Colombia, FARC agree to ceasefire: After five decades of bloodshed which claimed the lives of over 200,000 and displaced millions, the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have agreed to a suspension of hostilities ahead of an expected July 20 signing ceremony in Havana, Cuba, ending the decades-old conflict.
After three years of grueling talks in which negotiators resolved matters relating to the equitable distribution of land, the drug trade, FARC’s role in government and truth commissions, the cessation of hostilities was the final barrier to bring about a ceasefire.
One obstacle remains: The Colombian government prefers a national referendum on the peace agreement; and FARC has called for a constitutional convention. A Thursday meeting between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez is expected to produce a resolution to the final question.
Unity government troops push back ISIS terrorists in Libya: Forces loyal to Tripoli’s Unity government have continued to drive ISIS from the port city of Sirte, re-capturing several quarters in the city inhabited by residents.
Advancing approximately one kilometer and claiming small areas previously held by Islamic State terrorists, Unity troops captured an ISIS weapons cache, a radio station and a utility plant.
Under control by ISIS since February 2015, Sirte is considered one of the last bastions under ISIS control in Libya.
North Korean leader says missile program able to hit U.S. in Pacific: Quoted by official North Korean news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), supreme leader Kim Jong-un said his country’s missile program has achieved the capability to attack America in the Pacific.
North Korea test fired two missiles on Wednesday, one of which was described by neighboring South Korea as a failure. The second missile launch, apparently fired in the direction of Japan, fell into the Sea of Japan roughly 250 miles off the northern coast.
Putin: Russia will counter NATO’s aggressive rhetoric: Proposing a non-aligned international security alliance, President Vladimir Putin told the State Duma Russia would to take necessary steps to answer “aggressive NATO rhetoric.”
Announcing a willingness to discuss what the Kremlin views as infringements on its security, Mr. Putin emphasized the collective need to address economic issues and the growing threat from international terrorism.
Acknowledging the difficulty of issues at stake, Mr. Putin, a sharp critic of NATO’s eastward expansion, appealed to the West to rid itself of “old-fashioned ideological discord and geopolitical games” to confront a “common threat rising right in front of us.”
German Chancellor Merkel wants increase in German military budget: Comparing the German military budget to that of the United States, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the audience at a Berlin meeting of the CDU Economic Council Germany the EU cannot rely exclusively on America for security guarantees and Germany cannot expect other nations to shoulder responsibility for its defense.
Merkel proposed an increase in the German military budget.
Merkel’s remarks follow German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s plans for expansion of the ranks of the Bundeswehr by 7,000 troops, announced in May.
[BBC] [Reuters] [RT News]