NATO is 'brain dead', France's Macron says

BERLIN/PARIS (Reuters) – France’s president warned fellow European countries on Thursday that NATO is dying because of American unpredictability under President Donald Trump, a view quickly rejected by Germany.

In an interview with British weekly The Economist, Emmanuel Macron expressed doubt about U.S.-led NATO’s security maxim that an attack on one ally is an attack on all, which has underpinned transatlantic ties since the alliance’s 1949 foundation.

“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” Macron said. Asked whether he still believed in the Article Five collective defense guarantee of NATO’s treaty, Macron answered, “I don’t know,” although he said the United States would remain an ally.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Leipzig ahead of the 30th anniversary on Saturday of the fall of the Berlin Wall that is seen by many as NATO’s crowning achievement through its four-decade-long role blunting Soviet expansionism, said the alliance was perhaps one of the most important “in all recorded history.”

Macron has said there is a lack of strategic coordination between European allies on the one hand and the United States and Turkey, with NATO’s second largest military, on the other.

While France has traditionally had an ambivalent role in NATO, taking no part in its strategic military planning from 1966-2009 despite being a founding member, Macron’s comments – a month before NATO’s Dec. 4 summit in London – were unexpected.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and many allies want to project an image of unity at the summit at a time of rising Chinese military might and what NATO leaders see as Russian attempts to undermine Western democracies through cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns and covert operations.

COLD WAR RELIC?

NATO was shaken by Trump’s portrayal of it as being in crisis at the last summit in Brussels in July, and its image of unity took a hit when Turkey defied its allies to launch a military incursion into Syria on Oct. 9.

Macron had earlier decried NATO’s inability to react to what he called Turkey’s “crazy” offensive and said it was time Europe stopped acting like a junior ally when it came to the Middle East.

In his interview, he also said the United States was showing signs of “turning its back on us”, as demonstrated by Trump’s sudden decision last month to pull troops out of northeastern Syria without consulting the allies, the French leader said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said he was overreacting.

“The French president has found rather drastic words to express his views. This is not how I see the state of cooperation at NATO,” she told a news conference alongside Stoltenberg in Berlin.

Stoltenberg told Reuters that NATO had overcome differences in the past, citing the 1956 Suez Crisis and the 2003 Iraq War.

Once seen by some as a Cold War relic until Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, NATO needs all its 29 allies on side as it confronts militant attacks in Europe and seeks to defend against the threat of ballistic missiles from Iran to North Korea.

Macron lauded nascent European defense integration initiatives independent of the United States. His so-called European Intervention Initiative has so far brought together nine willing militaries ready to react to crises near Europe’s borders without NATO or the United States.

The European Union has also recently launched its own multi-billion-euro defense plans to develop and deploy military assets together after years of spending cuts that have left European militaries without vital capabilities and reliant on Washington.

“The European Union cannot defend Europe,” Stoltenberg said in a speech in Berlin.

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has accused European NATO allies of not shouldering their fair share of the cost of defending Europe. He demanded they double NATO’s defense spending goal of 2% of economic output, set in 2014.

They retorted that security is not just about spending targets, but all have since raised their defense outlays, though some remain short of the 2% objective.

In a change of policy, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Thursday Berlin would spend 2% of its economic output on defense by 2031, belatedly reaching the goal set by NATO leaders five years ago.

But with its military bases in Europe and nuclear warheads stored in five NATO countries, the United States remains the ultimate protector of European democracies against an increasingly assertive post-Soviet Russia.

In one sign of ongoing cooperation, the U.S. Air Force flew B-52 bombers from the U.S. mainland to train with British and Norwegian allies for almost a month in October at a time when China and Russia continue to modernize their militaries.

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Brexit deal close but not guaranteed, France's Lemoyne says

PARIS (Reuters) – A Brexit deal is within “arm’s reach” but it’s still not guaranteed, said French junior foreign affairs minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne on Thursday.

“A deal is within arm’s reach but is not guaranteed,” Lemoyne told French TV station Public Senat.

Earlier on Thursday, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party said it could not support the Brexit deal being proposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Union.

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Macron says he hopes EU leaders can endorse Brexit deal on Thursday

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday a deal with Britain on its departure from the European Union was being finalised and could potentially be agreed on at a European Council summit on Thursday.

