Today 20 December
By Carl Odera and Andrew Green JUBA (Reuters) - South Sudanese government troops battled to regain control of a flashpoint town and sent forces to quell fighting in a vital oil producing area on Thursday, the fifth day of a conflict that has deepened ethnic divisions in the two-year-old nation. The conflict, which has so far killed up to 500 people, has alarmed South Sudan's neighbors. African mediators held talks with President Salva Kiir on Thursday to try to broker peace, and U.S. President Barak Obama urged the clashing factions to stop fighting. ...
BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO called on European Union leaders Thursday to improve their cooperation on defense in the face of dwindling military budgets or face American disengagement from Europe.
By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to cooperate more closely on making falling defense budgets go further, while President Francois Hollande failed to win any promise of EU help to pay for French military operations in Africa. Austerity-hit EU countries have slashed spending in response to the financial crisis, scaling back on ships, tanks and fighter jets and undermining Europe's military strength, much to the concern of the United States, its most important ally. Cameron said Britain, one of Europe's most capable military powers but one that has also scaled back spending, would support cooperation but drew the line at a European army. "It isn't right for the European Union to have capabilities, armies, air forces and the rest of it.
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — The American ambassador to the United Nations delivered a stern message on Thursday to the leaders of the strife-torn Central African Republic to stop the cycle of violence.
Port Elizabeth (South Africa) (AFP) - South Africa has suspended oil and gas exploration off the east coast following a complaint over the impact of underwater sound pollution on sea life, an official said Thursday. The government-run Petroleum Agency of South Africa (Pasa) halted seismic surveys along a pristine stretch of coast pending discussions between international oil firms and an environmentalist who blew the whistle on the out-of-season tests. "The agency has deemed it imperative to suspend seismic operations until the process of consultation is completed, and a report submitted to the agency this week," spokeswoman Althea Adonis told AFP. After studying the report, Pasa will "apply its mind and decide whether to allow seismic operations to recommence or not," she added.