Midfielders Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante, as well as start striker Kylian Mbappe, missed the games through injuries but their absence was barely felt as Les Bleus scored seven goals in two outings.
Kingsley Coman emerged as the biggest winner of the long weekend, netting three times and proving a constant threat in man-of-the-match performances at the Stade de France.
The Bayern Munich forward’s devilish pace, inspiration and eye for goal have put him in prime position to at least become Didier Deschamps’s favourite substitute at the 16-team championship next year, should France qualify.
“I’m not going to complain that I have an extra solution. He was already with us at Euro 2016, and he was already performing.
“What he’s got now is an eye for goal and he showed it with Bayern and in these two games,” Deschamps said of Coman, who missed out on the 2018 World Cup in a year marred by injuries.
Coman, 23, scored one goal and set up two in three Bundesliga games this season.
His three goals in a 4-1 win against Albania and the 3-0 defeat of Andorra took his France tally to four goals in 19 games.
Other forwards took their chance to shine, too.
Lille forward Jonathan Ikone came off the bench against Albania to score on his debut and he was also brilliant against Andorra, setting up Coman for the first goal
“He’s a young player who can improve a lot. He made the most of the time he had, it’s important to be decisive,” said Deschamps of the 21-year-old.
Monaco striker Wissam Ben Yedder had less time to shine, but he took full advantage of 20 minutes against Andorra to find the back of the net in stoppage time.
France are level on 15 points with Turkey in Group H, second by virtue of their Istanbul defeat last June despite a better goal difference.
They now face two potentially decisive clashes against Iceland in Reykjavik and Turkey at the Stade de France. (Reuter/)
Edited by Nick Nicholas/Maharazu Ahmed
France says its army killed al Qaeda North Africa chief, Droukdel
France said on Friday its military forces had killed al Qaeda’s North Africa chief Abdelmalek Droukdel, a key Islamist fighter that its forces had been hunting for more than seven years, during an operation in Mali.
“On June 3, French army forces, with the support of their local partners, killed the Emir of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and several of his closest collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly wrote on Twitter.
The announcement of the death of Droukdel comes almost six months after former colonial power France and regional states combined their military forces under one command structure to focus on fighting Islamic State-linked militants in the border regions of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.
Droukdel was among North Africa’s most experienced militants.
He took part in an Islamist militant takeover of northern Mali before a French military intervention in 2013 drove them back and scattered fighters across the Sahel region.
Droukdel was believed to be hiding in the mountains of northern Algeria. Al Qaeda North Africa was the dominant jihadist force in the region, staging several high-profile deadly attacks until 2013, when it fractured as many militants flocked to the more extremist Islamic State as it seized territory in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
It remained active in North Africa’s largely desert and often scarcely governed Sahel region.
Parly said that French forces, which number about 5,100 in the region, had also on May 19 captured Mohamed el Mrabat, a fighter she identified as a veteran militant in the region and member of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
“Our forces, in cooperation with their local partners… will continue to track these (people) down without respite,” Parly said.
Critics in the region have increasingly scorned Paris for failing to restore stability.
Anti-French sentiment has grown as militants have strengthened their foothold, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking ethnic violence.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara (NAN)/
Coronavirus epidemic “under control” in France: gov’t advisor
“We can reasonably declare that the virus is under control. The virus is still circulating in certain regions notably in Ile-de-France and eastern France, but it’s circulating slowly,” Delfraissy told France Inter radio.
The immunologist noted that compared with the new single-day cases reported in March, it now shows “a significant decrease” in the virus circulation.
“Most importantly, we have all the tools to detect these new cases. We have the tests, … and a whole system of isolation to be able to trace the positive cases and to avoid the virus to spread again,” he added.
On Thursday, the council published a report in which it detailed four scenarios of future epidemic situation, with recommendation of measures to be activated in response.
The first scenario describes an “epidemic under control” as a result of nearly two-month lockdown.
“We think the first scenario, a controlled epidemic, is the most likely,” Delfraissy said.
Meanwhile, he warned that French people should not relax “too much” their efforts, recommending continued distancing measures, wearing mask in public transport and frequently wash their hands.
The other scenarios are based in terms of acceleration of virus spread and increasing of tension in hospitals. The second is “the appearance of critical clusters” in which the government should reinforce testing, quickly isolate cases and trace suspect ones.
The third scenario consists in a “progressive, quiet restart of the epidemic, which would be more difficult to control” and the fourth — the most severe — a “critical degradation” in the situation leading to a “loss of control on the epidemic,” which likely will force authorities to re-impose restrictive rules on people movement.
As of Thursday, France had registered 44 new daily deaths from COVID-19, bringing the toll to 29,065, while confirmed cases increased by 767 in one day. The number of hospitalized patients decreased by 413 to 13,101, including 1,163 in intensive care, down by 47.
France denies harbouring Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido in Caracas
France denied on Friday that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido had taken refuge at any of its diplomatic sites in Caracas after the Venezuelan foreign minister said he was hiding in the French Embassy.