“I want to believe an agreement is being finalised and that we will be able to endorse it tomorrow,” Macron said at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Irish PM says Brexit issues remain, EU sources report 'standstill'

BRUSSELS/DUBLIN (Reuters) – Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Wednesday that last-ditch talks between the European Union and Britain had so far failed to resolve issues standing in the way of an amicable Brexit, with EU sources reporting a “standstill”.

Difficulties centred on trade and the status of the Irish border, although the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, was quoted as saying he was optimistic about a deal.

“There is a pathway to a possible deal but there are many issues that still need to be fully resolved,” Varadkar said in a speech. “I do think we are making progress but there are issues yet to be resolved and hopefully that can be done today.”

“But if it’s not, there is still more time. October 31 is still a few weeks away and there is the possibility of an additional summit before that if we need one … Although time is running short, I am confident that (Ireland’s) objectives can be met.”

Varadkar said he had spoken to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in the day. Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal.

Shortly before Varadkar spoke, EU sources said the talks had reached a “standstill” over a future trade deal with Britain, and the rejection by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of customs solutions tentatively agreed by negotiators.

“It broke down because the DUP rejected the customs arrangement at their meeting with Johnson,” an EU official told Reuters. “So there was a tentative customs deal but it got struck down.

“The UK is negotiating with us again without being able to guarantee a majority in the House of Commons. We’ve been here before.”

DUP VOTES

Johnson is likely to have to rely on DUP votes to get any deal through the British parliament.

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An EU diplomat said “the dynamics in London do not look as good today as they might have looked in recent days.”

Johnson and his team are in talks with the EU, and with lawmakers from the governing Conservatives and the DUP to try to win their support for any deal, his spokesman said.

The spokesman said there remained issues to resolve with the EU. Johnson would update his senior ministers later in the day.

A second EU diplomat said negotiators had disagreed over a future trade deal between Britain and the EU.

“The UK wants us to legally commit to sealing a free trade agreement with them in the future that would be tariff-free and quota-free. But we can’t do that, it would be prejudging the future negotiations and tying our hands,” the diplomat said.

“So it’s a bit of a standstill at the moment.”

However, Barnier, was quoted as telling a closed-door meeting of the European Commission earlier in the day that he was “optimistic” about chances of getting a deal on Wednesday still.

Earlier, reports of a possible collapse in negotiations to produce a Brexit deal that could be approved by a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday and Friday hit sterling and stocks in London.

Barring a last-minute agreement at the summit, the EU believes Britain will have to delay its departure for a third time.

The EU may hold an emergency summit later in October to either approve a deal, grant an extension or make last preparations for a chaotic split.

Britain’s Brexit minister Steve Barclay said he would not accept a Brexit delay beyond Oct. 31, even if it was only used to tie up the necessary legal requirements of an agreement.

“No, I think it is important that we leave on the 31st of October,” Barclay told a British parliamentary committee.

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Germany 2-2 Argentina: Visitors fight back from two-goals down to draw

Argentina came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Germany in a friendly in Dortmund.

In a repeat of the 2014 World Cup final, the hosts raced into an early lead when Serge Gnabry poked home in the 15th minute before Kai Havertz side-footed in seven minutes later.

But Argentina fought back after the break as substitute Lucas Alario’s header halved the deficit.

Debutant Lucas Ocampos secured the draw with a deflected strike late on.

It was an impressive fightback by Argentina in a game that was ultimately turned on its head by Lionel Scaloni’s substitutions, with Ocampos coming on at half-time and Alario just after the hour mark.

It had been all Germany in a first half where Argentina failed to manage a single shot on target and when Gnabry grabbed his 10th goal in 11 international appearances, it looked like the hosts would go on to record a big win.

However, they took their foot off the pedal after the break, allowing Argentina to get back into the game.

By the end, 2014 World Cup winners Germany were perhaps fortunate not to finish on the losing side, with a last-minute panic in their penalty area only eased when Emre Can managed to scramble clear.

It could prove an important lesson in avoiding complacency for Joachim Low’s side as they prepare to resume their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign this weekend.

Germany, who are top of Group C and level on 12 points with Northern Ireland, travel to Estonia on Sunday.

Line-ups

Germany

Substitutes

Argentina

Substitutes

Match Stats

Live Text

Match ends, Germany 2, Argentina 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Germany 2, Argentina 2.

Substitution

Substitution, Argentina. Guido Rodríguez replaces Rodrigo de Paul.

