Posts Tagged ‘France’

The cons (“assholes”) of Paris – as seen from Marseille

February 2, 2014

The rivalry between Paris and Marseille is legendary though Marseille can boast human settlements starting from 30,000 years ago  while settlements in Paris can only go back about 7,000 years. Today Paris has a population about 3 times as large as Marseille’s (at about 2.3 million in the city and 12 million in the metropolitan area). The current pre-eminence of Paris does give Marseille a bit of an inferiority complex and there is usually an air of defensiveness evident from the Marseillais. They don’t like being perceived as the crime capital of France and the defence is then to take pride in the toughness of their criminals! Of course the rivalry manifests itself these days through football and an Olympique de Marseille versus Paris Saint-Germain match is something very special.

But even the New York Times magazine asks the question if Marseille is the secret capital of France.

Marseille remains a patchwork sprawl of rich and poor neighborhoods, a melancholy, compelling mess of corruption and sun — the anti-Paris and secret capital of a France that doesn’t pretend the country is race-blind.

GeoCurrents addresses some of the satirical maps of France at Carte de France.

I like these two particularly.

1. France as seen from Marseille:

France - seen from Marseilles image carte-de-france

France – seen from Marseilles image carte-de-france

The reported perception of France from the perspective of Marseille is particularly simplistic: amusingly, the map features two latitudinal lines and one oval to create a total of four regions: “North Pole” for the far North of France, “North” for everything poleward of the region the French call “Sud” (which itself usually corresponds to the regions of Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur, Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi Pyrennées and Aquitaine, but is here even more constrained) and, finally, the shining label “cons,” (“assholes”), assigned to the oval encompassing Paris. Of notice, too, is the ironic “Capitale” label on top of Marseille. The map perfectly showcases the deep-seated rivalry between Paris and Marseille…..

2.France as seen from Paris

France seen from Paris image carte-de-france

France seen from Paris image carte-de-france

The map of France as seen by the Parisians seems more complex at first glance, though this does not mean that the Parisians are more discriminating than the Marseillais. The labels for the different regions here could be taken as offhanded proofs from inside the minds of Parisians, justifying France’s centralized political model. Alsace is perceived as the home of the “dépressifs” (depressed), the Bretagne region (Brittany), summed up for most Parisians by crepes and hard cider, are “alcooliques,”(alcoholics), and the Northerners are “pauvres” (poor).  The wildly successful 2008 French movie “Bienvenue Chez Les Chtis” (‘Welcome to the Sticks’) captured these dichotomies and prejudices perfectly. It is centered around a postal manager from the region of Lyon who is sent to the Northern region (Nord-Pas-de-Calais) as a punishment for having faked a disability in the hope of being sent to an office … on the Mediterranean. The movie was seen by a third of the French population in 23 weeks, thus showing the extent to which the regional question remains a running joke in France. ….. The labels “branleurs” (‘wankers’) and “menteurs” (‘liars’) for the southern regions show the extent to which Paris sees itself as pulling the country on its own—whether that is a role it has given to itself or the product of actual laziness from the other regions. The “terrorist” label both for the Basque Country and Corsica humorously point out the existence of occasionally violent separatist groups in both regions, though both places are also extremely popular vacation destinations for the Parisians, who seldom let geopolitics in the way of their summer migration.  Finally, the map reveals the idea that Parisians tend to see many regions of France as their playground. The “plages” (beaches) label along the Western and the Mediterranean coasts and the “ski” label along the Pyrenees and the Alps may seem amusing and reductive, but they are in fact indicative of the huge ebb and flow that occurs in the winter and summer (with all those weeks off work!), when a massive exodus heads out of Paris and into these regions.


Class war in France as Hollande takes on the cavaliers

November 25, 2013

1. In France equestrian centres enjoy the relatively low VAT rate of  5.5% or 7%.

2. The EU naturally feels it necessary to poke its nose into anything it pleases

In a judgement handed down on 8 March (1), the EU Court of Justice ruled that France incorrectly applied the directive on the common system of value added tax (VAT) (2) by applying a reduced rate to certain transactions related to equidae.

