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Why Did Argentina's Kirchner Snub Paris March?

PARIS — Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner instructed her Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, who happened to be in Paris this past weekend, to skip Sunday's march to honor the victims of last week's terror attacks, Buenos Aires daily Clarín reports.

The march, which followed the deadly Jan. 7 attack on the Paris-based satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and two subsequent attacks in the French capital, was attended by dozens of leaders and even monarchs. French authorities invited Timerman, who was passing through Paris to visit his daughter on his way back from a diplomatic mission in China. But the foreign minister was told not to attend after ringing Buenos Aires. It was not immediately clear why.

The embassy refused to comment when contacted by Clarín"s correspondent in Paris, María Laura Avignolo; she says that the ambassador, María del Carmen Squeff, habitually qualifies the daily — which is critical of the Kirchner government and herself — as "the enemy."

Timerman, an Argentine Jew, signed a condolence book on Jan. 10, but did not atttend a ceremony at the Paris Synagogue to honor four people shot dead in Friday's attack on a kosher supermarket.

The daily observed Kirchner had yet to comment on the attacks either on television or on Twitter "as she usually does."

The United States has been criticized by Americans after failing to send a top official to the march, which was attended by leaders of UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and several other top dignitaries.

Photo: Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman — Source: Facebook page

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Fight Over Tourist Visa Ban For Russians Is Taking Everyone For A Ride

High on the agenda of the Prague summit of Europe’s foreign ministers this week was a proposal to ban tourist visas for Russians, as punishment for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But it is ultimately a way to change the subject, and recalls Zelensky’s iconic remark after the war began.

Passengers arrive at Sheremetyevo International Airport, Russia

TASS
Anna Akage

It’s not a new question. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called for a ban on tourist visa for Russian soon after the war began, and this week it became the center of the Prague summit of European Union foreign ministers.

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Some European Union nations voiced their support soon after it was mentioned by Zelensky, including former Soviet republics and current Russia neighbors, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They were followed by Finland and the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Poland. Hungary, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus. Germany and France are looking for a compromise that would allow for visas for students, workers of culture and science, as well as people who need entry for humanitarian reason. Perhaps most importantly, however, the U.S. took an unambiguous position against the restrictions.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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