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Wed, 13 Nov 2019 08:51:31 GMT
French police nationwide prepare for fifth wave of yellow vest protests french police nationwide prepare for fifth wave of yellow vest protests

France will deploy tens of thousands of police nationwide and around 8,000 in Paris on Saturday to handle a fifth weekend of ‘yellow vest’ protests, although the movement appears to be losing steam after concessions by President Emmanuel Macron.

The chief of police in Paris said concerns remained about violent groups infiltrating the protests. Anti-riot officers will protect landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and prevent people getting close to the presidential palace.

“We need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios,” police chief Michel Delpuech told RTL radio.

He expected businesses in the capital to be less affected this weekend after heavy disruption over the past three weeks when major stores shut, hotels suffered cancelations and tourists stayed away during the usually busy run-up to Christmas.

Nicknamed “Acte V” of the protests, the yellow vest demonstrators will take to the streets this weekend as France recovers from an unrelated attack on a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg on Tuesday, when a gunman shot and killed three people and wounded several others.

Hundreds of police officers were redeployed to Strasbourg to search for the gunman, who was shot dead in an exchange of fire on Thursday evening.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said it was time for the yellow vests to scale down their protests and accept they had achieved their aims. Police officers also deserved a break, he added.

“I’d rather have the police force doing their real job, chasing criminals and combating the terrorism threat, instead of securing roundabouts where a few thousand people keep a lot of police busy,” he said.

Attractions such as the Louvre museum and Opera Garnier will be open this weekend, as will luxury department stores like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. Last Saturday they were closed as thousands of sometimes violent protesters tore through the city. The previous weekend the Arc de Triomphe was vandalized, cars were overturned and torched and businesses smashed up.

The protests have taken a toll on the economy, with output in the last quarter of the year set to be half initial projections, while Macron’s concessions are likely to push the budget deficit above an EU agreed limit.

The yellow vest movement, which began as a protest against fuel taxes and then grew into an anti-Macron alliance, appears to have calmed since the president announced a series of measures to help the working poor.

However, many people wearing the high-visibility motorists’ safety jackets which are the symbol of the protests were manning barricades outside cities on Friday.

After heavy criticism for not being seen to respond to the protesters’ complaints, Macron made a TV address this week during which he said he understood their concerns and acknowledged the need for a different approach.

As well canceling fuel tax increases that were due to kick in next month, Macron said he would increase the minimum wage by 100 euros a month from January and reduce taxes for poorer pensioners, among other measures.

Since the first yellow vest protests on Nov. 17, supporters have kept up a steady stream of dissent, although the numbers joining marches have steadily fallen. ($1 = 0.8857 euros)


From :Arabnews


Fri, 14 Dec 2018 18:45:50 GMT
Turkey orders arrest of 219 soldiers in Gulen investigation turkey orders arrest of 219 soldiers in gulen investigation

Turkish prosecutors ordered the detention of 219 soldiers with suspected links to the U.S.-based Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Friday.

Police have conducted a series of raids against alleged supporters of the preacher Fethullah Gulen since the coup attempt in July 2016, in which 250 people were killed. Gulen denies involvement.

Fri, 14 Dec 2018 16:04:30 GMT
Turkey sees no reason for new summit with Russia on Idlib turkey sees no reason for new summit with russia on idlib

Turkey believes that the current situation near Syria’s Idlib does not need top-level discussion with Russia, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.

"We don’t need a summit, but we continue cooperation with each other at other levels, so the work continues," he said, answering a TASS question on when the second top-level meeting on the situation near Idlib between Russia and Turkey may take place, which Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier talked about. "We don’t need a new summit, as there is no any extraordinary situation."

"Our militaries, the intelligence and foreign ministers are working in close contact with each other," he added.

Cavusoglu added that he discussed the situation in Idlib with Lavrov on the sidelines of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). "We always discuss this issue," he said. "It was discussed, in particular, at a meeting between Presidents Putin and Erdogan at the G20 summit. We are taking all possible efforts to secure the implementation of the memorandum on Idlib and preserve peace there."

"We also stepped up efforts to form the Syrian Constitutional Committee and convene it for the first time as soon as possible," Cavusoglu added.

On September 17, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed to create a demilitarized zone 15-20 km deep in the Idlib Governorate along the contact line between the Syrian government forces and the armed opposition. However, Ankara asked additional time and postpone the start of joint patrolling in Idlib in light of its inability to guarantee the terms of security.

Fri, 14 Dec 2018 15:51:37 GMT
Putin signs decree making Vladivostok capital of Russia putin signs decree making vladivostok capital of russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree moving the capital of the Far Eastern Federal District (FEFD) from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok, the press center of the Kremlin said in a statement on Thursday.

The document amends the decree as of May 13, 2000, which particularly contains a list of the Russian Federal Districts and their capitals. In accordance with the new decree, Vladivostok has replaced Khabarovsk as the center of the Far Eastern Federal District. "The head of the presidential administration of Russia was instructed to carry out necessary organizational and staff measures related to the transfer of the center of the Far Eastern Federal District to Vladivostok," reads the decree.


Fri, 14 Dec 2018 15:44:48 GMT
Electricity minister receives MANTECH delegation electricity minister receives mantech delegation

Electricity and Water Affairs Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza received a delegation from MANTECH Logic Company, headed it’s Executive Director Salman Bader Kaikso, who was accompanied by a number of officials from UAE-based Green Parking.

The minister was briefed by the visitors on the technologies implemented by the company in the field of electric car chargers, which have been installed a large number in the UAE and Oman.

They expressed their desire to establish a relationship with the Sustainable Energy Unit of the Electricity and Water Authority and implementation of these technologies in Bahrain.

Dr Mirza said that the government attaches great importance to promoting the use of clean energy for comprehensive sustainable development.

He added that the use of electric cars would contribute to achieving national goals in the use of renewable energy and raising the efficiency of energy use in Bahrain.

The visitors expressed their thanks and appreciation to the minister and officials for the welcome and for opening the prospects of cooperation with local and international companies according to the opportunities available. The meeting was attended by Adel Al-Taho, Advisor to the Minister and a number of officials of the Sustainable Energy Unit.

Fri, 14 Dec 2018 15:39:25 GMT
Moscow ready for Putin-Trump meeting moscow ready for putintrump meeting

Moscow remains ready for a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump, since both countries need such a meeting, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"We are still convinced that such a meeting is equally necessary for both Moscow and Washington," he said.

Peskov stressed, citing Putin, that Russia remained ready for a bilateral summit, as well as for other meetings at various levels, "in order to start discussing pressing matters concerning the two countries and issues of global strategic stability."

The Russian and US presidents were supposed to hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, which took place in Argentina’s capital of Buenos Aires on November 30 to December 1. However, Trump cancelled the meeting shortly before the appointed time, citing the November 25 incident in the Kerch Strait, where Russia had detained Ukrainian sailors for violating the border. Moscow expressed regret over the US president’s decision and said on numerous occasions that the two heads of state needed to hold a meeting to discuss the INF Treaty and other pressing issues.


Fri, 14 Dec 2018 15:34:21 GMT
Suspected Strasbourg Xmas market shooter killed by police suspected strasbourg xmas market shooter killed by police

Cherif Chekatt, who is suspected of killing three people and injuring about a dozen at the Strasbourg Christmas Market, was shot dead during a police operation on Thursday evening, the BFM TV channel said citing a source close to the investigation.

According to the report, the suspected gunman was killed in Neudorf, a neighborhood in the south of the city. Earlier media reports said a police operation began in the area.

The source told BFM that the man was spotted by a female resident of Neudorf, who immediately reported to the police. When a group of officers came to detain him, the suspect started shooting at them and was killed when police returned fire.

Footage from the area, aired by BFM, showed local residents applauding to officers after learning the news.

Shortly after, the information was confirmed by French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who is now in Strasbourg.

"Three officers identified Chekatt and wanted to detain him, but he opened fire and was killed when police returned fire," the minister said at a news conference, aired by BFM. "Now, Strasbourg can return back to normal life."

On Tuesday evening, 29-year-old resident of Strasbourg, Cherif Chekatt, opened fire at people visiting the Christmas Market in the heart of Strasbourg. As a result, three people were killed and 13 injured. Later in the day, Chekatt was spotted by a military patrol, but managed to flee.

According to media reports, Chekatt was possibly angered by an attempt to detain him on Tuesday morning in connection with a robbery and attempted murder case. The 48-hour police operation to detain the suspected terrorist involved over 700 law-enforcement officers.


Fri, 14 Dec 2018 15:30:10 GMT
Al-Jaafari calls for stopping the politicization of humanitarian affair in Syria aljaafari calls for stopping the politicization of humanitarian affair in syria

Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari said that the Syrian government is the keenest side to provide all sorts of humanitarian aid to all its citizens wherever they are in the entire Syrian land, clarifying that it fulfills this duty completely in cooperation with the Syrian Arab red Crescent, as it will always be committed to cooperate and coordinate with the United Nations and its humanitarian partners in accordance to regulatory guidelines for consolidating and coordinating the human action.

Al-Jaafari clarified during Security Council session to discuss the 58th report of the UN Secretary-General on the humanitarian condition in Syria “these guidelines highlight sovereignty and independence of states as well as the role of the relevant state in supervising the distribution of the humanitarian assistance inside its territories, as they also stress respect for the principle of neutrality, honesty and non-politicization.”

Al-Jaafari called for stopping the politicization of the humanitarian situation in Syria, including stopping providing false information and figures and stopping ignoring realities and transformations on the ground and increasing the international humanitarian support to respond to the needs of the Syrians.

Al-Jaafari affirmed that the center of humanitarian action on the crisis in Syria starts from Damascus not as promoted by UN Resolution no.2165, that it start from Gaziantep’s Turkish offices or other places, stressing that obtaining the consent of the Syrian government prior to delivering the humanitarian aid through borders is a fundamental principle, in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182 and that should not be limited to notification only as stipulated in the resolution.

He clarified that the UN monitoring mechanism is unable to check whether the aid coming via borders reach to those who need it, as the vast majority of such processes are taking place through the Syrian-Turkish borders and they are targeting the areas where the terrorist groups spread. These groups seize the aid and distribute it to its members.

Al-Jaafari noted that those responsible for United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have not taken into account transparency standards and could not find the necessary guarantees to persuade the international community that the aid sent via borders is really reaching to those who deserve them not the terrorist groups.

He pointed out that “Tahrir al-Sham Organization”, designated by the UNSC as terrorist, imposed taxes on the aid accessing through borders, particularly Bab al-Hawa border crossing with the Turkish borders, which is a direct financing act to terrorism and a violation of UNSC resolutions relevant. Likewise, the Qatari government paid millions of dollars to Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations under pretext of paying ransoms to release hostages held by the terrorist organizations, which constitutes a blatant violation of UNSC Resolution No. 2368.

Al-Jaafari said that the UNSC held hundreds of formal and informal meetings on the humanitarian situation in Syria and adopted many resolutions, wondering whether the resolutions, sessions, and reports are aimed at improving the human condition in Syria or exerting the political pressure on the Syrian government by some sides and using the Syrians suffering as a commodity for cheap political trade.

He went on saying that if the purpose, as some claim is to improve the human situation in Syria, what is required today is not to issue new resolutions or hold sessions, but to help the Syrian government to combat the remnants of the terrorist groups, which were the main cause of the emergence of the humanitarian crisis.

He added that the humanitarian crisis emerged only in the areas where the terrorist organizations are spread along with the illegitimate presence of foreign forces.

Al-Jaafari demanded the UNCC to assume its responsibility to immediately halt the attacks, massacres, and the systematic destruction of the infrastructure in Syria by the illegitimate US-led coalition and make the states of that alliance abide by the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the resolutions of the Security Council.
The senior diplomat said that Syria is determined today more than ever to combat the remaining terrorist groups in Idleb and other areas and to exercise its legal right of self-defense to expel all foreign invading forces from its territories.

“The Syrian government, people and army have a very clear image of who is an enemy and who is a friend as Syria realizes well that combating terrorism is a war imposed by the sponsors of terrorism in order to drain its energy and pass their unjust schemes in the region, in the forefront of the Palestinian cause and pushing the peoples of the region into bloody darkness, in which the extremist Wahhabi thought is its fuel, stressing that Syria will fail all these schemes,” he added.

Al-Jaafari reiterated that Syria is continuing to rehabilitate all the areas destroyed by the terrorists and bring life back to normal so that the Syrian people are able to enjoy the life the used to live before the war of terrorism waged against them and enable the Syrian citizens to return to their homeland, being forced to leave due to terrorism and unilateral economic measures, which has targeted their basic needs.

Fri, 14 Dec 2018 15:21:36 GMT
Michel Aoun meets Rahi in Baabda michel aoun meets rahi in baabda

President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, is currently meeting with Maronite Patriarch, March Bechara Boutros Rahi, at Baabda Palace, NNA reporter said on Friday. 


Fri, 14 Dec 2018 14:52:47 GMT
Israeli troops arrest dozens in West Bank israeli troops arrest dozens in west bank

A Hamas official in the West Bank says Israeli forces have arrested dozens of Hamas activists, including lawmakers, in overnight raids.

The arrests come in the wake of a pair of deadly shootings this week believed to have been carried out by Hamas activists.

The Hamas official said on Friday that some 70 members have been arrested this week, including about 40 overnight. The official spoke on condition of anonymity fearing arrest by Israel.

The Israeli military on Friday confirmed the overnight arrests.

A Palestinian gunman on Thursday opened fire at a West Bank bus stop, killing two Israeli soldiers. Earlier this week, another gunman opened fire at another bus stop, wounding seven and causing the premature delivery of a baby that later died.

From :Arabnews


Fri, 14 Dec 2018 13:52:52 GMT
Lebanese wary as Israel destroys Hezbollah border tunnels lebanese wary as israel destroys hezbollah border tunnels

As Israeli excavators dug into the rocky hills along the frontier with a Lebanese village, a crowd of young Lebanese men gathered to watch.

The mood was light as the crowd observed in real time what Israel says is a military operation — dubbed “Northern Shield” — aimed at destroying attack tunnels built by the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. The young men posed for selfies, with the Israeli crew in the background, as they burned fires and brewed tea to keep warm.

But Lebanese soldiers were visibly on high alert, deploying to new camouflaged posts behind sandbags and inside abandoned homes. About two dozen UN peacekeepers stood in a long line, just ahead of the blue line demarcating the frontier between the two countries technically still at war.

The scene highlights the palpable anxiety that any misstep could lead to a conflagration between Israel and Lebanon that no one seems to want.

Underscoring such jitters, shadowy figures appearing across the misty hills of the border village of Mays Al-Jabal last weekend sparked panic, and Israeli soldiers fired in the air to warn a Lebanese military intelligence patrol, according to Lebanese reports. Israel said it fired at Hezbollah members who came to the site to dismantle sensors installed to detect tunnels.

Israel’s tunnel search comes at a time when the civil war in neighboring Syria seems to be winding down. Hezbollah had sent hundreds of troops to Syria in 2013 to fight alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. With Assad’s forces emerging victorious, attention now seems to be returning to the tense Israel-Lebanon border.

Israel said its troops have discovered at least three tunnels along the frontier — a tactic used by Hezbollah in previous wars — and called on the international community to impose new sanctions on Hezbollah.

The militant group, which fought a bruising but inconclusive war with Israel in 2006, has not commented on the Israeli operation or statements.
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri said Thursday that neither Israel nor Lebanon wanted to go to war, but noted that Israel violates Lebanese airspace and international waters on a regular basis.

He said the Lebanese army “will deal with this issue” after receiving a full report from the UN peacekeeping force, but did not elaborate.
The peacekeeping force, known as UNIFIL, has confirmed the presence of tunnels and said it is working with both sides to address the situation in line with UN Security Council resolutions.

In southern Lebanon on Thursday, Lebanese army soldiers observed the frontier in Mays Al-Jabal, taking photos of their Israeli counterparts operating only a few meters (yards) away. At times, the Lebanese soldiers asked the young men to move back, away from the frontier.

Ali Jaber, a 21-year-old resident of Mays Al-Jabal, said he believes that Hezbollah is more popular after the Syria war, and that this is the reason Israel is now turning to it. “But whoever puts up a shield and is hiding and making fortifications must be scared,” he said.

Hussein Melhem, a 19-year old electrician from the village, came to watch. His cheeks ruddy on a cold but clear day, he covered his head with a tight hood. He alleged that Israel is trying to change the border.

“If they could occupy all of this, they would,” he said, in an apparent reference to Israel’s 18-year military occupation of southern Lebanon which ended in 2000. “But the resistance will prevent them.”

As a seven-year-old in 2006, Melhem and his family left Mays Al-Jabal when Israel invaded. His village was badly damaged but has since largely recovered and he said he found their home intact.

It is hard to forget about war in the villages and towns along the frontier. Pictures of Hezbollah fighters who died in the 2006 war, as well as the one raging in neighboring Syria, known locally as the “Sacred Defense,” are everywhere. Posts on town squares boast of defeating Israel or urge the locals to “know their enemy.”

During the Syrian civil war, Israel has frequently carried out airstrikes in Syria against Iranian-allied forces, particularly Hezbollah. Israel says it aims to prevent sophisticated weaponry from reaching Hezbollah, which it considers its most pressing security concern.

In Lebanon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warnings have raised suspicions that he is also using the tunnel operation as a diplomatic pressure card.

Netanyahu has called for more sanctions against Hezbollah. In a visit to the frontier earlier this week, he warned that if Hezbollah tries to disrupt the search for tunnels, “it will be hit in a way it cannot even imagine.”

In Israel, some newspaper commentators have been critical of the UN peacekeeping force, whose mandate Israel and the United States have unsuccessfully attempted to expand to include “intervention and deterrence.”

About 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the north from Mays Al-Jabal, Israeli soldiers are also operating along another frontier to uncover what they suspect is a tunnel location.
There, a high concrete wall separates them from the Lebanese village of Kfar Kela.

UN peacekeepers and Lebanese army separately patrol the area. Israel began building the wall in 2012, and this section was completed weeks ago. While graffiti covers the older slabs of concrete, water has collected under the newer segment of the wall.

A UN peacekeeping force was working to clear the water after Lebanese residents complained it comes from irrigation drainage from the other side.

From :Arabnews


Fri, 14 Dec 2018 13:47:26 GMT
Britain and EU should prepare for second Brexit referendum britain and eu should prepare for second brexit referendum

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will say on Friday that Britain and the European Union should prepare for a second Brexit referendum because parliament will probably fail to agree on a divorce deal and the public will need to break the deadlock.

Less than four months before Britain is due to leave the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May called off a parliamentary vote on her deal with Brussels this week after admitting it would be heavily defeated.

Addressing EU leaders meeting in Brussels, Blair said they should offer to reform the bloc to make it more attractive for Britain to remain.

“Now should be the time of preparation – parliament to make sure it can canvass the options in (a) sensible manner, one by one, to reach agreement on an option or a referendum; Europe to ensure that if Britain is ready to think again, Europe is ready also to think again,” Blair, who was Labour prime minister from 1997 to 2007, will say in a speech in London.

Blair’s office released extracts of the speech in advance.

An offer by the EU to reform would show “that the political leadership of Europe and Britain had listened to the underlying concerns of those who voted (for) Brexit, not disrespecting the concerns but meeting them in a way which is not damaging.”

Blair has repeatedly called for reversing Brexit since the 2016 referendum, echoing other critics, including French President Emmanuel Macron, who have suggested Britain could still change its mind.

Blair will say it is perverse that the Britain and the EU are preparing for a potentially economically damaging Brexit without any deal, but not another referendum.

“We know the options for Brexit. Parliament will have to decide on one of them. If Parliament can’t then it should decide to go back to the people.”

From :Arabnews


Fri, 14 Dec 2018 13:40:42 GMT
Yemen’s security committee discusses regulation of arms possession in Aden yemen’s security committee discusses regulation of arms possession in aden

Yemen’s security committee met on Thursday to discuss the launch of a program to regulate arms possession in Aden and neighboring provinces, Yemeni news agency Saba New reported.

The meeting, chaired by the Minister of Interior Ahmed Al-Misri and attended by leaders of the Arab coalition, stressed the importance of exerting more efforts to combat crime, and establish security and stability for the people of Yemen.

According to Saba New, the launch of the program aims to regulate and limit the purchase of weapons in order to reduce crimes in Aden.

Since the start of the conflict in 2014 when the Houthi militia took over the presidential place in Sanaa, reports of local crimes have increased in the famine-stricken country that is facing a currency crisis.

From :Arabnews

Fri, 14 Dec 2018 13:35:57 GMT
Kosovo to build an army amid tensions with Serbia kosovo to build an army amid tensions with serbia

The Kosovo parliament on Friday voted to create a full-fledged army, in a move set to anger Serbia at a time when tensions between the neighbours are already at a peak.

All parties in the 120-seat parliament in Pristina, excluding lawmakers from the Serb minority who boycotted the vote, passed a package of three laws to establish a defence ministry, and ultimately transform the existing security force, the Kosovo Security Force (KSF), into an army.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused Pristina of "beating war drums" and threatening Serbs living in the breakaway region.

Serbia continues to claim the predominantly Albanian Kosovo as its own, despite the region having declared independence nearly 11 years ago.

Last month, Belgrade blocked Kosovo from joining the Interpol law enforcement agency and Pristina responded by imposing trade tariffs on Serbian goods.

The ongoing row prompted NATO Secretary Generals Jens Stoltenberg to describe the push to establish an army as "ill-timed."

Fri, 14 Dec 2018 11:43:33 GMT
Turkey will enter Syria’s Manbij if US doesn’t remove YPG fighters turkey will enter syria’s manbij if us doesn’t remove ypg fighters

Turkish forces will enter the Syrian town of Manbij if the United States does not remove YPG Kurdish fighters, and it will also target Kurdish-controlled areas further east, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Erdogan said this week that Turkey would launch a new operation within days against the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia which controls swathes of Syria’s northern border region, in what will be Turkey’s third military campaign in Syria in two years.

Ankara and Washington have long been at odds in Syria, where the United States has backed the YPG in the fight against the Daesh group. Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Turkey has complained over the slow implementation of a deal with Washington to pull YPG Kurdish fighters out of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the Euphrates, back to the eastern bank of the river.

“Manbij is a place where Arabs live, but they have surrendered the area to the terror organization,” Erdogan told members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in a speech in Istanbul. “Now we are saying that you should cleanse, remove them, or else we will enter Manbij. I am speaking very clearly.”

Erdogan said Turkey was also determined to bring “peace and security” to areas east of the Euphrates, where the YPG controls an area stretching more than 400 km (250 miles) along the border toward Iraq.

He compared the promised military campaign to an incursion into northern Syria in 2016 and one earlier this year by Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies, who still hold territory there seized from YPG and Islamic State fighters.

A spokesman for the Syrian rebels said on Thursday that up to 15,000 fighters are prepared to support Turkey’s latest operation.

The United States, which has set up observation posts on the Syrian side of the border, has warned Turkey against a new incursion and said the newly constructed positions would help deter any security threat against Turkey coming from Syria.

Erdogan, however, said Turkey had waited long enough to act against the YPG militia, which it says is indistinguishable from PKK militants who have waged an insurgency against the state in southeastern Turkey for 34 years.

“We are not only providing security for our country when taking steps in Syria but we are also protecting the honor of people,” he said.

Kurdish commander Mazloum Kobanin said on Thursday the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are spearheaded by the YPG, will respond strongly to any attack. 

From :Arabnews


Fri, 14 Dec 2018 11:24:43 GMT
Aoun meets UN Special Coordinator aoun meets un special coordinator

President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Thursday welcomed at the Baabda palace the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Pernille Dahler Kardel, with talks reportedly touching on the current situation in the south and the Israeli excavation works off the southern border. 


Thu, 13 Dec 2018 23:02:44 GMT
Netanyahu vows to 'settle accounts' after rise in Palestinian attacks netanyahu vows to settle accounts after rise in palestinian attacks

Israel was grappling with an uptick in Palestinian violence on Thursday after three separate incidents, two in the West Bank and one in Jerusalem, left two Israelis dead.

The three suspected Palestinian perpetrators were also confirmed dead.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would "settle accounts with whoever did this."

"Today we suffered a harsh attack in which two soldiers were killed," he said. "Our guiding principle is that whoever attacks us and whoever tries to attack us – will pay with his life. Our enemies know this and we will find them."

The Israeli army temporarily blocked access to and from the Palestinian city of Ramallah after two Israeli soldiers were killed in a shooting in at a bus stop in the West Bank. A third soldier was severely wounded and another Israeli was also in a serious condition.

The army set up checkpoints on all roads into the city after the shooting. The army said that the attacker got out of a car and shot at soldiers and civilians before fleeing by car toward Ramallah.

The army believed there was only one assailant and was searching the Ramallah area for him, army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters.

Hamas lauded the attack, while the Palestinian Authority condemned the recent violence.

Palestinian media called the Israeli move a "siege."

Later in the day, an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in what the army called an attempted car-ramming attack in the Palestinian city of al-Bireh, north-east of Ramallah.

The driver attempted to run over Israeli soldiers on duty at the location, according to the army. "Security forces who were present at the scene fired towards the terrorist and neutralized him," the army said.

Palestinian media said the Palestinian driver was a 60-year-old man who had been trying to get home and got caught in the clashes in al-Bireh on his way. Witnesses said the man appeared to have panicked and tried to drive away when he drove towards the soldiers.

Disturbances in the West Bank had been planned on Thursday morning after Israeli security forces found and killed two Palestinians who had allegedly perpetrated two separate deadly attacks in the West Bank, one on Sunday near the Ofra settlement and another two months ago in the industrial area of Barkan.

Hamas claimed responsibility for both attacks.

On Wednesday night, an Israeli baby, born prematurely after its mother was critically injured in the Ofra attack, died at a Jerusalem hospital.

Thursday's attack resembles the Ofra attack, a drive-by shooting at a bus stop just outside the settlement.

A stabbing attack also occurred Thursday morning in the Old City of Jerusalem, in which police said the assailant had attempted to stab a Jewish man and then stabbed and wounded two border police officers, who then shot and killed the attacker.

Member of parliament Uri Ariel of the far-right Jewish Home party said that in the wake of the attacks, several MPs would meet on Thursday evening "to discuss our continuation in the government and the coalition." If they leave the coalition, it will bring down the government which has a razor-thin majority in the parliament.

Netanyahu later instructed that the homes of the terrorists be demolished within 48 hours and decided to increase security and settlement building in the West Bank.

A statement put out by the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blamed "repeated incursions into the cities, incitement against the president and the absence of a horizon for peace" for the surge in violence, which it said it rejected and condemned.

Meanwhile, Abdulatif al-Qanou’a, Hamas' spokesman in Gaza, said that the shooting "was a response to the crimes and behaviour of the Israeli occupation."

"The men and the youths of the West Bank will carry on being revolutionists in the face of the occupation and will remain in a status of a permanent confrontation with it until it is defeated," he said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply concerned" about the recent violence and urged Israeli and Palestinian security services to work together to restore calm and avoid an escalation.

Guterres "condemns all acts of violence and terrorism, in particular against innocent civilians," his spokesman Farhan Haq said Thursday.

Israel occupied the West Bank, which is claimed by Palestinians for their future state, in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Much of the international community considers Israeli settlements illegal and an impediment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 22:14:44 GMT
EU leaders offer to 'demystify' Brexit deal but won't change backstop eu leaders offer to demystify brexit deal but wont change backstop

Several EU leaders offered clarifications on Thursday to help British Prime Minister Theresa May sell the Brexit deal to lawmakers in London, while insisting that the text itself cannot be reopened, ahead of summit talks aimed at breaking the deadlock.

May's trip to Brussels comes in a tumultuous week that has seen her delay a pivotal Brexit vote in parliament to avoid defeat, before surviving a leadership challenge that has left her further weakened.

The premier said she would ask her EU counterparts for "legal and political assurances" to respond to the concerns of parliamentarians intent on voting against the Brexit deal because they fear it will surrender too much sovereignty to Brussels.

However she played down expectations of Thursday's talks.

"I don't expect an immediate breakthrough but what I do hope is that we can start to work as quickly as possible on the assurances that are necessary," May said.

Time is running short to ensure a smooth British departure from the European Union on March 29, 2019.

Ahead of the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out reopening the withdrawal agreement negotiated with London, noting that the EU will abide by its "principles."

"Of course it's possible to talk about whether there should be additional assurances, but here also the 27 member states will act as one and (...) make their interests clear," she added.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the 27 other EU countries can help to "demystify" a controversial clause known as the Irish backstop.

The backstop is a key point of contention for eurosceptic lawmakers but is seen by Brussels and many British observers as an essential fallback to ensure no hard border emerges between Ireland, one of the 27, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, amid fears of a return to sectarian violence in the region.

Meanwhile, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said there was still "room for manoeuvre" to resolve the Brexit standoff.

At the summit, May is scheduled to discuss the domestic challenges she faces with her EU counterparts, before they withdraw for dinner discussions on how far they can go to help.

The 27 EU leaders are expected later to issue a joint statement. An early draft contained no new concessions to London, sources in Brussels told dpa.

The leaders could give assurances that the backstop - which could leave Northern Ireland with a slightly different arrangement from the rest of the UK - would ideally never be used and, if so, then "only for as short a period as possible," said Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

Eurosceptic lawmakers in Britain fear that the backstop could lock the country into a close relationship with the EU that London cannot end unilaterally.

In the draft statement, leaders pledge their "firm determination" to work on negotiating a future partnership that would obviate the backstop by the end of 2020.

However, there is no indication that they could offer to limit the duration of the backstop, as some in London are demanding.

"If the backstop has an expiry date, if there is a unilateral exit clause, then it's not a backstop," Varadkar said, following pre-summit talks with May.

While some of May's suggestions "made sense," others were "difficult," the Irish premier noted.

Thursday's summit statement could be followed up with something more at a later date, an EU source said on condition of anonymity, without going into detail.

At stake is the withdrawal agreement, which details the terms of Britain's departure from the EU in March, and a political declaration outlining London and Brussels' ambitions for the future relationship.

Failure to finalize the withdrawal deal in time for Britain's departure could lead to an unregulated Brexit, which would likely cause mayhem for citizens and businesses on both sides of the border.

EU leaders are also due on Thursday to discuss their preparations for a no-deal scenario.

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 21:44:19 GMT
Yemen's warring sides agree on ceasefire in embattled Hodeida yemens warring sides agree on ceasefire in embattled hodeida

Yemen's warring parties have agreed on a ceasefire in the embattled port province of Hodeida, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Thursday, on the last day of negotiations aimed at ending the country's four-year war.

Addressing the closing session of the discussions in the Swedish town of Rimbo, Guterres said the agreement would see mutual redeployment of forces from the crucial Hodeida port.

It was not immediately clear when the province-wide truce would take effect.

"This will facilitate humanitarian access and the flow of goods to the civilian population, and it will improve the living conditions for millions of Yemenis," he said. 

Hodeida, in western Yemen, is strategically important because of its vital port, which is the entry point for some 80 per cent of Yemen's imports and aid.

In June, a Saudi-led coalition backing the Yemeni government began a major offensive to seize Hodeida, which has been under the control of Iran-backed rebels since late 2014.

Guterres hailed the agreement on Hodeida as "real progress."

He added that both sides would meet for a new round of talks late next month. He did not give a specific date or venue.

"There is a long way to go, lots of agreements needed, it is just a beginning, but at least it's the beginning of a process," Guterres said.

The United Nations' special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, on Thursday told a press conference in Rimbo that the UN would play an "important role" at the Hodeida port, without giving details.

Saudi ambassador to the United States, Khalid bin Salman, said that his country and the coalition fighting the Houthis "strongly support the agreement" as a "major step towards alleviating the humanitarian crisis and reaching a political solution."

"The agreement announced today will help bring back security to the region including the security of the Red Sea, a vital waterway for international trade," Khalid wrote on his Twitter account.

"We hope that the Houthis accept a comprehensive political solution, in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, that serves the interests of Yemen and its people rather than working on behalf of the Iranian regime's interests," added Khalid, the brother of Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a Sunni alliance that has been supporting the government forces with airstrikes.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said it welcomed Thursday's announcements "with relief and optimism."

"If implemented in full by all parties, the actions agreed today could have the power to change the course of the crisis in Yemen," said Jan Egeland, NRC secretary general.

"Promises made in Sweden will only be meaningful when civilians in Yemen see a cessation of hostilities, safe corridors for the movement of people and supplies, and concrete steps to restore the nation's collapsing economy," he added.

Delegations from the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebels have been in the Swedish town of Rimbo, north of Stockholm, since December 6 for their first talks in more than two years.

On Thursday, the chiefs of the government and rebel teams were seen giving each other a landmark handshake at the televised closing session.

On Tuesday, the government and the rebels exchanged lists of names of around 16,000 prisoners as part of a swap deal that will come into effect by January 19.

Yemen, one of the Arab world's poorest countries, has been embroiled in a power struggle between the government and the rebels since late 2014.

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 21:36:04 GMT
Cabinet approves deal on migration challenges in Egypt cabinet approves deal on migration challenges in egypt

The cabinet approved during its weekly meeting Thursday a presidential decree about a finance deal between Egypt and the European Commission on a migration challenges' program in Egypt.

The cabinet meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli.

