Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Markets rally on report Greece accepts creditor terms <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Eurozone stocks and peripheral bonds rallied on Wednesday, extending gains after a report that Greece was ready to accept most conditions from its international creditors in order to reach a deal over its debt crisis.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was prepared to accept creditors&#39; demands for a bailout with only a few minor changes, the Financial Times said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The FTSEurofirst 300 extended gains, up 1.5 pct, with the euro zone blue-chip Euro STOXX up 2.1 percent.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The euro trimmed losses against the dollar to trade at $1.1535, flat on the day, while against the British pound it turned higher to trade 0.4 percent higher on the day.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>German 10-year yields rose 4.3 basis points to a day&#39;s high of 0.82 percent while Spanish, Italian and Portuguese equivalents fell 6-8 bps to 2.22 percent, 2.25 percent and 2.90 percent, respectively.</div> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:34:00 +0000 Reuters 2453418 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/09/501010/greece_06-09-15.jpg US-Cuba deal to restore ties to be unveiled on Wednesday <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The United States and Cuba have reached an agreement to reopen embassies and restore diplomatic ties severed more than five decades ago, and the historic deal will be unveiled on Wednesday, US officials said on Tuesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nearly 6-1/2 months after US. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro sealed a diplomatic breakthrough, Obama will announce the new steps toward rapprochement in the White House Rose Garden at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) Wednesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Signaling it is likely to act in sync with the United States, Cuba&#39;s Communist government said the chief of the US mission, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, would meet the interim foreign minister in Havana on Wednesday to deliver a note from Obama to Castro on the re-establishment of ties between the two former Cold War rivals.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Obama and Castro met in Panama in April.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Both countries can now upgrade their so-called interests sections in Havana and Washington into full-blown embassies, with ambassadors to be appointed later. The State Department must give Congress a 15-day notice before opening an embassy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We will formally announce tomorrow that the United States and Cuba have reached an agreement to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and open embassies in each other&rsquo;s capitals,&quot; a senior US official said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Restoration of ties would be the latest phase in a normalization process that is expected to move slowly because of lingering problems over issues such as Cuba&#39;s human rights record, as well as Havana&#39;s desire to keep a tight rein on Cuba&#39;s society and its state-run economy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A US economic embargo against Cuba will remain in place, and only Congress can lift it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>US officials say there is little, if any, chance that hardline anti-Castro lawmakers in Congress would be able to block the restoration of ties or reopening of embassies.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican Cuban-American congresswoman from south Florida, said in a statement: &quot;Opening the American Embassy in Cuba will do nothing to help the Cuban people and is just another trivial attempt for President Obama to go legacy shopping.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Outcome of tough negotiations</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The United States and Cuba began secret negotiations on restoring ties in mid-2013, leading to the landmark announcement on Dec. 17, 2014, when Obama and Castro said separately that they had swapped prisoners and would seek to normalize relations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That led to a series of meetings in Havana and Washington about restoring ties.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cuba was formally removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism in late May, a critical step toward rapprochement 54 years after Washington cut off relations at the height of the Cold War and imposed the embargo.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Obstacles to normalization have included US demands for relative freedom of movement for their diplomats on the island, comparable to that in China, Russia and Vietnam, while the Cubans had objected to US training courses in journalism and information technology given at the US interests section in Havana.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There were no immediate details on other outstanding differences between the countries, but Wednesday&#39;s announcement was a clear sign that major stumbling blocks had been removed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sources familiar with the matter said US Secretary of State John Kerry was likely to travel to Havana during the week of July 20 for a flag-raising ceremony to reopen the American embassy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was unclear how fast the two sides will act in naming ambassadors, but those Republicans who oppose US-Cuban detente would be widely expected to try to block Senate confirmation of Obama&#39;s choice for envoy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A full-service US mission in Havana could offer some reassurance to US companies interested in investing in Cuba and also help ease the way for more - though still heavily restricted - travel to the island by American citizens.