The court upheld the European Commission’s first grievance whereby France may not apply a reduced rate (5.5%) to transactions related to horses when these animals are not intended for use in the preparation of foodstuffs or in agricultural production. It maintained that the directive authorises a reduced VAT rate for live animals “normally” intended for use in the preparation of foodstuffs and for transactions related to equidae, particularly horses, for agricultural, forestry or fishery activities, to the extent that they constitute deliveries or services intended for use in agricultural production.

3. The equestrian brigade (the cavaliers) are seen to be part of the privileged classes and as such a clear target for Francois Hollande and his old-fashioned class warfare objectives. The EU directive gives Hollande a wonderful excuse to triple VAT on the cavaliers. But for the cavaliers Hollande is not the right horse to bet on.

Paris equestrial protest

French cavaliers take to the street – image The Guardian

The Guardian: François Hollande’s plan to treble VAT on equestrian centres will ‘send 80,000 horses to the abattoir’, warns industry. 

A French mood of mutiny that has rippled through Brittany and infected teachers, farmers and shopkeepers, skipped species on Sunday when horses took to the streets of Paris to complain about tax rises. Thousands of disgruntled horse and pony riders rode through the French capital to complain about tax increases they say will put many of them out of business and send 80,000 animals to the abattoir.

The “cavaliers” blocked roads from the symbolic Paris squares, Place d’Italie, Place de la Bastille and Place de la Nation, in protest at government plans to almost treble VAT on equestrian centres. It was the latest manifestation of the growing revolt over President François Hollande’s tax reforms, many of them aimed at reducing the country’s public deficit to meet European Union demands.

The EU bureaucracy is essentially “socialist” in  that they are all paid for by taxes and they will do anything to make work for themselves and to expand their areas of work to ensure their own continuance. Support for all forms of publicly funded bureaucracy seems to be the core value of all socialist parties in Europe. If there was any group which needed to be disenfranchised it must be those who live off public funding – and not only in the EU but also within the member countries of the EU. Of course that line of thought leads to all politicians being banned from voting. And maybe that would not be so bad either.

The first string? Man-made, twisted, fibre, cords at least 90,000 years ago

November 22, 2013

The man in question may well have been Neanderthal. Fibre artefacts rot easily and the oldest remains found of a man-made, twisted, fibre “cord” or “string” dates from only about 30,000 years ago. A new paper describes perforations in upto 90,000 year old, stone and tooth artefacts as well as shells from Abri du Maras and other Neanderthal sites in France, indicating they had once been threaded on “strings” and worn as pendants.

This post has beeen shifted to 6,000 Generations

Hollande’s France is dragging down the Eurozone and the world

November 15, 2013
Photo - AFP

Photo – AFP

Francois Hollande is a socialist of the old school and about a century behind the times. Fundamentally he has few new ideas beyond tax the rich and create more public sector jobs. He is not even very popular at home just now – but the French have only themselves and Sarkozy’s excesses to blame for having him there. Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s sexual excesses also helped. He makes impossible promises with a straight face. He promises to cut state spending without reducing public sector jobs. He will improve competitiveness without  reducing state subsidies. And he has promised to reduce unemployment by the end of this year. Nonsense promises are not doing much for his credibility.

France’s credit rating is falling and even The Guardian has little good to say about his administration:

The GuardianFrance’s second credit-rating downgrade by Standard & Poor’s in less than two years is as damaging politically for the socialist François Hollande as it was for his rightwing predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who lost the election shortly after France lost its AAA rating in January 2012.

S&P directly attacked Hollande’s economic policy, questioning the socialist government’s capacity to repair Paris’s stuttering economic motor. It said the problem with France was that the government’s tentative reforms were not enough to lift growth in the eurozone’s second largest economy.

Hollande, recently found to be the most unpopular French president on record in a poll by BVA, was already struggling to sell his economic measures to the nation. “The recovery is here,” Hollande declared in August after a small rebound in growth following months of stagnation. But real, sustained growth is expected to be slow in returning. …… 

And now the economy of France, along with that of Italy, is actually shrinking. The global recovery needs Europe  – and not just Germany – to do its bit. Instead, Hollande’s schoolboy economics are not just threatening the Eurozone recovery but actually threatening to postpone the recovery.

