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November 22, 2013

News Briefs November 22, 2013

EU president says no military solution in Syria

EU President Herman Van Rumpoy says there is no military solution to the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Van Rumpoy spoke Nov. 21 following an EU-China summit in Beijing at which Syria and other international issues were discussed. He said that China, a U.N. Security Council member, has a role to play in formulating actions to mitigate the conflict such as the destruction of chemical weapons.

China has been criticized for blocking harsher action by the U.N. that could lead to the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Van Rumpoy said China was already working closely with the EU on the Iranian nuclear issue. He said the sides also discussed the need to restore stability in North Africa, Mali and the Sahel to fight organized crime and terrorism. AP

Iran forces drill near strategic Gulf strait

An Iranian news agency says paramilitary forces have wrapped up maneuvers on an island near the strategic oil tanker shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz.

The Nov. 21 report by the semiofficial Fars news agency says the two-day drills on Qeshm Island included hundreds of Basij forces, the paramilitary wing of the powerful Revolutionary Guard. Qeshm overlooks the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the route for one-fifth of the world’s oil tanker traffic.

In past years, Iran had threatened to block the waterway in retaliation for international sanctions, but no longer issues such warnings.

Similar military exercises were held in other areas across Iran, which regularly holds maneuvers for its armed forces. AP

U.K. government defeats lawmaker rebellion over army

Britain’s government has defeated attempts by rebel lawmakers to delay plans to recruit more reservists to replace regular Army soldiers.

The rebel lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party had hoped to delay a defense reform bill, but their proposed amendment to the plans was defeated in a House of Commons vote Nov. 20.

The government wants to expand the army reserve force to 30,000 from 19,000, to make up for cutting 20,000 soldiers from the 102,000-strong regular Army within seven years.

Despite signs that reservist recruitment is missing targets, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said he is confident of hitting the right numbers over the next five years. AP




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