The finance deal, signed on October 17 in Brussels, aims to confront immigration challenges in Egypt via achieving three targets, including the empowerment of migration management in Egypt and addressing the root causes of illegal immigration.

The total cost of the program on enhancing response to migration challenges in Egypt is estimated at 63.6 million euros.

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 21:00:29 GMT
Jordan braces for more anti-austerity protests jordan braces for more antiausterity protests

Jordanian authorities deployed hundreds of riot police in the capital and warned activists to stay within the law on Thursday ahead of another protest against the government's tough austerity measures backed by the International Monetary Fund.

Large demonstrations in the summer managed to bring down the previous government over an unpopular IMF-backed tax bill.

Protesters have held sporadic protests over the past two weeks and a judicial source said authorities had detained several people for chanting slogans critical of King Abdullah as well as the government

"(For) anyone who breaches the law there will be punishment," government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat told reporters on Thursday.

"There are those who want to sow destruction... We must safeguard Jordan's stability and security," she said, adding that the government wanted dialogue.

The latest protests eruped after a largely pliant parliament last month approved a tax bill widely seen as making few changes to the unpopular law scrapped after the summer demonstrations.

Many Jordanians say the government, which faces a record public debt of around $40 billion and desperately needs to raise revenue, is eroding the disposable incomes of poorer and middle class Jordanians while letting the wealthy off the hook.

The protesters complain that Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, appointed by King Abdullah after the summer protests, has not delivered on promises to jail corrupt officials and businessmen.

They also say he has sought public support for tough economic measures while failing to curb lavish public expenditure and improve public services, and that he should resign.

Jordan suffers from high unemployment, with regional conflicts weighing on business confidence. Poor economic growth has reduced tax revenues, forcing Jordan to borrow heavily abroad and also to resort to more domestic financing.

From :Arabnews


Thu, 13 Dec 2018 20:54:56 GMT
Russia: Imposing Israeli laws on occupied Syrian Golan rejected russia imposing israeli laws on occupied syrian golan rejected

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has stressed that imposing the Israeli laws on the occupied Syrian Golan is rejected in accordance with the international laws.

During a press conference Thursday,  Zakharova said that the US military presence in Syria hampers the fight against terrorism in the country.

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 13:57:54 GMT
Maduro says meeting with Putin most useful in his career maduro says meeting with putin most useful in his career

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has described his last week's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as the most useful session in his whole political career.

"This was the most useful meeting in my career. We strengthened the process of cooperation between Russia and Venezuela in the sphere of military-technical cooperation," Maduro told a press conference.

Last Friday Maduro finished his visit to Moscow. As a result, the sides signed agreements on cooperation in the oil extraction and mining industries, servicing Venezeulan weapons systems and delivering wheat to the South American country. According to the Venezuelan president, bilateral projects are worth over $6 billion of investment.

Russia and Venezuela are implementing joint investment projects in energy, agriculture, geological exploration, pharmaceuticals, as well as in the spheres of information technologies, nuclear medicine, military-technical cooperation and others.


Thu, 13 Dec 2018 13:38:27 GMT
Assad discusses Syrian constitutional committee with Russian delegation assad discusses syrian constitutional committee with russian delegation

Syrian President Bashar Assad has discussed the current state of affairs in Syria and the soonest launch of the constitutional committee with Russian Presidential Special Representative for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergeн Vershinin, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

"During the talks, [they] considered in detail the unfolding situation in Syria and in the region," the foreign ministry said. "Particular attention was paid to a goal of the soonest formation and launch of the constitutional committee in line with decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress and Resolution 2254 of the United Nations Security Council," the ministry added.

On January 30, the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, agreed to set up a constitutional committee that will be tasked with drafting a new constitution for Syria. The government and opposition have submitted lists of delegates to the committee. However, the sides failed to agree on a list of independent candidated who are to gain one third of seats in the committee.


Thu, 13 Dec 2018 13:33:25 GMT
Erdogan vows Syria offensive as US warns against military action erdogan vows syria offensive as us warns against military action

Turkey plans to launch a new military offensive against Kurdish militants east of the Euphrates river in northern Syria "in a few days," a move that raises the risk of confrontation with the United States, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.

Erdogan made the announcement hours after the US confirmed setting up "observation posts" in northern Syria along the border with Turkey. Ankara has long objected to the posts.

"Our target is never the American soldiers, but the members of the terrorist organization active in the region," Erdogan said at a defence industry summit in Ankara.

But the Pentagon on Wednesday issued a stern warning against any unilateral military moves in north-east Syria.

"Unilateral military action into north-east Syria by any party, particularly as US personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern," Pentagon spokesman Sean Robertson said in a statement.

"We would find any such actions unacceptable," Robertson added.

Erdogan said the Turkish operation against the People's Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish militia backed by the US, would start in a few days east of the Euphrates river.

Ankara believes the YPG and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), its political arm in Syria, are tied to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency within Turkey.

There are US troops stationed in northern Syria. While Turkey controls areas west of the Euphrates, an offensive in the east would be a first.

Erdogan said the operation - Turkey's third in Syria - will help "maintain the territorial integrity of Syria and pave the way for a political solution."

Erdogan accused the US for using Islamic State as an "excuse," insisting that its backing of the YPG, which controls large areas of northern Syria on the border with Turkey, was no longer justified.

"There is no longer any such threat as Daesh (Islamic State) in Syria. For us this is a fairy tale," Erdogan said, adding that if Washington wanted help to eliminate Islamic State, it could ask Ankara.

The Turkish president expressed the intention of cooperating with the US in the east of the Euphrates and in Manbij, which the YPG seized from the Islamic State group in 2016. The US and Turkish forces began joint patrols in those two areas in November.

YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told dpa by phone that the group's forces were ready to confront any possible attack on the eastern Euphrates.

"Erdogan is trying to show the world that he is willing to change the map in the area," Mahmoud said.

Turkey shelled YPG positions in northern Syria at the end of October. Erdogan at that time threatened to "destroy" Kurdish armed groups east of the Euphrates despite a US military presence in the region.

The Turkish army and allied Syrian rebels captured the YPG-controlled Kurdish enclave of Afrin in north-western Syria earlier this year.

Late Wednesday, the PYD denounced Erdogan's announcement of the forthcoming offensive.

"It is a new incident to create obstacles when there is a small hope of solving the Syrian crisis," a PYD statement said, adding that Erdogan's move was aimed at preventing the expulsion of Islamic State militants from their remaining strongholds.

"Ankara is trying to end the stability and co-existence in northern and eastern Syria," the statement said.

The PYD called on the United Nations, the UN Security Council, the Syrian regime, Arab League, the world community and all Kurdish parties "to stand united to foil the goals of Erdogan." 

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 13:29:10 GMT
21 Daesh militants escape Iraqi jail, most recaptured 21 daesh militants escape iraqi jail most recaptured

Twenty one prisoners, most of them members of Daesh jailed on terrorism charges, broke out of a prison in northern Iraq but 15 of them have been recaptured, Kurdish security officials said on Thursday.

The fortified jail of Sosa is located near the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya and include mainly militants of the hard-line group who were captured during the fight against Daesh which started in 2014.

Kurdish security officials launched manhunt operations after the break-out late on Wednesday and 15 of the 21 were recaptured, two security officials said. The whereabouts of the other six remains unknown.

Although Sosa jail is located in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, the federal government has full control over the prison.
“Almost all of the convicted inmates who escaped are from Daesh,” said one Kurdish security source

It was not clear how the inmates managed to escape the highly secured prison.

Daesh, which once occupied a third of Iraq’s territory, has been largely defeated in the country but still poses a threat along the border with Syria.

The group has resorted to guerrilla tactics since it abandoned its goal of holding territory and creating a self-sufficient caliphate that straddles Iraq and Syria.


From :Arabnews

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 12:58:54 GMT
Attacker stabs Israeli forces in Jerusalem's Old City, shot dead attacker stabs israeli forces in jerusalems old city shot dead

An attacker stabbed two Israeli border police in Jerusalem's Old City before being shot dead on Thursday, police said.

The attack, in Jerusalem's most well-known and fraught quarter, came amid fears of an uptick in violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Two Palestinians accused of carrying out shooting attacks were shot dead in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank late Wednesday and early Thursday.

The two police officers wounded in Jerusalem on Thursday morning were not in life-threatening condition, a police spokesman said.

The spokesman did not provide any details on the attacker's identity.

Jerusalem's Old City is split between Palestinians and Israelis but controlled by Israeli forces.

It is home to some of the holiest sites in Christianity, Islam and Judaism but has been the scene of multiple attacks by Palestinians, often armed with knives.

Such "lone wolf" attacks have subsided in recent years, but remain sporadic.


From :Arabnews

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 12:47:02 GMT
Russia points to efforts to undermine agreements on Idlib zone russia points to efforts to undermine agreements on idlib zone

Russia has taken note of attempts to disrupt the Moscow-Ankara agreements on creating a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Thursday.

"Regrettably, far from everybody likes the growing positive trends in the situation in Syria, achieved first and foremost through the efforts of the Astana format guarantor countries - Russia, Iran and Turkey," she said. "We’ve taken note of attempts to intercept Astana’s initiative, to disrupt the Russian-Turkish agreements on creating a demilitarized zone in Idlib, and to upset the settlement vector for the sake of attaining one’s own geopolitical aims, which have nothing to do with the aspirations of the Syrian people."

Zakharova pointed to a recent statement by the spokesman for the US-led coalition about progress in the counter-terrorist operation in Syria. "He claimed that although the Islamic State (terrorist organization outlawed in Russia - TASS) currently controls only one percent of Syria’s territory, a final victory is still a long way ahead, because the terrorists remaining there are well-trained."

"Such statements are clear evidence of the wish to excuse the illegal US military presence in 30% of Syria’s territory," Zakharova said. "According to Russia’s estimates, that presence by no means meets the interests of ultimate elimination of international terrorists on Syrian soil, but also becomes a major obstacle in the way of achieving that goal. As for the United States’ policy of creating quasi-government institutions in Transeuphratia, which we regard as a destabilizing factor, one can say that this is a brake on political settlement, too."

Settlement process
About the implementation of the September 17 Russian-Turkish memorandum on Idlib, Zakharova said that such work was going on. She recalled that the ultimate goal proclaimed in that document was the elimination of terrorist presence in that zone at the minimal cost for the local population.

"In the country’s regions cleared of terrorists life is gradually getting back to normal. Postwar reconstruction work is gaining momentum," she said. "Special attention is paid to the creation of conditions for the safe, voluntary and non-discriminatory return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes."

More than one thousand Syrians arrive in Syria from Lebanon and Jordan every day.

"The overall number of refugees repatriated since the launch of the Russian initiatives last July has approached 60,000," Zakharova said. "We regard our assistance to Syria’s socio-economic reconstruction as an important element of strengthening bilateral Russian-Syrian relations."

Talks with Turkey
Moscow stays in contact with Ankara on all Syria-related matters, she added. 

"We maintain contacts with our Turkish colleagues on all matters related to the situation in Syria," she said, commenting on Russia’s position concerning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s immediate plans to launch an operation east of the Euphrates in Syria.

Golan Heights
Russia is interested in a continued cessation of hostilities between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights, she said. 

"Russia takes a principled stance on the issue of Syria’s ownership of the Golan Heights. That was confirmed by the 1981 UN Security Council Resolution 497. Our approach to Israel’s illegal decision to extend its sovereignty to the Golan Heights has remained unchanged. Changing the Golan Heights’ status bypassing the Security Council is a direct violation of UN decisions," she stressed.

"Russia is interested in maintaining tranquility in the Golan Heights, ensuring security and a cessation of hostilities between Syria and Israel. This is ensured by full compliance with the 1974 agreement on disengagement of Israeli and Syrian troops. Russian President [Vladimir Putin] said that following talks with US President [Donald Trump] in Helsinki on July 16," Zakharova added.

Israel took control over the Golan Heights that had been part of Syria since 1944 after the Six-Day War in 1967. In 1981, Israel’s Knesset (parliament) passed a law on the Golan Heights unilaterally proclaiming Israel’s sovereignty over this territory. United Nations Security Council Resolution 497 of December 17, 1981, ruled that the annexation was null and void, having no international legal effect.

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 12:27:39 GMT
Britain's May to appeal to EU for help to salvage Brexit deal britains may to appeal to eu for help to salvage brexit deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due Thursday to appeal to her EU counterparts for assurances that could help her sell the Brexit deal to the British parliament, with time running short to regulate Britain's departure from the European Union.

May's trip to Brussels, where EU leaders are holding their regular end-of-year summit, comes in a tumultuous week that has seen her delay a pivotal Brexit vote to avoid defeat, before standing her ground in a leadership challenge.

May said Wednesday she would ask the EU for "legal and political assurances" to sway the many lawmakers intent on voting against the Brexit deal because they fear it will surrender too much sovereignty to Brussels.

EU officials have insisted, however, that the agreement struck with London and endorsed by EU leaders last month is not up for renegotiation.

"Whatever reassurances will be given, they cannot contradict the deal which was agreed on November 25," a senior EU official said Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

At stake is the withdrawal agreement, which details the terms of Britain's departure from the EU on March 29, 2019, and a political declaration outlining London and Brussels' ambitions for the future relationship.

A key sticking point for eurosceptic parliamentarians is the so-called backstop, aimed at ensuring that no hard border will emerge between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which will leave the EU with Britain.

The concern is that this would lock Britain into a close relationship with the EU that London cannot end unilaterally, while also treating Northern Ireland slightly differently from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 11:52:20 GMT
Daesh destruction of rural Iraq hinders residents’ return daesh destruction of rural iraq hinders residents’ return

The Daesh group’s deliberate destruction of agriculture in northern Iraq has hindered the return of hundreds of thousands of residents, Amnesty International said in a report released Thursday.

The New York-based rights group said Daesh fighters burnt or chopped down orchards and sabotaged wells by filling them with rubble, oil or other materials. The militants also stole or destroyed pumps, cables, generators, transformers and vital electricity lines.

Amnesty called on the Iraqi government to repair rural infrastructure and compensate the displaced so they can return to their homes.

Daesh seized control of much of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. US-backed Iraqi forces gradually drove the militants from all the territory under their control, declaring victory a year ago after a costly campaign that destroyed entire neighborhoods and towns.

“The damage to Iraq’s countryside is as far-reaching as the urban destruction, but the consequences of the conflict on Iraq’s rural residents are being largely forgotten,” said Richard Pearshouse, senior crisis adviser at Amnesty.

He said the report focuses on the “deliberate, wanton destruction” around the area of Sinjar, where the extremists massacred and enslaved thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority. About half of Sinjar’s residents have returned, with many others saying they have nothing to go back to.
Beyond Sinjar, Amnesty’s report gave sobering figures for all of Iraq.

“The conflict against IS eviscerated Iraq’s agricultural production, now an estimated 40 percent lower than 2014 levels,” it said. “Before IS, around two-thirds of Iraq’s farmers had access to irrigation — only three years later, this had fallen to 20 percent. Around 75 percent of livestock was lost, spiking to 95 percent in some areas.”

Syrian and Iraqi forces have gradually driven Daesh out of nearly all the territory it once held. But the group still maintains a presence in the Syrian desert and remote areas along the border. Many have warned it could stage a comeback if economic grievances are not addressed.

“Unless there is urgent government assistance, the long-term damage inflicted on Iraq’s rural environment will reverberate for years to come,” Pearshouse said. “When IS tore through Iraq in 2014, it thrived off rural poverty and resentments, so Iraq’s government should be concerned that something similar could happen again.”


From :Arabnews

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 11:44:42 GMT
UK’s PM Theresa May wins vote of confidence in her leadershi uk’s pm theresa may wins vote of confidence in her leadershi

Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday survived a bid by her own MPs to unseat her, securing the support of 200 Conservative colleagues while 117 voted against her.

The British leader overcame the party no-confidence vote after it was triggered by hardline Brexit supporters who despise the deal she struck with the EU last month.

It leaves May weakened but immune from a further internal challenge for a year.

May said after the result that she would get on with her "renewed mission" of taking Britain out of the European Union.

"Following this ballot, we now have to get on with the job of delivering Brexit for the British people and building a better future for this country," May told reporters outside her Downing Street residence.

May said she would seek legal and political assurances from EU leaders on Thursday on the backstop arrangement over the border between EU member state Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Wednesday that Britain's parliament needs to regain control of the Brexit process.

"Tonight's vote makes no difference to the lives of our people," Corbyn said in a statement. "She must now bring her dismal deal back to the House of Commons next week so Parliament can take back control."

From :Arabnews

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 11:33:55 GMT
Nine killed, 47 injured as high-speed train crashes in Turkey nine killed 47 injured as highspeed train crashes in turkey

A high-speed train crashed into a locomotive on the same track in Ankara, killing nine people and injuring 47, Turkish Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said Thursday.

The accident took place at 6:36 am (0336 GMT) as the train left the central station in the Turkish capital and collided head-on with the locomotive, which was returning from checking tracks.

Three train drivers - two from the express train and one in the locomotive - were among the dead, Turhan said. A fourth driver was injured.

The train was on its way to Konya, in central Turkey, about 260 kilometres south of Ankara.

Broadcast footage showed rescue workers at the scene amid piles of rubble and mangled carriages. Sniffer dogs were also at the crash site, but the minister said there was no one left under the rubble.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the accident.

State news agency Anadolu had initially reported that the train had crashed into an overpass, when carriages derailed a few minutes after it left the station.

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 11:19:57 GMT
Saudi Arabia and Red Sea, Gulf of Aden states reach agreement to establish entity of cooperation saudi arabia and red sea gulf of aden states reach agreement to establish entity of cooperation

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday sought to establish an entity of cooperation with six countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a strategic area vital to global shipping.

Representatives from Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Jordan gathered in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss the initiative. 

A team of experts is expected to meet “soon” in Cairo for technical talks.

“This is part of the Kingdom's efforts to protect its interests and those of its neighbours and ... to stabilise the region that we live in and to try to create synergies between the various countries,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told reporters after a day of meetings.

“The more cooperation and coordination that you have among the countries of this region, the less negative outside influence will be on this region," he added.

Eritrea and Ethiopia were not present at the meeting.

The Red Sea also includes the Bab Al-Mandeb strait, through which oil is shipped towards Europe, the US and Asia. In recent years the waterway has been targeted by Iranian-backed Houthi militants from Yemen.

Al-Jubeir said the meeting also discussed boosting trade and conserving the environment.

Saudi Arabia has announced several mega-projects along the Red Sea, including a $500 billion business zone shared with Egypt and Jordan as well as a luxury tourism destination.


From :Arabnews

Wed, 12 Dec 2018 17:18:50 GMT
Qatari embassy celebrates national day qatari embassy celebrates national day

The Qatari Embassy in Amman, late Tuesday, held a reception to celebrate the country's national day and commemorate the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Qatar by the Founder Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed bin Thani.

During the event, the Charge d'Affaires of the Qatari embassy in Amman, Abdul Aziz Al Sada, highlighted the strong brotherly ties between Jordan and Qatar expressing his country's keenness to further boost them in various field.

The ceremony, included a number of art and folklore performances, was attended by a number of officials, parliamentarians and diplomats.

Wed, 12 Dec 2018 15:34:48 GMT
King Abdullah II discuss cooperation with EU countries king abdullah ii discuss cooperation with eu countries

His Majesty King Abdullah II on Wednesday discussed with President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, prospects of expanding cooperation between Jordan and the European Union (EU) countries.

The King and Tusk stressed the importance of Jordanian-European partnership agreement to expand economic, investment, trade, and military cooperation.

The meeting, attended by HRH Prince Abdullah Ben Ghazi, tackled the 2016 EU-Jordan relaxed rules of origin agreement, to facilitate exporting goods to EU markets and spurring new investment opportunities in the Kingdom.

The discussions also tackled the burden the Syrian refugee crisis has caused on Jordanian economy, and the EU's support extended to the Kingdom.

The King highlighted the importance of the conference that Britain is hosting next year to support economy and investment in Jordan, where its agenda will focus on plans and programs that aim to increase economic growth and create job opportunities for Jordanians.

During the meeting, King Abdullah and Tusk discussed the EU's role in pushing forward the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, and coming up with political solutions for the crises in the Middle East.

Ministers of foreign affairs, industry, trade and supply, and Jordan's ambassador to Brussels attended the meeting.

Wed, 12 Dec 2018 15:27:07 GMT
Israeli forces arrest 16 Palestinians in West Bank israeli forces arrest 16 palestinians in west bank

Israeli occupation forces early Wednesday detained 16 Palestinians in various West Bank cities, according to a Palestinian source.

A statement by the Palestinian Prisoners Society said that Israeli army stormed the cities of Hebron, Jenin, Ramallah, Qalqilya and Tulkarem and arrested the 16 citizens under the pretext they are wanted by the occupations authorities.

Also today, Israeli soldiers raided a number of Palestinian homes and seized vehicles in Barta'a town in the West Bank city of Jenin.

The Israeli army launches arrest campaigns on a daily basis against dozens of Palestinians in various cities and villages of the West Bank under unjustified various pretexts.

Wed, 12 Dec 2018 15:21:51 GMT
Egypt: 27 militants killed in Sinai, border with Libya egypt 27 militants killed in sinai border with libya

Egypt says its security forces have killed at least 27 suspected militants in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula and along its porous border with Libya.

The military said Wednesday that forces destroyed 342 hideouts and weapons depots, dismantled 344 explosive devices and detained more than 400 suspects and around 3,000 illegal migrants, without giving a timeframe

It says airstrikes destroyed 61 vehicles containing weapons and ammunition in the Western Desert.

It says one soldier was killed in a shootout with militants.

It wasn’t possible to independently confirm the details as access to the northern Sinai is heavily restricted .

Egypt launched a nationwide operation against militants in February. It has struggled to defeat a long-running insurgency in the Sinai that is now affiliated with the Daesh group.


From :Arabnews

Wed, 12 Dec 2018 14:44:42 GMT
Turkey may soon launch military operation east of Euphrates River, Erdogan says turkey may soon launch military operation east of euphrates river erdogan says

Turkey may soon launch a military operation east of the Euphrates River in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the Turkish Defense Industry Summit in Ankara on Wednesday.

"In a couple of days, Turkey will launch an operation east of the Euphrates," the Daily Sabah quoted him as saying.

Erdogan stressed that the operation would not target US troops deployed to the region. According to the Turkish president, Ankara’s move will facilitate the political settlement process in Syria and help "make this area safe."

Turkey previously carried out two military operations in Syria dubbed Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield. Erdogan said at a press conference following the G20 summit in Argentina that Ankara would soon clear areas east of the Euphrates River from terrorist units.

Over the past several months, the Turkish leader has many times announced plans to carry out an operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) concentrated east of the Euphrates River. Ankara believes the YPG to be a branch of the branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party.


Wed, 12 Dec 2018 13:59:18 GMT
Tsipras discusses extension of TurkStream pipeline to Europe tsipras discusses extension of turkstream pipeline to europe

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras discussed the issue of extending the TurkStream natural gas pipeline to Europe during his visit to Moscow on December 7, the country’s Alternate Minister for Foreign Affairs George Katrougkalos said in an interview with the Greek newspaper Ta Nea, which was published by the ministry on Tuesday.

Athens confirmed during the visit that it indeed sticks to a multifaceted approach in its foreign policy, he said. "Moreover, important interstate agreements were signed and assistance was provided with cooperation between Greek and Russian companies in the agriculture, shipbuilding and other sectors that are crucial for Greece’s economy. Important discussions on energy issues regarding extension of TurkStream to Europe were also held," the diplomat stressed.

Alternate Minister for Foreign Affairs considers further expansion of ties between the two countries to be a significant result of PM’s visit to Moscow. "We have established a warm relationship and laid the groundwork for its further major improvement, particularly at the economic level and regarding relations between the two peoples. 2019 will be Greek-Russian (bilateral) year of language and literature," he noted.

The TurkStream project envisages the construction of a gas pipeline across the Black Sea to the European part of Turkey and farther to the border with Greece. Gas deliveries via the first stretch of the gas pipeline are designed to meet the requirements of the growing Turkish market, while the second stretch is planned to deliver gas to the countries of Southern and South-Eastern Europe. The commissioning of the second line of TurkStream is planned for 2019. In November, Tsipras said that Greece was actively agitating for the construction of the pipeline in Brussels, so that the pipeline should run through the Greek-Turkish border to Europe.


Wed, 12 Dec 2018 10:55:33 GMT
Strasbourg shooting leaves 3 dead, 12 injured strasbourg shooting leaves 3 dead 12 injured

Three people were killed and 12 injured as a lone gunman opened fire at the Strasbourg Christmas Market late on Tuesday, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Wednesday.

"From 19:50 [local time], a man was sowing terror in three locations of the city. He killed three people," Castaner said, adding that 12 people were wounded. "The search for the criminal continues. 350 police officers are involved in the operation."

He said security measures will be enhanced at Christmas fairs all across France.

"The government decided to enact emergency measures. Border control and security at New Year fairs all over the country will be toughened," the interior minister said. "Additional forces were mobilized by the government and are now heading to Strasbourg."

Castaner also said that all rallies, scheduled for Wednesday, will be cancelled, because police needs to focus on searching for the suspect rather than ensuring security at public events.

"Soon, the head of the [Bas-Rhin] Department will sign a decree to cancel all manifestations scheduled for Wednesday," he said.

The gunman was identified only as 29-year-old Strasbourg resident Cherif C. According to police, he was sought by police on suspicion of attempted murder and several robberies and was to be arrested this morning. Earlier media reports said his profile was included into the list of potential terrorists and other individuals posing a threat to state security, complied by France's domestic security service, DGSI.

The suspect fled the scene of the attack in a hijacked taxi cab. The driver, who is now safe, says the man had a wound. This is consistent with earlier media reports, which said the attacker was injured in a shootout with police, but managed to flee.

The area where the attack took place remains cordoned off. The attack triggered a broad lockdown in the city as residents were told not to leave their homes, while visitors of cafes and shops were advised to stay indoors. Doors of the European Parliament headquarters were locked. Besides, people attending a basketball game at the Rhenus Sport stadium in the northern part of the city were also told not to leave.

According to the DNA news portal, Strasbourg Mayor Mayor Roland Ries declared a day of mourning on Wednesday. All schools will be open, but parents were advised to accompany their children. Nursery schools will be closed.


Wed, 12 Dec 2018 10:36:51 GMT
Huawei Executive Gets Bail In Case Rattling China Ties huawei executive gets bail in case rattling china ties

A Canadian court granted bail on Tuesday to a top Chinese telecom company executive wanted in the United States in a case that has rattled relations between China and the North American allies. 

The conditional release granted to Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, came hours after the detention of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing further stoked tensions. 

Meng, who faces a US extradition bid on charges related to alleged violations of Iran sanctions, was granted Can$10 million (US$7.5 million) bail, ordered to surrender her passport and will be subjected to electronic monitoring. 

"The risk of (Meng's) non-attendance in court can be reduced to an acceptable level by imposing the bail conditions proposed by her counsel," a judge in Vancouver said, prompting the courtroom packed with her supporters to erupt in cheers. 

She was expected to be released shortly, and will be allowed to stay at a luxury home owned by her husband, Liu Xiaozong, in Vancouver. 

Her December 1 arrest in Vancouver has shaken China's relations with Canada and the United States, and raised concerns that it could derail a US-China trade war truce. 

US officials have said the arrest was unrelated to the trade talks, but US President Donald Trump told Reuters he "would certainly intervene" in the case if it can help strike a deal with China. 

Huawei is a strategically key company for China's global high-tech ambitions, but some of its services have been blocked in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Britain over security concerns. 

Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei's founder, is accused of lying to bankers about the use of a covert subsidiary to sell to Iran in breach of sanctions. If convicted, she faces more than 30 years in prison. 

The extradition process, scheduled to start on February 6, could take months, even years, if appeals are made in the case. 

Her lawyer, David Martin, argued that she was not a flight risk because it would otherwise "embarrass China itself". She had also cited health reasons for requesting bail. 

During a break in the proceedings, Martin said Meng looked forward to a break to spend with family, read novels and maybe apply to a doctorate program while the extradition case played out after "working hard for 25 years". 

Huawei said in a statement it was confident that the courts would "reach a just conclusion" in the case and stressed that the company complies with all laws and sanctions. 

- Former diplomat detained - 

While Meng secured her release, the International Crisis Group think thank said its North East Asia senior adviser, former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, was detained by Chinese state security in Beijing on Monday night. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced concern over the detention. 

"This has our attention at the very highest level of our government," said Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. 

China had warned Canada of "grave consequences" over Meng's arrest as it demanded her release, although Canada said no link between the two cases had been established. 

But a former Canadian ambassador to Beijing, Guy Saint-Jacques, said Kovrig's detention was likely linked to Meng's case. 

"There is no coincidence in China," Saint-Jacques told AFP. "In this case it is clear the Chinese government wants to put maximum pressure on the Canadian government." 

- 'He loves China' - 

Kovrig, a Mandarin speaker, was a political officer at the embassy from 2014-2016 who met with dissidents and travelled to China's restive far west Xinjiang region, Saint-Jacques said. 

He took an unpaid leave from the embassy because he "loves China" and wanted to continue to work in the country, the former ambassador said. 

"It's easy to concoct espionage accusations against someone in China," he said. 

"When I learned the news this morning it deeply saddened because Michael was a good political officer, but he is not a spy at all," Saint-Jacques said. 

The US State Department called on China to "end all forms of arbitrary detentions." 

China's state security and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to faxed questions. 

Brussels-based ICG said in a statement that it has received no information about Kovrig since his detention and is concerned about his health and safety. 

"Michael did not engage in illegal activities nor did he do anything that endangered Chinese national security," ICG president Robert Malley told AFP. 

"He was doing what all Crisis Group analysts do: undertaking objective and impartial research.

Wed, 12 Dec 2018 10:30:27 GMT
The Palestinian Cabinet call France to recognize the State of Palestine the palestinian cabinet call france to recognize the state of palestine

The Palestinian Cabinet strongly condemns the public Israeli settlers calls to attack President Mahmoud Abbas, deplores the Israeli occupation forces raids on the Palestinian cities, and calls France to recognize the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

During its weekly meeting held in Ramallah today, the Palestinian Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah, strongly condemned the Israeli settlers public calls to attack President Mahmoud Abbas, holding the Israeli occupation government fully responsible for the consequences of such flagrant incitement to assassinate President Abbas. The cabinet stated that “President Abbas takes these incitements seriously, and he is demanding the international community to condemn such provocative incitements.”

The Palestinian Cabinet also strongly deplored the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) raids on several Palestinian cities, towns, and villages in areas “A”, including the barbaric incursions of Ramallah and Al-Bireh cities, which resulted in injuring tens of Palestinian citizens by tear gas, rubber bullets, and live bullets. In addition to the storming of the Palestinian News and Information Agency (WAFA) headquarters and the detention of its staff. As well as, turning the agency’s headquarters to a military barracks to fire bullets, sound bombs, and gas towards the Palestinian citizens. “The aggression led by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian official and media institutions comes in the context of a deliberate war campaigns against the Palestinian people in general and the Palestinian media in particular, in an attempt to hide the truth of the Israeli crimes and grave violations of international law, international humanitarian law, and the Geneva Conventions.” The cabinet noted.

The cabinet called upon the international community, the International Federation of Journalists, international, and Arab media institutions to condemn these blatant Israeli crimes. Furthermore, to take quick steps to provide international protection to our Palestinian people, pressure Israel to halt its crimes, and to force it to abide by the resolutions of international legitimacy and the provisions of international law.

Stressed on the occasion of the beginning of the first Palestinian Intifada in December 1987 “The Palestinian people and after 31 years are more determined to establish the foundations of an independent State of Palestine.” The cabinet also added that “The Palestinian national unity is the only way to confront the Israeli occupation, achieve self-determination, and establish a sovereign and independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. As well as to find a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194, and the release of all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention.”

PM Hamdallah briefed the cabinet on the outcomes of the joint French-Palestinian ministerial committee meetings, held in the French capital, Paris, which resulted in the signing of 10 agreements aimed to strengthen cooperation in many vital sectors particularly, civil defense, security, agriculture, and food. As well as, crime combat, higher education, vocational, and technical education. In addition to local governance and the Political Protocol on the Consultations between the French Republic and the State of Palestine.

The signing of the agreements confirms the prospects development of cooperation with France, which will contribute to advance the economic Palestinian-French relationship and strengthen the Palestinian institutions capacities to achieve the objectives of our National Policy Agenda (NPA) 2017-2022. As well as to promote the prospects of peace and stability in the region, and help us move forward in an accelerated and comprehensive path towards prosperity and development.” PM Hamdallah noted.

PM Hamdallah briefed the cabinet on the outcomes of his meetings with the French counterpart Mr. Edward Philip, French Senate President Mr. Gerard Larcher, and other Senate committees chairs. During, he praised the French efforts led by President Macaron to support the Middle East peace process and achieve the two-state solution based on the international law and UN resolutions preserving the Palestinian rights.

Also, he reiterated the Palestinian leadership and government support to any French efforts to establish an international support group with the participation of international partners to restore the long-stalled political process.

In addition, the Prime Minister repeated his calls to any future International measures to save the two-state solution and end the Israeli military occupation of the State of Palestine, stressing that the continuation of the Israeli illegal occupation is the main obstacle to achieving of a just and comprehensive peace.