ReutersThe euro zone economy all but stagnated in the third quarter of the year with France’s recovery fizzling out and growth in Germany slowing. The 9.5 trillion euro economy pulled out of its longest recession in the previous quarter but record unemployment, lack of consumer confidence and anaemic bank lending continue to prevent a more solid rebound.

In the three months to September, the combined economy of the 17 countries sharing the euro grew by a slower than expected 0.1 percent. In the previous quarter it rose 0.3 percent – the first expansion in 18 months. The euro fell to a session low in response.

The French economy contracted by 0.1 percent, snuffing out signs of revival in the previous three months. It had been expected to post quarterly growth of 0.1 percent and has now shrunk in three of the last four quarters. ……. 

Unemployment is still increasing even though the number of French seeking jobs outside the country is also increasing. The rich have been fleeing Hollande’s swingeing taxes in droves.

The Telegraph: 

France’s economy has buckled once again amid official warnings of an explosive political mood across the nation that threatens to spin out of control.

French output fell by 0.1pc in the third quarter and Italy remained trapped in recession, dashing hopes of a sustained recovery in Europe. “It is no longer a question of whether the eurozone can achieve ‘escape velocity’, but whether it can grow at all,” said sovereign bond strategist Nicholas Spiro.

The latest data show a continued erosion of France’s industrial base and export share. It risks shattering the credibility of President François Hollande, who has been talking up recovery for months. A YouGov poll showed his approval ratings have dropped to 15pc, the lowest recorded for a French leader in modern times.

While the risk of a eurozone bond crisis has greatly receded since the European Central Bank agreed to act as a lender of last resort in July 2012, this has been replaced by slow economic attrition. It resembles the mid-1930s slump under the Gold Standard and is fuelling political crises in a string of countries.

Le Figaro said loss of confidence in the French government is turning dangerous, citing a confidential report based on surveys by “prefects” in each of the 101 departments. “All across the country, the prefects described the same picture of a society that is angry, exasperated and on edge. A mix of latent discontent and resignation is being expressed through sudden eruptions of fury, almost spontaneously,” said the document. The report warned that people were no longer venting their feelings within normal social structures. Increasing numbers are questioning the “legitimacy” of taxes. …… 

But there is no sign that Hollande will change from his classic policies of more taxes to support a profligate state sector and a bloated welfare system. Regulated austerity is called for but Hollande’s approach will only lead to an unregulated, painful and enforced austerity as in Greece and Spain.

I still believe in Europe and in many French firms but I have taken the precaution of shifting some of my (small) savings out of French stocks. France has not reached its bottom yet!

France does Israel’s bidding and “spoils” nuclear deal with Iran

November 10, 2013

The French – Israeli nuclear cooperation goes back a long way to 1956. That Israel’s “secret” Nuclear Weapon’s programme has long been assisted and enabled by the French is also one of those open secrets that is never officially acknowledged.

HaaretzMay 9, 2007

Israel and France once made a secret deal to produce a nuclear bomb together, according to a new biography of Vice Premier Shimon Peres. The deal was later cancelled, but the disclosure in the book by historian Michael Bar-Zohar sheds new light on the depth of France’s involvement in Israel’s nuclear program.

Bar-Zohar told Reuters his information came from recently released documents from Israeli and French government archives relating to the key role Peres, now 83, played in launching Israel’s nuclear project more than half a century ago. The book divulges new details of how Peres served as a behind-the-scenes architect of Israel’s military might, securing weapons secretly and buying an atomic reactor from France. …

Experts believe Israel has used the Dimona reactor it built with French help in the 1960s to produce as many as 200 nuclear warheads. Israel neither confirms nor denies it has atomic weapons, saying only it will not be the first country to introduce them to the Middle East. …..

The most significant, experts say, is a secret agreement Peres signed in 1957 with then French Prime Minister Maurice Bourges-Maunoury in Paris, several months after the deal for the reactor was concluded. “It stated in so many words that the two nations would cooperate in research and production of nuclear weapons,” the book says.

France ultimately scrapped that agreement several years later under the weight of enormous United States diplomatic pressure for it to cease its nuclear cooperation with Israel.

The so-called formal scrapping of the deal has long been recognised as a public relations gesture which has little to do with actual cooperation on the ground. Now Israel probably has something in excess of 100 and maybe up to 200 nuclear warheads.