Nicolás Tagliafico (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Suat Serdar (Germany).

Marcos Acuña (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Gian-Luca Waldschmidt (Germany).

Goal!

Goal! Germany 2, Argentina 2. Lucas Ocampos (Argentina) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lucas Alario.

Attempt blocked. Nadiem Amiri (Germany) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Booking

Lucas Ocampos (Argentina) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Lucas Ocampos (Argentina).

Lukas Klostermann (Germany) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Hand ball by Lucas Ocampos (Argentina).

Substitution

Substitution, Germany. Sebastian Rudy replaces Kai Havertz.

Leandro Paredes (Argentina) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Kai Havertz (Germany).

Attempt blocked. Lucas Alario (Argentina) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lucas Ocampos.

Attempt missed. Nicolás Otamendi (Argentina) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Marcos Acuña with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Emre Can.

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Robin Koch.

Attempt blocked. Lucas Alario (Argentina) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Renzo Saravia.

Foul by Nicolás Tagliafico (Argentina).

Suat Serdar (Germany) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Argentina. Renzo Saravia replaces Roberto Pereyra.

Attempt saved. Joshua Kimmich (Germany) right footed shot from long range on the left is saved in the bottom left corner.

Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Argentina).

Nadiem Amiri (Germany) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Offside, Germany. Marc-André ter Stegen tries a through ball, but Gian-Luca Waldschmidt is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Germany. Suat Serdar replaces Serge Gnabry.

Foul by Rodrigo de Paul (Argentina).

Marcel Halstenberg (Germany) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Leandro Paredes (Argentina) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lautaro Martínez.

Offside, Germany. Niklas Süle tries a through ball, but Nadiem Amiri is caught offside.

Foul by Marcos Acuña (Argentina).

Nadiem Amiri (Germany) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Offside, Germany. Joshua Kimmich tries a through ball, but Serge Gnabry is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Germany. Nadiem Amiri replaces Julian Brandt.

Goal!

Goal! Germany 2, Argentina 1. Lucas Alario (Argentina) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Marcos Acuña with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Argentina. Lucas Alario replaces Paulo Dybala.

Rodrigo de Paul (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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Germany vs Argentina: Live stream, TV channel, kick-off time and team news for the international friendly – The Sun

GERMANY welcome Argentina to the Westfalenstadion in a huge international friendly.

There is no Lionel Messi, but a host of star names will be on show in Dortmund, with Tottenham's conqueror Serge Gnabry looking to help defeat another team in blue.

What time does Germany vs Argentina kick off?

This international friendly will take place TODAY – Wednesday, October 9.

It will kick off at 7.45pm UK time – that is 8.45pm in Germany.

The match will be played at Westfalenstadion in Dortmund.

What TV channel is it on and can I live stream it?

Germany vs Argentina will be shown live on Sky Sports Football with coverage underway from 7.40pm.

You can live stream this match via the app on your computer, mobile and tablet devices.

If not, you can purchase a Sky Sports Day Pass from NowTV for £9.99.

What is the team news?

GERMANY SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Bernd Leno, Marc-Andre ter Stegen

Defenders: Robin Koch, Jonathan Tah, Lukas Klostermann, Niklas Sule, Marcel Halstenberg, Niklas Stark

Midfielders: Suat Serdar, Joshua Kimmich, Kai Havertz, Julian Brandt, Marco Reus, Nadiem Amiri, Sebastian Rudy, Serge Gnabry, Ilkay Gundogan, Emre Can

Forwards: Timo Werner, Luca Waldschmidt

ARGENTINA SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Agustin Marchesin, Juan Musso, Emiliano Martinez

Defenders: Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico, German Pezzella, Juan Foyth, Renzo Saravia, Walter Kannemann, Leonardo Balerdi

Midfielders: Erik Lamela, Marcos Acuna, Leandro Paredes, Roberto Pereyra, Rodrigo De Paul, Guido Rodriguez, Nicolas Dominguez, Lucas Ocampos

Forwards: Paulo Dybala, Lautaro Martinez, Angel Correa, Lucas Alario, Matias Vargas, Nicolas Gonzalez

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Northern Irish DUP says a Brexit deal looks difficult

LONDON (Reuters) – The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, allies of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said that a Brexit deal was unlikely to be achieved by an informal deadline of Friday.