PM Hamdallah also invited the French Government and European Union to support President Abbas peace initiative for holding an international peace conference based on the implementation of the resolutions of international legitimacy, the international law, and United Nations resolutions.

Moreover, he called upon France to take quick steps to recognize the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. “The recognition will help to save the two-state solution and restore hope for the Palestinian people.” PM Hamdallah added.

PM Hamdallah also expressed his sincere gratitude to France for its continuous commitment to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) urging the French leadership to increase its financial support to the International organization.

PM Hamdallah added, “I commend the French government position for rejecting the Israeli illegal settlement expansion on the Palestinian lands, I also call France to ban Israeli illegal settlements products from the French and European markets”.

Welcomed the United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) decision to adapt eight resolutions in favor of the State of Palestine, hours after the Trump administration failure to condemn the Palestinian national struggle, which came with an overwhelming vote of (156 votes) that emphasized the two-state solution and the need to ending the Israeli occupation to the Palestinian lands, including East Jerusalem.

The prominent resolutions adopted by the General Assembly were on the Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, Israeli illegal settlements including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. In addition to the implementation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians during the aggression of August 12th,1949 on the Palestinian lands, including East Jerusalem and other Occupied Arab Territories. As well as, the work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli violations of Palestinians human rights, property and income of Palestine refugees, the operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), and the forcibly displaced Palestinian people due to the June 1967 aggression and what followed it from work to support the Palestinian refugees. “The United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) vote confirms again that the world support of the Palestinian rights. As well as, the legitimate Palestinian struggle to end the Israeli occupation and enable the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable rights within an independent Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.” The cabinet stated.

Expressed its sincere gratitude to the members of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA), who stood for justice and voted to prevent the passage of the Trump administration project, which targets the Palestinian people, national movement, and the Palestinian national struggle. “We strongly condemn the US administration blind support to Israel, the Occupation power, which encourages Israel to continue to challenge, undermine the international system, and target the Palestinian people, land, without any International accountability.” The cabinet added

Condemned the Israeli occupation escalation and settler group attacks aimed to Judaize Al-Haram al-Ibrahimi in Hebron. In addition to denying Muslims access to prayers through a series of military measures imposed by the occupation authorities and armed settlers in the old town of Hebron. “The Israeli systematic colonial escalation is a mockery of UNESCO’s decisions that demands to halt the Israeli settlements expansions. Furthermore, this escalation aims to target the archaeological and religious sites in Occupied Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron, including the Ibrahimi Mosque.” The cabinet stated. The cabinet called upon the international community and relevant international organizations, particularly UNESCO to take quick steps to protect the Palestinian holy sites and force the Israeli occupation government to implement all relevant UN resolutions.

Deplored the demolition of Al-Tahadi 13 School in the town of Samoua, south of Hebron and the issued Israeli military order to shut down Al-Tahadi 12 school in Wadi Salman,“The demolition of the school is an examination of the remaining credibility of the international community system, the United Nations, and its relevant organizations.” The cabinet noted, stressing that such illegal measures questions Israel, the occupying power willingness to halt any of its daily grave violations and crimes against International law and Palestinian human rights. “The demolition of Al-Tahadi 13 School is another Israeli crime that comes part of the ethnic cleansing cycle committed against the national and humanitarian presence of the Palestinian people on their lands, and particularly area “C”, in order to forcibly displace Palestinian citizens and replace them with settlers.” The cabinet added. The cabinet also called upon the International community and UN Security Council (UNSC) to take concrete and quick steps to provide international protection to our people against the Israeli occupation.

Commended the State of Palestine membership for the first time to the Advisory Committee on nominations of judges of the International Criminal Court and the selection of the Attorney-General of the State of Palestine as a member of the Asian continent.

Welcomed the signing of a cooperation protocol with the German government worth € 54.4 million, signed by the Palestinian Minister of Finance and Planning and Klaus Kraemer the German official responsible for the file of the Near East in the Ministry of Economy and Cooperation.

The cooperation aims to provide financial support for the implementation of education and economic projects. As well as, to support the Salfit water treatment plant and other investment projects, especially in the field of energy in Gaza. “We express our gratitude to the Federal Republic of Germany for its continuous support for the State of Palestine, which represents the largest supporter of the Palestinian Government since its establishment, despite all obstacles facing Palestine due to the ongoing Israeli occupation practices. The cabinet stated.

Wed, 12 Dec 2018 10:20:53 GMT
Hariri Reaches London To Partake In Lebanon Uk Forum hariri reaches london to partake in lebanon uk forum

Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, has arrived in the British capital, London, on a few day visit, where he will participate in the Lebanese-British Business and Investment Forum to be held tomorrow. 

Premier Hariri is scheduled to deliver a speech on the occasion and will sponsor the signing of an agreement between the British Rolls Royce Company and the Middle East Airlines

Hariri's itinerary also includes bilateral meetings with several UK officials. 

Wed, 12 Dec 2018 10:16:09 GMT
Theresa May may be facing no-confidence vote theresa may may be facing noconfidence vote

Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May may be facing a no-confidence motion after delaying a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, local media reported late Tuesday.

At least 48 of the 315 Conservative lawmakers in the parliament's 650-seat main elected house, the Commons, need to write to Conservative backbench 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady to trigger the vote.

BBC political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg cited "multiple sources," including senior Conservatives and a cabinet minister, as saying that Brady had requested to see the prime minister after the weekly question time session on Wednesday.

"They believe the threshold of 48 letters has been reached," Kuenssberg tweeted.

Former Northern Ireland and environment secretary Owen Paterson is one of the lawmakers who expressed "no confidence" in the British leader, the Telegraph reported.

"The prime minister's proposed 'deal' is so bad that it cannot be considered anything other than a betrayal of clear manifesto promises," Paterson said in his letter to the chairman published by the Telegraph on Tuesday evening.

Downing Street could not immediately be reached for comment.

If enough letters were sent to trigger a vote, May would need the support of at least 158 of the 315 Conservative members of parliament to stay in office.

In case of a May victory, the 1922 Committee would not be able to call another no-confidence vote for a year, while if she lost she wouldn't be able to take part in the contest to choose a new Conservative leader.

The reports emerged after May crossed the English Channel on Tuesday in a last-minute bid to win concessions from European Union leaders.

Her trip to Berlin, The Hague and Brussels came on the heels of her decision to delay a planned vote on her deal in parliament after admitting she faced defeat "by a significant margin."

She is seeking reassurances that a so-called backstop agreement for the post-Brexit Irish border would not leave Britain trapped in an indefinite arrangement, an aspect of the agreement which has worried many lawmakers in Britain.

May is also set to travel to Dublin on Wednesday and to attend a summit of European leaders on Thursday.

There have been persistent reports that Conservatives were on the verge of triggering a no-confidence vote in May since she first agreed to the withdrawal deal, which spells out the legal terms of Britain's departure from the EU on March 29, 2019.

Wed, 12 Dec 2018 08:16:10 GMT
Trump bracing for tempest over Mueller probe through White House reshuffle trump bracing for tempest over mueller probe through white house reshuffle

US President Donald Trump seeks to establish a team that would be able to more effectively protect him from domestic political opponents, Chairman of the Board of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s Development and Support Foundation Andrei Bystritsky, told TASS on Monday, commenting on the dismissal of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

"In my view, it is clear that the current administration is not the best at coping with political challenges the United States is facing, both external and internal. This has nothing to do with policy focuses, it is just an inability to improve the policy. Perhaps, the reason is that the American elite was brought up to believe in its messianic role, this is just a way of thinking," the expert said.

However, Trump’s policy is different, it is aimed at "another world and another situation." "Perhaps, Trump has had little success in forming an administration that would be consistent with his plans," Bystritsky noted.

"On top of that, there is a tempest looming over the Mueller investigation and confessions made by Trump’s former lawyer. There are enough domestic political challenges to face. Perhaps, one of the current administration’s faults is that it cannot properly advocate the president’s positions or at least it has let down Trump’s expectations in that regard," the expert said.

Bystritsky also said that the Kelly situation should be considered against the background of the Mueller investigation, the testimony of ex-FBI Chief James Comey and Trump’s recent criticism of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"All combined, it points to the US administration’s rebuilding effort," Bystritsky said. "UN Ambassador Nikki Hailey's resignation seems to be a link in the chain, it is all about creating a new governing system and making changes in the administration," he added.

"The US administration is a very important tool, one of the few the president has to himself. Clearly, there is the Congress, governors and other political actors, as well as the president himself. However, the administration is like hands for him. I think he wants to make his hands work in real life," the expert concluded.

Kelly’s dismissal
On Saturday, Trump announced that Kelly would leave his position at the end of the year.

In November, the US media said that Trump planned to dismiss Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over the lack of a clear position on the migration issue. Trump confirmed earlier that he was contemplating changes in the administration following the November 6 midterm election.


Tue, 11 Dec 2018 16:21:16 GMT
Merkel, Putin discuss gas transit via Ukraine after 2019 merkel putin discuss gas transit via ukraine after 2019

The incident in the Kerch Strait, gas transit via Ukraine after 2019, the situation in Syria and US’s plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) were in focus of telephone talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin, German government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said on Monday.

"The chancellor and the president among other things discussed Russian gas transit via Ukraine after 2019, as well as the situation in Syria, especially the issue of the formation of the Constitutional Committee," he said. "Apart from that, they exchanged views on the situation around the INF Treaty."

"The conversation focused on the situation in the Kerch Strait," he noted. "The chancellor stressed that measures are needed to ensure free movement of ships."

Merkel, according to the spokesman, also called for the release of the detained Ukrainian sailors.


Tue, 11 Dec 2018 16:01:27 GMT
About 2,000 people evacuated from Moscow’s Sklifosovsky hospital over bomb threat about 2000 people evacuated from moscow’s sklifosovsky hospital over bomb threat

About 2,000 people have been evacuated from the Sklifosovsky emergency hospital in downtown Moscow after a bomb call, an emergency source told TASS on Monday.

"Police received an anonymous bomb threat call. K-9 experts and emergency workers have been dispatched there. About 2,000 people have been evacuated from the hospital," the source said.

Meanwhile, police received another anonymous call about a bomb planted at the Leningradsky Railway Terminal.

"Police officers have been dispatched to inspect the railway terminal," an emergency source told TASS.

On November 28, hoax calls were received about bombs planted at 15 Moscow shopping malls and the Kievsky Railway Terminal. According to a law enforcement source, all calls came from a telephone number registered in Ukraine.

A series of hoax bomb calls was recorded across Russia from September to December 2017, when nearly 4,000 facilities received bomb threats and over 2.6 mln people in various cities had to be evacuated.


Tue, 11 Dec 2018 15:56:00 GMT
Poroshenko has no chances to win Ukraine’s 2019 presidential election, Poroshenko has no chances to win Ukraine’s 2019 presidential election, poll showspoll shows poroshenko has no chances to win ukraine’s 2019 presidential election poroshenko has no chances to win ukraine’s 2019 presidential election poll showspoll shows

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has no chances to win the forthcoming election due in the spring of 2019, as follows from an opinion poll by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology.

Analysts say that even if there is a run-off Poroshenko is doomed to lose to all potential rivals.

According to the survey, if in the runoff Poroshenko clashes with the leader of the Batkivshchina party Yulia Timoshenko, the latter will emerge the winner with 23.4%, while the incumbent will get 11.8%. The Opposition Platform - For Life’s Yuri Boiko would outperform Poroshenko by 19% against 15.3%. And in a hypothetical Boiko-Timoshenko duel Batkivshchina’s leader will gain the upper hand by 23.4% in contrast to Boiko’s 15.2%.

In a presidential runoff featuring Timoshenko and musician Svyatoslav Vakarchuk the former is also in the lead 23.4%. In a Poroshenko-Vakarchuk final round the rock musician will get ahead of the incumbent with 24.2% against the latter’s 11.1%. Also, the experts say Poroshenko has no chances of getting more votes than showman Vladimir Zelensky, who can count on 23% of the votes in the runoff vs Poroshenko’s 12.2%.

The poll surveyed an audience of 2,000 respondents in Ukraine’s 110 cities and communities.

Ukraine’s presidential election is due on October 31, 2019. To win in the first round a candidate is to secure the support of more than half of the voters who cast their ballots.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 15:24:16 GMT
EU offers to help May salvage Brexit deal but will not renegotiate eu offers to help may salvage brexit deal but will not renegotiate

British Prime Minister Theresa May embarked Tuesday on a tour of European capitals in a last-minute bid to win Brexit concessions, but top EU officials said they could at best offer clarifications to help get the deal through parliament.

May's trip to The Hague, Berlin and Brussels comes on the heels of a decision to delay Tuesday's planned vote in the British parliament on the Brexit deal May had negotiated with Brussels, amid fears of a crushing defeat.

"We are very much concerned about the postponement of the vote," French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said. "We have done a lot help the UK," she added, noting that it was the only deal on the table.

At stake is the withdrawal agreement, which spells out the legal terms of Britain's departure from the EU on March 29, 2019, as well as a joint political declaration outlining goals for the future relationship.

May hopes to secure assurances that Britain "cannot be permanently trapped" in backstop provisions aimed at preventing the emergence of a border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, said Martin Callanan, a minister of state in her Brexit department.

Eurosceptics are concerned that the backstop, if it came into effect, would bind Britain closely to the EU, without London being able to unilaterally exit the arrangement. The issue is at the heart of many lawmakers' opposition to the deal.

May is seeking "additional legally binding reassurances," Callanan said, indicating that this would not involve reopening the withdrawal agreement.

May met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague early Tuesday. He later tweeted that they had "a useful dialogue," after having signalled ahead of time that there was little prospect of renegotiation.

From there she travelled to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She was later due to head to Brussels for meetings with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Brussels and Berlin have insisted that they will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, which was endorsed by EU leaders last month.

Michael Grosse-Broemer, a senior member of Merkel's Conservative bloc, said Tuesday that the deal on the table was a fair one, while warning that any concessions would likely lead to significant changes.

However, there are signs that the 27 remaining member states are willing to look at ways of helping May get the deal through parliament.

On Monday, Tusk had said that the EU "will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification."

"The deal we have achieved is the best deal possible. It is the only deal possible. There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation," Juncker added on Tuesday, speaking to EU lawmakers in the French city of Strasbourg.

"But of course there is room, if used intelligently (...) to give further clarification and further interpretations without opening the withdrawal agreement," he said.

Ultimately, however, London must do its homework, said German Secretary of State for European Affairs Michael Roth, ahead of a meeting in Brussels with his EU counterparts.

Meanwhile, Juncker said the backstop was an integral part of Britain's divorce deal, amid fears that a return to border controls on the island of Ireland could reignite decades-old tensions.

"We have a common determination to do everything to be not in a situation one day to use that backstop. But we have to prepare it," Juncker said. "It is necessary for the entire coherence of what we have agreed with Britain, it it is necessary for Ireland."

"Ireland will never be left alone," he added of the EU member.

May's decision to postpone the vote has raised concerns that Britain could crash out of the EU without a deal in place, likely causing mayhem for people and businesses across the bloc. Several member states have said they are ramping up no-deal preparations.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 14:19:18 GMT
India plans to pull out of $500 million missile deal with Israel india plans to pull out of 500 million missile deal with israel

The Indian defense ministry has announced plans to withdraw from deal with Israeli army contractor Rafael for Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM).

The deal was originally agreed in 2014, but the Indian defence ministry scrapped the deal in January of this year, reportedly planning to develop missiles domestically instead, through the government’s Defence Research and Development Organisation. However, when Netanyahu visited India later in January on a trip to foster closer economic ties between the two nations, he declared that the deal was ‘back on the table’ and that the outlook was ‘very positive’.

The deal appears to have hit another stumbling block, however, as the Indian defence ministry expresses doubts about the performance of the missiles in hot, desert conditions, requesting that they undergo additional testing in the summer of 2019.

Israel and India trade some $5 billion annually, primarily in arms and diamonds. This deal was seen as something of a milestone for relations between the two countries, deepening diplomatic and military ties.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 12:50:52 GMT
French Minister refuses to present award to Palestinian NGO french minister refuses to present award to palestinian ngo

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet chose not to attend a ceremony in Paris on Monday where the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq, and the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, were awarded the French Republic Human Rights Award 2018.

The prestigious award, entitled ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’, is presented annually by the French government to Human Rights defenders, and the presentation ceremony this year celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The decision to present the award to two organisations fighting to expose the unlawful actions undertaken by the Israeli state in occupied Palestine has come under attack by pro-Israel French groups.

Francis Kalifat, the president of French-Jewish organization Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF), wrote to Belloubet urging her not to present the award. He claimed ‘the two organisations [are] known to call for the boycott of Israel […] which is banned by [the French] criminal code.’

The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely wrote a similar letter, calling the selection of Al-Haq and B’Tselem ‘a badge of honour to anti-Israeli organisations’. He claimed ‘B’Tselem is an organisation that bases its activity on unreliable sources in order to harm Israel, while Al-Haq promotes a boycott against Israel and some of the organisation’s members are linked to terror groups, such as the Palestinian Liberation Front.’

Despite Belloubet’s absence, the presentation ceremony went ahead yesterday, and B’Tselem’s Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, upon accepting the award, spoke out against the ‘organised, prolonged state violence’ represented by the occupation.

El-Ad also addressed the pressure that Israeli government officials tried to exert on decision-makers in France over the award: ‘The hysterical response by Israeli government officials, attempting to prevent this prize from being awarded, illustrates the reality within which we work: propaganda, lies, and threats by a government which believes that silencing and cover-up will enable further human rights violations. In the face of this moral bankruptcy, we are here not only to further expose the truth – but also to bring an end to the injustice.’

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 12:45:44 GMT
Settlers put up posters calling for targeting Palestinian president settlers put up posters calling for targeting palestinian president

Israeli settlers from Yitzhar settlement in Nablus, northern West Bank, have launched an incitement campaign against President Mahmoud Abbas, showing him as a target.

Settlers put up posters at a checkpoint near the settlement, calling for the assassination of President Abbas saying he was the financier of operations against them in the West Bank.

Israeli media accused President Abbas of instigating incitement following the shooting of settlers near Ofra.

This comes after a shooting in Ofra settlement on Sunday night near Ramallah, in which seven settlers were wounded. Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) immediately went on the raid spree in Ramallah and its villages following the shooting.

Miliotary jeeps entered Ramallah city and fired teargas towards the citizens, causing clashes. IOF also broke into WAFA News Agency, which is the governmental official news agency.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 12:25:17 GMT
Arab League urges Bolsonaro to reconsider embassy move arab league urges bolsonaro to reconsider embassy move

Brazil’s right-wing President-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, was warned in a letter on Monday that his plans to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would seriously harm relations with Arab countries. Arab diplomats are expected to meet in Brasilia to further discuss the intended embassy move, along with Bolsonaro’s plans to close the Palestinian mission in Brasilia.

Natanyahu praised the planned move: “I congratulate my friend Brazilian President-Elect, Jair Bolsonaro, for his intention to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem, a historic, correct and exciting step!” Bolsonaro is due to be sworn in on 1st January 2019, and Netanyahu reportedly hopes to attend the inauguration ceremony.

A diplomat from the Arab League stated: “the Arab world has much respect for Brazil and we want not just to maintain relations but improve and diversify them. But the intention of moving the embassy to Jerusalem could harm them.”

Hanan Ashwari, member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s executive committee, condemned the plans, stating “these are provocative and illegal steps that will only destabilize security and stability in the region.”

Currently, the United States and Guatemala are the only nations with embassies located in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv. The Organisation of Islamic Countries has called on member states to abstain from importing cardamom from Guatemala, and not to conduct high level visits to this country or to organize joint cultural, sportive or artistic events” until its embassy is removed from Jerusalem. The organization has announced that similar measures will be taken against countries which relocate their embassies to Jerusalem.

According to Reuters, the president-elect’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, said the embassy move was “not a question of if, but of when”, speaking after recently visiting Trump advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner at the White House.

Brazil is among the largest exporters of halal meat to the arab world, and this move would threaten the trading relationship in the future. However, as Bolsonaro attempts to align himself with Trump and position the nation favourably with regard to the US, it is doubtful whether the potential economic interest at stake will weigh heavily enough against the embassy move.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 12:13:18 GMT
Australia intends to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital australia intends to recognize jerusalem as israel’s capital

The Australian government intends to announce its recognition of the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Tuesday, The Australian newspaper reported, after receiving approval from the National Security Council on the move.

The running options are either to keep the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv with a small consulate office in Jerusalem, or  move the embassy in the future, delayed due to the estimated AUS$200 million cost.

In an attempt to diffuse Palestinian, Arab and Islamic anger over the decision, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has proposed a gesture of good will to the Palestinians in the form of an increase in diplomatic representation in Ramallah. However, speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Izzat Abdul Hadi, the head of the General Delegation of Palestine, says the only gesture that would suffice would be the “recognition of Palestinian statehood”.

As a reaction, neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia have put pressure on the Australian government to abandon the move. The two south-east Asian nations are important economic and trade partners with Australia and a significant free trade deal is on the line, with the outcome apparently depending on Australia’s Jerusalem decision.

This announcement comes following the controversial move of the US in May this year, when the Trump administration recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December. The protest of this decision saw over 50 Palestinians killed and around 1,200 people wounded. Following suit, Guatemala and Paraguay also shifted their embassies to Jerusalem, although the latter promptly withdrew back to Tel Aviv.

International consensus has usually seen Jerusalem as one of the highest stakes in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, as both states believe it to be their capital. The recognition of Israel’s Jerusalem by other nations not only legitmises the illegal occupation, according to Abdul Hadi, but also potentially puts any future peace negotiations in grave danger.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 12:04:58 GMT
3 Palestinians injured, others suffocated by Israeli soldiers in Tubas 3 palestinians injured others suffocated by israeli soldiers in tubas

Three Palestinians were injured, early Tuesday, while others suffered suffocations in clashes with the Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank city of Tubas.

During the clashes, the occupation soldiers fired live ammunition and toxic tear gas canisters against the locals, leaving three youths injured and others suffocated, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said in a statement .

The injured were listed in fair and medium condition and were transferred to a nearby hospital, the statement added.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 11:20:26 GMT
US marines missing after aircraft collision off Japan confirmed dead us marines missing after aircraft collision off japan confirmed dead

The US Marine Corps on Tuesday confirmed the deaths of five soldiers who went missing after two US warplanes collided off the coast of western Japan, bringing the total death toll to six with only one survivor.

"I have made the determination to end the search and rescue operations for the crew of our KC-130J aircraft which was involved in a mishap off the southern coast of Japan and to declare that these Marine warriors are deceased," III Marine Expeditionary Force's Commanding General Eric Smith said in a Facebook post.

Smith added that "every possible effort was made" to recover the crew and that the flight data and cockpit voice recorders of the refuelling aircraft, which was carrying the five marines, "have not been located at this time, making it premature to speculate about wreckage recovery."

The US Marine Corps warplanes involved, the KC-130 and an F/A-18 jet with two on board, had taken off from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japanese government spokesman Yasutoshi Nishimura said after the December 6 incident.

After the collision, two of the marines involved were rescued by the Japanese Navy. One died of his injuries while the other was in fair condition, the Corps said last week.

The planes were conducting "regularly-scheduled training" when the mishap occurred, according to a news release issued by the MIII Marine Expeditionary Force.

"It is not confirmed that aerial refueling was ongoing when the mishap occurred," the statement said, adding that the circumstances of the collision were under investigation.

There have been a series of accidents in and around Japan involving the US military. Thursday's crash comes less than a month after a US fighter jet went down off the southern island of Okinawa in mid-November and its two crew members were rescued.

Twelve sailors were injured in October after a US Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crashed on the deck of the carrier in the Philippine Sea.

In October 2017, a US CH-53 helicopter went down near a residential area in northern Okinawa. None of its crew members were injured.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 09:01:36 GMT
Future Brazil gov to 'dissociate' itself from UN migration compact future brazil gov to dissociate itself from un migration compact

Brazil's future foreign minister Ernesto Araujo said Monday that the incoming government of Jair Bolsonaro will "dissociate" itself from a UN compact on migration, hours after the country's current government endorsed it.

"The Bolsonaro government will dissociate itself from the Global Migration Pact that is being launched in Marrakech, an inadequate instrument to deal with the problem," Araujo tweeted.

"Immigration should not be treated as a global issue, but rather according to the reality and sovereignty of each country."

The global pact was adopted earlier Monday at a conference in the Moroccan city of Marrakech, which was attended by official delegations from more than 150 countries. It still needs to be endorsed by the UN General Assembly.

"Supported by Brazil and more than 150 countries, the Global Compact does not compromise the sovereign right of states to determine their migration policies," Brazil's Foreign Ministry tweeted Monday.

In July, 192 countries unanimously approved the pact following 18 months of negotiations. The United States backed out in December 2017 followed by a slew of other countries.

It lays out 23 objectives to ensure "safe, orderly and regular" migration, including protecting migrants from exploitation and human rights abuses.

Araujo, a climate change sceptic and anti-globalist, is set to become Brazil's new foreign minister in January, when the government of far-right president-elect Bolsonaro takes power.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 07:52:13 GMT
Macron promises wage rises and tax cuts amid Yellow Vest protests macron promises wage rises and tax cuts amid yellow vest protests

President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday promised a 100-euro (114-dollar) monthly rise in France's minimum wage among a series of measures aimed at placating the Yellow Vest protest movement.

In his first public comments in nine days, Macron also promised tax concessions to workers taking on overtime and pensioners, but rejected calls to reintroduce a partly-scrapped wealth tax.

The French left and far-right dismissed Macron's proposals, which came after a second Saturday running saw Paris police clash with protesters. They argued that he wasn't really changing course. 

Reactions from the protesters, who have mounted roadblocks around France since mid-November wearing the fluorescent yellow safety tops that have become their symbol, were not as clear.

The movement has no leaders and no formal organization.

But most Yellow Vests who spoke to French media in the aftermath of Macron's speech seemed inclined to continue their actions. 

"It's not enough," one protester in southern France, identified only as Jean-Paul, told broadcaster BFMTV. "It's only a small gesture."

Macron, sporting stubble, made a 13-minute televised address from the Elysee Palace, introduced by the national anthem.

"The events of the last few weeks... have deeply troubled the nation," he said. "No anger can justify attacking a policeman or a gendarme, vandalizing a shop or a government building."

The president acknowledged that many protesters have not been swayed by the government's decision last week to scrap the petrol and diesel tax hikes that initially sparked the movement.

Their anger "is much deeper," he said. "I consider it justified in many ways, and that may be our opportunity."

Opinion polls have shown widespread public support for the Yellow Vests, while Macron's own ratings have sunk to new lows.

The 40-year-old centrist president, elected last year in a landslide victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen, admitted his government had "moved too slowly" on ensuring people could live in dignity from the proceeds of their work.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe would bring legislation before parliament on Tuesday to enshrine the new commitments into law, he said.

Macron said employers should also make an effort, calling on those who could afford it to pay workers an end-of-year bonus that would be exempt from tax and social charges.

The increase in the minimum wage would not cost employers anything, he promised.

An Elysee source later clarified to dpa that it would mainly involve a quicker implementation of rises in state payments to low-paid workers, originally slated to take effect over several years.

Macron also announced that pensioners with incomes of less than 2,000 euros will be exempted from a controversial tax rise. A plan to exempt overtime payments from social charges will be broadened to exempt them from income tax too.

The measures overall would probably cost between 8 and 10 billion euros, junior budget minister Olivier Dussopt told BFMTV.

Macron, who has cast himself as a leader of pro-EU progressive forces in the face of the populist far-right, said many other countries were facing similar discontent "but I believe that we can, all together, find a way out."

"I want that for France because it is our calling, down through history, to find paths never before explored for ourselves and for the world," he said.

But while announcing his concessions, Macron was anxious to avoid giving the impression that he was engaged in an about-turn.

He rejected calls to reverse the abolition of France's wealth tax on property other than real estate, which left-wing opponents used to brand him as the "president of the rich."

"To turn back would weaken us just when we are creating jobs in every sector," he argued.

At the same time, he said, new measures would be taken to ensure that big companies and their directors paid tax in France.

"You see, we are responding to the economic and social emergency with strong measures, with quicker tax cuts, with a better control of expenditure, rather than by retreating," he argued.

Radical leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon quickly dismissed Macron's announcement, saying the president "thought that handing out some change would calm the citizen uprising has broken out."

Melenchon predicted a "big mobilization" for a fifth weekend of protests next Saturday.

Le Pen was equally dismissive, saying that Macron had "renounced some of his fiscal errors, so much the better, but refuses to admit that it's the model he champions which is contested."

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 07:45:04 GMT
Settlement plan to link center of Israel with the Palestinian Jordan Valley settlement plan to link center of israel with the palestinian jordan valley

In its latest  weekly report about  Israeli settlements activities in the occupied West Bank including Jerusalem  the National Bureau for the Defense of  Land  said that the Israeli Government and its extremist parties’ maneuvers continue to control the Palestinian land, as Eli Ben-Dahan of the Jewish House Party is trying to pass laws in the Knesset to impose them on the West Bank in preparation for the annexation of large areas of land.

The Bureau sent a letter to all the heads of committees in the Israeli Knesset urging them to speed up discussing them, requesting them to postpone approving those laws until a military order is taken. It seems that majority of the responded to his request in clear violation for the international legitimacy and its resolutions, the Geneva Conventions, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In an interview at the Israeli settlement right-wing newspaper “Beshiva”, the Israeli Housing Minister, Yo’av Galant, boasted of the increasing number of settlers and the doubling of the settlement units that have been marketed over the past 3 years, disclosing the silent increase in budgets for planning and development in the settlements units in the area south-west of Nablus, and other settlement blocs in the Salfit and Qalqilia Governorates.

At the same time, the Israeli occupation forces and the municipality of Moshe Le’on  in Jerusalem continue to demolish houses of the citizens under various pretexts. They have demolished a house belonging to Na’im Abu Duweih in the Al-Sala’ neighborhood in the Jabal Mukaber. The house owners tried to prevent the Israeli occupation forces from demolishing the house, but they assaulted and then arrested him. The Israeli occupation forces also prevented the paving of a road in the old town of Beit Hanina, northwest of occupied Jerusalem, claiming that the work is falling within the area C.

Moreover, the Israeli bulldozers continued to raze and open roads in two settlement outposts located on the lands of Jalud village, south of Nablus, where the settlers of the outpost of Ish-Kudash built new settlement units at the northern end of the settlement point, where the heavy machinery of the settlers carry out the work of digging and excavating the road, while the settlers of the” Hiyah “outpost located on the land of the Jalud village planted trees. The expansion of the settlement came in conjunction with the Israeli occupation government’s decision to proceed with legitimizing of all the settlement outposts and the annexation of other outposts in the areas of the new settlement of Amihai, which was approved by the occupation government to accommodate 1100 settlement families and turn it into a real settlement town.

In the Salfit governorate, bulldozers continued to settle land and infrastructure to expand the settlement of Brokan, and to increase settlement construction at the expense of the lands of Bruqin and Sarata village west of Salfit. In the northern Jordan Valley, the military court approved the demolition of the water network in the Aqaba village after it refused the appeal of the residents. The head of the Aqaba village Council, Haj, Sami Sadiq, said that the village council’s lawyer informed them of the court’s refusal to revoke the decision to demolish the network and to approve the decision issued by the occupation army to remove the network under the pretext of unauthorized residency. As for the water network project, he pointed out that it serves about 70 houses. Israelo occupation forces also continued to demolish Al-Tahadi school in the village of Al-Simeya, near the town of Samou, south of Hebron. The Israeli occupation forces demolished the school and confiscated its equipment before it is opened within the next few days.

In the follow-up to the file of the Khan Ahmar village, the Israeli army distributed military orders to close the roads leading to the village until Jan. 15th, 2019 under the pretext of military activities. For his part, Netanyahu continues tantalizing the Bedouin settlement file in occupied Jerusalem, keeping the evacuation of the housing complex in anticipation of proceedings that may be issued by the International Criminal Court without abandoning the demolition decision .

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 14:23:28 GMT
UN member states adopt global migration pact un member states adopt global migration pact

United Nations member states adopted on Monday a landmark global pact to better handle migrant flows, despite a slew of countries shunning it.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita announced the adoption of the Global Compact for Migration at a conference in the Moroccan city of Marrakech, which was attended by official delegations from more than 150 countries.

In July this year, 192 countries unanimously approved the pact following 18 months of negotiations. The United States backed out in December 2017.

In recent months, several countries publicly rejected or backed down on their support of the agreement, including Hungary, Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. The Belgian government split over the pact on Sunday.

They mostly cited concerns about domestic immigration policies.

The 34-page pact still needs to be endorsed by the UN General Assembly.

It lays out 23 objectives to ensure "safe, orderly and regular" migration, including protecting migrants from exploitation and human rights abuses.

Speaking at the opening session of the two-day conference, UN chief Antonio Guterres dispelled "falsehoods" on the agreement.

He rejected as "false" claims that the United Nations seeks to impose migration policies on the member states that infringe their sovereignty.

"The compact is not a treaty. Moreover, it is not legally binding. It is a framework for international cooperation," he said.

He asserted the importance of the pact as a "roadmap to prevent the suffering and chaos and to provide cooperation strategies that will benefit all."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who attended the conference, described the UN accord as a "milestone" in developing a multilateral approach to migration.

