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U.S. among first foreign countries to join EU defence project, diplomats say

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By Gabriela Baczynska

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union will allow the United States, Norway and Canada to join a project to overcome delays in moving troops across Europe, diplomats said on Wednesday, which NATO sees as vital in the event of a conflict with Russia.

While NATO has spearheaded efforts to reduce conflicting regulations across 27 EU countries for transfers of U.S. troops, the EU has a budget to back the reconstruction of bridges too weak for tanks and has more power over changing bloc-wide rules.

The decision, to be formally taken by EU defence ministers on Thursday, means NATO members Norway, Canada and the United States also become the first foreign countries to collaborate in the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) pact, which aims to deepen defence ties.

The pact was agreed by EU leaders in December 2017 after Britain’s decision to leave the Union and Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

The bloc has since earmarked 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) from its joint budget until 2028 to improve so-called military mobility in support of NATO, and the Dutch-led project brings together 25 EU states – all but Malta and Denmark. The NATO alliance has 30 allies, many of whom are also EU members.

Military mobility aims at improving the exchange of information between EU countries and cutting red tape at borders, including harmonising customs rules to allow for swift deployments and easier transport of military equipment, diplomats said.

While there have been no specific talks with Britain, which along with France used to be among the EU’s biggest military powers, more foreign countries can seek to join, they added.

“It is also very important for transatlantic cooperation, good cooperation between EU members and NATO allies,” said one of the diplomats, who spoke under condition of anonymity.

Plans for an EU defence pact gained momentum as the former U.S. president, Donald Trump, lambasted European NATO allies for not spending enough on their own security. That prompted the bloc to call for “strategic autonomy”.

U.S. and NATO security guarantees remain the cornerstone of national security for many EU countries, however, especially for those on the eastern flank of the bloc worried about Russia.

While the EU’s flagship defence pact aims to help the bloc fund, develop and deploy armed forces together, it would not amount to joint military force. ($1 = 0.8337 euros)

 

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Robin Emmott and Alex Richardson)

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Teamsters votes to fund and support Amazon workers

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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union in the United States and Canada, said on Thursday it has voted to formalize a resolution to support and fund employees of Amazon.com Inc in their unionization efforts.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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Citigroup names new sales head for Treasury and Trade Solutions unit

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Citigroup Inc has named Steve Elms as the new sales head for the bank’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) unit effective immediately, according to an internal memo shared by a company spokesperson.

Elms, who will oversee the management of the global sales teams, has been involved with the bank’s TTS division for over 10 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

TTS is a division of the bank’s Institutional Clients group. The segment offers cash management and trade services and finance to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations around the world.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and David Henry in New York; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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Indigenous group finds 751 unmarked graves at former residential school in Saskatchewan

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An indigenous group in Canada’s Saskatchewan province on Thursday said it had found the unmarked graves of 751 people at a now-defunct Catholic residential school, just weeks after a similar discovery rocked the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “terribly saddened” by the new discovery at Marieval Indian Residential School about 87 miles (140 km) from the provincial capital Regina.

He told indigenous people that “the hurt and the trauma that you feel is Canada’s responsibility to bear.”

It is not clear how many of the remains detected belong to children, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme told reporters.

He said the church that ran the school removed the headstones.

“We didn’t remove the headstones. Removing headstones is a crime in this country. We are treating this like a crime scene,” he said.

The residential school system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families and brought them to Christian residential schools run on behalf of the federal government.

“Canada will be known as a nation who tried to exterminate the First Nations. Now we have evidence,” said Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

“This is just the beginning.”

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which published a report that found the country’s residential school system amounted to cultural genocide, has said a cemetery was left on the Marieval site after the school building was demolished.

Cowessess First Nation has been in touch with the local Catholic archdiocese and Delorme said he is optimistic they will provide records allowing them to identify the remains.

“We have full faith that the Roman Catholic Church will release our records. They haven’t told us ‘No.’ We just don’t have them yet.”

The Cowessess First Nation began a ground-penetrating radar search on June 2, after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia outraged the country.

The Kamloops discovery reopened old wounds in Canada about the lack of information and accountability around the residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families and subjected them to malnutrition and physical and sexual abuse.

Pope Francis said in early June that he was pained by the Kamloops revelation and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native peoples. But he stopped short of the direct apology some Canadians had demanded.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Moira Warburton in VancouverEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)

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