When asked if a deal could be achieved by Friday, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds told Bloomberg Television: “It looks difficult at the moment – I am very, very sad about that.”

“What it does flush out is that the original backstop proposals were clearly something that certain Dublin politicians particularly in the government really felt was the end destination,” Dodds said.

He said Ireland was turning landmark peace deals upside down by dismissing the Northern Irish consent idea of Johnson’s Brexit proposal.

“Dublin is now it seems turning the Good Friday Agreement, the Belfast Agreement, the St Andrews Agreement – all the agreements that we made in the last 20 years as part of the political process – on its head,” Dodds said.

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Amazon synod deepens faultlines between pope and conservatives

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – An assembly of bishops to discuss the future of the Roman Catholic Church in the Amazon, including the possibility of introducing married priests, has deepened faultlines between Pope Francis and conservatives who say it is heretical.

The three-week synod opens on Sunday at a time when the region – made up of eight countries and the French territory of Guiana – is in the world spotlight because of recent devastating fires in Brazil.

About 260 participants, mostly bishops from the Amazon, will discuss spreading the faith, protection of the environment, climate change, deforestation, indigenous people and their right to keep their land and traditions.

The Church’s small but vociferous hardline conservative wing has drawn up battle lines.

Despite being led by only three cardinals among some 230 in the Church and just one bishop out of more than 5,000, they have parlayed their savvy use of social media and their access to conservative Catholic news outlets to pillory the synod’s working document.

They say it is bursting with doctrinal errors, including what they say is an implicit recognition of forms of paganism and pantheism practiced by indigenous people, such as nature worship. Many of the conservative hardliners are also skeptical about climate change science.

Last week, about 200 conservatives gathered near the Vatican and prayed silently “with the purpose of forming a united army against the enemies of God and of the Church”, they said in a statement.

The synod will be “a battle between good angels and demons”, one participant said.

German Cardinal Walter Brandmueller wrote that the synod could mark “the self-destruction of the Church or its transformation from the mystical body of Christ into a secular NGO with an ecological-social-psychological mandate”.

“What do ecology, economy and politics have to do with the mandate and mission of the Church?” he asked.

Plenty, answered Pope Francis’ defenders. They have rejected conservative criticisms that the Church should concentrate on saving souls and not get involved in issues such as climate change and social and economic injustice.

DIGNITY FOR ALL

“Every Christian has a prophetic commitment to justice, peace and dignity for every human being,” said Peruvian Cardinal Pedro Barreto Jimeno, vice president of REPAM, a grouping of the Catholic communities in the Amazon.

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Barreto said this included protecting people and the environment from the excesses of a “dominant model of society that leads to exclusion and inequality”.

While Francis’ defense of the environment has been widely praised, including by the United Nations, conservatives, mainly in the United States, have attacked him. Many are aligned with conservative news outlets and well-funded political foundations skeptical of climate change science.

Conservatives are also angry with Francis over other issues, such as a more welcoming attitude towards homosexuals and moves to allow Catholics who have divorced and remarried outside the Church to receive communion.

“There is no doubt that there is a political battle going on in the Church today,” said Father Arturo Sosa, the Venezuelan head of the Jesuit order to which Francis belongs.

Sosa said the attacks are a way of “trying to influence the election of the next pope” by destabilizing Francis’ papacy so cardinals picking his successor after his death or resignation lean towards a conservative who won’t rock the boat so much.

One of the synod’s contentious topics is whether to allow older married “proven men” with families and a strong standing in local communities to be ordained as priests in the Amazon.

This solution to the shortage of priests, backed by many South American bishops, would allow Catholics in isolated areas to attend Mass and receive the sacraments more regularly.

At least 85% of Amazon villages cannot celebrate Mass every week. Some see a priest only once a year.

Opponents of the change, even only on a regional basis, fear it would be a doctrinal Trojan horse.

HERESY

U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, de-facto spiritual guru for many of the pope’s critics, said the shortage of priests in the Amazon was a “pretext” that would lead to “the practical abolition of priestly celibacy” in the rest of the world.

Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan issued an appeal for “a crusade of prayer and fasting to implore God that error and heresy do not pervert” the synod.

The pope’s backers point out that the Church in the West already has a small number of married priests and say the fears are exaggerated.

They say there was little or no criticism when Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, both revered by conservatives, ushered in changes that allow married Anglican clergymen who convert to Catholicism to continue to serve as priests.

