failing to provide evidence it requested in late August.
EU warns UK on commitments ahead of more Brexit trade talks
The comments show growing signs that trust between the two sides is evaporating ahead of another round of Brexit trade talks Tuesday in London. Monday's developments prompted widespread selling of the British pound as traders priced in a growing likelihood that the trade talks could be heading for collapse. During this transition period, the U.K. remains within the EUs economic orbit, benefiting from frictionless and tariff-free trade. For the U.K. and the EU to find compromises on the sticking points, both sides must work to build trust, he said. __Follow all AP stories about Brexit and British politics at https://apnews.com/Brexit.
Germany says Soviet-era nerve agent used on Russia's Navalny
BERLIN Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the same type of Soviet-era nerve agent used in a 2018 attack on a former Russian spy, the German government said Wednesday, provoking outrage from Western leaders who demanded Moscow provide an explanation. In Moscow, Russian authorities were quick to blame Germany for not sharing its findings. Peskov reiterated that Russian doctors didnt find any poisonous substances in Navalnys system. Navalny's allies have also accused Russian authorities of delaying his transfer out of the country after the poisoning. The Siberian medical team relented only after a charity that had organized a medevac plane revealed that German doctors who examined the politician said he was stable enough to be moved.
Concerns grow over rising COVID-19 infections in Germany
Pupil Moritz is on his way to the first day at his new school in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. Students in North Rhine-Westphalia will have to wear face masks at all times due to the coronavirus pandemic as they return to school this Wednesday. The uptick comes as students are returning to school across the country, adding to concerns. He urged Germans not to grow lax about wearing masks or keeping distances, and to practice careful hygiene measures. Two grades at a second school were also sent home on Wednesday as a precaution after a student's sibling tested positive.
Germany's Maas calls Pompeo over pipeline sanctions threat
BERLIN German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday he personally reached out to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to express dismay over a warning by three Republican senators who threatened sanctions against a German port operator for its part in a pipeline project with Russia. The U.S. has long opposed the project, which has been increasingly a source of friction between Berlin and Washington as it nears completion. The port is a key staging post for ships involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline thats intended to bring natural gas from Russia to Germany. The U.S. argues the project will endanger European security by making Germany overly dependent on Russian gas. Its also opposed by Ukraine and Poland, which will be bypassed by the pipeline under the Baltic sea, as well as some other European nations.
A deeply divided Poland chooses a president in runoff vote
This combination of photos shows candidates in Poland's presidential election, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, right, and Poland's President Andrzej Duda. President Andrzej Duda, a nationalist and conservative, is seeking a second term, but he faces a tough challenge from liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski. He and his Law and Justice party have won the backing of older and rural Poles, helped by cash payments to families and other welfare programs. During his first five-year-term, Duda has approved laws giving the Law and Justice party vast new powers over Poland's top courts and key judicial bodies. He alleged a German attack in these elections.The Germans want to choose the president in Poland?
Merkel won't attend G7 summit in person if US goes ahead
Chancellor Angela Merkel steps out of a minibus as she arrives for a parliament session at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, Friday, May 29, 2020. Because of the coronavirus crisis the Merkel is chauffeured in a minibus in order to keep the distance rules. Immediately after that announcement, Merkel suggested she had not yet made up her mind on whether to attend in person or by video conference, but her office told the dpa news agency she has now made a decision. As of today, given the overall pandemic situation, she cannot commit to participating in person, her office said. It added that the chancellor would continue to monitor the coronavirus situation in case things change.
Hong Kong's pro-democracy activists call on Angela Merkel for help
CNN VideoHONG KONG - Hong Kong pro-democracy activist leader Joshua Wong has appealed to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel for help ahead of her upcoming visit to China. Drawing on Merkel's decades living in communist East Germany, the letter reads: "Chancellor Merkel, you grew up in the GDR [German Democratic Republic]. Seibert dodged a question over whether Merkel would show support to Wong and the other activists before reiterating Germany's position on Hong Kong. "People in Hong Kong have a long tradition of the rule of law, and the 1997 basic law enshrines that law," he added. CNN's Nadine Schmidt reported from Berlin and Begona Blanco Munoz reported from Hong Kong.