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French press review 16 November 2013

Who abducted a French priest in Cameroon? Are kidnappers targeting French citizens? Is france to friendly with Tuareg separatists in Mali? Will Hollande talk tough to Israel? Has Obama harmed his image over health care? And will les Bleus get to Brazil?

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The abduction in Cameroon of French priest Georges Vandenbeusch continues to attract emotional reactions in the press.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

Le Monde also suspects the Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram of kidnapping the Catholic cleric. The paper underlines that Reverend Fr Vandenbeusch was aware of the threats he faced staying in the far northern Cameroonian region bordering the Islamist lair in Nigeria but chose to stay in respect for his spiritual vocation.

Le Figaro runs a profile of Fr Georges, noting that he became an orphan in his early childhood which is probably why the affection of parishioners in the small town Nguetchewe made Cameroon an enjoyable place.

Aujourd’hui en France observes that Vandenbeusch’s abduction confirms the attraction kidnappers have developed for French citizens. According to the paper, abductors go out hunting for French nationals due to the millions of euros they could earn in a trade-off for their release.

Le Monde also reports that insecurity in the northern Malian area of Kidal, where two RFI journalists were killed a fortnight ago, is straining relations between Mali and France. According to the paper Bamako doesn’t like the ties Paris is alleged to be cultivating with Tuareg groups such as the MNLA, which launched the secession war in 2012 before being routed by the French Serval operation.

Le Monde reports that Bamako is angered by the ties French Intelligence agents are developing with them and by what is seen as their rehabilitation by France as partners in the process to restore peace in the war-torn country.

Libération looks forward to President François Hollande’s mission to the Middle East as he looks set to weigh in on the peace process. He is expected in Israel on Sunday and in the Palestinian Territories on Monday.

The paper reports that, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been promising to roll out a red carpet for a special friend, Hollande will be bearing a blunt message about a two-state solution to the conflict and will denounce the pursuit of Israel’s settlement policy, which is hampering peace talks.

Netanyahu sat down with Le Figaro as he prepares to host the French leader. In the exclusive interview he praises Hollande’s “coherent and resolute stance” against Iran’s nuclear programme.

US President Barack Obama is caught in the trap of his health-care reform, writes Le Monde. This is after he admitted that Obamacare needed some fixing. The new healthcare reform appeared doomed on Friday after 39 House Democrats defected and voted for changes that would gut significant portions of the law.

The rebels want insurers to be given a chance to offer policies that do not meet requirements of the new health-care reforms, an amendment Obama would veto, according to the White House.

Special dossier

But the bipartisan vote, even if it is just political messaging, marked a blow to a president under heavy fire for backpedalling on a pledge that all Americans who liked their health plans could keep them. Le Monde holds that, whatever happens, Obama has suffered a loss of public confidence that looks to set to undermine the rest of his presidency.

And L’Equipe raises a red alert after France were beaten two-nil by Ukraine in the first leg of their World Cup play-off in Kiev on Friday. It was a pitiful performance - enough to reduce you to tears, comments Aujourd’hui en France. Amid the looming disaster the sports daily warns that the sickening defeat leaves the Bleus needing a miracle to qualify for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

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