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Obama, a Democrat, has asked the Republican-controlled Congress to lift the embargo, but the conservative leadership in Congress has resisted calls to remove what had been a pillar of US foreign policy under nine presidents.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Congress is also considering an end to the US travel ban. Obama has eased restrictions for Americans to conduct authorized travel to Cuba, but tourism remains illegal.</div> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:28:00 +0000 Reuters 2453417 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/12/18/499612/u.s._to_restore_diplomatic_ties_with_cuba.jpg Thousands march for Hong Kong democracy, but crowds down on last year <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Thousands of Hong Kong protesters marched for full democracy on Wednesday and called on the Chinese-controlled city&#39;s leader to resign, just weeks after lawmakers voted down an electoral reform package backed by Communist Party leaders in Beijing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Some protesters known as &quot;localists&quot;, fighting for greater autonomy and even independence from China, held up signs calling for a &quot;Hong Kong nation&quot;, while others waved Hong Kong&#39;s old colonial-era flags featuring a UK Union Jack.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I want real universal suffrage&quot; the crowds chanted on a sweltering day, with many holding yellow umbrellas, a symbol of the &quot;Umbrella Movement&quot; last year when protesters blocked major roads to pressure Beijing to allow direct elections in 2017.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The Umbrella Movement has not come to an end, because we have not got genuine universal suffrage,&quot; said Eve Lam, a 53-year-old office assistant who was handing out paper umbrellas to passers-by.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The crowds, closely watched by scores of police, were thinner than a year ago when some half a million people showed up for the annual July 1 march on the anniversary of the city&#39;s return to China in 1997.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Then, police arrested more than 500 people who blocked a road in the financial district, a prelude to the Occupy movement in late September.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;C.Y. Leung step down,&quot; shouted student democracy leader Joshua Wong to the passing crowds, referring to leader Leung Chun-ying. &quot;Remake the future of our city. Build a democratic Hong Kong.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hong Kong and Chinese officials attended a flag-raising ceremony in the morning with helicopter fly-bys and the playing of China&#39;s national anthem.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The protest march comes nearly two weeks after Hong Kong&#39;s legislature vetoed a Beijing-backed electoral reform proposal that had triggered the sometimes violent protests in the city, presenting Beijing with one of its most serious challenges in years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hong Kong leader Leung called for the city to move forward.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Even though political reforms have taken up considerable effort and time, the Hong Kong government will strengthen economic development and improve people&#39;s livelihoods,&quot; he said in a speech.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hong Kong returned to China under a &quot;one country, two systems&quot; formula that granted the city wide-ranging freedoms denied in mainland China.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>China also held out the promise of universal suffrage. The electoral blueprint rejected by lawmakers last month would have allowed a direct vote for the city&#39;s next chief executive in 2017, but only from among pre-screened, pro-Beijing candidates.</div> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:25:00 +0000 Reuters 2453414 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/15/501271/hong.jpg Greece seeks Eurogroup, ECB support after IMF default <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div><u><a href=""><span style="color:#0000ff;">Greece</span></a></u> was appealing to its eurozone partners and the European Central Bank on Wednesday to keep it afloat after defaulting on its debt to the International Monetary Fund and losing frozen international bailout money.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Athens was due to put new proposals for a two-year loan agreement and a debt rescheduling to Eurogroup finance ministers after hinting that leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras might be willing to scrap a referendum on bailout terms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told colleagues the ruling Syriza party might even urge Greeks to vote &quot;yes&quot; in Sunday&#39;s plebiscite if Athens is granted a loan, participants said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>An opinion poll published on Wednesday showed the &quot;no&quot; camp in the lead after Tsipras urged voters to reject conditions he called humiliating, but it also showed the gap had narrowed after the government had to shut the banks and impose capital controls.