Egypt Independent: World-Main news en US threatens tougher action against Russia over Ukraine <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Wednesday that Washington was ready to increase sanctions on Russia over its actions in war-torn Ukraine.</p><p>Lew&#39;s comments during a visit to Kiev came one day after EU heads of state threatened to impose further financial measures against Moscow in response to the latest upsurge in violence in Ukraine&#39;s nine-month war.</p><p>&quot;Our first choice is a diplomatic resolution that allows us to lessen sanctions. But we are prepared to do more if necessary. To that end, we&#39;ll continue to work with our allies to increase the pressure on Russia,&quot; Lew told reporters.</p><p>Russia denies backing the eastern insurgents and claims that past measures against it are meant at undermining President Vladimir Putin&#39;s 15-year rule.</p><p>&quot;At the same time, we&#39;ve been clear from the beginning: if Moscow fully implements its obligations pursuant to the Minsk agreement, sanctions against Russia could be eased,&quot; Lew added.</p><p>He also told his Ukrainian counterpart Natalie Jaresko -- a US national confirmed to her post last month -- that Washington was ready to provide up to $3 billion in support should Kiev press ahead with overdue economic restructuring measures.</p><p>&quot;Ukraine&#39;s government continues to forge ahead with the implementation of its ambitious reform agenda and it needs the support of the international community to make progress,&quot; Lew said.</p><p>He said $1 billion more could be added to a past loan of the same amount in the first half of the year.</p><p>&quot;We are also proposing to our Congress that we provide an additional $1 billion for a total of $3 billion of loan guarantees as long as Ukraine continues to make concrete progress on its reform agenda and continues to require support,&quot; he said.</p><p>Ukraine&#39;s economy shrank by nearly eight percent last year and Kiev is currently facing a massive foreign debt burden that threatens to put it into default within the next few months.</p> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:20:00 +0000 AFP 2443352 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/27/499612/ukrainian_soldiers_killed.jpg Nigeria needs regional force to defeat Boko Haram <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Nigeria must accept it cannot defeat Boko Haram fighters alone and work with regional armies in a new multinational force, the United Nations envoy for the Sahel region said Wednesday.</p><p>More than 13,000 people have been killed and more than one million made homeless by Boko Haram violence since 2009.</p><p>Earlier this month Nigerian security officials ruled out the need for a United Nations or African Union-backed force to fight Boko Haram, saying the country and its partners could handle the threat.</p><p>&quot;Nigeria cannot handle the problem alone, Boko Haram is not only confined to Nigeria,&quot; Hiroute Guebre Sellassie told AFP in the Ethiopian capital, where the African Union is preparing for leaders of the 54-member bloc to meet for a summit on Friday.</p><p>&quot;We see a flood of refugees to Niger, Cameroon and even Chad,&quot; she added, warning of a possible training camp in northern Mali.</p><p>&quot;The Sahel is increasingly affected,&quot; she said.</p><p>Nigeria has the largest army in west Africa but has come under criticism at home and abroad for failing to stop the advance of Boko Haram.</p><p>The AU is expected to discuss a proposed regional force of some 3,000 troops that would include soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Chad and Cameroon.</p><p>&quot;It is time to take action and to be aware of the danger of Boko Haram for the entire African continent,&quot; she added.</p><p>AU chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Monday she was &quot;deeply horrified&quot; at the rise of Boko Haram, warning the group is &quot;not just a threat to some countries, it is a threat to the whole continent.&quot;</p><p>Earlier this month Chad sent a convoy of troops and 400 military vehicles on Saturday into neighbouring Cameroon to fight Boko Haram.</p><p>Dlamini-Zuma has said she will call on AU leaders for &quot;renewed collective African efforts&quot; to tackle the insurgents.</p><p>A top US military commander General David Rodriguez, head of US Africa Command, on Tuesday also warned tackling Boko Haram will need a &quot;huge&quot; international effort.</p> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:16:00 +0000 AFP 2443351 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/28/499612/protest_against_boko_haram_islamists.jpg Greek stocks slide 6 percent as new government meets <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>The Greek stock market slid 6.4 percent on Wednesday after the new anti-austerity government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met for the first time.</p><p>The market was down to 736 points, having closed at 783 points, or down nearly 3.7 percent, on Tuesday.</p> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:08:00 +0000 AFP 2443349 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/26/499612/syriza.jpg Oil prices down ahead of Fed meet outcome, supply report <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Oil prices fell in Asia Wednesday as dealers await the outcome of a US Federal Reserve meeting and the release of a US supply report expected to show a surge in crude stockpiles, analysts said.</p><p>US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery fell 70 cents to $45.53 while Brent for March eased 60 cents to $49.00 in afternoon trade.</p><p>The Fed is expected to release a post-meeting statement later Wednesday following the first gathering this year of its policy-making Federal Open Market Committee.</p><p>Singapore&#39;s United Overseas Bank (UOB) said the Fed statement will be pored over by investors for clues to the central bank&#39;s thinking on the timing for an expected interest rate hike later this year, the first since 2006.</p><p>&quot;We continue to expect the Fed rate normalisation to take place in 2Q-2015,&quot; UOB said in a commentary.</p><p>&quot;We do see the possibility that the Fed (could be) increasingly torn between strong jobs data with a potentially steep decline in headline inflation on the back of a plunge in oil prices,&quot; the Singapore lender said.</p><p>The Fed has kept its key federal funds rate pegged between zero and 0.25 percent since late 2008 to support the US economy&#39;s recovery from the deep 2008-2009 recession.</p><p>In October, the Fed ended its massive asset-purchase programme, or quantitative easing, and has signalled that a rate hike would be coming this year. Most analysts expect the increase will arrive by June.</p><p>Interest rate adjustments are closely watched by crude investors as an increase usually leads to a pick-up in the dollar.</p><p>A stronger greenback makes dollar-priced oil more expensive for buyers using weaker currencies, denting demand.</p><p>Analysts said oil prices were also pressured after industry group the American Petroleum Institute said US crude reserves likely surged by 12.7 million barrels in the week to January 23.</p><p>The US Energy Department will release the official stockpiles report later Wednesday.</p> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 07:57:00 +0000 AFP 2443316 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/12/22/499612/oil_prices1.jpg