– The government and rebels are scheduled to sit down for peace talks next month
– "The conditions are right" for negotiated end to conflict, Juan Manuel Santos says
– The president stresses there will be no cease-fire while the two are in talks
– "Making war is much easier than making peace," says Santos
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that FARC guerillas must be permitted to participate in the political process, in an interivew with CNN's Christiane Amanpour that aired Friday.
Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, are scheduled meet with representatives of the government for peace talks in Oslo, Norway, next month.
The two sides have been at war since the 1960s, making the FARC Latin America's oldest insurgency.
"You can't ask the FARC to simply kneel down, surrender and give us the arms. They will not do that, so there has to be some kind of way out, and this way out has to be you can be able to participate in the political arena. This is a way any conflict is settled, not only the Colombian conflict," Santos said in New York. FULL POST
By Mick Krever, CNN
(CNN) - Manaf Tlass was once one of Bashar al-Assad's closest friends.
"He is humble. He loves people," Tlass said when describing the Syrian leader. "But he has changed. The crisis has changed him."
Before he defected this July, Tlass was the very image of an Assad regime insider.
His father is a former defense minister.
Manaf Tlass was a brigadier general in Syria's Republican Guard. And, of course, he was a close friend of Assad's. FULL POST
By Samuel Burke & Mick Krever
After a decade of war in Afghanistan, the United States is getting ready to hand off the country's security to the Afghan army.
But there are growing concerns that the local army isn't yet prepared to hold the country together.
Those fears have been heightened since NATO halted most joint missions with the Afghans in response to insider attacks. FULL POST
By Samuel Burke, CNN
It's been almost two years since a young fruit vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of a Tunisian government office.
Bouazizi died from his burns, but his friends and family said that the real cause of his death was the loss of hope - that he would ever find opportunity or dignity in Tunisia.
That single act gave birth to revolution in Tunisia and then all over the Arab world - in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and beyond. FULL POST
By Sonia Kennebeck
While world leaders gathered on Wednesday in the U.N. General Assembly hall to discuss the most urgent international issues, including the civil war in Syria, the conflict in that country reached another horrendous peak.
343 people were killed that day, according to an opposition group. This would mark the highest daily death toll since the beginning of the conflict in March last year.
Since then more than 30,000 people have lost their lives according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
In the General Assembly hall leaders have yet to agree to a solution to prevent further bloodshed. But member countries China and Russia have been accused of aiding the Assad regime by refusing to agree to a resolution. And the U.S. accuses Iraq of allowing Iranian supplies to pass through Iraqi airspace.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he believes Iraq should do what they can to prevent Iran from helping the Syrian government, but he contends that this is not the actual problem. FULL POST
By Samuel Burke
This week countless leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York are joining in condemnation of Bashar al-Assad's brutal regime.
Yet Assad hangs on to power, thanks to strong support from a handful of nations – among them, Russia, China and Iran.
But Syria is also getting a helping hand from an unlikely source, Iraq.
The U.S. has angrily accused the Iraqis of allowing Syria’s friend, Iran, to fly over their territory with planes full of weapons for Assad's forces.
It's a bitter irony for America, which badly wants Assad out, even as it considers itself Iraq’s patron and best friend. FULL POST
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, confirms President Obama’s failed attempt to get a political power-sharing agreement in Iraq – asking President Jalal Talabani to step down in favor of former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, as reported by Michael R. Gordon's in the New York Times.
By Samuel Burke
At this year's U.N. General Assembly, Syria's civil war is top of the agenda.
There has already been a lot of talk about the violence and the climbing death toll, but even the leaders making those speeches are skeptical that any real action will come of it.
Even British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who has played an active role in trying to find a solution, tells CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he doesn’t see one on the horizon.
This week the prime minister of Qatar told Amanpour that he felt there was a “Plan B” in the works for Syria, but Hague doesn’t know anything about that plan. FULL POST
If Mongolia didn't pop into your mind first, you're probably not alone.
This country of just 2.8 million people is landlocked in the middle of Asia, but it's growing at more than twice the rate of China.
Its staggering rate of more than 17%-a-year growth last year may explain why U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a pilgrimage to Mongolia, along with Vice President Joe Biden and before him George W. Bush.
Not to mention a parade of other Western and Asian powers, including China, along with corporate titans by the planeload.
Mongolia's secret? FULL POST
By Lucky Gold & Samuel Burke
Italy’s unelected Prime Minister, Mario Monti, tells CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he will not run in the upcoming elections.
“I don't need to, because the president of the republic appointed me senator for life,” Monti said Tuesday. “And I think it's important that the full political game resumes in Italy, hopefully with a higher degree of responsibility and of maturity. We are helping that by being part of the European Union. Obviously, I will facilitate as much as I can the evolution.”
Putting out a big European fire
Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti, in New York this week for the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, sounded a note of optimism about the fate of the euro: “Since June-July of this year I am much more confident about the future of the eurozone.”
Appearing Tuesday on CNN's Amanpour program, Monti credited the tough economic measures his government has instituted, even if they have deepened the recession in the short run.
“It’s normal that Italy is still in a recession because the measures we introduced, if anything, did deepen the recession a bit…. But above all we took Italy out of the list of the countries that might have created a big European fire.”
However, he acknowledged that there was much more work to be done. “Can I borrow an expression that President Obama used this morning in his speech to the General Assembly? He spoke of the Arab world after the [Arab] Spring - of the painstaking work of reform. That exactly applies equally to domestic reforms in each of our countries. And I’m glad to say that although the Italian people have been subjected by the government I chair to an unprecedented amount of sacrifices, and discipline and eliminating privileges and grants, the Italian people so far have behaved in a highly responsible manner.” FULL POST