Federation of American ScientistsIn the fall of 1956, France agreed to provide Israel with an 18 MWt research reactor. However, the onset of the Suez Crisis a few weeks later changed the situation dramatically. Following Egypt’s closure of the Suez Canal in July, France and Britain had agreed with Israel that the latter should provoke a war with Egypt to provide the European nations with the pretext to send in their troops as peacekeepers to occupy and reopen the canal zone. In the wake of the Suez Crisis, the Soviet Union made a thinly veiled threat against the three nations. This episode not only enhanced the Israeli view that an independent nuclear capability was needed to prevent reliance on potentially unreliable allies, but also led to a sense of debt among French leaders that they had failed to fulfill commitments made to a partner. French premier Guy Mollet is even quoted as saying privately that France “owed” the bomb to Israel.

On 3 October 1957, France and Israel signed a revised agreement calling for France to build a 24 MWt reactor (although the cooling systems and waste facilities were designed to handle three times that power) and, in protocols that were not committed to paper, a chemical reprocessing plant. This complex was constructed in secret, and outside the IAEA inspection regime, by French and Israeli technicians at Dimona, in the Negev desert under the leadership of Col. Manes Pratt of the IDF Ordinance Corps.

That Israel is not happy that Iran may reach a deal with the West and get sanctions lifted and be able to continue with the bulk of their nuclear program is only to be expected. That Israel would turn to France to be the spoiler in the discussions with Iran is also not surprising. And it is patently obvious that France is doing Israel’s bidding and is being intransigient at the Geneva discussions.

But how long can or will France be ready to continue in their “spoiler” role? Francois Hollande has enough troubles of his own not to also wish to be seen as Netanyahu’s poodle.

Perhaps a year?

The GuardianSunday 10 November 2013

Three gruelling days of high-level and high-stakes diplomacy came to an end in Geneva with no agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, after France blocked a stopgap deal aimed at defusing tensions and buying more time for negotiations. …

The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also sought to play down the disagreements that had surfaced with France, and the divisions between the six-nation group, known as the P5+1. ….

….. other diplomats at the talks were furious with the role of the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, whom they accused of breaking ranks by revealing details of the negotiations as soon as he arrived in Geneva on Saturday morning, and then breaking protocol again by declaring the results to the press before Ashton and Zarif had arrived at the final press conference.

But there is also a purely commercial aspect to the French “spoiling”. The animosity between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not to be underestimated and the the French desire for being Saudi’s preferred supplier is almost without limit. Upsetting Iran gains them brownie points with Saudi. They are on much safer ground here since Saudi does not have the capability of running its own nuclear programme in any foreseeable future. Nuclear power plant in Saudi supplied by France would not pose any great threat to Israel.

But one day – when the balances are different –  Saudi  may well have enough money to buy a few warheads and I would not be surprised if France is then at the front of the pack of potential vendors.

Saudi GazetteOctober 03, 2013

French companies AREVA and EDF hosted a number of Saudi business and industry representatives at their Second Suppliers Day event held in Jeddah on Tuesday to take part in the framework of the sustainable energy program suggested by King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) focused on nuclear and renewable energy sources. …. 

Speaking to the Saudi Gazette, the French Ambassador to the Kingdom said “the aim of this meeting is very clear, France has been the first country to sign government to government agreement on nuclear and energy because we do think that taking it into account the huge program the Saudi government wants to implement in the nuclear field and France has a lot to bring in terms of the best nuclear technology in the world.”

Besancenot added that Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of France in the region and the bilateral relationship is of paramount importance in the economic field as “we are seeing that bilateral trade has doubled over the last five years.” He stressed that France is ready to be Saudi Arabia’s strategic partner in the field of nuclear and renewable energy. He also highlighted the competencies of France’s nuclear energy industry and its ability to support the Kingdom goal.

Plagiarism and fake certification fell top French Rabbi

April 11, 2013

I suppose this counts as a case of academic misconduct in the world of Man and one of “bearing false witness” in higher circles.

Picture of Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim

Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim (wikipedia)

Rabbi Gilles Bernheim  is considered a leading Jewish intellectual who has clearly been lifted high on the shoulders of giants who came before him. He has blamed one of his assistants who helped write his book for him for the plagiarism. The fake certification he had claimed was from the Sorbonne.