Speaking in Marrakech, Merkel said the accord is a major step in the battle against people smugglers. She added that migration is a normal phenomenon, "and when it's legal, also good."

She said that the pact would help stem illegal migration, which is why Germany would continue to support it.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 14:14:33 GMT
Egyptian House of Representatives: Political solution only solution to crisis in Syria egyptian house of representatives political solution only solution to crisis in syria

The Arab Affairs Committee of the Egyptian House of Representatives asserted that the political solution is the only solution to the crisis in Syria.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Committee expressed full support to the tireless efforts for finding a political settlement to the crisis in Syria.

The Committee indicated that this settlement should preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian state and its institutions based on the references of the political solution, on top of which the resolution No. 2254, expressing support to the UN in this regard.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 14:06:57 GMT
No cooperation possible between Russian, Ukrainian intelligence services no cooperation possible between russian ukrainian intelligence services

Cooperation between Russian and Ukrainian intelligence services is impossible in the current conditions, Sergei Naryshkin, chief of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, said on Sunday.

"After the state coup in that country, under the current authorities, such cooperation is impossible," he said in an interview with the Deistvuyushchiye Litsa (Political Actors) with Nailya Asker-zade on the Rossiya-1 television channel.

The two countries’ intelligence services used to maintain cooperation relations before 2014, he noted.


Mon, 10 Dec 2018 14:01:21 GMT
Kremlin slams rumors about Russia’s alleged involvement in France’s Yellow Vests kremlin slams rumors about russia’s alleged involvement in france’s yellow vests

Statements about Russia’s alleged involvement in the French protests are nothing but slander, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"Any statements about Russia’s alleged involvement are nothing but slander," he said when asked to comment on media reports about alleged foreign involvement in the Yellow Vest protests in France. In particular, The Times said, citing sources, that Russia could be the force behind in the protests.

Peskov stressed that "Russia considers these developments to be France’s domestic affair." "We have never interfered in the domestic affairs of other countries, including France, as we place much importance on the development of bilateral relations and both countries have been working rather hard to that end," the Russian presidential spokesman added.

Peskov also pointed out that Russia respected France’s sovereignty. "We are grateful when France responds in kind," he stressed.


Mon, 10 Dec 2018 13:38:00 GMT
Bassil Meets Canadian Minister Of Immigration In Marrakech bassil meets canadian minister of immigration in marrakech

Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil, held bilateral talks with Canadian Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussein, who is heading the Canadian delegation to the United Nations Conference on Migration in Marrakech. 

During the meeting, Bassil stressed "the successes of the Lebanese immigrants, their swift integration into the host communities and their contribution to the development of these communities." 

He also warned of "the danger of mass exodus on countries and the fabric of societies." 

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 13:08:50 GMT
Aoun Meets Palestinian Legislative Council Delegation aoun meets palestinian legislative council delegation

President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, received a delegation from the Palestinian Legislative Council headed by MP Mahmoud Al-Zahar, who briefed him on the latest developments in Palestine. 


Mon, 10 Dec 2018 12:52:28 GMT
UNGA adopts resolutions on Palestinian Refugees and Israeli Occupation unga adopts resolutions on palestinian refugees and israeli occupation

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday adopted four resolutions relating to Palestinian refugees and five resolutions relating to Israel’s illegal practices in occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories. All nine of these resolutions were voted against by Israel and by the United States but were successfully adopted.

The assembly recognized the ongoing work of the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which works to provide essential services to the 5.4 million Palestinian refugees in the region and its programs are gravely threatened by lack of funding and structural financial security, in part the result of the US withdrawal of funding this year.  It also expressed concern over the Agency’s financial situation, and appealing for contributions from member states.

The resolutions also recognized that the difficult socioeconomic conditions faced by Palestinian refugees in the occupied territory are partly the result of Israeli policy in the area, including construction of settlements, economic and movement restrictions, and the demolition of homes. As the UNRWA continues to attempt to protect the basic rights of refugees, this work becomes harder as the Israeli policies continue to undermine such protection and weaken the socioeconomic position of Palestinian refugees.

Alongside the resolutions for protection of refugees, the assembly also adopted resolutions demanding that Israel ‘cease all measures contrary to international law’, including the imposition of economic and movement restrictions. The International community (with the notable exception of the US) recognizes that the Israeli state is acting unlawfully, in contravention of the Geneva Convention on a multitude of counts, making reference to the killing and injury of civilians, the destruction of property, and arbitrary detention and imprisonment, amongst other things.

However, the language of the resolutions regarding the behavior and policies of the Israeli state are diplomatic, making demands rather than actively deploring the unlawful and discriminatory policies of the Israeli state.

Israel has consistently shown little respect for such General Assembly resolutions, and, particularly given the rejection of the resolutions by the US, there are good reasons to doubt that Israel will be compelled by the international community to substantively alter policy in line with these resolutions.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:59:07 GMT
IOF storm Ramallah villages after shooting of Ofra settlers iof storm ramallah villages after shooting of ofra settlers

Seven Israeli settlers were injured Sunday evening  near the settlement of Ofra, east of Ramallah,  as anonymous gunmen in a car opened fire at them.

Seven settlers were injured, including a 30-year-old settler who was severely wounded. Israeli media said she was a pregnant woman later.

The sources said that the Israeli army commander in the West Bank, General Eran Neve visited the site of the operation and heard the security assessments of the details of the shooting.

The Israeli army was raiding and searching the area surrounding the settlement in search of the shooters, who immediately withdrew from the place.

Following the shooting, a large number of Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the village of Silwad, which is closest to the site of the incident, and erected checkpoints in many of the main roads and streets in the area. IOF also searched several shops in search of security cameras for these shops in the village of Silwad east of Ramallah and the Israeli occupation forces closed the Beit El military checkpoint immediately after the operation.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:40:00 GMT
US Evangelical Christian organizations have donated to settlements us evangelical christian organizations have donated to settlements

Right-wing evangelical organizations have raised tens of millions of dollars over the past 10 years to fund settlement projects in the West Bank, a report published by Haaretz newspaper reported on Sunday.

The newspaper said it had conducted an audit of the funds, estimated to be between $50 million and $65 million, based on media reports, US tax records and the Molad Center brief composed in 2015 that 11 evangelical organizations contributed to the figure.

One such evangelical organization is the Jubilee, and evangelical volunteers are sent to Har Bracha, a settlement in the West Bank near Nablus. Jubilee is one of many evangelical organizations active in what it calls the “biblical heart of the country”. Over the past 10 years, the Jubilee has sent about 1,700 volunteers to the settlement.

Jubilee has worked for several years without announcing its activity, claiming that it would be better for the Israelis not to know about it, but is now hosting journalists and others in a “campus” that it has established in Har Bracha.

The paper pointed out that the readiness of this organization evangelical to reveal its activity in the West Bank shows the size of relations between the evangelicals and settlers.

The Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which is headed by Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, announced several months ago that the Jubilee organization will receive $16,000 a year from this year and is expected to increase from the Israeli government. The ministry said it was giving the money to the evangelical organization in light of its media activity in favor of Israel and settlements among evangelical communities in the United States.

Aharon Katzsov, founder of the Israel Heart Association, also known as the Benjamin Fund, said his association collects hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for projects in the settlements. But he pointed out that most of the funds raised by this Assembly come not only from evangelicals. “When a Jew donates $ 1,500, the Christian pays $ 50 on average, but their numbers are growing very rapidly,” he told the paper.

“The more I know of evangelicals over the past years, the more I realize how thirsty they are for the relationship with the settlements,” said Katzov, who lives in the settlement of Shilo. They often tell me, when they arrive in Tel Aviv, that ‘we did not imagine Israel that way’, but when they come here, to the settlements, they say that they imagined Israel this way. They are our greatest allies. ”

The newspaper said that the settlement “Ariel” gets the largest donations from the evangelicals. In 2008, it received $8 million for a sports zone. The Evangelists also donated $1 million to the Jewish-Christian Center in Efrat.

The paper added that it is difficult to know how much financial support evangelical settlements, because non-profit institutions and churches registered in the United States is not required to provide the authorities with detailed reports on sources of funding or disclosure of donations, and assistance to settlements not only by money but volunteer hours.  Thousands of evangelical volunteers work in settlements, for example 175 volunteers participated in picking 340 tons of grapes in settlements this year working in total of nearly 5,000 hours.

A report issued by the Molad Center three years ago said that it is impossible to estimate the amount of financial support that evangelical organizations transfer to the settlements, because many Israeli non-governmental organizations that are active in the West Bank are in direct violation of international law.

The report added that “a large portion” of all evangelical investments in Israel reach the settlements benefiting from regional councils, right-wing societies, random settlement outposts, commercial interests and travel agencies specializing in tours of settlements.

The political expediency shown by Evangelicals alliance with Israel has only grown in recent decades. So why is there such strong support from the Evangelicals? According to an earlier report by CNN website, in the last 12 months, the evangelical Christian community in the United States has actually given $100 million to charitable causes in Israel, according to Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. “God promises Abraham those who bless Israel and the Jewish people will be blessed and those who curse them will be cursed,” he says, citing Genesis. Not only this but Evangelicals see the creation of Israel in 1948 as the fulfilment of biblical prophesy, Eckstein says, “it reflects the hand of God”.

Not only is the support from Evangelicals for Israel supporting a biblical prophecy that they vehemently believe in they have also had great influence with Trump’s administrative decisions relating to Israel, the far-right Christian groups puts pressure on a president eager to show he’s fulfilling his campaign promises.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:33:55 GMT
Jewish extremists attack Palestinian-owned vehicles jewish extremists attack palestinianowned vehicles

A group of Jewish extremist settlers, early Monday, damaged a number of Palestinian-owned vehicles south of Nablus in northern West Bank, a Palestinian source said.

The Palestinian official in charge of Israeli settlements File in the northern part of the West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, said in a statement that groups of extremists settlers damaged Palestinian- owned cars by pelting stones on them on the road linking Ramallah and Nablus to the south and also on the road connecting Nablus with Tulkarem.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:09:40 GMT
Top EU court to issue decision on reversal of Brexit top eu court to issue decision on reversal of brexit

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is due Monday to issue a decision on whether Britain could reverse its plan to leave the European Union, in a closely-watched case coming a day before British lawmakers vote on the Brexit deal.

Three outcomes are broadly possible: The court could decide that Britain can unilaterally halt the Brexit process; that other member states would have a say; or it could decide to reject the case after the British government argued that the question is hypothetical.

A top legal advisor to the ECJ recommended that Britain should be able to unilaterally reverse its decision, since it would be incompatible with EU rules to make this act of "sovereignty" dependent on the assent of all other member states.

The court usually follows the advice of its advocates general.

The petitioners, who initially brought the case before the Scottish courts, argue that lawmakers should be aware of all options when they cast their Brexit votes.

The case is being closely watched by those who favour a second referendum on Britain's departure from the EU. It has been handled under an expedited procedure due to the tight Brexit time frame.

The British parliament is due to vote Tuesday on the withdrawal agreement, a 585-page legal text detailing the terms of departure, as well as a political declaration outlining joint ambitions for the future relationship between Britain and the EU.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose Conservative Party is deeply divided on Brexit, has faced an uphill struggle to sell the deal to parliament.

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 08:55:31 GMT
Branstad summoned in Beijing over Huawei executive arrest branstad summoned in beijing over huawei executive arrest

China summoned US Ambassador Terry Branstad on Sunday to protest the “unreasonable detention” of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Canada last week and is awaiting extradition to the United States. 

Sttae-run news agency Xinhua reported late Sunday that Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng made “strong protests” against the detention of Meng, who is the Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei. 

Meng, 46, faces charges of conspiracy to commit fraud for allegedly misleading several banks over Huawei’s dealings with Iran.

Huawei is accused of sending US-origin technology to Iran, in violation of ongoing sanctions from the US government. 

On Friday, Canada’s Justice Department asked the courts to deny Meng bail. The decision was postponed until Monday. 

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 08:48:23 GMT
Macron to meet business, union leaders after violent protests macron to meet business union leaders after violent protests

French President Emmanuel Macron was to meet with trade and business leaders as well as local representatives early Monday, local media reported, after violent anti-fuel protests took place across France for the fourth week running.

Several cabinet ministers will also take part in the meeting aimed at trying to defuse the so-called Yellow Vest protests, which continued on Saturday despite Macron's decision last week to cancel planned fuel tax hikes, according to news agency AFP.

Macron was also expected to give a televised address to the nation on Monday evening.

A total of 136,000 people took part in the Yellow Vest demonstrations across France on Saturday, with more than 1,700 were arrested.

In Paris, rioters set fire to cars and erected barricades, while police deployed tear gas and water cannons and many shops shut and boarded up their windows to avoid being looted.

After initial anger at the fuel tax, the protesters' anger has since become focused on Macron more generally, with critics calling him out of touch with ordinary people and labelling him a "president of the rich."

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 08:42:51 GMT
Peruvians vote for anti-corruption reforms peruvians vote for anticorruption reforms

Peruvians on Sunday voted overwhelmingly in favour of constitutional reform aimed at rooting out the corruption that is corroding the country's political institutions and judiciary.

According to initial results, 85 per cent voted in favour of the reforms put forward by popular President Martin Vizcarra, which include banning the immediate re-election of lawmakers.

Despite solid economic growth, Peru has lurched from one political crisis to another over the past two decades.

Four former presidents are being investigated as part of the continent-wide graft scandal involving the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

They include Alejandro Toledo (2001-06), Ollanta Humala (2011-16) and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-18) as well as numerous other top politicians.

Odebrecht has admitted to paying bribes worth nearly 800 million dollars in 12 countries, 10 of them in Latin America, in order get lucrative state contracts.

The scandal has set off a political avalanche in Peru over the past year.

Vizcarra, who was vice president, took power in March after his predecessor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski stepped down to avoid impeachment over corruption allegations he denied.

At the end of October, Keiko Fujimori, the powerful far-right opposition leader and daughter of former authoritarian president Alberto Fujimori, was jailed preventively for three years while money-laundering charges against her are probed.

And last month Alan Garcia, who served as president from 1985 to 1990 and again from 2006 to 2011, tried to circumvent an Odebrecht-related corruption probe by taking refuge at the Uruguayan embassy. However Montevideo refused to grant him political asylum.

Voters on Sunday approved three of four reforms put forward, including tightening controls on political party financing and introducing changes to the way judges and prosecutors are elected.

It is not yet clear when the reforms will be implemented.

A fourth reform to re-introduce a bicameral parliament was rejected on Vizcarra's recommendation.

His government withdrew its support for the plan after Congress rejected a quota that would have increased women's parliamentary representation.

Congress only approved the referendum in October after Vizcarra threatened to dissolve it unless it joined his popular anti-graft campaign.

"Today is an important day for our democracy," Vizcarra wrote on Twitter earlier.

The referendum was monitored by more than 50 observers from 16 countries in Latin America and Asia, according to the government.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 08:37:14 GMT
Ardern apologizes to parents of slain backpacker ardern apologizes to parents of slain backpacker

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday made an emotional apology to the parents of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane.

"From the Kiwis I have spoken to there is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country," she told media.

"So on behalf of New Zealand I want to apologize to Grace's family: Your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn't and I'm sorry for that," Ardern added.

Earlier in the day a 26-year-old man appeared in an Auckland court and was charged with the murder of the 22-year-old tourist.

The accused, who has been in police custody since Saturday, was granted interim name suppression. He was remanded in custody without entering a plea and is expected to appear at the High Court on January 23.

The presiding judge in Auckland acknowledged the presence of the slain woman's family.

"Your grief must be desperate," Judge Evangelos Thomas said according to Radio New Zealand.

"All of us hope that justice for Grace is fair, swift and ultimately brings you some peace," he added.

Police on Monday said a post-mortem examination had been carried out, but results would not be released.

The circumstances of Millane’s death are still not clear. She was last seen entering a hotel in central Auckland with the accused on December 1, one day before her 22nd birthday.

Her family in Britain became concerned when Millane didn't respond to their birthday wishes.

Police on Sunday found her body while searching for her near a road at the Waitakere Ranges about 25 kilometres west of central Auckland.

Police were still looking for sightings of a car that was rented for a 24-hour period and returned to central Auckland rental car company on Monday 3 December at lunchtime, Detective Inspector Scott Beard said in a statement.

Beard said Sunday he did not know if Millane knew the man before and would not speculate how she had met him.

New Zealand was the second stop of a planned year-long worldwide overseas experience of the advertising graduate and artist, from Essex, which she started in South America. 

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 08:25:05 GMT
President Abbas to address Fatah Advisory Council president abbas to address fatah advisory council

President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to deliver an important speech on the latest political developments before the Fatah Advisory Council, which is set to take place at the presidential headquarters at 6:00PM on Sunday in the city of Ramallah, the occupied West Bank.

Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy Chairman of Fatah movement, told the Voice of Palestine radio the President will brief the audience on the latest overall political developments in Palestine.

He said the Fatah Advisory Council is going to elect a secretary and two deputies during the session today.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 15:10:31 GMT
People of Golan reiterate rejection of occupation’s plans to Judaize their land and displace them people of golan reiterate rejection of occupation’s plans to judaize their land and displace them

The people of the occupied Syrian Golan reiterated their rejection of all plans by the Israeli occupation to Judaize their land and displace them, particularly the recent wind turbines project that the occupation intends to build on their farmlands.

The locals affirmed that they reject building the turbines as they will have a very negative impact on agriculture, the environment, and livestock, particularly since 60% of them rely on cultivating apples and cherries, and the turbines are a big threat to their crops.

The occupation authorities latest project to displace Syrians in the occupied Golan involves building 52 wind turbines over 6,000 dunams (6 square kilometers) in the areas of al-Hafayer, Sahita, al-Khawarit, al-Masna’a, Hama al-Mshairfeh, and Ra’abna in the Golan.

The farmers of the Golan and a number of activists gathered in the village of Mas’ada to rally the public against the turbines project.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 15:03:35 GMT
Damage from Yellow Vest protest 'catastrophic' after Paris riots damage from yellow vest protest catastrophic after paris riots

The damage caused in France's capital by Yellow Vest protesters at the weekend was even worse than the previous week, an official from the Paris town hall said Sunday.

"The spectacle that Paris delivered is catastrophic," said Emmanuel Gregoire, who works for Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo, on French broadcaster France Inter.

"The violence was less radical, but the damage is probably more serious than a week ago," he added.

France's Yellow Vest movement took to the streets en masse on Saturday for the fourth week running, even though the fuel tax rises that sparked their protests have been cancelled.

A total of 125,000 people protested across France, with around 10,000 in Paris alone, the Interior Ministry said.

French security forces arrested 1,723 people across the country during the demonstrations.

Police deployed tear gas and water cannons against the protesters. In Paris, rioters set fire to cars and tried to erect barricades. Local media put the number of injured at 264, including 39 members of the security forces.

President Emmanuel Macron's government was able to claim a partial victory, as a major police mobilization helped avoid the running battles that marred protests in Paris last week.

But Gregoire said more parts of the city were affected by the violence than before, as the protest was more spread out across the metropolis.

He said Paris could not continue to face this type of danger once a week, and that the government and Macron needed to deliver answers now in order to stop the crisis.

Macron was expected to address the nation early in the week after not saying anything about the protests for several days. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the president would propose measures to "nurture" dialogue.


Sun, 09 Dec 2018 14:53:49 GMT
Pashinyan praises 'free, democratic' elections pashinyan praises free democratic elections

Armenian protest leader and opposition politician Nikol Pashinyan praised Sunday's parliamentary elections as "really free, transparent and democratic," state media reported.

Pashinyan, who gained prominence leading thousands-strong protests through the streets of the capital Yerevan earlier this year, said that with the snap elections the protesters have "already achieved our goal."

"Our main goal was to achieve democracy, which we succeeded in," Pashinyan told reporters, according to comments carried by state news agency Armenpress.

Pashinyan, whose My Step alliance is pitted against the previously dominant Republican Party, attested that democracy in the former Soviet republic will be further strengthened in the future on an institutional level.

The elections were a test of support for Pashinyan, whom the parliament had earlier failed to appoint as prime minister though he was the only candidate.

The failure to appoint someone for the post resulted in the legislature being dissolved for snap elections.

Pashinyan led the protests in April in opposition to the appointment at the time of the long-time president, Serzh Sargsyan, as prime minister.

Sargsyan, who had just reached his term limit as president after serving a decade, was prime minister for only a week before he decided to resign amid the protests.

Opposition politicians, including Pashinyan, denounced Sargsyan's appointment as an unfair retention of power.

Pashinyan was then appointed interim prime minister in May. He decided to resign in October, spurring the electoral process.

Armenian law requires parliament to elect a new head of government within two weeks of the prime minister stepping down.

If the legislature fails to vote in favour of a new head of government after two attempts, then new parliamentary polls are called.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 14:47:33 GMT
Merkel sets off for UN migration conference in Marrakech merkel sets off for un migration conference in marrakech

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) set off for Morocco on Sunday to attend the United Nations Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Migration.

In the city of Marrakech Merkel plans first to meet Moroccan King Mohammed VI in the early evening and then to have dinner with Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani.

According to the German government, the talks are expected to focus on relations between the two countries and on regional issues. Like the UN conference being held on Monday and Tuesday, the talks are also expected to focus on migration policy.

The chancellor is scheduled to give a speech on Monday morning on the adoption of the controversial UN migration pact, before she flies back to Berlin.

For the first time, the UN migration pact lays down guidelines to better manage global migration.

The document contains 23 objectives to improve international migration policy in order to tackle illegal and disorderly migration and make migration safer.

Although the pact is not legally binding and expressly emphasizes the sovereignty of the member states, some countries fear an erosion of their national sovereignty.

A number of governments have rejected the pact in recent weeks, including Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Australia, Slovakia and Israel. The Belgian government has split in the dispute over the pact.

According to the definition of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), migrants are all people who leave their place of residence - for whatever reason, for how long or whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

The UN counted 258 million migrants worldwide in 2017.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 14:42:35 GMT
Michel reshuffles cabinet after N-VA quits in migration row michel reshuffles cabinet after nva quits in migration row

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel reshuffled his cabinet on Sunday after the Flemish nationalist N-VA walked out of the government in protest at his decision to endorse a UN migration deal.

The move leaves Michel in charge of a shaky minority government that will have to rely on opposition votes in parliament. Belgian federal elections are due in May 2019.

At the heart of the government crisis is the UN Global Migration Compact, which world leaders are due to endorse at a meeting in Marrakech starting Monday. Several countries have backed out of the non-binding accord, which aims to regulate migration.

Michel had pledged in September to endorse the deal, but since then the nationalist N-VA voiced its opposition, vowing that it could not remain in government if the premier went ahead.

Belgium's King Philippe accepted the resignation of the three N-VA cabinet members, Interior Minister Jan Jambon, Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt and Defence Minister Sander Loones, as well as state secretaries Theo Francken and Zuhal Demir, the Royal Palace said.

The king promoted secretaries of state Peter de Crem and Philippe De Backer to ministerial posts, according to a statement issued after he met with Michel.

Maggie de Block, minister for health and social affairs, is due to inherit the asylum and migration portfolio, a post she had previously held, the Belga news agency reported.

Vice premier Alexander De Croo is to take over as finance minister, while secretary of state Peter de Crem will be promoted to interior minister.

Foreign Minister Didier Reynders is due to add the defence ministry to his portfolio, Belga reported, citing sources close to the premier. The VRT broadcaster had reported earlier that it could go to Denis Ducarme, whose oversees the agriculture ministry among others.

Disagreement over the compact has also shaken other European governments. Last week, Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak tendered his resignation after his country rejected the accord.

Hungary, Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Switzerland have all publicly rejected the agreement.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 14:31:12 GMT
Kirk Douglas at 102 says 'I am grateful for all I have been given' kirk douglas at 102 says i am grateful for all i have been given

In 1999, the American Film Institute issued a list of the top 50 cinema legends from Hollywood's golden era. Only three people on that list are still alive today: Sophia Loren, 84, Sidney Poitier, 91, and Kirk Douglas, who turned 102 years old on Sunday.

dpa: How are you going to celebrate this milestone? Who will be at your side? 

Douglas: I am celebrating this year with a party, just family and close friends. All of my boys will be there as well as a lot of my grandchildren. And, good friends like Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and Ron Meyer. 

dpa: Which friends and colleagues from the past "golden years" of Hollywood would you have liked to have around, if they were still with us? 

Douglas: I miss my old friends like Burt Lancaster. I used to call him "Boit" and he called me "Koik." He was a great friend, I miss him a lot.

dpa: Do you have a special wish or wishes for your 102nd birthday?

Douglas: For the world to be a safer place for our children and grandchildren. There is so much animosity now, my wish is that people treat each other with kindness and respect.

dpa: You played so many tough guys - were those your favourite roles? Were you really a tough guy yourself, or did you just act like that? 

Douglas: I don’t think I’m a tough guy, but I did win the medal for wrestling in college.

dpa: You were indeed brave in the 1960s to be part of the rebellion against blacklisting - what made you do this, even possibly risking your career? 

Douglas: I was young and foolish but I meant everything I said, and did.

dpa: You once warned in a blog in the Huffington Post about an election win of Donald Trump and the danger of hate speech and anti-immigration rhetoric - what concerns you now the most? 

Douglas: That is still my concern. The world is a mess and it is up to us to fix that mess for our children and grandchildren. Shootings are happening every day, from schools to synagogues. People on the streets are being harassed and killed. The world is so divisive and that needs to stop.

dpa: You grew up as the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants - in poverty in New York - what are your memories about that time? And did this shape you into becoming a generous donor to fight homelessness and to support education? 

Douglas: My mother taught me to always give to someone who has less.  I remember that in our home we had a small tin box – a pushke – nailed to the wall. Pushke in Yiddish means tin can, but this one was more like a piggy bank. It was where we placed coins to be given to charity. Of course, we had barely enough to eat, so our pushke was never bulging. But my mother made sure that something was always in it. The Torah commands us to give to the poor. 

dpa: What is your daily life like today?

Douglas: During the day I work with my assistant Grace on my new book. In the evenings, my wife and I sit together and tell stories about our day or reminisce about the past, we call it our Golden Hour.

dpa: At 102, what is still on your "bucket list" that you want to get done? 

Douglas: I don’t have a bucket list, I have led a wonderful life and I have a fantastic family. I am grateful for all that I have been given.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 14:26:09 GMT
Car loaded with amounts of narcotic Hashish and Captagon seized car loaded with amounts of narcotic hashish and captagon seized

The competent authorities on Sunday seized a car loaded with large amounts of necrotic hashish and Captagon heading from al-Qssair for Sweida, SANA reporter said.

The necrotic hashish and Captagon were hidden inside a secret cache in the car .

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 13:50:14 GMT
Next four-way summit on Syria not scheduled yet next fourway summit on syria not scheduled yet

Russia, Germany, France and Turkey might convene a new four-way summit on Syria but the dates have not been fixed yet, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Saturday.

"Each has voiced their support in continuation of the four-way talks on Syria, but dates have not been fixed yet," Peskov told TASS.

The first summit on Syria was held in Istanbul on October 27.

At the recent G20 summit in Argentina, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested a new summit on Syria in his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Following the meeting in Argentina, Kremlin Aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters that the new summit on Syria was also on the table of Putin’s talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


Sun, 09 Dec 2018 13:46:04 GMT
Militant involved in terrorism-related crimes killed in special operation in Dagestan militant involved in terrorismrelated crimes killed in special operation in dagestan

A militant who was involved in terror attacks has been killed by law enforcement officers in Russia’s North Caucasian Dagestan region, a spokesman for the National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC) told TASS on Friday.

"A bandit involved in terrorism-related crimes has been killed in a counterterrorist operation in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district," the spokesman said, adding that the operation was held near the village of Endirey. "Law enforcement officers seized weapons, munitions and an improvised explosive device at the site," the spokesman said.

"According to data of the operational headquarters, the killed militant was involved in attacks on law enforcers, including in the murder of police officers in the region’s Kizilyurt district this year. He was a member of a group of Islamic State supporters that was neutralized in October 2018," he said.

The militant was blocked in the outskirts of the village of Endirey. "He refused to surrender arms and opened gunfire at law enforcers to be killed in the shootout," the spokesman said, adding that there were no casualties among law enforcers and civilians.


Sun, 09 Dec 2018 13:41:51 GMT
US tells Russia to scrap 9M729 missile or modify it us tells russia to scrap 9m729 missile or modify it

Russia should return to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty by either scrapping its 9M729 missile system (NATO reporting name SSC-8) or altering it in a verifiable manner, US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson said on Thursday.

The Department of State official once again reiterated the demand to Russia to get back "to full and verifiable compliance".

"The SSC-8… has the range that's not in compliance, so either you rid the system, rid the launcher or change the system or it doesn't exceed the range," she told reporters during a conference call.

"And that and only that would go ahead and let them be and verifiable, to have eyes on that once that occurs," the US diplomat went on. "But again, to reiterate, the ball is in in Russia's court. We we can't do that for them, they have to take that that initiative."

According to Thompson, the United States has informed Russia about the steps it expects from Moscow.

"There's a series of next steps we have we've outlined that Russia knows what those are, and we do as well. It's part of the treaty provisions when we signed when we signed the INF. We've got interagency process taking next steps," she said.

According to the official, the US administration was looking into a number of scenarios, suggested by some members of the arms control community for solving the issue. One of those includes Russian inspections of the US Aegis Ashore systems and their possible modification so it couldn't fire Tomahawk missiles. Russia, in its turn, could permit an inspection of the ground-launched 9M729 cruise missile and maybe make modifications so that its range would be more limited.

INF Treaty issue

The INF Treaty was signed in Washington on December 8, 1987, and took effect on June 1, 1988. The INF Treaty eliminated operational and non-operational medium range (1,000-5,500 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-launched missiles. By June 1991, the Soviet Union had eliminated 1,846 missiles, while the United States rolled back its arsenal to 846. That said, inspections ended in May 2001.

Back in July 2014, Washington accused Moscow for the first time of violating the INF Treaty. Since then, the US has repeated this claim more than once.

Russia strongly dismissed the accusations and struck back at the US with counterclaims, saying the United States also has been blatantly violating the treaty by deploying at its bases in Europe multi-purpose Mk-41 vertical launching systems, which can also be used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles. Besides, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Alexander Fomin said in mid-August that Washington had made a decision earlier this year to finance a project to build mobile launching systems for land-based cruise missiles with the range of 500-5,500 km, which also fall under the treaty’s limits.

On December 4, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said after the meeting of NATO defense ministers that his country would stop honoring its commitments under the treaty, if Russia fails to return to compliance with that accord within 60 days. Russian President Vladimir Putin replied on December 5 that Washington has failed to present any evidence of Russia’s non-compliance. He added that although Moscow would like to have the treaty preserved, it would adequately respond if the US chooses to terminate it unilaterally.


Sun, 09 Dec 2018 13:28:42 GMT
US seeks to frustrate OPCW probe into Aleppo chemical attack us seeks to frustrate opcw probe into aleppo chemical attack

The United States seeks to disrupt the investigation into the chemical attack by terrorists in Syria’s Aleppo on November 24 and the US State Department’s allegations that this incident was staged obviously pursue this goal, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday.

"The Russian Defense Ministry interprets the US State Department’s hysterical statement alleging that the November 24 chemical attack by terrorists in Aleppo was allegedly staged, as an attempt to exert pressure on the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] in order to hinder an unbiased investigation," the ministry said.

The ministry noted that for more than six months it has been informing the world community about supplies of toxic agents to terrorists and the White Helmets in Syria from Western special services. "Each time, the peaks of such supplies were synchronized with ungrounded statements by the US Department of State and other American agencies on their preparedness for a knockdown missile blow on Syria in case of another alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government," the ministry said.

The ministry recalled that it was the Syrian government that requested urgent deployment of OPCW experts to Aleppo immediately after the November 24 incident. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the United States’ statement is obviously geared "toward vindicating international terrorists operating in Idlib linked with pseudo-rescuers from the White Helmets who have backstabbed their Western patrons with their provocation."

Apart from that, the US allegations may be "geared toward diverting attention of the world community from the crimes committed by US warplanes in eastern Syria where they have been bombing settlements around Hajin for more than a month, killing tens of civilians every day," the ministry said.

"The Russian side has conclusive evidence proving that militants used munitions with toxic agents against civilians in Aleppo on November 24, 2018," the ministry noted.

The US Department of State claimed earlier that there had been no chemical attacks staged by terrorists near Syria’s Aleppo on November 24. Instead, the US Administration accused Russian and Syrian forces of the use of tear gas against civilians in Aleppo.

On November 25, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that Russian warplanes destroyed militants who had staged the chemical attack against civilians in Aleppo. All militants’ targets were destroyed by airstrikes, he stressed. Konashenkov said that Russia’s intelligence found weapons that were used to shell Aleppo in a demilitarized zone in the Idlib governorate. He also said that certain signs indicated that militants were preparing to use those weapons again. The Turkish side had been warned about the Russian strikes beforehand via a hotline, he said.


Sun, 09 Dec 2018 13:21:59 GMT
Armenia’s ex-President Kocharyan arrested and placed in detention facility armenia’s expresident kocharyan arrested and placed in detention facility

Armenia’s former President Robert Kocharyan has been placed under arrest and is kept at a pre-trial facility in the building of Armenia’s National Security Service in Yerevan, the service's head Artur Vanetsyan said on Friday.

