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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, will visit Northern Ireland in November to learn about its peace process, the Colombian embassy said on Thursday.

Santos, who is struggling to implement his peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after it was rejected by voters, will visit the British-ruled region on November 2.

The embassy said in a statement that the Colombian leader's visit was due to Northern Ireland's "importance as a model of peace and reconciliation".

Santos will meet officials and visit the Girdwood community centre in north Belfast on November 3 to discuss peace and reconciliation with local residents.

His state visit to Britain at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II will begin on November 1.

 

 

Saudi Arabia raised $17.5 billion in its first international bond offering, HSBC said Thursday, reflecting strong interest as the kingdom seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

The bond issue -- the first time Saudi Arabia has turned to international markets for financing -- was hailed as historic by investors and according to official media was nearly four times oversubscribed.

"It was the biggest syndicated issue ever by any country," said Jean-Marc Mercier, co-director of the debt capital markets division at HSBC, which took part in the transaction and confirmed the figure.

The world's largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia is seeking financing as it moves to diversify its economy following the global collapse in crude prices.

The kingdom is projecting a budget deficit of $87 billion this year after a fall in oil revenues, which still account for most of its income.

It has taken a series of austerity measures, including subsidy cuts and reductions in cabinet ministers' salaries, and earlier this year announced an ambitious plan to diversify its economy.

 

 

The United States, Britain and the UN peace envoy to Yemen on Sunday urged the warring parties in the country's civil war to declare a ceasefire they said could start within days.

The United Nations envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said: "We are here to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, which will be declared in the next few hours."

Cheikh Ahmed said he had been in contact with the rebel Huthi militia's lead negotiator and with Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government.

But he also warned that he hoped for "clearer plans" for a ceasefire in coming days.

US Secretary of State John Kerry would not predict whether Yemen's government or rebel forces had accepted the demand, but said the diplomats were not operating "in a vacuum."

 

 

Asian and European stocks mostly rallied Thursday but failed to provide momentum to Wall Street which edged lower as traders weighed OPEC's surprise deal to limit oil output.

After initially lighting a fire under oil prices, enthusiasm for the announcement by major oil producers fizzled on questions about OPEC's ability to seriously tackle a supply glut.

Crude prices fell back as doubts set in about the deal, struck in Algiers Wednesday, but energy-linked currencies and petroleum-linked shares held on to strong share price gains.

The oil price then recovered to show small gains in the late European afternoon.

 

 

Visiting London mayor Sadiq Khan criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's comments on Muslim immigration.

Khan, who is of Pakistani descent and became the first Muslim mayor of a major Western capital when he was elected in May, arrived in Chicago to begin a US trip promoting trade ties.

Trump at one point called for a ban on Muslim immigration into the US. The candidate has since modified his stance to urge an immigration ban from countries with "a proven history of terrorism" and for "extreme vetting" of immigrants.

"We play straight into the hands of those who seek to divide us, of extremists and terrorists around the world, when we imply that it's not possible to hold Western values dear and to be a Muslim," Khan said to applause from an audience at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. It was his first visit to the US as London's mayor.

 

 

US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden called on President Barack Obama to pardon him, saying in comments published Tuesday it had been morally "necessary" to shine a light on mass surveillance.

The former intelligence contractor has spent three years in exile in Russia after initiating the largest data leaks in US history, fuelling a firestorm over the issue of mass surveillance.

"If not for these disclosures, if not for these revelations, we would be worse off," he told Britain's Guardian newspaper in a video-link interview from Moscow on Monday.

"Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists -- for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things," he said.

 

 

Human rights group Amnesty International said Sunday it had "credible evidence" of the abuse and torture of people detained in sweeping arrests since Turkey's July 15 coup attempt.

The London-based group claimed some of those being held were being "subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country".

In Turkey, a senior official denied Amnesty's claims and vowed that Turkey would uphold human rights.

"The idea that Turkey, a country seeking European Union membership, would not respect the law is absurd," the official said.

"We categorically deny the allegations and encourage advocacy groups to provide an unbiased account of the legal steps that are being taken against people who murdered nearly 250 civilians in cold blood."

Since the failed coup, a total of 13,165 people have been detained, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said late Saturday.

 

 

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Friday issued a stark warning to Britain that it would face costly barriers to the European Union trade zone if it left the bloc.

The comments by one of Europe's most senior officials is a blow to Brexit supporters, who have argued that Britain could negotiate deals to access the single market similar to those in place for non-members Norway and Switzerland.

"That won't work," the veteran minister told Germany's Der Spiegel weekly, which on Saturday plans to publish a German-English edition at home and in Britain with "Please don't go!" on the cover.

"That would require the country to follow the rules of a club which right now it wants to leave."

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker last month said that British "deserters will not be welcomed with open arms" by European partners if Britain votes to leave in the June 23 referendum, but Schaeuble's intervention is the most explicit threat so far.

Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott hit back, saying there was "no question about it, Britain will still have access to the single market.

"It would be perverse of the eurozone to try to create artificial barriers -- and would do far more damage to them than to anyone else," he said.

The EU accounts for 47 percent of British exports and 54 percent of imports, according to latest government figures.

 

 

 

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen boosted Wall Street Friday, restating her confidence in the US economy but softening her view on interest rate hikes after a poor US employment report.

 

 

Meanwhile London stocks rallied despite new polls that put the British referendum vote back on a knife-edge and sent the pound tumbling.

 

 

Yellen helped markets tentatively put last Friday's surprisingly dismal US jobs report behind them, saying one month's data is not so significant and that the overall labor market situation has been "quite positive".

 

 

But she backed away from previous Fed hints for a rate increase in June or July, only saying that tighter monetary policy should come gradually.

 

 

Twin bombings claimed by the Islamic State group hit Yemeni forces in Aden on Monday, killing at least 41 people in the latest of a spate of attacks in the southern city.

The attacks in Aden -- which is serving as the temporary government headquarters after rebels forced authorities from the capital -- follow a major military operation against jihadists in parts of southern and southeastern Yemen.

Backed by a Saudi-led coalition, forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi are battling both Sunni extremists and Iran-backed Shiite rebels.

 

 

In the first attack, a suicide bomber killed 34 people queueing to enlist at a recruitment centre near the Badr base in Aden's Khormaksar district, said Brigadier General Nasser al-Sarei, the commander of Yemen's special security forces.

A subsequent explosion inside the base killed seven soldiers, he said.

In a statement posted online, IS said one of its fighters detonated an explosives belt among "apostate soldiers" at a recruitment centre, followed by the bombing at a gate of the Badr base.

 

The jihadist group, which has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, also claimed responsibility Monday for a wave of bombings in Syrian coastal cities that killed more than 100 people.

A local resident in Aden described the scene of the Badr explosions as "horrible", saying body parts had been blown dozens of metres (yards) away.

"They came to complete the procedure of their recruitment and receive their first salary," he said, speaking of the young men who had gathered outside the army centre.