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The body tasked with ridding the world of chemical weapons picked up its Nobel Peace Prize in a ceremony in Oslo Tuesday after saying it hoped the prestige would speed a global ban on the dreaded arms. Eliminating such weapons is "a noble cause," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)'s director general, Ahmet Uzumcu, said Monday. A handful of countries, including Israel, Egypt and North Korea, are not implementing a global ban watched over by the OPCW. The Hague-based watchdog was thrust from obscurity into the spotlight this year because of its lead role in organising the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, whose use nearly propelled the United States into a new Middle East war.
Soweto (South Africa) (AFP) - US President Barack Obama shook hands at Nelson Mandela's memorial Tuesday with Raul Castro, leader of long-time Cold War foe Cuba, in what Havana called a gesture of hope. Obama offered the handshake before taking the stage to speak at the ceremony, in a new sign of his willingness to reach out even to the staunchest of US enemies, a US official told AFP. The United States maintains a five-decade-old embargo against the communist island nation, which Havana says has cost the economy $1.1 trillion. Seen by millions as they watched the memorial being broadcast live around the world, the surprise handshake was saluted in Havana as a hopeful sign.
Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande was expected Tuesday in the Central African Republic, on the second day of an operation to disarm rogue rebels that has already killed two French soldiers. The French deaths came moments after Paris announced Monday that the capital Bangui had been largely purged of marauding armed groups. The two paratroopers were fatally wounded while conducting a night patrol in Bangui, the first casualties since France's 1,600-strong contingent deployed last week. "They lost their lives to save many others," said Hollande, who is to stop in Bangui on his way back from South Africa, where he attended a memorial honouring Nelson Mandela.
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Two French soldiers have been killed in combat in Central African Republic's capital, President Francois Hollande's office announced Tuesday, underscoring the challenges of a new French military intervention in the nearly lawless former colony.