"Robert Kocharyan was arrested under a court ruling. As far as I know, he is being kept at the Yerevan-Center penitentiary," Vanetsyan said.

On December 7, Armenia’s Court of Appeals upheld the first instance court’s ruling to arrest the former head of the republic who is accused of overturning the constitutional system in 2008. On the same day, Kocharyan decided not to wait for the enforcement of the court order and appeared at the National Security Service’s detention facility in person.

On July 26, Armenia’s Special Investigative Service brought charges against former President Robert Kocharyan (1998-2008) on overturning the constitutional system by force in 2008, and turned to court to sanction his arrest. Kocharayn was questioned by investigators probing into the murders during opposition protests on March 1, 2008. The former president was placed in custody under a court order on the following day.

On August 13, Yerevan’s Court of Appeals ruled to release Kocharyan who enjoyed immunity under the national constitution. On November 15, Armenia’s Court of Cassation satisfied a request from the Prosecutor General’s Office and referred Kocharyan’s case back to the Court of Appeals.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 13:12:45 GMT
Over 1,700 detained at ‘yellow vest’ protests in France over 1700 detained at ‘yellow vest’ protests in france

Some 1,726 people were detained during Saturday’s "yellow vest" protests in France, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has said.

At least 1,220 protesters have been placed in custody, the minister said, according to BFM TV channel. Most protesters were hauled off in Paris and 619 of them were sent to a pre-trial detention center.

Many protesters carried weapons on them, but their lawyers claimed that their clients sought to express strong protest, but did not use violence.

Most demonstrators who are in custody are suspected of "plotting to commit violence or inciting a crime."

On Saturday, France was hit by the fourth wave of protests launched by the "yellow vest" movement, which criticizes rising fuel prices, taxes and costs. In Paris, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes and Toulouse the protesters clashed with police. More than 125,000 people took to the streets across France and at least 135 were hurt during clashes in Paris.

Mass protests, triggered by the rising fuel prices and taxes, flared up in France on November 17. France’s authorities announced that starting from January 1, 2019 petrol and diesel prices would rise by 3 euro cents and 6.5 euro cents, respectively. One of the factors behind the price hikes is the government’s move to introduce an environmental tax on greenhouse gas emissions.


Sun, 09 Dec 2018 12:56:46 GMT
Israeli, Russian military experts may meet in Moscow in coming days israeli russian military experts may meet in moscow in coming days

Israeli and Russian experts may gather for another meeting to discuss coordination on Syria in the coming days in Moscow, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a government meeting on Sunday.

"I talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday. We agreed that the delegations of Russian and Israeli armies on coordination on Syria will meet as soon as possible. I hope this will be in the coming days, most likely in Moscow. And our meeting with President Putin will be held later," Netanyahu said, according to his press service.

Putin and Netanyahu held a phone conversation on Saturday at the initiative of the Israeli side, the Kremlin press service said. The sides reached an agreement to "work on the next personal meeting of the two countries’ leaders."

"This [phone conversation] was a follow-up to the talks in Paris, which were very crucial for ensuring the continuing cooperation, which the Russian Army and the Israeli Defense Forces have maintained for several years," Netanyahu said on Sunday.

The two leaders had a brief conversation in Paris on November 11 on the sidelines of the events marking the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice.

Netanyahu said he told the Russian leader on Saturday that the Jewish state would continue its policy to prevent the creation of Iran’s military bases in Syria and go on with its steps against the handover of high-precision weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and its tunnels crossing into Israel.

On Tuesday, Israel’s Defense Forces launched Operation Northern Shield to expose and destroy tunnels, built by the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, crossing into Israel.

On September 17, Russia’s Il-20 aircraft was accidently downed by Syrian air defenses over the Mediterranean Sea when it was returning to the Hmeymim airbase. Russian top brass said a missile from Syria’s S-200 system downed the aircraft when it targeted four Israeli F-16 fighter jets, which attacked facilities in Latakia. All 15 Russian crew members were killed in the tragedy. The Israeli Air Force and those who made the decision to use the Il-20 aircraft as cover are solely to blame for its crash, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 12:50:46 GMT
30,000 people sign petition not to hold Eurovision in Israel 30000 people sign petition not to hold eurovision in israel

On Thursday 6th December, to coincide with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU)’s General Assembly, the Irish Campaign to Boycott the Eurovision in Apartheid Israel 2019 wrote to the Director General of RTÉ, Dee Forbes, Rory Coveney, Strategic Advisor to the Director General, and Michael Kealy, Head of RTÉ’s delegation for Eurovision, asking them to call on the EBU not to broadcast any Eurovision events into Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.

The annual song contest is being held in Tel Aviv, after Israeli singer Netta won the show in Lisbon earlier this year with her song ‘Toy’.

The international campaign, acting in solidarity with Palestinian civil society, has widespread support with over 30,000 people signing a Europeean-wide petition demanding the Eurovision not be held in Israel. In Ireland, almost 15,000 people have signed a separate petition calling on RTÉ and performers to boycott the event, and there is much support among the artistic community, including from former Eurovision winners and presenters.

The letter sent to RTÉ read “We are asking that you raise with the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) a call from the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation)1 and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate2 not to broadcast Eurovision Song Contest events in Israel’s illegal settlements, including those in occupied East Jerusalem, this is the least RTÉ should do to be in line with international law and European policy.

“Given that Senator Frances Black’s Occupied Territories Bill banning trade with illegal settlements passed through final stage in the Seanad last night and will now go on to the Dáil3, it is clear that there is momentum behind upholding international law regarding Israel’s illegal settlements. Should the EBU and its members broadcast the Eurovision events in illegal settlements, this could be in breach of international law.

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate has issued an appeal for solidarity from international colleagues stating:  “As those standing on the front lines reporting on Israel’s occupation, we bear the brunt of Israel’s daily violence against journalists. This violence against journalists and Palestinian civilians escalates whenever Israel hosts major international events. We have no doubt that this will be the case again when the EBU brings Eurovision to Israel. This cultural celebration will be a whitewash of Israel’s violent oppression.

The letter reiterated calls by PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, who said “The EBU has an obligation to ensure that it does not provide a platform for the legitimization and/or normalization of the illegal system of colonization in Palestine. The EBU must also understand that it is legally accountable to the act of profiteering from this illegal system of colonization, directly or indirectly.”

Further, on Tuesday 4th December at the launch of Kairos Ireland (An ecumenical response from Ireland to a call for solidarity by Palestinian Church leaders as they react to the challenge of military occupation by the state of Israel) in Dublin the Reverend John Parkin spoke of how Kairos Ireland support the cultural boycott of Israel and as part of that support the boycott of Eurovision 2019.  He hoped that those who work in RTE would be mindful of the just cause of the Palestinians, the call of Palestinian journalists, and that they would not be part of Eurovision 2019.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 11:59:11 GMT
IOF arrest 10 Palestinians in West Bank raids iof arrest 10 palestinians in west bank raids

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Sunday overnight launched a campaign of raids and arrests in cities all over the occupied West Bank.

IOF raided Balata and Askar refugee camps in Nablus, northern West Bank, where they arrested four men, including ex-prisoners. Israeli army patrols also stormed Salem, Asira, Al-Lubban towns in the vicinity of the city.

In addition, Israeli settlers, under under the protection of the Israeli army, have stormed the area of ​​Sada Al-Fahs in Hebron, then moved to raid the home of an ex-detainee in Sair town.

IOF also confiscated surveillance cameras from shops that broke into Al-Mentar area in the town of Azzun east of Qalqilya.

In addition, IOF stormed the neighborhood of ​​Al-Karkafa in Bethlehem, where they arrested two youths.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 11:33:26 GMT
After eight year absence, Christmas tree lit up in Daraa after eight year absence christmas tree lit up in daraa

The Christian denominations in Daraa lit up the Christmas tree and opened the cave of Jesus inside the church of St George in Azra’, marking the Barbra Day and celebrating Christmas after an absence of eight years during the crisis in Syria.

The festivity was organized by the Church of St George, during which the locals in Azra’ recited Christmas carols and lit the Christmas tree with the martyrs’ photos dotting it.

The festivity reflected the joy and amity of Azra’ locals after safety, stability, and peace were restored to most of Daraa province.

Father of the martyr Lt. Wassim Daham considered that the Christmas celebrations reflect the beautiful image of Syria, voicing pride in his who was martyred in defense of the homeland against terrorism.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 10:43:58 GMT
Britain faces 'uncharted waters' if Brexit deal does not pass britain faces uncharted waters if brexit deal does not pass

Britain will be in "uncharted waters" if lawmakers do not approve the Brexit deal Theresa May has negotiated with Brussels, the prime minister warned in an interview published Sunday.

"When I say if this deal does not pass we would truly be in uncharted waters, I hope people understand this is what I genuinely believe and fear could happen," she told the Daily Mail.

"It would mean grave uncertainty for the nation with a very real risk of no Brexit or leaving the European Union with no deal."

May is facing a revolt from lawmakers within her own Conservative party, and it appears unlikely she will gain the votes to pass her deal when parliament votes on it Tuesday.

But Downing Street late Saturday rejected reports that May could delay the vote to avoid defeat, with a spokesman saying: "The vote is going ahead on Tuesday."

The Times newspaper had reported that ministers and aides had convinced May to delay the vote and travel to Brussels to demand a better Brexit deal, saying she needed a "handbag" moment with EU leaders.

The phrase dates back to prime minister Margaret Thatcher reportedly throwing down her handbag at a summit with EU leaders in 1984 and declaring "I want my money back." She won a rebate for Britain from the EU budget.

Meanwhile, another lawmaker resigned from his role as ministerial aide to Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson over May's deal, blaming the backstop plan to maintain an open Irish border.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Will Quince said the plan could leave Britain "tied to the negotiating table for years, until we agree to anything in desperation."

"I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond," he wrote.

The paper reported that another parliamentary private secretary was on the verge of quitting and that Penny Mordaunt, secretary of state for international development, could also resign.

May has suffered a string of resignations from ministers in recent months, including former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and former Brexit secretaries David Davis and Dominic Raab.

Pro-Brexit activists are set to hold a march in London on Sunday, while counter demonstrators will hold a rival protest.

Meanwhile, a separate rally will also be held in London calling for a second referendum on Brexit, organized by the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign and the People's Vote organization.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 08:25:47 GMT
NZ police find body in search for murdered British tourist nz police find body in search for murdered british tourist

New Zealand police searching for murdered British backpacker Grace Millane said they had found a body late Sunday.

While the body had not yet been formally identified, it was believed to be that of the tourist, Detective Inspector Scott Beard told reporters.

“This brings the search for Grace to an end and it’s an unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them,” Beard added.

Earlier in the day, police closed off and were searching Scenic Road, which borders the Waitakere Ranges about 25 kilometres west of central Auckland.  

On Saturday, police said they will charging a 26-year-old man with murder early Monday when he appears in Auckland District Court.

The man was seen going into a hotel with Millane in Auckland on December 1. It was the last time she was seen alive.

Police believe that her body was moved in a rental car that was later found in Taupo, around 275 kilometres south of Auckland.

Beard said he did not know if Millane knew the man before and would not speculate how she had met him.

Her father, English property developer David Millane, arrived in Auckland on Friday and held an emotional press conference pleading for information to find his "lovely, outgoing, fun-loving daughter."

He said his daughter had been on a year-long worldwide overseas experience, which she started in South America and had been looking forward to the second leg in New Zealand.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 08:20:41 GMT
Saudi-led Gulf summit to begin in Riyadh amid Qatar row saudiled gulf summit to begin in riyadh amid qatar row

An annual Gulf summit is due to begin Sunday in Riyadh amid a sharp dispute of more than a year between a Saudi-led bloc and Qatar.

The US-allied Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) comprises Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic, transportation and economic links with Qatar, accusing it of supporting and funding terrorists, a charge that Doha denied.

The quartet demanded that Doha downgrade ties with Iran, a regional rival of Saudi Arabia. Qatar rejected the demand, calling it an "infringement of its sovereignty."

Attempts by Kuwait and the US to resolve the crisis have failed.

This week, Saudi King Salman bin Abdelaziz invited Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to attend the one-day summit. Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported on Sunday that Tamim would not be attending.

In the run-up to Sunday's meeting, the anti-Qatar alliance has lowered expectations for an imminent end to the row.

"The political crisis will end when its reason ends, namely Qatar's support for extremism and interference in the region’s stability," UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Garghash, tweeted on Thursday.

Last year, the GCC summit, originally scheduled for two days in Kuwait, ended hours after it began as Tamim and Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmed Al Sabah were the only heads of state attending.

The four other leaders of the group skipped the gathering.

The Qatar row is one of the most serious experienced by the GCC since it was created in 1981.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 07:03:22 GMT
France's Yellow Vests keep pressure up, but Paris violence drops frances yellow vests keep pressure up but paris violence drops

France's Yellow Vest movement took to the streets en masse on Saturday for the fourth week running, even though the fuel tax rises that sparked their protests have been cancelled.

But President Emmanuel Macron's government was able to claim a partial victory, as a major police mobilization helped avoid the running battles that marred protests in Paris last week.

With official figures showing 125,000 protesters across France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said it was time for dialogue, "to knit our national unity back together."

Macron, who has been silent since last week's violent scenes in the capital, would soon propose measures "to nurture this dialogue," the prime minister said.

The day's calm was only relative: Police clashed with protesters in several areas of Paris, often resorting to tear gas and water cannon. Local media reported violent clashes in the south-western city of Bordeaux.

Security forces arrested 1,385 people across France, with 985 held for questioning, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

Some 118 protesters were injured, mostly in traffic accidents, Castaner said, compared to 220 last week. Only 17 members of security forces were injured, down from 284 last Saturday.

Gendarmerie police said they had checked more than 5,000 people on the roads around the capital in the morning, confiscating potential weapons and protective equipment.

From the early morning, police let hundreds of the protesters, clad in the fluorescent yellow safety bibs that have become the movement's symbol, filter onto the Champs-Elysees after careful searches.

Better preparations by authorities paid off in other ways too. 

On the Grands Boulevards running through the north of the capital, roadworks barriers and metal street furniture had been taken away, leaving less material than last week for radical leftist protesters to build barricades with.

The French capital's Right Bank was unusually quiet for a Saturday, with few signs of the usual motor traffic or crowds of tourists.

Many shops and restaurants were boarded up, fearing a repeat of last week's vandalism.

The relative calm seemed to owe more to the revised police tactics than to the government's decision on Wednesday to cancel the petrol and diesel tax rises that had been due to take effect next year.

The number of protesters was only marginally down on last week. In Paris, at 10,000 according to Castaner, it was up on last week's official estimate of 5,500.

Yellow Vest protesters in the capital seemed unimpressed by the government's concessions, as chants of "Macron, resign," rang out.

"You know, that's all just for show," one Yellow Vest protester, who was joining in on-off blockades of traffic on the Place de la Bastille, told dpa when asked about the government climbdown.

Jeremy, 36, a local government official from a region near Paris, said people felt that their tax money was "being robbed."

"When you see how those who govern us live!", he added. "We want some justice too, a fairer distribution of wealth."

With the far right and radical left both trying to ride the movement's bandwagon in France, foreign voices joined the fray too.

Steve Bannon, the former strategist of US President Donald Trump, said at an event on Saturday in Brussels that the Yellow Vests in France are the "exact same type of people" that voted for Trump and for Brexit.

Left-wing Canadian author and anti-globalization icon Naomi Klein meanwhile wrote on Twitter that the protests showed the need for a new approach to climate policy. "Neo-liberal" pro-business climate action was seen as "a class war, because it is," Klein tweeted.

The protests have spilled over from France into Belgium and the Netherlands.

On Saturday, hundreds of people took to the streets in the Netherlands demanding that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte step down and their country exit the EU, among other things.

In Brussels, about 400 people were arrested at the protests, with 1,000 people taking part according to police.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 06:54:46 GMT
Russian, Greek leaders to hold first meeting after diplomatic row russian greek leaders to hold first meeting after diplomatic row

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for talks which Kremlin hopes would end the period of icy relations which began when Greece expelled two Russian diplomats this summer.

It will be the first top-level Russian-Greek meeting this year. Their previous encounter took place on May 14, 2017 on the sidelines of an international forum in Beijing. The Russian leader paid his latest official visit to Greece in May 2016.

"This visit is special, because it is intended to put an end to a turbulent period in our bilateral relations," Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said, referring to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Greece. Besides, Greece further irritated Moscow by cancelling a number of commemorative events to mark the 25th anniversary of the bilateral friendship treaty and the 190th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations.

"Both sides have demonstrated wisdom and decided to organize a visit to Russia by Prime Minister Tsipras and, therefore, end the current period of such unusual relations," Ushakov said.

According to the Kremlin press service, Friday’s talks will touch upon the entire range of bilateral trade and economic relations, including joint gas transportation projects. The two leaders will also discuss regional and international issues.

Tsipras will also meet with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ahead of his talks with Putin. "During the meeting, the heads of governments will discuss the current state of affairs and perspectives of Russian-Greek cooperation in trade and economy, implementation of joint projects in energy, industry, transport infrastructure, advanced technologies, agriculture and other sectors," the Russian government’s press service said.

In September, Tsipras said Moscow and Athens were working to overcome the crisis in bilateral relations, caused by Greece’s decision to expel two diplomats and ban entry to two more, and Russia’s proportionate response. Greek media attribute the current "thaw" to the resignation of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, known for his harsh anti-Russian stance.

In an interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman in the run-up to his visit to Moscow on December 7, Tsipras said his country had made a strategic choice to deepen Russian-Greek relations and strengthen close friendship between the two countries.

"This is my third visit to Russia in the capacity of prime minister. I visited Moscow for the first time a few months after I was elected in 2015. On my second visit, I was in St. Petersburg at the St. Petersburg Forum in 2015. That was a difficult period. We came to power in the country at a very critical period, in the height of difficult negotiations, under the threat of bankruptcy. I do believe, however, that we managed to overcome the crisis," he said.

In his words, "there are important possibilities for strategic investments," especially now that Greece is through with a difficult economic situation of previous years.

"There are beneficial possibilities for strategic investments in infrastructure, ports, processing industries, the agrarian and food sectors, and especially in the energy sector" as Greece wants to be an energy and transit hub in the region, he said.

The prime minister highlighted that energy cooperation is a very important sphere in Greek-Russian relations. "We value that Russia is an important partner in the energy sector, as it has rich energy sources," Tsipras said, adding that Greece has pursued the multi-faceted energy policy since he headed the government in 2015.

In his opinion, Athens and other European countries are convinced that the European Union has to move to cooperation with the Russian Federation on the TurkStream pipeline - which, according to Greece, should become not only TurkStream, but "EuroStream" as well - as part of the multifaceted policy in the energy sphere. "We are negotiating [it] in the European Union," Tsipras said. "I believe that our arguments are strong. We have persistence and patience, and I believe that possibly we will have positive results in the future."

Tsipras noted that, since the beginning of his tenure as prime minister, "a strategic choice has been made to deepen Greek-Russian relations and unfreeze them." Despite the fact that bilateral diplomatic relations have been developing for 190 years, they have not always been constructive, he added.


Fri, 07 Dec 2018 18:03:33 GMT
Lavrov comments on Greek PM’s visit to Moscow lavrov comments on greek pm’s visit to moscow

The negotiations between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on December 7 will make it possible to pacify the dialogue between Moscow and Athens, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Greek newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton.

"The second half of the ending year was difficult for the Russian-Greek relations," the Russian foreign minister noted. "The political-diplomatic crisis, which was provoked by actions of Greek authorities, which expelled the current and former employees of Russian foreign diplomatic missions in Greece, led to temporary suspension of the interstate dialogue. We did not carry out any actions to scale back cooperation and reacted only to the accusations against us."

"We consider the reached agreement on Greek PM Alexis Tsipras’ working visit to Moscow on December 7 to be timely and rather important," Lavrov pointed out. "We proceed from the fact that his negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will make it possible to return the bilateral dialogue back to normal."

The Russian foreign minister expressed confidence in the absence of real obstacles which could impede the development of Russian-Greek relations. In his opinion, Moscow and Athens are capable of building up ties in all areas, including economy. "The implementation of massive joint projects should be a priority," he went on. "It will make it possible to approach new stages of cooperation."

"We still consider Greece an important partner in supporting peace and stability in Europe, in particular in the East Mediterranean region and the Balkans," the Russian foreign minister stressed.

On July 11, Athens newspaper Kathimerini reported, citing sources, that the Greek government decided to expel two Russian diplomats and ban entry to the country for two more. According to the newspaper, Athens blamed them for intervention in the country’s domestic affairs, as well as actions that undermine national security. Later Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos confirmed the information about the diplomats’ expulsion. On August 6, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Greek Ambassador in Moscow Andreas Friganas, where he was given a note on retaliatory measures. In light of this Lavrov cancelled his visit to Athens, which was scheduled for September.


Fri, 07 Dec 2018 16:34:00 GMT
Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir returns to Dubai Opera stage iraqi singer kadim al sahir returns to dubai opera stage

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir returns to Dubai Opera this month for a concert, staged across two nights.

Often referred to as the ‘Caesar of Arabic songs’, Al Sahir will perform live on December 20 and 21. Accompanying him on stage will be a full orchestra, blending Arabic instruments with classical string ensembles.

An ambassador for Arabic music, Al Sahir has previously collaborated with artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Sarah Brightman and Quincy Jones. Outside of his successful music career, his humanitarian work earned him the title of UNICEF goodwill ambassador for his home country in 2011.

Tickets for his concerts are now on sale. The concert on both nights starts at 8pm. Silver tickets are already sold out. Gold ones start at Dh800.

From :Gulfnews

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 16:11:20 GMT
Palestinians suffocate as Israeli forces suppress Kufr Qaddoum weekly march palestinians suffocate as israeli forces suppress kufr qaddoum weekly march

A number of Palestinians suffocated by tear gas as Israeli forces quelled a peaceful anti-settlement demonstration in the village of Kufr Qaddoum, east of Qalqilia, the occupied West Bank, said a local activist.

Coordinator of the popular resistance committee in the village of Kufr Qaddoum, Murab Shtawi, said Israeli forces suppressed demonstrators who also rallied to protest Israel’s closure of the main road that connects the village of Kufr Qaddoum with the city of Nablus since 2003.

Forces used live ammunition and tear gas canisters against protesters, causing several suffocation cases among them.

“Before 2003, the residents of Kufr Qaddum would use a shorter road to the east in order to come and go to nearby cities and villages. However, as the settlements expanded so that they overwhelmed the road, it became closed for Palestinian use, said Addameer Human rights Association.

The only alternative road is roughly six times longer than the previous route, disrupting the villagers’ ability to attend university, their jobs, and other vital aspects of their economic and social well being, noted Addameer.

“Three Palestinian deaths relating to the road’s closure occurred between 2004 and 2005,” it said. Although Kufr Qaddum’s Popular Resistance Committee took their case to the Israeli High Court in 2003, the legal status of the road remains unchanged, stressed Addameer.

After all legal appeals failed, villagers decided to organize weekly demonstrations in July 2011, a step that was met with violent suppression by Israeli forces.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 15:57:29 GMT
Presidency welcomes Irish resolution calling for Middle East peace presidency welcomes irish resolution calling for middle east peace

Palestinian Presidency Friday welcomed the United Nations General Assembly’s approval of an Irish resolution calling for establishing comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly approved the Irish resolution, entitled “Comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”, by a vote of 156-6, with 12 abstentions.

The resolution reportedly calls “the achievement, without delay" of lasting Mideast peace on the basis of U.N. resolutions and reaffirms "unwavering support ... for the two-state solution of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders.”

This came after the UNGA voted down on Thursday afternoon a US-sponsored draft resolution to condemn Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and “inciting violence”.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 15:49:26 GMT
Government hails failure of US draft resolution to condemn Hamas government hails failure of us draft resolution to condemn hamas

The Palestinian government Friday hailed the failure of the US-sponsored draft resolution condemning Hamas to secure an overwhelming majority at the United Nations General Assembly.

Government spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud hailed the results of the voting on the draft resolution as a sign of the world’s alignment with Palestinian rights and renunciation of the means of hegemony and arrogance exercised by the US administration in defence of the Israeli occupation.

“The US administration’s failure to pass the draft resolution accusing the Palestinian side ]of inciting violence[ and exonerating the Israeli side from crimes committed against the Palestinian people and encouraging it to commit more crimes proves again the force of the Palestinian right and the Palestinian leadership’s success at the global level,” he said.

Presented by US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, the resolution was the first UNGA resolution to condemn Hamas and Palestinian resistance for firing rockets into Israel and “inciting violence”.   

Before the vote on the draft resolution, a separate vote was reportedly held to determine the majority the UNGA would need to pass the resolution. The US asked for a simple majority, while Kuwait asked for a two-third majority. Kuwait’s request ultimately won.

The draft received 87 votes in favor, 58 against, and 32 abstentions, thus falling short of reaching the required two-thirds majority of all state members’ votes.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 15:43:28 GMT
Yemeni gov't agrees to conditionally re-open Sanaa airport yemeni govt agrees to conditionally reopen sanaa airport

 A Yemeni government official said on Friday that a number of conditions should be set for the re-opening of the Sanaa International Airport.

"The government does not mind re-opening Sana'a airport and it is working to provide help for all citizens across the country even those in the Houthi-controlled provinces," a government official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"But the airport's operations must be placed under the government supervision including the inspection of planes arriving at and departing from Sanaa," the official said.

If not, "the Sanaa airport will remain closed ... because the rebels will use it for illegal purposes," the source noted.

On Thursday, local media reported that senior Houthi leaders threatened to fully close the Sanaa airport, considered a crucial humanitarian aid gateway and used for the delivery of urgent aid, if their demands are not met.

Yemen's Foreign Minister Khaled Yamani, head of the government negotiating team in Sweden, demanded the Houthi rebels completely withdraw from the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah and hand over their weapons.

"The Houthis should withdraw from institutions of the state and hand them back to the legitimate government. They should respect the will of the international community and surrender their arms, ammunitions and missiles," Yamani said in a statement.

The Houthis have refused to abide by the UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which stipulates their withdrawal from the areas they seized in 2014 and the handover of heavy weapons to the legitimate government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Observers argued that the Houthis will not give up their arms as both parties still don't have goodwill to reach a peace deal.

The UN-sponsored peace talks to build confidence between the Yemeni warring parties kicked off on Thursday in Sweden in the first step to resume the political process which ceased in 2016.

The talks are expected to last about a week, depending on the consultation's progress, according to Hanan Eldawadi, chief public information officer at the UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen.

The Yemeni warring parties have held several rounds of peace talks since the conflict began after Houthis seized power in late 2014.

However, all talks collapsed and failed to achieve a political agreement, leading to more violence.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 15:27:02 GMT
Army secures exit of hundreds of civilians from terrorist army secures exit of hundreds of civilians from terrorist

Hundreds of civilians, most of them women and children returned from areas where terrorist organizations are positioned via al-Salihiya crossing in Deir Ezzor and Abu al-Douhour crossing in Idleb countryside within the government’s efforts to secure the return of the displaced Syrians .

SANA reporter said that on November 30th , hundreds of civilians , mostly women and children were exited with their cars and private properties via al-Salihiya crossing in Deir Ezzor province , in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Army and Russian Reconciliation Center, adding that medical care was also provided to tens of civilians there.

The reporter said that on the same day , hundreds of civilians, most of them women and children, were also evacuated along with their cars and personal properties from the de -escalation zone area in Idleb province, in coordination with the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Reconciliation Center.

The authorities concerned had received the displaced returnees and provided them with necessary facilitations , food and medical aid before they were transported to their villages and towns.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 15:19:05 GMT
Foreign interference in internal affairs of sovereign states is major source of international tension foreign interference in internal affairs of sovereign states is major source of international tension

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said foreign interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states in the Middle East and North Africa has been a major source of international tension and serious threats such as terrorism, illegal immigration, drug trafficking and organized crime.

Lavrov ‘s remarks came during an interview with the Greek newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton .

Lavrov said that this situation is a direct result of geopolitical engineering and interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states in the Middle East and North Africa.

Lavrov said that “Massive tasks to restore Syria’s infrastructure are now on the agenda, which requires joint efforts of the global community and international humanitarian structures – without preliminary conditions and double standards.”

Lavrov pointed out to the cooperation between Russia and Syria in the field of combating terrorism and eliminating the terrorist organizations in Syria , in addition to creating the appropriate conditions for the return of the displaced Syrians to their homeland.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 15:07:21 GMT
Aquarius NGOs to resume operations with new ship as soon as possible aquarius ngos to resume operations with new ship as soon as possible

SOS Mediterranee, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that ran the migrant rescue boat Aquarius together with medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), vowed on Friday to continue its work with a different ship next year.

On Thursday, the two NGOs said the ship was ceasing operations in the Mediterranean due to "sustained attacks" from European states.

"We are looking for new ships and are having talks with several shipping companies," Verena Papke, the director of SOS Mediterranee Germany, said in a press conference in Paris.

Pepke said the NGO will have found a new rescue ship by 2019 at the latest.

"The Aquarius was obviously a big symbol," but at the end of the day, it was only a ship and needs to be replaced, she added.

SOS Mediterranee and MSF stopped their mission in the wake of flag registration and legal problems, which according to the NGOs reflect growing hostility from European governments to migrant rescue work.

This year, Aquarius was twice stripped of its flag, last by Panama in October, leaving it unable to sail again after arriving at the French port of Marseille in early October.

Attempts by SOS Mediterranee and MSF to find a European government willing to re-register the boat have failed. Switzerland turned down a request on Monday.

Meanwhile, Italian prosecutors last month called for the vessel to be impounded on controversial charges of illegal disposal of dangerous waste material.

Part of the accusation was that clothing worn by migrants was disposed of as "special," rather than "toxic" waste, and could have been contaminated with HIV, meningitis and tuberculosis.

"The Aquarius [...] faces allegations of criminal activity – allegations which are patently absurd," MSF said in a statement on Thursday.

MSF said the vessel picked up nearly 30,000 people in international waters between Libya, Italy and Malta since it began its first rescue mission in February 2016.

In Italy, anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted that the end of Aquarius' activities was cause for celebration, as it would lead to "fewer departures, fewer landings, fewer deaths."

Salvini, who leads the far-right League party, has banished charity-run migrant rescue ships from Italian ports, seriously limiting their ability to bring migrants ashore.

Alice Weidel, parliamentary group leader of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), also welcomed the end of Aquarius' operations.

"The end of the Aquarius is good news in order to regain control over the flow of migrants to Europe," she said.

"Despite recent efforts of other NGOs at sea, today there are no dedicated rescue boats operating in the Central Mediterranean," MSF said.

Salvini has justified his actions by claiming that rescue ships worked with human traffickers to bring migrants into Europe, a charge that charities have always rejected.

Around 1,300 refugees have died or gone missing this year in the central Mediterranean, according to the latest data from the International Organisation for Migration.

The figures are down from 2,853 for the whole of 2017. But the death rate has risen from 2.1 to 3.1 per cent, signalling that journeys have become more dangerous.

NGOs say this is due to the absence of charity rescue vessels.

Papke said she thinks that many deaths are invisible - especially if NGOs and other organizations aren't helping at sea and reporting on the situation can no longer be reliable.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 15:01:15 GMT
Voting closes in Indian state elections seen as bellwether for Modi voting closes in indian state elections seen as bellwether for modi

Polling stations closed across five Indian states on Friday in local elections that could set the tone for the country's next general elections in May 2019.

The local elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana are being seen as a bellwether for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which swept the parliamentary elections in 2014.

Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are currently ruled by the BJP, putting Modi's party in a head-to-head contest with India's main opposition Indian National Congress party.

Voting began on November 12 for the state legislative assemblies. Now that voting has ended, results are expected on Tuesday.

"The BJP faces major anti-incumbency in three states, but it's also a big test for the Congress party, which has lost every election to the BJP since 2014," political scientist Shyama Malik said.

Telangana, India's newest state, is ruled by a regional party, while the north-eastern state of Mizoram is ruled by the Congress opposition. Possible success of a coalition forged by the Congress in Telangana with a major regional party and a left party could encourage a larger coalition of opposition parties before the general elections, Malik said.

Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Congress head Rahul Gandhi have all been star campaigners for their parties.

Major campaign issues have included corruption allegations against both parties in international defence deals; cancelling the debts of farmers; job prospects for Indian youth; and mob lynchings.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 14:48:03 GMT
Merkel gets standing ovation after final speech as CDU party leader merkel gets standing ovation after final speech as cdu party leader

German Chancellor Angela Merkel received a standing ovation that lasted nearly 10 minutes on Friday after giving her final speech as head of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at a party conference set to determine her successor.

Dozens of CDU delegates at the conference in Hamburg held up banners reading "Danke Chefin" - German for "Thanks, boss" - as they listened to Merkel's final speech after 18 years at the helm of the party.

Merkel cited Germany's balanced budget policy, the end of military conscription in 2011 and the management of the refugee crisis in 2015-16 as major achievements of the conservative CDU during her tenure as leader.

"We have a lot left to do," Merkel said as she walked off the stage, just hours before a party leadership vote.

Three candidates are running for the top CDU job. While polls of party members show Merkel ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer edging ahead, former CDU heavyweight-turned-businessman Friedrich Merz has secured the backing of key party figures in his bid to take the reins.