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was engaged in intensive efforts to persuade the leftist Greek government to accept reform commitments close to those it rejected last week to avert an economic meltdown and possible exit from the <u><a href=""><span style="color:#0000ff;">eurozone</span></a></u>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Eurogroup is due to hold a conference call at 1530 GMT on Wednesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, there is deep scepticism among Greece&#39;s partners about any rushed deal to lend more money to a country that on Tuesday became the first advanced economy ever to default on the IMF, missing a 1.5 billion euro debt repayment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In <u><a href=""><span style="color:#0000ff;">Germany</span></a></u>, Greece&#39;s biggest creditor, a senior lawmaker in Chancellor Angela Merkel&#39;s conservative bloc accused Greece of misleading Europe and said it would be wrong to grant a loan now.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;All interim measures without conditionality, without reforms are not serious and no basis for talks,&quot; Hans Michelbach of the Bavarian Christian Social Union told Deutschlandfunk radio. &quot;We should not go along with this deliberate game to sow confusion being played by the Greeks... Europeans should not be led up the garden path.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, who has been Greece&#39;s strongest sympathizer in the eurozone, told RTL radio: &quot;The aim is to find an agreement before the referendum if possible... But it&#39;s dreadfully complicated.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It isn&#39;t the Germans who are the toughest. It&#39;s the little countries that have made big sacrifices in recent years which are saying &#39;don&#39;t ask my people to help you again when my standard of living is lower than yours&#39;,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>ECB under pressure</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The ECB&#39;s policymaking governing council was to meet in Frankfurt to decide whether to maintain, increase or curtail emergency lending that is keeping Greek banks afloat despite a wave of deposit withdrawals and the state&#39;s default.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Germany&#39;s Bundesbank was leading hawks who argue that the ECB cannot go on providing funds through the Greek central bank as before to lenders that are backed by an insolvent sovereign.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One possible move would be to increase the &quot;haircut&quot; charged on Greek government bonds presented as collateral for funds in light of the IMF default.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Greek banks have been shuttered for the week, and cash withdrawals rationed to 60 euros a day after the ECB rejected a request at the weekend to increase liquidity assistance.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has taken a hard line on Greece, took the unusual step of telling lawmakers he would advise the ECB not to raise liquidity to Greek banks, according to participants at a closed-door meeting. Berlin normally insists the central bank is independent and should not receive advice from politicians.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After Athens&#39;s peers rejected a last-ditch plea for an extension of its expiring bailout program on Tuesday evening, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Greece was welcome to ask for new aid but it would come with conditions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;What can change is the political stance of the Greek government that has led to this unfortunate situation,&quot; Dijsselbloem told Reuters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thousands of pro-European Greeks took to Athens&#39; central Syntagma Square outside parliament on Tuesday evening to demand a &quot;yes&quot; vote to the bailout deal.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Carrying signs with messages like &quot;We will not become the last Soviet state&quot; and chanting &quot;Greece! Europe! Democracy!&quot;, the demonstrators braved heavy rain to rally in support of a &quot;Yes&quot; vote.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The demonstration matched a rally of similar size for the &quot;No&quot; camp a day earlier, as supporters of both sides sought to build up momentum before Sunday&#39;s referendum.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A poll by the ProRata institute published in the <em>Efimerida ton Syntakton</em> newspaper showed 54 percent of those planning to vote would oppose the bailout against 33 percent in favor.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However a breakdown of results between those polled before and after Sunday&#39;s decision to close the banks and impose capital controls showed the gap narrowing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Of those polled before the announcement of the bank closures, 57 percent said they would vote &quot;No&quot; against 30 percent who would vote &quot;Yes&quot;. However among those polled after, the &quot;No&quot; camp fell to 46 percent against 37 percent for &quot;Yes&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>From across the Atlantic, the United States said it was watching the situation closely and urged new talks to clinch a deal for Greece that would make its debt sustainable - a veiled reference to support for some form of debt rescheduling.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The United States will continue to encourage all parties involved to press forward with negotiations that put Greece on a path toward economic growth within the eurozone on the basis of needed economic reforms and requisite financing that achieves debt sustainability,&quot; a US Treasury statement said.</div> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:08:00 +0000 Reuters 2453410 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/07/01/501010/greece_07-01-15.jpg