3 planes in no-fly zone during Obama visit
WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Three small planes strayed into restricted airspace during President Obama's stay in Florida, prompting an escort by fighter jets, federal officials said.
Army Lt. Col. Mike Humphreys said the first, a Cessna 152, entered the restricted area Saturday near the Palm City resort where the Obama was staying for the long weekend, CNN reported Monday.
Five hours after that plane was escorted out of the area by a F-16 fighter jet and a Coast Guard helicopter, F-16s intercepted a Lancair 320, the defense command said.
That plane left the restricted airspace after the fighter jets arrived, the defense command said.
The third plane, another Cessna aircraft, was intercepted near Palm City Sunday morning and landed at Okeechobee Airport, where it was also met by local officials, CNN said.
Britain calls for arms for Syrian rebels
BRUSSELS, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Britain's foreign minister appeared to be supported only by France Monday when he called on European Union countries to arm rebels in Syria, officials said.
Speaking before the start of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, William Hague told reporters "there's a broader range of equipment" the EU could provide forces fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad, the EUobserver.com reported.
The embargo the EU has placed on the shipment of arms to Syria expires at the end of February.
An EU diplomat said after Hague's comments that France would support the move by Britain to relax the embargo.
Free Syrian Army forces have sought anti-aircraft weapons to defend themselves against aerial attacks by Syrian forces.
The FSA has warned that better-armed jihadist forces have drawn support from the reluctance of Western nations to provide military aid to the rebels.
Several ministers expressed concern Monday about ending the embargo.
Didier Reynders of Belgium said if the embargo were lifted, "we have to sure we can control the distribution of arms."
The biggest skeptics were the Czech Republic, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Poland, with Poland's Radek Sikorski saying "We think that pouring fuel onto the fire is very risky."
Pope on retreat before stepping down
VATICAN CITY, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI will be on a spiritual retreat and not receiving visitors until five days before he steps down as pontiff, the Vatican said Monday.
The retreat for the 85-year-old leader of the Roman Catholic church was planned long before he announced his resignation, ANSA reported.
It will end Feb. 23, when the pope is scheduled to meet Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.
In the interim, the usual Wednesday general audiences have been cancelled.
Benedict gave his last Angelus mass on Sunday. He will step down Feb. 28.
The archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, says the church should not be in a rush to replace Benedict.
He says the 117 cardinals who will elect the next pope should take their time.
Noting there are "many delicate questions to address," Dolan said, "I don't think we want to rush the conclave. The important thing (now) is to be here, express our love and best wishes for Pope Benedict, pray together and then make the decisions."
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said during the weekend the conclave could start before the pope steps down because he had not died, but quit.
Hillary Clinton to join speaking circuit
WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins the speaker's circuit this year, the Harry Walker Agency posted on its site.
"We are proud to share the exciting news that Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has joined the Harry Walker Agency exclusively for her speaking engagements," the post read.
Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, also is represented by Harry Walker.
The former top U.S. diplomat, U.S. senator and first lady is considered a top 2016 contender for president, even though she has repeatedly said she doesn't plan to run.