Does it count as as plagiarism if he didn’t even write his own book?

But it was surely all done in good faith.

 Yahoo NewsFrance’s top rabbi is taking leave from his post after he acknowledged “borrowing” other people’s work and lying about his education, a top Jewish leader said Thursday.

Rabbi Gilles Bernheim asked for leave at an urgent meeting in Paris of leaders of the Central Consistory of France, which accepted the request, said Richard Prasquier, the president of France’s largest umbrella group of Jewish organizations.

Prasquier, speaking by mobile phone, said two other rabbis would temporarily fill the post of Grand Rabbi of France, which Bernheim will leave for at least six months. Talks about whether he might return at all will take place in the coming months, he said.

He said many people in France’s 500,000-strong Jewish community have been shaken over the case.

Bernheim faced accusations by a French academic who tracks suspected plagiarism that parts of his 2011 book “Forty Jewish Meditations” and part of a text he wrote about gay marriage, same-sex parenting and adoption were lifted from others. That text, written last fall, was cited in the Christmas address of Pope Benedict XVI last year.

Asked about the claims on Tuesday, Bernheim confirmed having carried out “borrowings … what others might call plagiarism” from others. “Not only do I deeply regret it, but I recognize it as a moral flaw,” he said of one instance.

Bernheim had also come under scrutiny for claiming nearly four decades ago to have received an “aggregation” — or high-level certification — in philosophy. On Radio Shalom, he acknowledged he did not actually have one, but had made the claim 37 years ago during an unspecified “tragic event.”

More turmoil awaits Europe as Sarkozy loses and Greeks vote against Europe

May 6, 2012

Sarkozy has lost in France according to Belgian and Swiss sources though the exit polls in France are not yet out. Hollande is expected to win by 5%.

The exit polls are also out in Greece.

In Greece, the only two parties supporting the Eurozone bailout and the austerity measures – PASOK and New Democracy – will probably not be able to form the next government. And that means that the chances of Europe leaving the Euro are greatly enhanced. In the short term this will cause massive turbulence in the Eurozone.


Sarkozy is using the Sendai quake and Fukushima troubles to play politics

March 16, 2011

Sometimes Sarkozy’s opportunism for gaining economic advantage is almost as vulgar as bunga bunga Berlusconi’s sex parties. But it is also – I think – a very clever move. Sarkozy is attempting to take a pre-emptive lead by being in the forefront of denigrating the Japanese nuclear program so that he can – by contrast – promote French nuclear technology and the French  nuclear plant manufacturer Areva and thus preserve the French dependence on nuclear power.

I predict his line will be that the Japanese nuclear plants were old fashioned and that French nuclear technology is different and inherently safe. He will walk the fine line between supporting “the Japanese people in their hour of need” while criticising TEPCO, its handling of the Fukushima problems and the outdated technology (the 6 reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi were built starting in 1963 and came into operation between 1970 and 1979).

From the BBC:

No other country relies as heavily as France on nuclear power. It relies on nuclear power for 75% of it domestic supplies. It has 19 plants and 58 reactors. France is also at the forefront of nuclear technology, and President Sarkozy knows the debate over nuclear energy following events in Japan will affect the fortunes of the giant nucelar group Areva.

Like other countries, France is to check its nuclear reactors following the problems in Japan. But President Nicolas Sarkozy’s faith in the country’s nuclear programme seems unshaken. “France has made the choice of nuclear energy, which is an essential element of its energy independence and the fight against greenhouse gases,” he told his cabinet today. “This choice has been unseparable from an unfaltering undertaking to ensure a very high level of safety at our nuclear installations. I remain today convinced of the pertinence of these choices.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he will call a special G20 meeting to discuss the energy sector in light of events in Japan. France currently holds the G20 presidency. France has also called a meeting of G7 finance ministers to respond to the crisis in Japan, Reuters reports. Finance Minister Christine Lagarde says the meeting will look at “how we can take part in their debt issues and how we can react on a financial level”.

From Paris, the BBC’s Christian Fraser says that France’s decision to offer it Tokyo-based citizens the chance to leave is partially motivated by domestic political problems. “Obviously it is a precaution and they might be accused of scaremongering but their new Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has been keen to get on the front foot, to show that they are in charge of the situation,” he said.

