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Biden likely to head to COP26 without a final U.S. climate deal

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President Joe Biden is expected to head to Europe without an agreement on measures to combat climate change as chances dimmed that deeply divided Democrats in Congress would agree on Wednesday on a broader spending deal.

Biden is expected to leave on Thursday for a meeting of G20 leaders in Rome and then the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. The Glasgow conference was expected to be a showcase for Biden to demonstrate U.S. efforts to tackle climate change and ask other countries to adopt similar measures.

The U.S. president was likely to delay his departure to Europe by a few hours as he was expected to attend the House Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday morning, CNN and NBC News reported late on Wednesday, in what would likely be an attempt to secure the backing of progressive lawmakers for his agenda.

Biden’s $1.5 trillion-$2 trillion spending plan aimed at curbing climate change and expanding the social safety net remained mired in intraparty squabbles on Wednesday, as did a linked $1 trillion infrastructure bill that also includes climate-related measures.

Time has simply run out for anything to be finalized before Biden leaves, a key Democrat indicated.

“I think a framework deal is likely in the next 24 to 36 hours,” House of Representatives Democratic Conference Chairman Hakeem Jeffries told reporters after a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Others agreed it seemed unlikely there would be an agreement on Wednesday, and suggested fundamental issues, like how to pay for it, remain.

“I don’t know,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats. “But I don’t think so. I’m not quite clear in terms of the revenue package. Every sensible revenue option seems to be destroyed.”

The White House sought earlier on Wednesday to portray it as still “realistic” that Biden’s signature spending plan could get congressional support by Thursday, but conceded that he might need to depart for Europe without a final deal in hand.

“Of course he would like to head on this trip with a deal,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. She added, however, that world leaders are “looking at the president’s commitment” on infrastructure and climate, not what is being passed in Congress.

“They’re seeing we’re on the verge of making a deal,” she said.

Biden would need to sign any passed bill into law. He would not push back his trip substantially to advocate for it further, Psaki said earlier on Wednesday.

“There’s some flexibility in the morning, but I’m not going to suggest he’s going to delay his trip.”

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Jarrett Renshaw; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Heather Timmons, Alistair Bell, Peter Cooney and Lincoln Feast.)

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U.S. to revoke terrorist designation for Colombia’s FARC, add breakaway groups

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The United States will revoke its designation of the Colombian group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as a foreign terrorist organization on Tuesday while designating two breakaway groups as such, a senior State Department official said on Friday.

A review of the terrorist listing – required every five years under U.S. law – found that the leftist organization known by the Spanish acronym FARC should no longer be listed, The official said.

But the two dissident groups that have formed out of FARC, La Segunda Marquetalia and FARC-EP, or People’s Army, would be designated as foreign terrorist organizations, the official said.

“It’s a realignment to address these current threats,” the official said. “The FARC that existed five years ago no longer exists.”

Founded in 1964, FARC was responsible for summary executions and kidnappings of thousands of people, including Americans.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the United States was preparing to remove FARC from the list five years after the group signed a peace agreement with Bogota.

The State Department notified the U.S. Congress on Tuesday of its planned delisting of FARC. The Colombian government was formally notified on Wednesday.

The government of Colombia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The decision will allow U.S. government agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development to work on peace implementation in parts of Colombia where demobilized FARC soldiers are located, the official said.

“This is a priority for the Colombian government in the implementation of the peace agreement,” the official said.

 

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis in Washington; Additional reporting by Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Editing by Mark Porter and Leslie Adler)

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Tunisian police say they shot, wounded extremist trying to attack them

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Tunisian police on Friday shot and wounded an extremist who sought to attack them with a knife and cleaver in the capital, authorities said.

The 31-year-old man, whose identity was not disclosed, shouted, “God is great. You are infidels,” as he ran toward police officers near the interior ministry, the ministry said in a statement.

Witnesses and local media said police shot the man in the leg and arrested him. The man, who was previously labelled an extremist by the government, was taken to hospital and is being investigated by an anti-terrorism unit, officials said.

Tunisian security forces have thwarted most militant plots in recent years and they have become more efficient at responding to those attacks that do occur, Western diplomats say.

The last major attacks in Tunisia took place in 2015 when militants killed scores of people in two separate assaults at a museum in Tunis and a beach resort in Sousse.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Frances Kerry and Cynthia Osterman)

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At least 19 killed in bus crash in central Mexico

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At least 19 people were killed and 20 more injured on Friday when a passenger bus traveling on a highway in central Mexico crashed into a house, authorities said.

The brakes on the bus, which was heading to a local religious shrine in the state of Mexico, failed, according to local media reports. State authorities did not disclose the possible causes of the accident.

Assistant state interior secretary Ricardo de la Cruz Musalem said that the injured had been transferred to hospitals, including some by air.

The state Red Cross said 10 ambulances had rushed to the area.

 

(Reporting by Sharay Angulo; writing by Laura Gottesdiener)

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