“Mr Juan Guaido is not at the French residence in Caracas.
“We have repeatedly confirmed this to the Venezuelan authorities,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told Union Radio on Thursday that Guaido was in the French embassy and also accused Spain of harbouring Leopoldo Lopez, another opponent of the government.
France in May summoned Venezuela’s envoy over accusations that President Nicolas Maduro’s government had been harassing its embassy in Caracas, including by cutting water and electricity to the ambassador’s residence.
Maduro has previously accused French Ambassador Romain Nadal of meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
Von der Muhll, the French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, added: “Only a democratic path with free, transparent, and credible elections will enable it (political crisis) to be resolved in the long-term and put an end to the suffering of the Venezuelan people.”
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
France’s public deficit to reach 11.4 pct of GDP in 2020: minister
France‘s public deficit in 2020 will reach 11.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to the costly measures to cushion the health crisis’ impact on economic activities, Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gerald Darmanin said on Thursday.
“We’re in debt, and more and more so, because we have chosen to save the French economy,” Darmanin told France 2 television. “With a projected 11 percent GDP contraction, we’re going to have a 11.4 percent budget deficit.”
“We have spent a lot of money to guarantee workers’ wages, support liberal profession and traders. We have updated the budget law three times in six months to improve French economy‘s ability to support (sectors hard hit by the coronavirus crisis),” said the minister.
The French government is mobilizing 450 billion euros, representing 20 percent of the country’s GDP, to help companies stay afloat through the virus outbreak, which consists in large part of tax and payroll charge deferrals, in addition to specific plans to rescue the worst-hit sectors, such as tourism and auto industry. (1 euro = 1.12 U.S. dollar)
France’s COVID-19 deaths top 29,000
France on Wednesday reported 81 new COVID-19 deaths, a slower increase over the 107 fatalities registered a day earlier, bringing the country’s toll from the coronavirus-caused disease to 29,021 since March 1.
The Health Ministry said in a statement that more than a third of the fatalities (10,350) occurred in retirement homes.
Figures released by the ministry showed that the number of patients hospitalized or admitted to intensive care units continued to decline.
A total of 151,677 people have tested positive for the coronavirus to date, including 352 new infections confirmed in the last 24 hours. The number of patients who have recovered stood at 69,455, a single-day increase of 668.
France entered the second phase of easing the lockdown on Tuesday, allowing people to sip their drinks in cafes and bars, as well as enjoy meals in restaurants which were closed for nearly three months to stem the epidemic spread.
Museums, parks and beaches are able to receive visitors. Swimming pools, gyms, amusement parks and theaters in so-called “green” zones also reopened.
Dozens arrested in France as protests over death of black Frenchman turn violent
French riot police arrested 18 people who turned violent during an unauthorized demonstration overnight over the death of a black Frenchman in a 2016 police custody, local media reported on Wednesday.
Some 20,000 people demonstrated in front of the Paris Court near the ring road in the north of the capital on Tuesday evening, calling for justice for Adama Traore, who died in police custody in 2016 after he was arrested for a dispute over an identity check.
Violence erupted when some demonstrators hurled projectiles, set on fire rubbish bins and vandalized properties while police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Rallies against police violence were also staged in other French cities, where 7 others were arrested and 10 policemen were slightly injured, the report added.
The protest came after a new probe, commissioned by Adama Traore‘s family, said the young man died of asphyxiation due to the arrest technique police officers had used during the operation.
State investigators had dismissed the charge of police brutality in the arrest of Traore, saying that the man died of heart failure due to pre-existing medical conditions.
France sticks with digital tax despite United States tariff threat
France will maintain its planned tax on digital services at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) level despite Washington’s threat of punitive tariffs, Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday.
“We will give no ground on digital tax. I call on all G7 (Group of Seven) states to step up work at the OECD to reach an international solution by the end of 2020,” said Le Maire during a G7 finance ministers’ conference call.
United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced on Tuesday a “Section 301” investigation into digital services taxes that have been adopted or are considered by the U.S.’s ten trading partners (Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom).
Last July, the French parliament adopted a digital tax bill, paving the way for the eurozone’s second largest power to unilaterally tax internet giants by three percent on much of their digital sales in France.
Washington has completed a “Section 301” probe into France‘s digital tax regime and threatened to impose tariffs of up to 100 percent on 2.4 billion U.S. dollars worth of French goods in retaliation for the tax that it deemed discriminatory.
Students return to schools in France
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A student works at Eucalyptus technical high school in Nice, southern France, on June 2, 2020. Students are returning to schools in France during the second phase of de-confinement in the country. (Photo by Serge Haouzi/Xinhua)
France further unwinds anti-coronavirus lockdown from June 2
People wearing protective face shields have coffee at Cafe de Flore in Paris, France, June 2, 2020. France further unwound anti-coronavirus lockdown from June 2, 2020. Restaurants, cafes and bars in low risk areas are able to receive customers, providing they respect health protocol and social distancing. In Great Paris region, classified as “orange” zone, they can only open outside spaces to avoid a resurgence of the epidemic. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)
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