Health Minister Jens Spahn is also in the running, but is not considered a serious contender.

Speaking shortly before the conference, Merkel said she hoped the CDU would emerge "primed, motivated and united."

"Together we want our CDU, as a strong party of the [political] centre, to live up to its mandate, to radiate persuasive power and to provide the right offering for the future of our country," Merkel said.

The winner, who will be chosen by 1,001 party delegates at the conference, could be taking a major step towards becoming chancellor, with elections set to take place in 2021.

Merkel intends to serve out the end of her term until then, but Friday's vote may also be decisive on whether she lasts that long.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier did his best to dismiss claims that the party is selecting a future chancellor early Friday.

"We are voting for a new party leader today, we are not voting for a chancellor candidate," Altermaier, a long-standing ally of Merkel, told Deutschlandfunk radio, adding that that decision would be made one year ahead of the 2021 election.

The 56-year-old Kramp-Karrenbauer, a former state premier who has been dubbed "mini Merkel" because of her pragmatic centrist political style, was elected CDU secretary general in February as part of efforts to give the party fresh momentum.

In addition to sections of business, the 63-year-old Merz has also won support from conservative CDU members who see him as pushing the party to the right, thereby standing up to the challenge represented by the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Merz's bid to succeed Merkel comes nearly 10 years after he left the national political stage, when he lost out to Merkel in a party power struggle.


Fri, 07 Dec 2018 14:36:28 GMT
German top diplomat suggests sending OSCE observers to Azov Sea german top diplomat suggests sending osce observers to azov sea

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas suggested expanding the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to include the Sea of Azov.

Maas voiced the proposal during bilateral talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Ukraine’s Pavel Klimkin on the sidelines of the OSCE foreign ministers’ meeting in Milan, Italy.

"OSCE could play a certain role in monitoring [the Sea of Azov]," the Federal Foreign Office quoted the minister as saying.

"I think that the Ukrainian side would consider this rational. The Russian side, on the contrary, is very, very skeptical," the minister told the DPA news agency.

The Sea of Azov, shared exclusively by Russia and Ukraine, has come into international spotlight following the November 25 incident, in which Russia had to detain Ukrainian warships that violated its border.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) reported on November 25 that the Ukrainian warships, the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu had breached the Russian state border on Sunday morning and attempted to carry out illegal maneuvers in Russia’s territorial waters later.

The Ukrainian vessels ignored the legitimate demands of the Coast Guard of the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet to stop immediately and end their dangerous action. The Ukrainian warships carried on, blatantly disregarding these orders, which triggered a chase involving some gunfire to stop them. Consequently, the ships were detained in Russian territorial waters.

Moscow branded Kiev’s stunt in the Kerch Strait a dangerous provocation, while the European Union and NATO called for a de-escalation of tensions.


Fri, 07 Dec 2018 14:23:01 GMT
Salvini celebrates end to Aquarius migrant boat operations salvini celebrates end to aquarius migrant boat operations

Italy's anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini hailed on Friday the news that the Aquarius migrant rescue boat would no longer operate in the Mediterranean.

In a tweet, Salvini said this would lead to "fewer departures, fewer landings, fewer deaths. That's good."

Salvini, who leads the far-right League party, has banished charity-run migrant rescue ships from Italian ports, seriously limiting their ability to bring migrants ashore.

He justified the move by claiming that rescue ships worked with human smugglers to bring migrants into Europe, a charge that charities have always rejected.

The Aquarius was run jointly by the non-governmental organizations Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SOS Mediterranee. They announced an end to its operations late Thursday.

The decision was taken in the wake of flag registration and legal problems for the Aquarius, which according to the NGOs reflect growing hostility from European governments to migrant rescue work.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 13:25:49 GMT
German conservatives to vote in close-run race to succeed Merkel german conservatives to vote in closerun race to succeed merkel

Germany's conservative Christian Democrats are set to vote on Friday in a close-run race to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel as CDU party chief with three main contenders having emerged for the powerful post.

While polls of party members show Merkel ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as edging ahead in the battle for the CDU's top job, a former CDU heavyweight-turned-businessman Friedrich Merz has secured the backing of several key senior party figures in his bid to take over from Merkel.

Health Minister Jens Spahn is also in the running, but not considered a serious contender for the top job.

Securing the CDU party head when 1,001 delegates vote on Friday at a party conference in Hamburg would represent a major step by the winner towards becoming chancellor once Merkel bows out of power in 2021.   

The 56-year-old Kramp-Karrenbauer, a former state premier who has been dubbed "mini Merkel" because of her pragmatic centrist political style, was elected CDU general secretary in February as part of efforts to give the CDU fresh momentum.

In addition to sections of business, the 63-year-old Merz has also won support from conservative CDU members who see him as pushing the party to the right, thereby standing up to the challenge represented by the anti-foreigner Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Merz's bid to succeed Merkel comes nearly 10 years after he left the national political stage when he lost out to Merkel in a party power struggle.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 10:32:38 GMT
Paris battens down the hatches ahead of third 'Yellow Vests' protest paris battens down the hatches ahead of third yellow vests protest

The French government is organizing a massive deployment of security forces for Saturday, when "Yellow Vest" fuel tax protesters are set to rally in Paris for the third week running.

With top officials alternately calling for calm and warning of potential violence, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday 89,000 members of the security forces would be positioned around the country.

Some 8,000 are to be deployed in Paris, backed up by "a dozen" gendarmerie armoured cars, Philippe told TF1 television.

That was "much more" than last week, when rioters fought police for control of upmarket streets around the Arc de Triomphe, the premier said.

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday let it be known that hikes in petrol and diesel taxes due to take effect next year, which sparked the protest movement, would be cancelled outright.

But prominent protesters have insisted that they will descend on Paris anyway, and members of the leaderless movement are now speaking of wider demands including broader tax cuts and salary raises.

Eric Drouet, one of the initiators of the protests, told broadcaster BFMTV on Wednesday evening that "everybody wants to go" to the Elysee Palace, Macron's heavily guarded office and residence.

"I never said that I wanted to go to the Elysee to smash everything, but just to be heard," Drouet clarified in a Facebook video Thursday.

Authorities are taking no chances after last week's protests saw more than 100 people injured, more than 400 arrested, enormous quantities of tear gas fired and the Arc de Triomphe vandalized.

The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and several other museums, as well as the Opera and the Paris catacombs will all be closed on Saturday.

France is "faced with people who are not there to demonstrate, they're there to smash things up, and we're going to make sure they're not left free to do that," Philippe warned.

Former conservative prime minister Alain Juppe on Thursday added his voice to pleas from Philippe and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner that would-be protesters stay away from Paris.

"To call on people to go onto the streets in the current circumstances is to make everyone run a grave risk," Juppe warned on Twitter.

Macron's predecessor as president, Socialist Francois Hollande, also appealed for calm, writing on Twitter: "Only dialogue and compromise can calm matters."

Opinion polls have shown widespread public approval for the Yellow Vests, named after the high-visibility road safety tops that have become the symbol and uniform of the movement.

Macron's own satisfaction rating meanwhile continues to hit lows in the polls, at only 23 per cent in an Elabe poll for Les Echos newspaper and Radio Classique published on Thursday.

The president has not directly addressed the public since Saturday's riots, leaving Philippe to explain the government's climbdowns.

The Yellow Vest movement has seen protests at suburban roundabouts and blocked roads since mid-November.

It is strongest in provincial towns and the countryside, where people are most dependent on cars.

Meanwhile, as secondary school pupils also took to the streets, the French left reacted angrily to a video showing the mass arrest of more than 140 young people near a school after what police said was vandalism in a town near Paris.

The video, widely spread on social media, showed dozens of youths kneeling, with their hands on their heads or tied behind their backs, as security forces stood around.

"What are the authorities seeking if not rage in return?" former socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon, who has since founded another left-wing party, wrote on Twitter.

"Whatever they are accused of, nothing justifies this filmed and commented humiliation of minors," Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure tweeted.

A police source told dpa that the video was authentic and showed the arrests in Mantes-La-Jolie near Paris. Newspaper Le Monde and news agency AFP also said the video was authentic. 

Broadcaster BFMTV reporting that almost 100 secondary schools in the Paris region were affected by protests or disturbances on Thursday.

Pupils' grievances include school reforms and a new online platform for allocating college places, newspaper Le Parisien reported, while some also wished to show support for the Yellow Vests.

French farmers have also threatened separate protest action next week.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 10:17:42 GMT
Trudeau denies political interference in arrest of Wanzhou trudeau denies political interference in arrest of wanzhou

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday Canada's decision to arrest the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei at the request of the US was made "without any political involvement or interference."

Meng Wanzhou, who is also deputy chair of Huawei's board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday and is facing extradition to the US.

The arrest, which occurred on the same day that US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met after the G20 summit in Buenos Aires to discuss their trade war, is likely to further escalate tensions between Beijing and Washington.

Speaking to reporters in Montreal, Trudeau acknowledged that he had "a few days" notice of Meng's planned arrest, but insisted there was no political interference in the case.

"I can assure everyone that we are a country of an independent judiciary and the appropriate authorities took the decision in this case without any political involvement or interference as must be the case," Trudeau said.

Trudeau's comments came after China's Foreign Ministry earlier Thursday demanded the immediate release of Meng, saying it had "lodged stern representations with and made clear its stern position to the Canadian side and the US side respectively on this."

Meng is facing extradition to the US, where prosecutors in New York are investigating whether Huawei violated US sanctions against Iran, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Meng had been provided consular assistance in Canada and that her detention amounted to a human rights violation.  

Asian shares fell sharply on Thursday following the news the arrest. Hong Kong's Han Seng Index plunged 2.47 per cent while Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1.91 per cent after losing as much as 2.79 per cent.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton declined to "get into the specifics" about the arrest, but said the US has had concerns for years about forced technology transfers and other alleged practices of Chinese companies regarding intellectual property.

"Huawei is one company we've been concerned about. There are others as well," Bolton told National Public Radio (NPR) in an interview.

Canada's Justice Department said Meng's bail hearing is set for Friday at 10am (1800 GMT) at the British Columbia Supreme Court.

The hearing is separate from extradition hearings, which have not been scheduled, Ian McLeod, spokesperson for the Justice Department, told dpa.

On Saturday, Xi and Trump agreed to a 90-day truce in their trade war that erupted in July. 

Speaking to dpa on background, White House officials said Trump did not know about the extradition request before his dinner with Xi.

The Trump administration, however, has put pressure on Canada and other allies not to use Huawei equipment in their new 5G telecommunications networks.

Australia banned Huawei and Chinese chipmaker ZTE from building their 5G network in August, citing security concerns, while last month New Zealand's GCSB spy agency banned mobile-operator Spark from using Huawei equipment in its planned 5G upgrade.

Huawei has previously denied it has breached US sanctions, saying it complies with all applicable laws and regulations, "including the applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU."

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 10:05:41 GMT
Death toll climbs to five after Santo Domingo factory explosion death toll climbs to five after santo domingo factory explosion

The death toll from an explosion at a plastic products company in the Dominican Republic has climbed to five, with an unknown number of people still unaccounted for, local media reported on Thursday.

Another 100 people were injured in the explosion in the capital Santo Domingo on Wednesday, the Diario Libre newspapers reported.

The blast destroyed a large part of the Polyplas factory building and surrounding structures and also damaged nearby flats and cars.

The injured included an 11-day-old baby who was at his home, as well as nine children and 13 adults who were at a nearby school.

Firefighters told the Diario Libre that the factory had not been taking appropriate safety measures, leading to a gas leak and the subsequent explosion.

The blast was felt in several parts of the city, including the presidential palace. Pictures posted on social media on Wednesday showed clouds of smoke rising over the city centre.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 09:59:25 GMT
At least 18 Afghan soldiers killed in Taliban attack at least 18 afghan soldiers killed in taliban attack

At least 18 Afghan soldiers have been killed overnight in a Taliban attack in the western province of Herat, an official said Friday.

The militants stormed an army checkpoint in Shindand district and took at least another 20 soldiers hostage, provincial council member Sardar Bahaduri told dpa.

A number of those captured were injured, Bahaduri said. 

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid posted a video on Twitter allegedly showing the captive soldiers inside a room.

The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified.

Last week, a fierce clash between Taliban and a pro-government militia led by a powerful local commander in the same district left 29 dead and 17 injured.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 09:50:10 GMT
Israel continues to expand settlement outpost south of Nablus israel continues to expand settlement outpost south of nablus

Israeli bulldozers continued to raze areas and build roads to expand the settlement of Esh Kodesh, located on Jalud village land south of Nablus.

Settlement official in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told WAFA agency that “While the settlers of the” Ahia “outpost on the land of the “18 Basin” area, Israel also continues to expand the settlement units in Esh Kodesh outpost in Jalud.

“For a few days, the heavy machinery of the settlers has been carrying out bulldozers and digging a road at the northern end of the settlement outpost.”

Daghlas said that the expansion of the settlement outposts coincides with the Israeli government’s decision to legitimize all settlement outposts and annex them to the new settlement of Amichai, where the occupation is seeking plans to take in 1,100 settlement families.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 17:06:42 GMT
Irish Senate approves bill criminalizing goods made in settlements irish senate approves bill criminalizing goods made in settlements

The Irish Senate voted on Wednesday to pass a bill to boycott the trade and importing of goods originating from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The bill was submitted to the Senate by independent Senator Francis Black who hopes that with support, the vital bill will become law. Palestinian ambassador Ahmed Abdelrazek along with lawyers who worked on the drafting the bill and the legislation’s sponsoring organisations Trócaire, Christian Aid and Ictu (Irish Congress of Trade Unions) all applauded the passing of the bill.

Trocaire’s CEO, Caoimhe de Barra stated, “This legislation is a vote for human rights and peace, this is a critical moment for the world to take a stand against illegal occupation”.

The bill now needs the endorsement of the lower house of the parliament, known as the Dáil Éireann, before the Irish president signs and makes  it into law.

The draft bill has been met with severe criticism from Israel’s foreign minister spokeman, Emmanuel Nashon, who states that Ireland has chosen to support the “most extreme anti-Israel piece of boycott legislation in Europe”. He argues that the bill was “hateful” and that it won’t help Palestinians.

This historic move could see Ireland as the first EU country to end trade with Israeli settlements in Palestine. The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill declares it an offense “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods.” It also states that those who “assist another person to import or attempt to import settlement goods” would be committing a crime punishable by up to five years in prison or a €250,000 fine.

The bill forms part of a larger international movement known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led international campaign founded in 2005 with the aim of ending the occupation in Palestine.

Around 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally according to international law since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian lands.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 17:01:08 GMT
135 Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound 135 israeli settlers storm alaqsa compound

Some 135 Israeli extremist settlers early Thursday stormed al-Aqsa Mosque/ Haram al-Sharif compound in occupied Jerusalem.

The General Director of the Islamic Awqaf and Al-Aqsa Affairs, Sheikh Azzam Khatib, told Petra's reporter in Ramallah the assault took palce at Al-Magharebah Gate.

During the raid, settlers were briefed on the so-called "Temple Mount," and attempted to perform Talmudic rituals to mark the event of the Jewish Hanukkah holidays, which continue until next Monday.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 16:25:14 GMT
King Abdullah II back home after U.S visit king abdullah ii back home after us visit

His Majesty King Abdullah II, accompanied by Her Majesty Queen Rania, early Thursday, returned home following their visit to Washington.


Thu, 06 Dec 2018 15:38:55 GMT
Hala Zwati meets peers in the the Arab Electricity Conference hala zwati meets peers in the the arab electricity conference

Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Hala Zwati, met with Arab electricity and energy counterparts, who participated in the 6th General Conference of Arab Union of Electricity, which wrapped up activities in the Dead Sea area on Thursday, to discuss ways to enhance joint Arab cooperation.

During the meeting, Zwati stressed the importance of griding the electrical networks in the Arab world to enhance trade relations and achieve Arab energy integration.

She said the electrical connection is a necessity to reduce the burden of large investments aiming to develop networks and generation units, and is also important to increase reliability of electrical systems.

On establishing an Arab electricity market, she said this project is one of the priorities of the power sector in the Arab region, stressing the importance of this step in achieving comprehensive economic integration.

Zwati expressed Jordan's readiness to harness its experience in the field of renewable energy, which constitutes an "economical and environmental" solution for the development of electrical systems and their future, taking advantage of the weather conditions in the Arab region. 

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 15:34:03 GMT
Two found, five missing after US Marine aircraft collide off Japan two found five missing after us marine aircraft collide off japan

Two US marines have been found and five others remain unaccounted for after two US Marine Corps aircraft collided off the coast of western Japan early Thursday.

"One of the personnel involved in the mishap is being evaluated by competent medical authorities... The search and rescue operations continue for the remaining six Marines," the Marines tweeted in the morning.

The marine rescued by the Japanese Navy "is in a stable condition," Japanese government spokesman Yasutoshi Nishimura told a news conference.

The Japanese Navy have also found a second marine off the south-western island of Shikoku after the crash, Japan’s Defence Ministry said.

However, the person’s condition is still unknown, a spokesman for the ministry told dpa.

The warplanes involved, a KC-130 refueling aircraft carrying five crew members and an F/A-18 jet with two on board, had taken off from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Nishimura said.

The collision occurred about 100 kilometres south of Cape Muroto on Hikoku, the Defence Ministry in Tokyo said.

Japanese Foreign Ministry official Kazuhiro Suzuki urged Jerry Martinez, commander of US Forces Japan, to immediately provide information related to the accident, conduct an investigation to determine its cause and prevent a recurrence.

The planes were "conducting regularly scheduled training when the mishap occurred," according to a news release issued by the Marine base at Camp Butler in Okinawa.

Japanese search and rescue aircraft immediately responded to aid in the recovery, the Marines said, adding that the accident occurred at about 2 am Thursday (1700 GMT Wednesday).

"The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation," the news release said, offering no additional information.

There have been a series of accidents in and around Japan involving the US military. Thursday's crash comes less than a month after a US fighter jet went down off the southern island of Okinawa in mid-November and its two crew members were rescued.

Twelve sailors were injured in October after a US Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crashed on the deck of the carrier in the Philippine Sea.

In October 2017, a US CH-53 helicopter went down near a residential area in northern Okinawa. None of its crew members was injured.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 13:50:54 GMT
Afghan commission declares parliamentary votes cast in Kabul invalid afghan commission declares parliamentary votes cast in kabul invalid

All votes cast in Kabul during the October parliamentary election are invalid, Afghanistan's Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) said on Thursday.

Major fraud and mismanagement on the part of the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) were two of more than two dozen reasons why the decision was taken, IECC spokesman Alireza Rohani said.

The election commission must now hold new elections in Kabul within the next seven days, according to Afghan voting legislation.

Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed, the head of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), an independent election monitoring agency, said he does not believe the election commission has the capacity to hold a new election within the next week as stated under the law.  

It is possible that votes in other provinces will also be declared invalid, and if that occurs, the election commission will face a "serious technical and operational challenge," Rasheed said.

Baqi Samandar, a candidate from Kabul, said that generally speaking, the decision to declare the election invalid was "the right decision," since so many things went wrong during the vote.

Parliamentary elections took place in 32 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces on October 20. Due to security problems and organizational difficulties, voting took place in 400 constituencies a day later.

In the province of Kandahar, voting was delayed by a week after a deadly attack on the provincial chief of police.

In Kabul, 1.6 million people were registered to vote and around one million people cast their ballots across 558 polling stations on election day.


Thu, 06 Dec 2018 13:12:17 GMT
Syrian serviceman dies in shelling by militants in Aleppo province syrian serviceman dies in shelling by militants in aleppo province

Syrian serviceman was killed in the province of Aleppo in a shelling by militants, head of the Russian Center for reconciliation of the conflicting sides Lt. Gen. Sergei Solomatin told reporters on Wednesday.

"One ceasefire violation was registered over the last 24 hours in the Idlib de-escalation zone. Militants from illegal armed groups shelled the settlement of Ez-Ziara in the province of Aleppo. One serviceman of the Syrian Armed Forces died in the shelling," Solomatin said.

He also noted that in accordance with Syrian President Bashar Assad's decree from October 9, the Syrian authorities continue work on granting amnesty to persons evading military service, including refugees and former members of illegal armed groups. As of 4 December 2018, a total of 14,856 people were granted amnesty.

Solomatin added that in the past 24 hours, representatives of the Russian Reconciliation Center carried out a humanitarian operation in the settlement of Hmeymat-ez-Daer in the province of Aleppo. A total of 500 food packages were distributed in the operation, he said.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 11:40:06 GMT
Russia and UK to present joint document on emergency response to use of biological weapons russia and uk to present joint document on emergency response to use of biological weapons

Russia and the United Kingdom have prepared a joint document on emergency response to use of biological weapons and will present their project in Geneva on Thursday, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department on Non-Proliferation and Weapons Control Vladimir Yermakov said in his speech at Wednesday's session of member-countries of the Biologocal Weapons Convention (BWC).

"Russia and the UK prepared a joint document on emergency response. We propose to consider several ideas on further promotion of the concept of mobile biomedical teams. Our document will be presented and discussed on Thursday, December 6," Yermakov said.

According to the diplomat, the prospects and demand for mobile biomedical teams is guaranteed from the point of view of strengthening the BWC. "This has particular significance in the context of creating effective mechanisms of implementing the Biological Weapons Convention," Yermakov said.

In his speech, the Russian diplomat also noted that Moscow considers as unacceptable the attempts to substitute the negotiations process in the BWC framework with parallel mechanisms, whose decisions will "represent only a product of some hidden bureaucratic activity in accordance with the principle 'we will decide everything for you, and you will just follow the rules'."

"We cannot allow fragmentation of inter-state processes and especially any attempts to substitute the negotiations between countries in the BWC framework with any alternative, any activities of international bureaucracy not subject to state governments' control," the diplomat stressed.


Thu, 06 Dec 2018 09:09:53 GMT
Biological weapons can be discussed only in framework of BWC biological weapons can be discussed only in framework of bwc

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) should remain the only mechanism for considering issues with these types of weapons, according to the joint statement of several countries presented at the session of BWC member-states in Geneva. The statement was signed by Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Venezuela, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Serbia and Tajikistan, and read to the session by director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department on Non-Proliferation and Weapons Control Vladimir Yermakov.

"We underscore the inalienability and importance of a multilateral process in the BWC framework on the basis of its provisions," the document said. "It should be universal, inclusive, transparent and non-discriminatory. In order to support its [BWC's] authority, universal recognition and legitimacy, it is important to promote the BWC as the only multilateral forum for considering issies connected with biological weapons."

"We think that only the decisions made by member-states as a result of multilateral talks on the basis of consensus, can provide necessary guarantees of BWC observance by member-states and act as an effective deterrent tool hampering its non-observance, as well as use or threat of use of biological weapons," Yermakov said.

The session of BWC member-states was held in Geneva on December 4.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 08:50:40 GMT
Yemen's warring parties to meet in Sweden for peace talks yemens warring parties to meet in sweden for peace talks

Yemen's warring parties plan to meet in Sweden on Thursday for peace talks, in a renewed United Nations attempt to end nearly four years of civil war that has pushed the country to the brink of famine.

A delegation from Yemen's Saudi-backed government arrived in Sweden on Wednesday, a day after the arrival of representatives from the Houthi rebels, accompanied by the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths.

Yemen, one of the Arab world's poorest countries, has been embroiled in a disastrous power struggle between government forces and the Houthi rebels since late 2014.

A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Iran-linked rebels since March 2015.

The talks in Sweden are expected to focus on confidence building between the two sides, the opening of Sana'a airport, lifting the Houthi-imposed siege on Yemen's south-western city of Taiz and finalizing details of a prisoner swap deal recently signed by the two parties.

A previous attempt by Griffiths to hold UN-sponsored talks in Geneva collapsed in September when the rebels failed to appear.

Many Yemenis are optimistic about what the talks might bring.

"There is a lot of optimism this time, especially now that all sides have felt the need to end the crisis which has taken its toll on them on a human, financial and psychological level," Sana'a resident Mohammed Ismail said.

Yemeni Nobel Peace laureate Tawakkol Karman said she will applaud any progress made during Sweden negotiations or any other "for the sake of achieving peace in Yemen."

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 08:28:42 GMT
President Al-Bashir Receives Message from President Kenyatta president albashir receives message from president kenyatta

President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, Wednesday received at the Guest House a message from the President of Kenya , Uhuru Kenyatta, which was handed over to him over by the visiting Kenyan Envoy, Steven Kalonzo, in the presence of the Foreign Minister, Dr Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, and the Ambassador of Kenya to Sudan.

The Foreign Minister, Dr. Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, said in press statement that the Kenyan special Envoy who arrived  in the country on Wednesday has delivered a message to President  of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir,  from  his Kenyan counterpart within context of  consultations on South Sudan State issue ,indicating that the President  of the Republic has sent through the Kenyan Envoy a similar message to the President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The Kenyan  Envoy said tthat he meeting was very useful, describing as excellent the  relations between Khartoum and Nairobi, stating that the relations between President  Kenyatta and  President Al-Bashir are strong.

 He stressed President Kenyatta’s is continuing support to President Al-Bashir's efforts for realizing peace in South Sudan.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 20:54:04 GMT
Russia to start building naval cluster near St. Petersburg in 2019 russia to start building naval cluster near st petersburg in 2019

Russia will start building a naval cluster in Kronshtadt near St. Petersburg in northwest Russia in 2019, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday.

"In 2019, we will start creating a naval cluster in Kronshtadt, which will help concentrate educative, scientific and applied activity in a single modern center and considerably increase its efficiency," the defense minister said at a visiting enlarged session on creating the Navy’s educational and scientific base in Kronshtadt.

In St. Petersburg, the Defense Ministry of Russia is pursuing its general policy towards expanding the city’s infrastructure, Shoigu said.

"Since 2013, the Defense Ministry has been engaged in the large-scale construction and reconstruction of military infrastructure facilities. This helps to strengthen the state’s defense potential and increase jobs for Russians, develop territories and boost their investment attractiveness," the defense minister said.

"The Defense Ministry has invested more than a trillion rubles [$15 billion] in the St. Petersburg economy alone," Shoigu stressed.

According to the defense minister, over 970 billion rubles ($14.5 billion) have been invested in St. Petersburg industrial enterprises and about 70 billion rubles ($1 billion) in improving the city’s infrastructure.

The Defense Ministry is paying close attention to preserving the cultural heritage and restoring the historical outlook of buildings while carrying out works on the city’s territory, the defense chief said.

"Over the past 6 years, more than 90 buildings and structures with a total floorspace of about 700,000 square meters have been built and reconstructed. About 80% of them have historical and artistic value," Shoigu stressed.

Infrastructure construction
According to the defense chief, the buildings of the Military Medical Academy were renewed during the construction of the multipurpose clinic.

"The unique Fundamental Library has been restored. Over 800 items of applied decorative art have been renovated and a technical possibility has been provided for drawing up catalogs and transforming the rarest editions into the electronic format," Shoigu said.

The Defense Ministry’s funds have been used to reconstruct some facilities in St. Petersburg: the former cadet and now Suvorov military school, the Military Communications Academy, the Military Logistics Academy, the Military Space Academy, the Military Institute of Physical Culture that will host the World Cadet Games in 2020, the Military and Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineering Troops and Communications, the Central Naval Library and the tsarist Naval Minister’s Mansion, Shoigu said.

On Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order, the Defense Ministry carried out comprehensive reconstruction of the buildings of the Nakhimov naval school, he said.

Also, the Ice Palace is under construction and it will be opened on Navy Day next year, the defense minister said.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 20:25:01 GMT
NATO secretary general mum on Putin’s INF Treaty statement nato secretary general mum on putin’s inf treaty statement

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg did not provide a comment on Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), claiming that Russia would start to produce the missiles banned by the treaty if the US chooses to exit it. On Wednesday, Stoltenberg repeated NATO’s allegations against Russia and mentioned the alliance’s recent statement, in which its members agreed to support the US on this issue.

"Russia has denied for years that they’re violating the INF Treaty. We’ve confronted them again and again with facts, with information, with our assessments, and they have continued to deny the existence of a new missile system," Stoltenberg informed.

"All allies agree that Russia is in violation, is in material breach of the INF treaty. All [NATO allies] agree that the US is in full compliance with the treaty. There are no new US missiles in Europe, but there are new Russian missiles, SSC-8. They are mobile, they are hard to detect, they are nuclear capable, they can reach European cities, and they reduce the warning time," the NATO secretary general said. "All missiles are dangerous, but of course, missiles which are hard to detect, nuclear capable and reduces the warning time, they are, if possible, even more dangerous," Stoltenberg added.

"That’s the reason why we have been so concerned about this for years," Stoltenberg stated. "We raised it [the issue] in the NATO-Russia council just a few weeks ago. Several allies announced in a meeting yesterday that they will raise this issue with Russia bilaterally," he said, adding that "Russia has the last chance to come into compliance with the INF Treaty." "But at the same time, we have to prepare for a world without the treaty," the secretary general concluded.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Tuesday that the US would stop adhering to the treaty unless Russia returned to compliance with it within 60 days

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that "the statement by Mr. Pompeo is somewhat late, and initially the US side stated after all that it was going to withdraw from the INF Treaty, and then they started to look for the substantiation why they should do this." The Russian leader added that if the US exits the treaty, Russia would start to produce the missiles banned under this agreement.

INF Treaty
On October 20, US President Donald Trump said that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia had allegedly violated it. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov called this decision a dangerous move. Berlin and Beijing criticized Washington, London voiced its support for the US, while NATO laid the blame for Trump’s decision on Russia.

The INF deal was concluded on December 8, 1987, and took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). In recent years, Washington has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the treaty. Moscow strongly dismissed the accusations and voiced its own counterclaims against Washington’s non-compliance.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 20:17:29 GMT
EU wants INF Treaty 'preserved and fully implemented' eu wants inf treaty preserved and fully implemented

EU countries want the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) to be preserved and fully implemented, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said upon arrival at the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting on Wednesday.

"For the European Union, it (the INF Treaty) is key to our security. It is a fundamental pillar of our security architecture in Europe, and we want to see this preserved and fully implemented," she stated.

US, NATO ultimatum
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on Tuesday that the US would stop adhering to the treaty unless Russia returns to compliance with it within 60 days. Also, the NATO Foreign Ministers on Tuesday urged Russia to urgently return to full and verifiable compliance with the INF Treaty, pointing out that it is now up to Moscow to preserve the deal.

US President Donald Trump publicly announced plans to pull out of the INF Treaty on October 20 and October 22.

The first time that the US had accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty was back in July 2014. After that Washington has repeated its allegations several times, with which Moscow does not agree, striking back at Washington with counterclaims.

The INF Treaty was signed between the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 in Washington, DC and took effect on June 1, 1988. The INF Treaty eliminated operational and non-operational medium-range (1,000-5,500 kilometers) and shorter-range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-launched missiles.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 20:11:35 GMT
Jailed Ukrainian MP goes on hunger strike jailed ukrainian mp goes on hunger strike

Ukrainian MP Nadezhda Savehcnko has declared a hunger strike on Wednesday in response to "blackmail and pressure" by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), the politician’s Facebook page informed.

"The SBU investigators are blackmailing and pressuring the people’s deputy and chairperson of the "Nadezhda Savchenko's Public and Political Platform" party, demanding the lawyers to study the case files immediately to start proceedings basically in exchange for the possibility to see loved ones, associates, to recover electronic keys, and to open a bank account to register as a candidate for the president of Ukraine," the Facebook post says.

"In this regard, Nadezhda Savchenko declares a hunger strikes as political prisoner, until her rights and freedoms are ensured in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine and the current legal framework."

Savchenko’s case
The Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, stripped Savchenko of her parliamentary immunity and granted the go-ahead to detain and arrest her earlier in the year. A Kiev court put Savchenko into custody for two months on March 23, 2018, prompting her to declare a hunger strike. The court later rejected her appeal against the arrest and extended it for another two months.

Savchenko, a former Ukrainian military pilot who had taken an active part in Kiev’s military operation in eastern Ukraine, was detained in Russia in June 2014. She had been sentenced to 22 years in jail over complicity in the killing of two Russian journalists in east Ukraine.

She spent nearly two years in the Russian custody and was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 25, 2016. Upon her return to Kiev, Savchenko began an active political career as a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

However, she fell into disfavor of Ukraine’s authorities after her private trips to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine and talks with their leadership.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 20:05:20 GMT
Israeli forces arrest 21 Palestinians in West Bank israeli forces arrest 21 palestinians in west bank

Israeli occupation forces early Wednesday launched a wide range search and arrest campaign in various West Bank cities and detained 21 Palestinians, according to a Palestinian source.

A statement by the Palestinian Prisoners Society said that Israeli soldiers stormed the cities of Salfit, Qalqilya, Tubas, Jericho, Bethlehem and Ramallah and arrested the citizens under the pretext they are wanted by the occupation authorities.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 19:03:43 GMT
Army thwarts terrorists’ infiltration attempt in Lattakia countryside army thwarts terrorists’ infiltration attempt in lattakia countryside

A Syrian Arab Army unit on Wednesday thwarted an infiltration attempt by a terrorist group in the northern countryside of Lattakia, inflicting losses upon them.

A military source told SANA that an army unit clashed with terrorists coming from the direction of Ain al-Hour 5 km north of Kanasba town on the Lattakia-Jisr al-Shughour highway, in an attempt to attack a military position.

