Australia's Labor rejects same-sex marriage vote
SYDNEY • Australia's plan to hold a national vote on same-sex marriage appears doomed after the opposition Labor Party yesterday vowed to block a plebiscite that it said would spark divisive debate.
Labor leader Bill Shorten also said the proposed A$170 million (S$177 million) plebiscite would be too costly.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a long-time supporter of gay marriage, had admitted that if the plebiscite planned for next February was carried out, a subsequent vote in Parliament could be blocked by right-wing members of his conservative coalition and other opponents in the Senate.
Colombian govt and rebels plan peace talks
BOGOTA • The Colombian government and the country's second-largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), say they will begin negotiations on Oct 27 in Ecuador, with President Juan Manuel Santos predicting "total peace". The move announced on Monday is welcome news for Mr Santos, fresh from his Nobel Peace Prize win but still reeling from voters' rejection in a referendum of a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), the country's largest rebel group.
Merkel to make Africa a G-20 priority
ADDIS ABABA • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on a trip to Ethiopia, said yesterday she would make Africa a priority for Germany's Group of 20 (G-20) presidency next year and outlined plans for a conference in Berlin.
The German leader, who was on the last leg of a three-day trip that included stops in Mali and Niger, is seeking investment opportunities which she hopes will help drive economic growth and curb migration to Europe.