Related:  Does France have special information about Fukushima?

Does France have special information about Fukushima?

March 15, 2011

o600 CET : Wednesday 16th: France is now urging its nationals in Tokyo to leave Japan or head to the south of the country, Reuters reports. It says Paris has asked the Air France carrier to provide planes for the evacuation. The BBC’s Chris Hogg in Tokyo says the evacuation will begin on Thursday. Two French planes are already on their way to Japan.

It could be that France has access to some special information that the problems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plants are much worse than anything being reported in Japan or by the IAEA, but the almost orchestrated negativity from French Agencies is noteworthy.

Politicians and agencies are positive about support for Japan regarding the earthquake and the tsunami, but the negativity  is focused around the Fukushima nuclear plant and is particularly noticeable from Agence France Presse, the French Nuclear Agency and French Radio.

I tend to be extremely suspicious of  French nuclear politics and cannot help feeling that there is an agenda here which involves being as negative as possible about the Japanese nuclear industry to later show up how the French nuclear industry is so much better.

  1. France’s nuclear safety authority says it classifies the Fukushima plant accident as level six. The maximum is level seven, used only once for the 1986 Chernobyl accident, Reuters reports. The Japanese Nuclear Agency has classified the event as Level 4.
  2. Europe’s Energy Commissioner says Japan’s nuclear disaster is an “apocalypse”, adding that Tokyo has almost lost control of events at the Fukushima power plant, AFP report.
  3. AFP reports that several countries are screening passengers on flights arriving from Japan.
  4. Radio France to withdraw staff in Japan after nuclear accidents: Dow Jones

But at the same time France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has said: “We expressed our admiration for the dignity and the courage shown by the Japanese during this unprecedented ordeal. We expressed our confidence in the way the Japanese authorities have faced the aftermath of the disaster with such efficiency, which the whole world has recognised.”

France takes the lead and recognises Libyan rebels while Gaddafi’s envoys head for Brussels

March 10, 2011

The new French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe is now moving fast to try and rectify a string of blunders and to try and restore some cohesion to French foreign policy. After the lightweight flitting about of Michelle Alliot-Marie and her Tunisian holidays, the weight of the former French Prime Minister is beginning to be felt. Though the news was reported by Sarkozy’s office I suspect that Alain Juppé has multiple objectives with this move. And one of them is to show that French Foreign policy can be taken seriously. His biggest task will be to tame Sarkozy’s arrogance and  impetuousness.

Alain Juppé, former French Prime Minister

Alain Juppé: Image via Wikipedia

BBC reports:

France has become the first country to recognise the Libyan rebel leadership, the National Libyan Council (NLC), as the country’s legitimate government. The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Paris regarded the NLC as Libya’s “legitimate representative”. …


Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebels in their eastern stronghold of Benghazi, said the French move was “breaking the ice”, adding that he expected other EU members to follow suit.

However Italy and Spain have said they will not take a similar step until European Union members have reached a common position on the issue.

EU foreign ministers will also hold talks in Brussels, ahead of a European Council summit on Friday.

But France 24 reports that Gaddafi’s envoys are also on their way to Brussels for some lobbying activity:

…. The EU’s 27 foreign ministers started the ball rolling mid-morning, preparing a full summit of leaders the next day.

Britain and France are lobbying for United Nations Security Council support for a no-fly zone. Anxious Washington wants any military action conducted under the banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, with Arab regional backing seen as essential.

“Some think this could protect civilians from aerial bombardment, others fear risks in terms of how it would play with Arab public opinion,” said a top EU official who asked not to be named.

On the headline initiative of enforcing a no-fly zone over a country vaster than restricted air exclusion areas over Iraq or the Balkans in past conflicts, “countries are divided” over operational input and scope, added the source.

The meetings follow a flurry of diplomatic activity that Thursday saw France extend official recognition to the rebel Libyan national council whose representative had earlier lobbied the European parliament. France and Germany urged European partners to engage in dialogue with the rebels.

On Wednesday Kadhafi sent his own envoys to Europe and they were reportedly heading for Brussels. Asked to confirm, an EU official said “we don’t know for certain”.

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