The synod does not make decisions. Participants vote on a final document and the pope will decide which recommendations to integrate into his future rulings.

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EU states delay "green" finance guide, leave it open to nuclear power

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A set of European Union standards to determine which financial products qualify as “green” should be delayed until the end of 2022, EU governments agreed on Wednesday, stirring concern because the guidelines might end up including investments in nuclear power.

The delay, if confirmed by EU lawmakers, could slow the growth of the $200 billion market for green bonds, by pushing back clearer standards that many investors wanted. Proponents of green investment condemned the postponement.

“We don’t need to waste two more years,” said Luca Bonaccorsi, an activist with the Transport and Environment campaign group. Clearer standards were urgently needed to fund a sustainable economy, he said.

Deciding which investments could be called green was part of a legislative proposal put forward last year by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm. Its goal was to encourage private investment in environmentally sustainable businesses.

The proposal laid out a taxonomy — a set of criteria and procedures for deciding what made an investment green — that was due to take effect in 2020. But many EU members objected, fearing damage to their national industries.

Diplomats agreed to postpone introduction of the taxonomy by more than two years. They also agreed to grant governments more powers to decide which investments are green, amending procedures proposed by the commission that would have given independent experts more say.

NUCLEAR CONCERNS

EU governments’ compromise does not exclude any economic activity from being listed as green. That could pave the way for declaring as green investments meant to reduce the environmental impact of nuclear reactors or plants seen as highly polluting.

The decision runs counter to recommendations from an EU expert group, which had advised in June excluding nuclear and coal-fired plants from the EU taxonomy. Their environmental impact was seen as going against EU targets to cut carbon emissions and reduce hazardous waste.

The text agreed by EU governments needs the approval of the European Parliament, which also wanted to rule out nuclear and coal investments from projects deemed green.

“This is a disaster,” Green European lawmaker Sven Giegold said. Parliament will do all it can to apply the new standards earlier and to exclude nuclear and polluting activities from the taxonomy, he said.

By setting criteria on what investment is sustainable, the EU hoped to avoid different standards in its 28 states and increase the confidence of climate-conscious investors. Proliferating standards let companies “greenwash” their activities, claiming green credential they not deserve.

However, the EU taxonomy’s broad criteria could divert money to technologies that “cannot be considered either safe or sustainable,” Germany said in a statement appended to the compromise text and also signed by Austria and Luxembourg.

The compromise ignored those concerns and tried instead to allay opposing fears of countries such as France, which relies on nuclear energy, and eastern European nations, which still depend on coal.

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UK PM Johnson: don't expect Brexit breakthrough in New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday cautioned against the likelihood of making a Brexit breakthrough at talks on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Johnson, who has vowed to take Britain out of the European Union at the end of October with or without a deal, is due to hold talks with several European leaders in New York including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

He will also discuss progress on reaching a Brexit deal with European Council President Donald Tusk.

“I would caution you all not to think that this is going to be the moment,” he told reporters on the plane on the way to New York. “I don’t wish to elevate excessively the belief that there will be a New York breakthrough.”

Johnson said that while a “great deal” of progress had been made since he took office in July as EU leaders now acknowledged the Withdrawal Agreement reached with his predecessor needed to be changed, there were “clearly still gaps and still difficulties”.

He wants to remove the so-called backstop, an insurance policy aimed at avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland by having Britain follow the bloc’s rules on trade, state aid, labor and environmental standards so no checks are necessary.

Last week Britain shared technical documents with Brussels setting out its ideas for dealing with the contentious issue of the backstop, although these were not the formal legal proposals Brussels has asked for.

Johnson has said he wants to secure an amended deal at an EU summit on Oct. 17-18, and said “a large number of the important players”, including Britain, Germany, France and Ireland wanted to reach an agreement.

“We have seen interest in the idea of treating the island of Ireland as a single zone for sanitary and phytosanitary purposes that is also encouraging,” he said. “However there are clearly still gaps and still difficulties.”

Johnson said it was important the United Kingdom “whole and entire” was able to diverge from EU law in future.

“The problem with … the current backstop is that it would prevent the UK from diverging over a huge range of industrial standards and others,” he said. “We may want to regulate differently but clearly there is also a strong incentive to keep goods moving fluidly and we think we can do both.”

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