The source said the clash resulted in killing a number of terrorists, while the rest fled towards their hideouts near the Turkish borders.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 18:57:27 GMT
Belgian government mired in crisis over UN migration compact belgian government mired in crisis over un migration compact

The Belgian government could be brought down by a dispute about a UN migration compact, with parliament due to debate the issue on Wednesday after a key coalition partner threatened to walk out.

World leaders are due to endorse the UN Global Compact for Migration at a meeting in Marrakech next week. However, several states have already backed out of the non-binding accord, which aims to regulate migration.

In Belgium, the Flemish nationalist N-VA - a member of the government coalition - opposes the compact, which Prime Minister Charles Michel has pledged to sign. It has threatened to pull out of the coalition if he goes ahead.

After failing on Tuesday to resolve the dispute, Michel announced that he would ask parliament to weigh in. Most lawmakers are expected to back the compact.

"Whoever pulls the plug at a moment such as this is irresponsible," Michel told the RTL broadcaster on Wednesday, adding that the ball was in the court of the N-VA.

However, the N-VA's parliamentary leader, Peter De Roover, said the legislature's vote would not be binding.

"This government will not go to Marrakech to sign the pact," he told the RTBF broadcaster, noting that the decision needed to be taken jointly.

Disagreement over the migration compact has also shaken other European governments. Last week, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak tendered his resignation after his country rejected the accord.

Hungary, Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Switzerland have all publicly rejected the agreement.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 18:10:35 GMT
Emmanuel Macron says all must call for calm amid French fuel protests emmanuel macron says all must call for calm amid french fuel protests

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday sounded the alarm on the "unprecedented" situation caused by fuel price protests in recent weeks, denouncing what he described as "great violence."

Midway between riots in Paris on Saturday and further protests expected next weekend, Macron warned ministers that some of those involved had "one sole objective: to attack the republic," government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said after a weekly cabinet meeting.

The president told ministers that it was not a time not for "political opposition but for [supporting] the republic," Griveaux said.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday announced a six-month moratorium on the petrol and diesel tax rises that initially sparked the "Yellow Vests" protest movement.

It was a rare backdown by Macron, who dislikes acting under pressure, and came days after rioters fought running battles with Paris police that saw more than 100 people injured and over 400 arrested.

But multiple individuals who claim to represent the leaderless movement, which is organized largely by social media and word of mouth, have called for further protests on Saturday all the same.

Macron has not spoken directly to the public since returning from the G20 summit in Argentina after Saturday's riots, although on Tuesday he visited a government building that was partly burned during unrest in a provincial town.

The president "asked the political forces, the trade unions, and business leaders to launch a clear and explicit call for calm and for respect of the republican order," Griveaux said.

Earlier, the head of France's main opposition party called for a state of emergency to be declared ahead of Saturday's expected protests.

"That would enable the security forces to be protected and it would also enable us to protect those who want to march peacefully without being taken hostage," Laurent Wauquiez of the conservative Les Republicains party told France 2 television.

"What I do not want is for our country to plunge into chaos," Wauquiez added.

Wauquiez called on Macron to address the situation after almost three weeks of protests around the country and said Philippe's announcement of a moratorium was not enough.

"The French don't want this tax. Putting it back six months doesn't make sense, it must be cancelled," Wauquiez argued.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 16:46:55 GMT
Trump to join world leaders at Bush funeral trump to joinworld leaders at bush funeral

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will be among the mourners Wednesday at the state funeral in Washington for former US President George HW Bush.

Trump will join four former US presidents and their wives for the funeral at Washington National Cathedral. Bush, the 41st US president, died at his Houston, Texas home on Friday at the age of 94.

Eulogies are to be given by Bush's son, former president George W Bush, former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, former US senator Alan Simpson and presidential historian Jon Meacham, according to news reports.

Trump, who called fellow candidate Jeb Bush, a son of George HW Bush, "weak" and "low energy" during the 2016 presidential campaign, is not scheduled to speak, according to news reports.

He and first lady Melania Trump paid their respects at the US Capitol, where Bush lay in state, on Monday evening and met Tuesday evening with George W Bush, his wife Laura and other members of the Bush family.

All three other living former US presidents - Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama - and their wives are scheduled to attend the funeral. Former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama also will attend.

Among the foreign leaders among the mourners will be German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called Bush a "stroke of luck in German history" and praised his role in transatlantic relations.

Bush, a strong backer of German reunification during his time in office, served between 1989 and 1993, presiding over the end of the Cold War.

Prince Charles of Britain, former British prime minister John Major, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, 
Australian Governor General Peter Cosgrove and his wife Lynne and Polish President Andrzej Duda are to attend, according to a list provided to media by Bush spokesman Jim McGrath.

Former leaders of Japan, Qatar, Portugal, Estonia, Poland Kuwait and Bermuda also will be among the mourners, a Bush family spokesman said.

The former president's funeral is scheduled to begin at 11 am (1500 GMT) after the casket carrying Bush's body is transported in a motorcade from the Capitol to the cathedral.

Trump proclaimed Wednesday a national day of mourning and issued an executive order closing the federal government in honour of Bush. US financial markets also will be closed.

The US military along with law enforcement authorities in Washington are in charge of the funeral. Nearly 4,000 military and civilian personnel from all branches of the US armed forces are responsible for the ceremonies, a news release issued by the military said.

"This state funeral is a culmination of years of planning and rehearsal to ensure the support the military renders President Bush is nothing less than a first-class tribute," said Major General Michael L Howard.

Military musical units along with colour guards and uniformed soldiers who will fire artillery to salute the deceased president, escort dignitaries and members of the Bush family and carry the casket.

Bush's body arrived Monday in Washington after a ceremony to honour him in Houston. The 747 jet assigned to the flights was temporarily recommissioned "Special Air Mission 41." Bush's remains will be flown back to Texas on Thursday for burial alongside his wife Barbara, who died in April.

The 41st president, who late in his life became known for wearing colourful socks, will be buried wearing socks that bear an image of five fighter jets ascending as a tribute to his lifetime of service, McGrath said on Twitter.

Bush is the last US president to have fought in World War II. He volunteered at age 18 in 1942, became a Navy pilot and flew 58 missions.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 16:40:23 GMT
Putin foresees new arms race if US withdraws from treaty with Russia putin foresees new arms race if us withdraws from treaty with russia

If the United States withdraws from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and builds up an arsenal of mid-range missiles, then Russia would follow suit and also make the same type of weapon, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

The US alleges that Russia violated the treaty with the development of a land-based missile, and on Tuesday said it would withdraw from the treaty in 60 days unless Russia complies with pact. Russia has denied the allegation, saying it has not tested such a missile within the banned range.

It is "in principle understandable" that the US wants to pull out of the bilateral deal with Russia as other countries are believed to have been developing such weapons, Putin told reporters in Moscow.

The Soviet-era treaty, which the US has threatened to withdraw from, bans ground-launched missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.

"Apparently our American partners consider that the situation has changed so much" since the treaty came into effect "that the US must have such weapons," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript.

"What is our side's response? It's simple. We will do the same," the Russian leader said.

Russia has previously alleged that the US violated the treaty with a NATO missile shield in Eastern Europe that Russia says could launch a nuclear missile at any time.

Russia will target any country hosting US mid-range missiles if the US withdraws from the treaty, the chief of Russia's General Staff said on Wednesday.

"If the INF Treaty is violated, we will not leave this unanswered," General Valery Gerasimov said at a briefing of foreign military attaches in Moscow.

"The countries hosting US systems with intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles will become targets for retaliatory steps by Russia," Gerasimov said in speech, a transcript of which was emailed to dpa.

The United States' threatened withdrawal from the treaty is a "very dangerous step that can negatively influence both European security and strategic stability in general," Gerasimov said.

Russia has received official notification of the US intention to withdraw from the treaty, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in comments carried by state media.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 16:32:48 GMT
Mueller recommends no jail time for ex-Trump adviser Flynn mueller recommends no jail time for extrump adviser flynn

The office of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller (SCO) has recommended no jail time for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, saying the retired general has provided "substanial assistance" to Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections.

"The defendant assisted SCO's investigators on a range of issues, including interactions between individuals in the Presidential Transition Team and Russia," the SCO said in the court filing.

Flynn, a retired US army lieutenant general and former insider in Trump's circle, pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to Washington.

Flynn was interviewed 19 times and assisted the Mueller team with investigating links between Russia and Trump's campaign and presidential transition team, the heavily redacted court filing said.

The filing comes as another Trump confidant, his personal lawyer Michael Cohen, reached a plea deal with the Mueller team last week.

Prosecutors said Flynn should be sentenced "at the low end of the guideline range—including a sentence that does not
impose a term of incarceration." 
His decision to plead guilty and cooperate likely influenced other witnesses' decision to cooperate with the Mueller probe, the SCO said.

Mueller's office added that Flynn "deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government." 

"The defendant's record of military and public service distinguish him from every other person who has been charged as part the SCO's investigation," the special counsel said.

Still the special counsel admonished Flynn saying his extensive government service "should have made him particularly aware" of the harm his actions caused.

Flynn was an early and avid supporter Trump's presidential campaign, and was named White House national security adviser shortly after the billionaire businessman's shock win.

The retired three-star Army general resigned in February 2017 after just 25 days in the position, admitting to having "inadvertently" given "incomplete information" to key people in the White House about his communication with the Russian ambassador.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:29:57 GMT
90 Mafia suspects arrested in raids in Europe and South America 90 mafia suspects arrested in raids in europe and south america

Ninety people with suspected links to the 'Ndrangheta Mafia, considered Italy's strongest organized crime group, have been arrested in raids in several European and South American countries, Italian police said on Wednesday.

Those arrested are accused of various crimes, including Mafia membership, drug trafficking and laundering of assets from criminal sources, according to a statement.

The raids took place early Wednesday, spanning locations in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and South America.

The European judicial authority Eurojust led the international operation, under the code name "Pollino."

Eurojust said the operation was the result of years of intensive investigative work that began in 2016, orchestrated throughout Europe.

The 'Ndrangheta hails from Calabria, the region that forms the tip of Italy's boot, and has made substantial inroads in Germany. It is considered Europe's leading smuggler of cocaine.

The raids in Germany took place in the southern state of Bavaria and North Rhine Westphalia to the west, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said.

German tabloid Bild reported that more than 100 locations were raided, including pizzerias.

Eurojust plans to give more information on the operation at a press conference in The Hague at 12 pm (1100 GMT), with a further press conference scheduled by the BKA for 3 pm (1400 GMT).

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:20:45 GMT
Australian man arrested after podcast on 36-yr-old cold case australian man arrested after podcast on 36yrold cold case

An Australian man was arrested Wednesday over the suspected murder of his wife who disappeared from their home 36 years ago in a case recently highlighted in a popular podcast.

Chris Dawson, 70, was arrested on the Gold Coast in Queensland on Wednesday morning in relation to the 1982 disappearance of his wife Lynette Joy Dawson, New South Wales (NSW) Police said in a statement. 

He appeared at Southport Magistrates Court, where an application for bail was refused. NSW detectives applied for and were granted his extradition to Sydney. 

Lynette Dawson was 33 when she went missing from Sydney's northern beaches, leaving behind two young daughters. In September, police began digging at the home the couple had shared in the Sydney suburb of Bayview but did not find remains or items of interest. 

Her case was recently the subject of "The Teacher's Pet" podcast, which explored why police failed to launch a proper investigation.  

The court was told Chris Dawson had cooperated with investigators, was not a flight risk and was willing to surrender his passport. He will face court in Sydney's west Thursday. 

Two coronial inquests, in 2001 and 2003, ruled that Lynette Dawson had been murdered by her husband but prosecutors declined to charge him, citing insufficient evidence. 

Police said detectives from the homicide squad’s unsolved homicide unit established a strike force in 2015 to re-investigate the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and suspected murder. 

After an extensive investigation, the detectives submitted their brief of evidence in April to the public prosecutor's office, which provided advice to the police earlier this week.

Chris Dawson, a former professional rugby league player and high school teacher, has long been a suspect in the case but denies any involvement in his wife's disappearance. 

The podcast noted he was having an affair with a teen schoolgirl, and moved her into the family home two days after his wife was last seen in January 1982.

He did not report his wife missing for six weeks and suggested she may have gone off with a religious cult.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said Wednesday that fresh statements from at least two witnesses led to the arrest, with additional evidence helping to "tie pieces of the puzzle together." 

Fuller also said some of the additional material surfaced as a result of the podcast. 

He said Chris Dawson was "calm and a little bit taken aback" when arrested. 

Fuller added that police has informed Lynette Dawson's family, "who were certainly relieved to hear this result." 

Her body has never been found, but police said investigators are confident in their case. 

"There are other examples in policing history and history of the courts where people have been convicted of murder without a body," Detective Superintendent Scott Cook told reporters Wednesday.


Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:03:12 GMT
Yemen's government delegation heads to Sweden for peace talks yemens government delegation heads to sweden for peace talks

A delegation from Yemen's Saudi-backed government left Riyadh on Wednesday for Sweden, where UN-brokered peace negotiations are set to take place.

A government source told dpa that the delegation, expected to arrive in the afternoon, "hopes the negotiations are successful and the Houthis are more serious this time."

A delegation of the Houthi rebels arrived in Sweden on Tuesday, accompanied by the United Nations' special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths.

A previous attempt by Griffiths to hold UN-sponsored talks in Geneva collapsed in September when the rebels failed to appear.

The negotiations in Sweden are expected to focus on confidence building between the two sides, the opening of Sana'a airport, lifting the Houthi-imposed siege on Yemen's south-western city of Taiz and finalizing details of a prisoner swap deal recently signed by the two parties.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 12:34:32 GMT
Turkey seeks arrest of two former Saudi crown prince advisors turkey seeks arrest of two former saudi crown prince advisors

A court in Istanbul has issued arrest warrants for two top Saudi officials, both former advisors to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, over the killing of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi, state news agency Anadolu reported on Wednesday.

The Istanbul chief public prosecutor's office asked the court to issue the arrest warrants, citing "strong suspicion" that Ahmed al-Asiri, former deputy chief of the intelligence service, and Saud al-Qahtani, a former close adviser to Mohammed, were among the planners of the murder.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and a vocal critic of Mohammed, was killed inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi officials have repeatedly denied reports that the crown prince is linked to the murder.

Khashoggi's remains have not yet been located.

The Istanbul prosecutor's office cited "new evidence" as part of its ongoing probe to charge the two people with "planned and deliberate murder with monstrous intent or torture," according to Anadolu.

The office separately identified 15 alleged members of a hit squad who travelled to Istanbul to kill Khashoggi as well as three Saudi consulate employees. All 18 left Istanbul following the murder, it added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has kept the pressure on Riyadh to reveal the perpetrators behind Khashoggi's killing.

It is in Saudi Arabia's best interest to disclose what exactly happened to Khashoggi, the Turkish president told reporters in Argentina over the weekend, adding that Turkey had shared information related to the killing with several countries, including Germany and the United States.

On Tuesday, two US senators who attended a briefing by CIA director Gina Haspel on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi said they no longer had any doubt that the Saudi crown prince was responsible for the dissident's murder.

If Mohammed were in front of a jury, "he would have a unanimous verdict in about 30 minutes. Guilty. A guilty verdict," Senator Bob Corker said.

Saudi Arabia has opened its own investigation into the murder and is seeking the death penalty for five suspects. It continues to insist it was a "rogue operation" carried out without the knowledge of the crown prince. 

Erdogan has repeatedly demanded that those currently detained in Saudi Arabia be extradited to Turkey.

The two Saudi suspects sought by Turkey are not among those detained in the kingdom.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 12:04:06 GMT
Putin discusses new summit on Syria with Turkish, German leaders putin discusses new summit on syria with turkish german leaders

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel a possible new summit on Syria between Russia, Turkey, Germany and France, Kremlin Aide Yury Ushakov told reporters on Tuesday.

"We agreed with Erdogan and Merkel that if needed another forum may be convened with the participation of Putin, Erdogan, Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron," Ushakov said. Speaking on the venue of this summit, he said it could be held in other city than Istanbul. "That’s because the leaders probably won’t wish to meet in Istanbul all the time."

According to the Kremlin aide, the particular venue would be agreed on simultaneously with discussing the date. "There is only preliminary readiness of the three countries’ leaders for this meeting," he noted.

Putin did not discuss this issue with Macron of late, Uskakov added.


Wed, 05 Dec 2018 11:55:37 GMT
US, NATO give Russia 'last chance' to save INF Treaty us nato give russia last chance to save inf treaty

NATO gives Russia the last chance to save the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday following a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said his country was ready to withdraw from the treaty if its demands are not met within 60 days.

"Russia now has a last chance to come back into compliance with the INF Treaty but we must also start to prepare for a world without the Treaty," Stoltenberg said, adding that all NATO members agree that "the US abides by the treaty and Russia does not."

"We call on Russia to return urgently to full and verifiable compliance with the INF Treaty," he added.

"All missiles are dangerous, but these missiles are in particular dangerous, because they are hard to detect, they are mobile, they are nuclear-capable, they will reduce the warning time, they can reach European cities, and, therefore, they also reduce a threshold for the potential use of nuclear weapons in a conflict " the top NATO official went on. "It's up to Russia now to preserve the INF treaty, they have the last chance to show and demonstrate in a verifiable way that they comply with the treaty, but we also have to prepare for a world without the treaty."

He said the NATO allies "have all developed a set of responses."

"We will to this in a measured, considerate way, because this is very serious and we need to analyze the consequences of each and every step," Stoltenberg said. "We also have to prepare to a world without the treaty."

"The US has raised the matter formally with Russia at senior levels more than 30 times. Other Allies have raised it with Russia too. We did so, a few weeks ago, in the NATO-Russia Council here in Brussels," Stoltenberg said. "So Allies will continue to work for a better relationship with Russia. We will continue to engage, including through the meetings of the NATO-Russia Council." 

US ultimatum
The US top diplomat told the NATO meeting earlier in the day that Washington "has found Russia in material breach of the treaty" and will suspend its obligations "in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance."

US President Donald Trump said on October 20 that his country would quit the INF Treaty because Russia was allegedly in breach of that agreement. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov described this as a dangerous move. Washington was also criticized in Berlin and Beijing. In the meantime, London came out in support of the United States and NATO placed the responsibility for Trump’s decision on Russia, because in its opinion Moscow had apparently violated the treaty.

The INF Treaty was signed on December 8, 1987 and took effect on June 1, 1988. It outlawed deployed and non-deployed intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-based missiles.

In recent years, Washington has repeatedly alleged Russia was in breach of the agreement. Moscow emphatically dismissed the charges and countered them with its own claims over the United States’ non-compliance.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 11:47:20 GMT
Prince Dr. Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz Leaves Mexico prince dr mansour bin miteb bin abdulaziz leaves mexico

Prince Dr. Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz, Minister of State, Cabinet's Member and Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, left Mexico City today after attending on behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud the ceremony of transferring the federal executive power to President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador as President of the United States of Mexico.

At Benito Juarez International Airport, he was seen off by Saudi Ambassador to Mexico Hammad bin Ghanim Al-Ruwaili and a number of officials.


Tue, 04 Dec 2018 15:49:58 GMT
Israel warns Hezbollah against approaching cross-border tunnels israel warns hezbollah against approaching crossborder tunnels

Israel's military warned Tuesday the Lebanese militia of Hezbollah against approaching the border fence, hours after it launched an operation to "expose and thwart" cross-border tunnels built by the group.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesman in Arabic, Avichay Adraee, addressed Hezbollah militants and Lebanon's army soldiers, warning them against entering or getting near the tunnels.

"Your life is in danger, be warned," he wrote on Twitter.

The military issued a statement, saying that overnight between Monday and Tuesday, it had launched an operation, dubbed "Northern Shield," to "thwart and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels."

Head of the international media branch at the IDF's Spokesperson's Unit, Jonathan Conricus, told reporters during a phone briefing that this is "the first stage of the operation" in which the aim is "to expose and thwart" the tunnels.

Conricus said Israeli forces up north have been put on "heightened alert" but no reserve forces have been called up, and the area around the northern Israeli city of Metula, which is next to the Lebanese border, has been declared a closed military zone.

Israel and Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia in southern Lebanon, had a month-long war in 2006 that ended in a ceasefire.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 14:39:29 GMT
IOF begin operation Northern Shield under the pretext of destroying Hezbollah tunnels iof begin operation northern shield under the pretext of destroying hezbollah tunnels

The IOF began its military “Northern Shield” operation on Tuesday morning which they claim is to combat Hezbollah tunnels in the north of Israel.

IOF states in their propaganda video released today that Hezbollah has spent years building “cross-attack” tunnels between Lebanon and Israel. It also accused the Lebanon government for failing to bring the militant movement under control.

With this the chances of a confrontation with the Gaza Strip are increased as what is happening in the north raises the chances of confrontations in the south. “Israel considers the Gaza Strip the most dangerous to Israel” states Meir Meir, a military analyst for the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

“The main reason we did not go to a military operation in Gaza during the last round is the lack of a good end to the game,” Meir said. “They preferred to buy a temporary ceasefire with national funds.

Earlier this year, the military destroyed a “terror tunnel” that stretched nearly 1km into Israeli territory. The tunnel was targeted after dozens of mortars and projectiles were claimed to be fired at Israel from inside Gaza.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 14:22:27 GMT
Yemen's Houthi rebels head to Sweden for expected peace talks yemens houthi rebels head to sweden for expected peace talks

A delegation of Yemen's Houthi rebels left the capital Sana'a for Sweden on Tuesday, rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam says, where UN-brokered peace talks are expected to be held.

A source at Sana'a airport told dpa the delegation was accompanied by the United Nations' special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, on board a Kuwaiti plane.

Griffiths arrived in Sana'a on Monday in a bid to pave the way for peace talks, which come after nearly four years of war that have led to displacement, food insecurity, outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria across the country.

A previous attempt by Griffiths to hold UN-sponsored talks in Geneva collapsed in September when the rebels failed to appear.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 14:16:53 GMT
Russia beefing up armed forces amid US plans to quit INF russia beefing up armed forces amid us plans to quit inf

At a conference in Sochi, Russia’s brass has mulled over measures to beef up the army amid Washington’s plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday.

On November 19-22, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a series of meetings with the nation’s top brass and heads of the military industrial complex.

"The measures were considered to reinforce the (armed) forces’ combat capacity and means amid the mounting arms race related to the US plans to quit the INF Treaty," Shoigu said.

At the gathering, the sides noted that the new state armaments program up to 2027 allows the army and the navy to reequip at their necessary pace.

"The supreme commander-in-chief was informed about the process of building and developing the armed forces, their capacity to ensure the state’s military security and counter a technologically advanced enemy," Shoigu stated.

The sides also discussed the implementation of the state defense order and preliminary results for this year. "The focus was made on fulfilling design works and supplies of cutting-edge weapons, military and special equipment," the minister stressed.

In late October, US President Donald Trump said that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia had allegedly violated it. Washington has not yet sent its official notification to Moscow. White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said on October 31 that this notification would follow "in due course".

The INF deal was concluded on December 8, 1987, and took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). In recent years, Washington has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the treaty. Moscow strongly dismissed the accusations and voiced its own counterclaims against Washington’s non-compliance.

A new ‘Era’ of innovation
Shoigu noted that at the president’s meeting based at the Era military innovation technopolis in Anapa the parties discussed the manufacture and storing of missiles and munitions in state reserves and adapting the defense industry to the current economic climate.

Besides, the conference also focused on creating reserves of material and technical resources, organizing their safe storage and timely modernization, Shoigu noted.

The president inspected the facilities of the technopolis and emphasized the importance of work on introducing advanced and breakthrough technologies in the defense sector and also on training personnel working in science and innovation. The supreme commander-in-chief thanked everyone who took part in fulfilling this large-scale project and wished the technopolis’ personnel great success in their work, he said.

The main goal of the Era technopolis, which opened this September, is to ensure the research, development and introduction of breakthrough technologies in the defense sector. Key attention is centered on educational programs for young scientists in the Russian Army.



Tue, 04 Dec 2018 12:37:31 GMT
US Senators pen letter urging President Trump not to pull out of INF us senators pen letter urging president trump not to pull out of inf

A group of senators at the US Congress sent an open letter to US President Donald Trump urging against withdrawing the U.S. from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The relevant document was spread by the administration of Foreign Relations Committee of the upper chamber of the Congress.

"While we understand the challenges of getting Russia to reverse its violation of the INF Treaty, the Administration’s sudden decision to withdraw unilaterally is a political and geostrategic gift to Russia," Senators Bob Menendez, Jack Reed and Mark Warner wrote.

According to them, such a step in particular "feeds a narrative that the United States is willing to shred our commitments unilaterally without any strategic alternative."

"Additionally, it allows Russia to expand the production and deployment of its intermediate range missile system, the 9M729, which will further menace Europe," they said.

They are convinced that the President, his administration should engage with Congress "on the implications of this step for strategic stability and our relations with European and Asian allies [of the U.S.] before taking action to withdraw or suspend the fulfillment of its obligations under the INF.

On October 20, Trump said that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia had allegedly violated it.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called this decision "a dangerous step." Washington’s decision was also criticized in Berlin and Beijing. London supported the U.S. decision, while NATO blamed Trump’s decision on Russia.

The INF Treaty was concluded on December 8, 1987, and took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). In recent years, Washington has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the treaty. Moscow strongly dismissed the accusations and voiced its own claims concerning Washington’s non-compliance.


Tue, 04 Dec 2018 12:20:53 GMT
NATO Foreign Ministers to discuss INF Treaty, Kerch Strait incident on December 4 nato foreign ministers to discuss inf treaty kerch strait incident on december 4

This year’s last meeting at the level of foreign ministers of 29 NATO countries will be held in Brussels on Tuesday. The main issues on the agenda include the situation around the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) (U.S. has repeatedly accused Russia of violating it), the alliance's cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia in the context of the incident between the warships of Ukraine and Russia in the Kerch Strait.

An expanded meeting of the North Atlantic Council will be held involving the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Georgia. At that meeting the situation in the Black Sea region will be considered separately, but there will not be formal meetings of the NATO Cooperation Commissions with these countries. This format was chosen in connection with Hungary’s remaining veto on holding ministerial meetings of the Ukraine-NATO Commission in connection with Kiev’s oppression of Hungarian minorities.

INF Treaty
NATO Foreign Ministers intend to consider the situation around the INF strictly in line with the U.S. accusations against Russia. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made it clear at a press conference ahead of the meeting.

On October 20, Trump said that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia had allegedly violated it.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called this decision "a dangerous step." Washington’s decision was also criticized in Berlin and Beijing. London supported the U.S. decision, while NATO blamed Trump’s decision on Russia.

The INF Treaty was concluded on December 8, 1987, and took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). In recent years, Washington has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the treaty. Moscow strongly dismissed the accusations and voiced its own claims concerning Washington’s non-compliance.

Between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov
According to TASS, the ministers will issue a statement on the incident in the Kerch Strait, the main points of which will almost literally repeat the reaction of the NATO Secretary General to this event. The ministers will urge restraint, demand that the ships and their crews that violated the Russian border immediately return to Ukraine, as well as ensure freedom of navigation in the Sea of Azov.

On November 25, three Ukrainian navy ships illegally crossed Russia’s border and tried to carry out some illegal actions in Russian territorial waters later in the day. They ignored legitimate demands to stop issued by vessels belonging to the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet and continued maneuvering dangerously. In order to stop the Ukrainian ships, weapons had to be used. The three vessels were detained in Russian territorial waters. Three Ukrainian military servicemen suffered light wounds and were provided with medical assistance. A criminal investigation has been opened into the border incident.

Moscow branded Kiev's stunt in the Kerch Strait as a dangerous provocation, while the European Union and NATO called for a de-escalation of tensions.

On November 29, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko urged NATO to increase its military presence in the Black Sea after the Kerch Strait incident. In response to this, Kremlin said that the goal of such a statement is to provoke further tensions.

Georgia and Ukraine
It is not expected that the discussion of cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia will lead to any sensations or result in signing of new documents.

NATO will assist Georgia in developing its coast guard and naval forces in the Black Sea, the Alliance Secretary General said. He once again promised support for the reform process in Georgia and said that NATO’s doors remain open to Georgia.

As for Ukraine, he promised continuation of all-round intensive cooperation, noting that NATO provided assistance to the military academy in Odessa.

In April 2008, at a summit in Bucharest, the alliance’s leaders announced a political declaration of intent to "eventually admit" Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance.

Afghanistan and other topics
Other topics on the meeting’s agenda include the NATO mission in Afghanistan, cooperation with Libya, as well as the need to gradually increase the defense spending of the countries of the alliance (up to 2% of GDP).



Tue, 04 Dec 2018 12:14:57 GMT
Israel launches operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels israel launches operation to destroy hezbollah tunnels

Israel’s Defense Forces have launched Operation Northern Shield to expose and destroy tunnels, built by the tunnels Shiite militant group Hezbollah, crossing into Israel, IDF Spokesman Jonathan Conricus said on Tuesday.

The army has not called up reserves, but reinforced its forces in the north. The northern command is on full combat alert and is ready for various unexpected circumstances and scenarios, the spokesman said.

Although the tunnels cross into Israel, they are not yet operational and do not pose an imminent threat to Israeli civilians, Conricus said. He did not elaborate on the number of tunnels.

"It will take time to neutralize and expose all the tunnels," the spokesman said.

The army declared an area around Metula, in northern Israel, a closed military zone.


Tue, 04 Dec 2018 12:07:35 GMT
Maduro heading to Russia for ‘serious’ talks with Putin maduro heading to russia for ‘serious’ talks with putin

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said in a video message on Twitter on Monday that he is flying to Russia and expects to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold ‘serious’ talks.

Maduro is heading to Russia to "strengthen and expand diplomatic relations and friendly ties between the brotherly nations."

"Tomorrow I will have a very serious and important meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin," Maduro said.

Last month, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s vice president on economic development, Jesus Faria, said Maduro could visit Russia by the end of this year to discuss economic projects. He did not elaborate on the timeframe of the visit.

Maduro’s previous visit to Russia was held on October 4, 2017.


Tue, 04 Dec 2018 11:58:52 GMT
Russia slams ECHR for taking Kiev’s Kerch Strait suit without any official documentation russia slams echr for taking kiev’s kerch strait suit without any official documentation

Ukraine’s lawsuit over the Kerch Strait standoff accepted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) contains information from the media, and there are no official documents in it. This is why the Russian Ministry of Justice has raised its doubt over the initiated litigation, the ministry’s press service reported.

"The Russian Ministry of Justice expressed its concern to the ECHR over the fact that the European court had initiated proceedings in response to the motion substantiated mostly by reference to media reports and containing no official documents, which could be received by Ukraine from Russia through diplomatic channels and during intergovernmental cooperation, which is standard procedure in such cases," the ministry said.

The ECHR was informed that a response to its enquiry would be provided within a reasonable period of time, necessary for drawing up informative documents.

On November 25, three Ukrainian naval ships breached the current rules of passage from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. The intruding Ukrainian vessels illegally crossed the Russian state border, trespassed into Russian territorial waters and conducted dangerous maneuvers. In defiance of repeated warnings and demands to halt, the Ukrainian ships carried on violating the law, which drove the Russian forces to use gunfire in order to compel them to stop. As a result, all three ships were detained. In addition, three Ukrainians were injured in the incident, who were later given medical assistance. A criminal case was opened over the violation of the Russian state border.

On November 30, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) sent an inquiry to Russia saying it had to provide information on the detained Ukrainian sailors by December 3. It was sent in response to a request for interim measures as part of the Ukrainian government’s new lawsuit against Russia under Article 33 (on interstate judicial cases) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Kiev requested the ECHR draw the Russian government’s attention to the need to take measures in the interests of the 24 arrested Ukrainian Navy sailors.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 11:54:18 GMT
Shoukry in Kuwait to joint committee meeting shoukry in kuwait to joint committee meeting

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrived in Kuwait Monday on a two-day visit to lead Egypt's delegation to the 12th session of the Egyptian-Kuwaiti Committee between the two countries.

Shoukry was received at the airport by Egyptian ambassador to Kuwait Tareq Al Qoni and embassy staff along with officials of Kuwait's Foreign Ministry.

He is expected to attend, along with the Kuwaiti Foreign minister, the signing of a number of cooperation agreements and memos of understanding.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez had said the convocation of the Egyptian-Kuwaiti Committee comes as part of the two sides' keenness on developing their relations in the various fields to be up to the level of the sisterly relations binding the two countries.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 10:46:56 GMT
Egypt's defence minister meets French, Greek, Cypriot counterparts egypts defence minister meets french greek cypriot counterparts

Egypt's Defence and Military Production Minister Mohamed Zaki met with his French, Greek and Cypriot counterparts Florence Parly, Panos Kammenos and Savvas Angelides, respectively, on the sidelines of the Egypt Defence Expo (EDEX 2018) in Cairo.

Zaki discussed the latest regional and international developments as well as enhancing military cooperation with the three countries.

The ministers hailed the well-organised exhibition, which is considered one of the most important military events in the Middle East, stressing the depth of the historical ties between Egypt and the countries participating in the event.

Meanwhile, the Chief-of-Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces Mohamed Farid met with the chiefs-of-staff of the Jordanian, Greek, and Saudi armed forces during their visit to EDEX 2018.

The meetings were attended by a number of top brass and the military delegations accompanying the defence ministers and chiefs-of-staff. 

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 10:34:58 GMT
Switzerland denies flag to stranded Aquarius migrant rescue ship switzerland denies flag to stranded aquarius migrant rescue ship

 The migrant rescue ship Aquarius will not be allowed to sail under the Swiss flag until there is a common European migration policy, the government in Bern said Monday as it rejected a parliamentary proposal.

The Aquarius, run by the charities SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has been blocked in Marseille since early October.

It was removed from Panama's shipping register the same month, leaving it flagless and unable to sail at sea.

Four green, social democratic, conservative and liberal Swiss legislators had asked their government to grant the ship the Swiss flag, appealing to Switzerland's humanitarian tradition.

They said that the vessel has saved some 29,000 lives and is the last remaining non-governmental migrant rescue ship in the Mediterranean.

A parallel Swiss online petition has been signed by some 35,800 people.

The government countered Monday that "rescue operations in the Mediterranean require a coordinated and long-term approach" among European countries.

"Such a solution is not yet a reality," Bern said in its response, pointing to the reluctance of European coastal countries to let migrants ashore.

"In this context, isolated actions risk compromising rather than encouraging the necessary cooperation between states," the government concluded.

SOS Mediterranee and MSF have accused Italy of putting pressure on flag states to deny registration to the Aquarius.

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has banished migrant rescue boats from Italian ports, has denied the claim.

However, Rome has sought to impound the Aquarius on charges of illegal waste disposal.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 09:33:32 GMT
US urges the EU to impose sanctions against Iran us urges the eu to impose sanctions against iran

The United States has urged the European Union to impose sanctions on Iran for its missile programme.

The US special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, on Monday rejected Iran's assertion that its weapons programme is defensive in nature.

"How exactly is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism entitled to a claim of defense? In fact, Iran’s security concerns are entirely self-generated," Hook told reporters on a flight to Brussels, where US  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers Tuesday.

"We would like to see the European Union move sanctions that target Iran’s missile programme," Hook added.

Washington accuses Iran of having conducted a fresh rocket test that the US says contravenes UN resolution 2231.

The US has withdrawn from the 2015 multilateral deal with Iran meant to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was finalized in 2015 in Vienna by Iran and six world powers.

Iran has stuck with the deal, but the US has re-imposed sanctions against it.

Europe, China and Russia have criticized the US withdrawal from the agreement, to which they too are parties.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 09:19:38 GMT
May to open five-day parliamentary debate may to open fiveday parliamentary debate

Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May will open five days of debate on the deal she has agreed for Britain to withdraw from the European Union on Tuesday, as she faces widespread opposition ahead of a planned vote by lawmakers next week.

May is scheduled to speak at the start of the debate. She has promised parliament a "meaningful vote" on the agreement that EU leaders endorsed for Britain to leave the bloc after 40 years.

"Our duty as a parliament over these coming weeks is to examine this deal in detail, to debate it respectfully, to listen to our constituents and decide what is in our national interest," May told lawmakers earlier.

"We can back this deal... Or this house can choose to reject this deal and go back to square one," she said.

Most opposition lawmakers have dismissed May's public campaign to rally support for her deal, while many Conservative eurosceptics also oppose it.

Several dozen Conservatives have vowed to vote against the deal on December 11, while Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 lawmakers prop up May's minority government, also opposes it.

The DUP and many Conservative eurosceptics are angered by May's acceptance of a temporary backstop to guarantee an open Irish border after Brexit.

The backstop could place Northern Ireland under slightly different, indefinite arrangements from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 09:14:37 GMT
Duda defends coal use at UN climate conference duda defends coal use at un climate conference

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday defended his country's ongoing reliance on coal as a main source of electricity during the opening of a UN climate conference in Poland.

"Using your own natural resources - in Poland's case, coal - in order to be able to ensure energy security is not in opposition to climate protection and progress in climate protection," the president said.

Duda said Poland was following a path of "balanced development" in its climate protection action and that the country had continuously been reducing its greenhouse gas emissions over the past 30 years as long as the economy continued to grow.

For two weeks, representatives from just under 200 states are in Poland to focus on fleshing out the rules for financing and implementation of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The pact provides an outline for countries working together to limit the Earth's warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

Most efforts to prevent the planet heating up relate to stopping the release of greenhouse gases as soon as possible.

Duda said at the opening of the climate conference that Poland, as host, was prepared to contribute to the fight against climate change.

However, 80 per cent of Poland's electricity is still powered by coal, and the current Polish government has not given any indication that it plans to change this.

Greenpeace activists criticized the choice of Poland as conference host, arguing that the country could not serve as a good role model.

The environmental group demanded that Poland implement the "Just Transition" declaration signed on the first day of the conference as soon as possible. The declaration pushes for a fair transition from fossil fuels to a sustainable and low-emissions economy.

Though Warsaw says it supports the move away from coal, it still backs the coal industry at the same time, say the environmentalists.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 09:02:27 GMT
Solemn ceremony begins days of mourning for former US president Bush solemn ceremony begins days of mourning for former us president bush

Members of Congress and the Trump administration gathered near the flag-draped casket of George HW Bush in the centre of the US Capitol rotunda on Tuesday, joining the family and former members of the 41st US president's cabinet to recall his decency and lifetime of service.

Bush, who died Friday at age 94, was remembered for his kindness, his steady hand in leading the country at the end of the Cold War, his military service during World War II and his roles as US ambassador to the United Nations and head of the CIA.

"There was a kindness about the man that was evident to everyone who ever met him," Vice President Mike Pence said. Pence added that the Texan's years in public service were marked by modesty, noting he never penned an autobiography.

Bush opted instead to leave a written record in letters to loved-ones, especially his wife Barbara, who died in April, other politicians and just about anyone who took the time to write to him, Pence said.

Pence said that earlier this year after his son, a Marine aviator, made his first landing on the aircraft carrier named after Bush, he wrote to ask the former president to sign a photo of the ship. Pence said he was not surprised when Bush responded not only by signing the photo, but with a personal letter to his son.

"Though we have not met, I share the pride your father has for you during this momentous occasion," Bush wrote. "Wish you many CAVU days ahead."

Pence explained that CAVU stands for 'ceiling and visibility unlimited,' a term since Bush himself was a navy aviator to describe the kind of weather pilots wish for when they fly off aircraft carriers.

"That may well describe the essence of this man, and it may well be the vision that he had for his life and the lives of his family and his country - no barriers, no boundaries, no limits," Pence said.

"His example will always inspire and his lifetime of service will be enshrined in the hearts of the American people forever."

Pence expressed condolences on behalf of the Trump administration to the Bush family members present, including George W Bush, the 43rd US president, his brother Jeb Bush, a presidential candidate in 2016, and their siblings.

Trump, who sparred verbally with Jeb Bush during the campaign, did not attend the ceremony, which concluded with congressional leaders placing wreaths around the casket and beginning a procession of mourners.

Trump and his wife Melania paid their respects later on Monday.

The president and first lady entered the rotunda at 8:30 pm (0130 GMT).

Trump wore a dark overcoat over a suit, while Melania was dressed in a black outfit topped with a black coat.

They stood side by side for a minute in front of the casket, before Trump saluted the coffin. At the same time, Melania placed her hand on her heart.

Neither of them spoke. They left about two minutes after having entered the rotunda.

The day's events, which began earlier Monday at Bush's home in Houston, Texas, began a four-day period of mourning for the former US president, whose state funeral will be held Wednesday.

Bush's body arrived in Washington on a 747 jet that had been temporarily recommissioned "Special Air Mission 41" for the flight. His service dog Sully, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, accompanied the casket and dozens of mourners.

The state funeral, which Trump along with several former presidents and high-ranking politicians are expected to attend, is scheduled to take place at Washington National Cathedral.

Bush's body will be flown back to Texas on Thursday for burial alongside his wife.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 08:54:35 GMT
Poroshenko submits bill on breaking Friendship Treaty with Russia poroshenko submits bill on breaking friendship treaty with russia

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has submitted to the parliament a bill terminating the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership with Russia, the parliament’s website said, adding that the bill was described as urgent.

According to the bill, the Treaty is supposed to be terminated on April 1, 2019. An explanatory note says that the move "will release Ukraine from obligations to implement the document but will not affect the country’s rights, obligations and legal status stemming from the implementation of the Treaty before its termination."

On September 17, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko signed a decree enforcing the Ukrainian Security Service’s decision to terminate the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership with Russia. The Ukrainian cabinet later ordered the Foreign Ministry to inform Russia and international organizations about Kiev’s wish to terminate the Treaty on Friendship with Moscow before September 27. The Ukrainian government also instructed the Foreign Ministry, the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Economic Development to ensure that "the cabinet submits a bill terminating the Treaty to the president" before October 22.

Under the Ukrainian law, the document must now be approved by the parliament.

Treaty on Friendship
Russia and Ukraine signed the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership in May 1997. The document, which entered into force in April 1999 for a term of ten years, could be automatically extended for ten-year periods provided the parties did not object. The document enshrines strategic partnership between the two countries and mutual obligations not to use one’s territory to harm the other’s security, as well as recognizes the inviolability of existing borders.

In October 2018, the period expired for the parties to announce their plans either to extend the treaty for another ten-year term or denounce the document.


Mon, 03 Dec 2018 14:57:10 GMT
Flow of Russians coming to Ukraine halves flow of russians coming to ukraine halves

The flow of Russian citizens coming to Ukraine has reduced two times, Speaker of the Ukrainian State Border Service Andrei Demchenko said on Monday.

"The flow of Russians coming to Ukraine has reduced two times in the weekend," the TV channel 112.Ukraina quoted him as saying. Demchenko specified that up to 3,000 people daily entered Ukraine before. More than 50 Russian citizens were not permitted to enter Ukraine during the past day, as they "failed to confirm the goal of their trip," he added.

Demchenko stated that Russia did not permit entry to the country for 150 Ukrainians. He affirmed that they were "banned entry groundlessly, without explaining the reasons."

The problems with entry to Ukraine for Russians started on November 26, when martial law was imposed for 30 days in 10 regions of the country - Vinnitsa, Lugansk, Nikolayev, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov, Kherson, Zaporozhye and Donetsk Regions - and the domestic waters of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch water area. It followed the November 25 incident in the Kerch Strait, when three Ukrainian naval ships breached the Russian state border in the Kerch Strait. The Ukrainian ships did not respond to the legitimate demands coming from the vessels of the Border Service of the Russian Security Service (FSB) and the Black Sea Fleet that had pursued them in order to stop them immediately and thwart their dangerous maneuvers.

Because of their blatant refusal to submit to the order, gunfire had to be used to stop the intruding Ukrainian ships. Three Ukrainian servicemen were lightly injured and later received medical treatment. In addition, the ships were detained. A criminal case was launched into the breach of the Russian state border, and the Ukrainian sailors were arrested.

The Ukrainian border guards were activated, and head of the Ukrainian State Border Service Pyotr Tsigikal stated that Russian male citizens aged 16 to 60 are not permitted to the country due to the introduction of the martial law. Conversations are held with Russians on the border, except for those who have a diplomatic status, work as service staff members at transport facilities, those who have documents about the permanent and temporary residence in Ukraine and Russians who make humanitarian trips. President Pyotr Poroshenko ordered to tighten requirements for the registration of Russian citizens in Ukraine, especially in the regions with martial law.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 14:49:40 GMT
Ukrainian president submits bill on local elections under martial law to parliament ukrainian president submits bill on local elections under martial law to parliament

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has submitted to the parliament a bill amending the law "On endorsing the presidential decree on the declaration of martial law in Ukraine," which will make it possible to hold elections in the country’s regions where martial law has been introduced, Presidential Envoy to the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) Irina Lutsenko said at a meeting of the Rada’s conciliation board.

"The president has submitted a bill to the Rada, which will make it possible to hold elections in the united territorial communities, where a special legal regime has been introduced," Lutshenko said.

Rada Speaker Andrei Paruby said at the meeting that elections could be threatened in almost 40 newly-created united territorial communities following the declaration of martial law as no elections, including local ones, could be conducted under martial law.

"It was agreed during consultations that today, the Ukrainian president would submit a relevant bill, which would tackle this legal issue," Paruby said, adding that he expected the bill to be passed later in the week.

Martial law declaration
On November 26, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) approved President Pyotr Poroshenko’s decree declaring a 30-say martial law in the Vinnitsa, Lugansk, Nikolayevsk, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, as well as in Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Sea of Azov.

An incident in the Kerch Strait was used as an excuse for the move. On November 25, three Ukrainian navy ships illegally crossed Russia’s border and tried to carry out some illegal actions in Russian territorial waters on Sunday night. They ignored legitimate demands to stop issued by vessels belonging to the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet and continued maneuvering dangerously. In order to stop the Ukrainian ships, weapons had to be used. The three vessels were detained in Russian territorial waters. Three Ukrainian military servicemen suffered light wounds and were provided with medical assistance. A criminal investigation has been opened into the border incident. The 24 Ukrainian crew members have been arrested for two months for violating the Russian state border. If found guilty, they may face up to six years in prison.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 13:50:14 GMT
Ukrainian military servicemen detained in Black Sea charged with violating Russian border ukrainian military servicemen detained in black sea charged with violating russian border

The Ukrainian military servicemen and Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) officers detained in the Kerch Strait have been charged with violating Russia’s border, Nikolai Polozov, the lawyer of one of the detained Ukrainians, told TASS.

"Charges were brought right after their arrest. All of them are charged with violating the Russian border under Article 322.3 of the Russian Criminal Code," the lawyer said.

According to Polozov, he hasn’t met with his client Denis Gritsenko since the latter was arrested.

"I haven’t met with my client yet, I don’t know whether any documents have been sent to Moscow and who is conducting the investigation," the lawyer added.


Mon, 03 Dec 2018 13:44:25 GMT
Government forces eliminate IS militants in southern Syria government forces eliminate is militants in southern syria

Syrian troops have wiped out more than 270 militants of the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia) during the offensive in As-Suwayda Governorate since the middle of November, Oleg Makarevich, a spokesman for the command of the Russian task force in Syria, told reporters.

On November 19, the Syrian armed forces said the entire Al-Safa Canyon area located less than 100 kilometers from Damascus had been liberated from terrorists in As-Suwayda. An area of 380 square kilometers was liberated, while IS leader in southern Syria, Abu Hajar al-Shishani, was eliminated during the operation, according to the SANA news agency. The Syrian military thus eliminated the last militant stronghold in the south of that country.

"During the operation, over 270 militants were killed, large amounts of weapons, ammunition, shells, foreign-made landmines, including 12 TOW anti-tank guided missiles, were seized," Makarevich noted.

He stressed that most of the militants had arrived in As-Suwayda from the al-Tanf area controlled by the US-led coalition.

"The terrorists had been there for a long time, flocking to the area for several months. Among them were militants who were able to leave Yarmouk and Damascus in advance and also arrived from al-Tanf. Another difficulty was that tanks and heavy artillery have very limited maneuverability there, while the militants had many grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles and 82mm mortars," he added.


Mon, 03 Dec 2018 13:39:02 GMT
Putin, Trump did not discuss Russian leader’s visit to Washington, says Kremlin putin trump did not discuss russian leader’s visit to washington says kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump did not discuss a possible visit of the Russian leader to Washington during their brief contact in Buenos Aires on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.

"No, this [possibility of this visit] was not discussed," Peskov said.

After the G20 summit in Argentina’s capital on November 30-December 1, Putin told reporters that he had a brief conversation with Trump ‘on the go." Putin said he briefly answered Trump’s questions on the Black Sea incident [the provocation of Ukraine’s warships in the Kerch Strait]. Speaking on the prospects of a full-fledged contact with his US counterpart, Putin said he hoped this meeting took place as soon as the US side was ready for that.

On November 25, three warships of the Ukrainian Navy violated the rules of passage through Russia's territorial waters while en route from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea. The Russian side had to use weapons to compel the ships to stop. Three Ukrainian servicemen were lightly wounded. They received medical assistance. The ships were detained and escorted to the port of Kerch. A criminal case was launched on border violation charges.

Moscow described the incident as a provocation. The Ukrainian authorities declared martial law. The EU and NATO called for de-escalation of the situation.


Mon, 03 Dec 2018 13:19:21 GMT
Kremlin explains Putin’s ‘hearty handshake’ with Saudi Arabia's prince kremlin explains putin’s ‘hearty handshake’ with saudi arabias prince

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud shared a hearty handshake at the G20 summit in Argentina because they have good personal relations, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"These are good personal relations," Peskov said commenting on the exuberant handshake before the summit’s plenary session, which came under the spotlight. Putin and Prince Salman shook hands as good friends, in a much more informal way than it usually happens at world leaders’ meetings.

According to the Kremlin, these good relations are a ground for "rather effective and mutually beneficial cooperation."Putin earlier greeted other leaders in the same way, Peskov said, declining to give further details.

Moscow highlights that Saudi Arabia is ready to take part in an investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing after visiting the consulate general of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi Arabia later announced that the journalist had been killed in a fight in the diplomatic mission. The international community has strongly condemned the murder and urged Riyadh to carry out a transparent investigation.

"We seek to continue fostering bilateral Russian-Saudi relations," Peskov noted. "President Putin and the Crown Prince held a rather fruitful and substantive discussion on the sidelines of the summit." He recalled that at the talks the sides discussed cooperation in the framework of OPEC plus.


Mon, 03 Dec 2018 13:02:35 GMT
Russia expects UN conference to adopt clear rules to implement Paris Agreement russia expects un conference to adopt clear rules to implement paris agreement

Russia expects that the UN Climate Change Conference in Poland’s Katowice will adopt clear rules to implement the Paris Agreement, the head of the Russian delegation, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dmitry Kobylkin said in an interview with TASS.

"We expect that a final set of rules to implement the Paris Agreement will be adopted. This is the most important thing for us. There must be clear, comprehensible rules that would not permit interpretations," he said.

When speaking about possible difficulties, the Russian environment minister pointed out that many developing countries still insisted all states be divided into developed and developing as far as obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was concerned. "Our goal is to prevent disputes between developing and developed countries over rules to implement the Paris Agreement," Kobylkin pointed out. "If a dispute begins, then what was signed in Paris will never be implemented, while the issue under discussion is very important and cannot but cause concern to Russia," he added.

The UN Climate Change Conference, which involves about 30,000 participants from nearly 200 countries, is taking place in the Polish city of Katowice on December 2-14. It includes the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), the 14th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 14) and the Conference of Signatories to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1). The main objective of the conference is to develop a roadmap for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Climate Agreement, signed on December 12, 2015, sets a goal of keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial average.


Mon, 03 Dec 2018 12:55:40 GMT
Pope Francis lights candle for peace in Syria pope francis lights candle for peace in syria

Vatican Pope Francis expressed hope that peace will be realized for children, particularly in Syria.

lighting a candle for aid and solidarity with the people of Syria during his Sunday Angelus prayer on the first Sunday of the Advent season leading up to Christmas, Pope Francis said that “Advent is a time of hope… At this time, I would like to make my own the hope of peace of the children of Syria.”

Lifting the candle to the window, Francis prayed “May these flames of hope dispel the darkness of war.”

Pope Francis called on people of goodwill all over the world to respond to this cry of peace from the children of Syria, among other things by lighting a candle … in order to spread this message of peace from the children of Syria and send a message of hope during the season of Advent.”

A candle decorated with the faces of Syrian children suffering from war was placed next to Pope Francis during the Angelus noon prayer which he delivered from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

The candle lighted by the Pope was decorated by craftsman from the Old City of Damascus, and it also bears the photos of some 40 Syrian children most of them from Aleppo.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 12:48:05 GMT
IOF demolish facilities, loot money in the Jordan Valley iof demolish facilities loot money in the jordan valley

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Monday demolished residential buildings and sheds, and looted sums of money from Bedouin Palestinian citizens in the northern Jordan Valley.

According to an expert on settlements and Israeli violations, Aref Daraghmeh, IOF demolished military structures and sheds in Al-Fasayel village in Al-Aghwar, owned by a number of Bedouin families living there.

Daraghmeh added that IOF also stormed a number of houses yesterday evening, and looted one of them a financial amount of 50 thousand shekels.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 11:47:26 GMT
Prince Mohammed bin Salman Arrives in Algeria prince mohammed bin salman arrives in algeria

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Defense, arrived here today.

At the Airport, HRH the Crown Prince was received by Algeria's Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and a number of Algerian ministers.

Official reception ceremony was held for HRH the Crown Prince and Saudi and Algerian national anthems were played.

Following a short rest at the airport, the Algerian Prime Minister accompanied HRH the Crown Prince in an official motorcade to his residence.
The official delegation of HRH the Crown Prince included a number of princes and senior officials.


Mon, 03 Dec 2018 10:58:10 GMT
Ahmed Al-Jubeir Meets Mauritanian Counterpart ahmed aljubeir meets mauritanian counterpart

On the sidelines of the official visit of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Defense, to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir met today in Nouakchott Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

During the meeting, they reviewed issues of mutual interest and ways of developing bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
The meeting was attended by Minister of the State for African Affairs Ahmad bin Abdulaziz Qattan.


Mon, 03 Dec 2018 10:52:28 GMT
Abbas arrives in Rome to counteract Israeli policy abbas arrives in rome to counteract israeli policy

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Rome on Sunday to begin political talks with Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte, President Sergio Mattarella and Pope Francis.

According to AnsaMed Website, Nabil Shaath Foreign Policy Adviser to Abbas said that this visit is part of efforts to counteract the actions taken by Israel and the United States against the Palestinian cause.

Shaath added that Abbas wants to update the administration on the “expansion of Israeli colonisation in Palestinian territories” and on Trump administration’s regional policy.

This comes as Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini is set to make an official visit to Israel in mid-December, the Haaretz reported. Salvini’s right-wing and anti-immigration party is in a coalition government with the populist Five Star party. To his part, Netanyahu welcomed support from right-wing parties and policies which display pro-Israel positions despite holding bigoted and racist views to a particular section of society.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 10:42:15 GMT
MI6 head to warn Russia not to 'underestimate' Britain's capabilities mi6 head to warn russia not to underestimate britains capabilities

The chief of Britain's intelligence service MI6 will directly challenge Russia in a speech Monday outlining the emerging threats facing his country, the Press Association reported.

In his second public address since becoming the head of MI6 four years ago, Alex Younger will warn Russia "or any other state intent on subverting our way of life not to underestimate our determination and our capabilities or those of our allies," PA said.

The boss of MI6, known formally as the Secret Intelligence Service, will warn of "adversaries who regard themselves as being in a state of perpetual confrontation" with Britain.

The 55-year-old is also expected to describe how his agency played a central role in exposing the alleged perpetrators of the Salisbury nerve agent attack and the subsequent expulsion of Russian diplomats.

Younger will tell students at Edinburgh's St Andrews University, where he studied, that Britain is "well equipped" to counter adversaries taking advantage of the "blurred lines" between the cyber and physical worlds.

"The era of the fourth industrial revolution calls for a fourth generation of espionage: fusing our traditional human skills with accelerated innovation, new partnerships and a mindset that mobilizes diversity and empowers the young," Younger is expected to say.

The speech will focus on strengthening security ties in Europe ahead of Brexit, with Younger to highlight how cooperation among intelligence services has disrupted "multiple" planned attacks by the so-called Islamic State terror group.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 09:24:10 GMT
Stefan Lofven gets more time for government bid stefan lofven gets more time for government bid

Stefan Lofven, the leader of the Social Democrats, has been granted more time in his effort to form a new Swedish government, the speaker of parliament announced late Sunday.

Speaker Andreas Norlen had been due Monday to formally propose Lofven as prime minister. A confidence vote would have followed a few days later.

However, Lofven requested more time and the nomination was pushed back to Wednesday, the speaker's office said.

In order to be accepted as prime minister, Lofven must avoid that a majority in parliament - at least 175 legislators - votes against him.

Lofven heads a caretaker government comprising the Social Democrats and the Greens, after he lost a mandatory confidence vote held late September.

The offer to form the next government returned to Lofven after parliament in November rejected a bid by conservative leader Ulf Kristersson. He wanted to form a minority government comprising his conservative Moderate Party and the Christian Democrats.

Kristersson's long-time allies - the Liberals and Centre Party -   declined to be part of his prospective government, and voted against him. They said it would be too reliant on the populist, right-wing Sweden Democrats, who have the swing vote.

At the weekend, Lofven met with his party leadership to discuss demands from the Centre Party and Liberals. They have offered not to block Lofven, in return for concessions on employment rules and tax cuts.

Sweden's general elections on September 9 resulted in a political stalemate between the two main political alliances, led by the Social Democrats and Kristersson's conservatives. Neither bloc has a majority in the 349-seat legislature, complicating the formation of a new government.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 09:18:23 GMT
Israeli forces arrest 24 Palestinians in West Bank israeli forces arrest 24 palestinians in west bank

Israeli occupation forces early Monday detained 24 Palestinians in various West Bank cities, according to a Palestinian source.

A statement by the Palestinian Prisoners Society said that Israeli army stormed the cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilya and Jenin and arrested the 24 citizens.

The Israeli army launches arrest campaigns on a daily basis against dozens of Palestinians in various cities and villages of the West Bank under unjustified various pretexts.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 08:51:05 GMT
Saudi crown prince visits Mauritania, Algeria as part of regional tour saudi crown prince visits mauritania algeria as part of regional tour

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Sunday arrived in Mauritania for a short visit as part of a regional trip that will also take him to Algeria.

He flew into allied Mauritania from Argentina, where he had attended the Group of 20 annual summit.

Live footage showed Mauritanian President Mohammed Ouled Abdel Aziz welcoming the Saudi royal when he landed at the airport in the capital Nouakchott.

The visit, running for hours, is the first by such a senior Saudi leader to the north-west African country in nearly four decades, Saudi-owned television Al Arabiya said.

Saudi Arabia is the main financial backer of Mauritania, which has supported the oil-rich kingdom amid the global row over the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and a vocal critic of Mohammed, was killed inside Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul last month. Saudi officials have repeatedly denied reports that the crown prince is linked to the murder.

Mauritania’s major opposition grouping, the National Forum for Democracy and Unity, criticized Prince Mohammed’s visit to the country.

“His visit is unwelcome because of his stances that have harmed Arab and Muslim interests, and glaring violations of human rights and freedom of expression,” the forum said in a statement.

Prince Mohammed is expected later Sunday to travel on to Algeria.

The official two-day visit is aimed at boosting cooperation between both countries and "expanding economic partnership," Algeria's state news agency APS reported, citing a presidential statement.

The visit will "be a chance for exchanging views on Arab and international political and economic issues of mutual interest, mainly the Palestinian problem and developments at the oil market," the statement said.

Prince Mohammed will lead a high-level delegation from the Saudi government and businessmen during the Algeria visit, according to APS.

Algeria and Saudi Arabia are both members of OPEC, a global oil cartel.

Prior to the G20 summit, Mohammed had visited the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia as part of his first regional trip since Khashoggi's murder.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 16:38:32 GMT
Israeli police recommend indictment against PM Netanyahu israeli police recommend indictment against pm netanyahu

Israeli police have recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on counts of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in one of three investigations against him.

Evidence was also found against Netanyahu's wife Sara, police said in a statement released early Sunday.

Netanyahu rejected the allegations and expressed confidence that the authorities would reach the conclusion that "there is nothing," a line he has often repeated in relation to the investigations against him.

The recommendations have "no legal standing," he added.

Police had already recommended that Netanyahu be charged with corruption in two other cases. The decision to bring charges against him will be taken by the attorney general.

The latest indictment recommendation was made in reference to Case 4000, a telecom corruption investigation that centres on deals over alleged regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars provided to the Bezeq telecom company in exchange for positive news coverage of Netanyahu in Walla News, a subsidiary of Bezeq.

Shaul Elovitch, the owner of Walla News and controlling shareholder and former chairman of Bezeq, is suspected of having coordinated the coverage. The police said they have substantial evidence to recommend an indictment against Elovitch.

The investigation has ensnared Netanyahu's former media adviser Nir Hefetz and former director general of the Communications Ministry Shlomo Filber. Both Hefetz and Filber have signed state's witness agreements and provided evidence to police in the probe.

The police investigation found that Netanyahu advanced Elovitch's interests in return for positive reporting on the Walla News website.

The police gathered evidence indicating that "between 2012 and 2017, the prime minister and his associates blatantly and continuously, sometimes even on a daily basis, interfered with content published on the Walla News website."

They also allegedly sought to influence the appointment of senior editors and reporters for the news outlet via their relationships with Elovitch and his wife Iris.

Police found sufficient evidence against Sara Netanyahu to recommend charges of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and the disruption of investigative and judicial proceedings.

They also recommended indictments against Elovitch, his wife Iris, his son Or and three other suspects.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 16:33:26 GMT
Villages evacuated as northern Australia fires flare in extreme heat villages evacuated as northern australia fires flare in extreme heat

Residents of two rural villages in fire-struck north-eastern Australia were advised to evacuate Sunday as temperatures soared to 40 degrees Celsius and winds reached 50 kilometres per hour on the seventh day of bushfires in the region.

Around 115 bushfires are raging in an area the size of Belgium in central and northern Queensland, with several farm buildings burnt down.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services advised residents to evacuate the villages of Winfield and Lowmead, 420 kilometres north of the state capital Brisbane, as bushfires were about to cut the roads.

More than 160 firefighting crews are battling the blazes which started a week ago in remote areas as temperatures hit 10 degrees above normal after a long drought, turning the tropical north of Australia into a tinderbox.

A 21-year-old man was killed by a falling tree as he tried to create a firebreak on Saturday.

Bushfires have also broken out on North Stradbroke Island, a popular holiday sport for people in Brisbane just 94 kilometres away.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 16:27:13 GMT
Bahrain elections end, officials say ready for next e-voting bahrain elections end officials say ready for next evoting

Bahrain has successfully conducted "free and fair" elections, Justice, Islamic, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa said on Saturday.

"We are capable and ready of starting (e-voting) in the next elections," said Khalifa in a press conference as polling stations across Bahrain closed on Saturday.

The second round of polls of the 2018 elections were held on Saturday for eligible Bahraini people to elect 31 lawmakers and 23 municipal councilors who will join their peers elected in the first round on Nov. 24.

A candidate must secure more than 50 percent of the votes in a constituency to be declared the outright winner.

"No violations were reported inside polling stations and it's safe to say that the Bahrain elections were free and fair," said National Institute for Human Rights Secretary General Khalifa Al Fadhel in a statement.

Five societies and 231 observers monitored the 2018 polls in which there were a total of 365,467 eligible voters.

During the first round of polls on Nov. 24, officials reported a 67-percent turnout. The first round saw a clear victory for nine parliament candidates out of the 40, two of them women.

This is Bahrain's fifth parliament and municipal council elections, which are held every four years.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 16:21:38 GMT
Israel settlers slash tyres, spray racist graffiti in Kafr Qassem village israel settlers slash tyres spray racist graffiti in kafr qassem village

Israeli ultra-Orthodox settlers early Sunday spray-painted racist anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian graffiti on Palestinian walls and slashed tyres of thirty Palestinian-owned cars in the town of Kafr Qassem, according to the Hebrew Maariv Newspaper.

It said that settlers also wrote racist graffiti on one of the vehicles, calling for the killing and expulsion of Arabs.

"Israeli police arrived at the scene to investigate the incident, but no one of the settlers was arrested," the newspaper added.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 16:14:10 GMT
Israeli court orders release of Jerusalem governor israeli court orders release of jerusalem governor

An Israeli court in occupied Jerusalem ordered on Sunday the release on bail of the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Governor, Adnan Gheith, along with nine other members of the Fatah faction in the city after a week-long detention.

Lawyer of the Commission of Detainees and ex-detainees affairs, Muhammad Mahmoud, said that the Israeli court released Ghaith and the other activists under the condition that they do not enter the West Bank for two weeks and pay a monetary guarantee.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 16:08:35 GMT
206 civilians killed by airstrikes in eastern Syria in November 206 civilians killed by airstrikes in eastern syria in november

At least 206 civilians were killed in November this year by U.S.-led airstrikes on areas controlled by the Islamic State (IS) in eastern Syria, a war monitor reported Saturday.

As many as 77 children and 57 women were among those killed by the strikes on the last IS-held pocket in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The U.S.-led coalition has intensified its airstrikes in recent weeks in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is pushing to dislodge IS from its last stronghold on the eastern bank of Euphrates River.

The SDF has been trying to defeat IS in that part of the country near the Iraqi border since Sept. 10.

However, the IS counter-offensives and suicide bombing have rendered all efforts flat as the SDF are preparing for another round of battles against IS in eastern Deir al-Zour.

The U.S.-backed SDF has also been trying to achieve progress on the political level.

A day earlier, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), which is the political wing of the SDF, concluded a conference in the city of Ayn Issa in northern Syria with the participation of opposition figures.

The conference ended with a final statement that stressed the political solution is the right approach that guarantees the participation of all Syrians in the political process.

The statement also noted that the formation of the constitutional committee shouldn't exclude any side, in an apparent desire by the Kurdish forces to be represented in the constitutional committee that is being discussed currently.

The conference also underlined the importance of a broad dialogue that would gather opposition and government representatives.

The Kurdish forces have been enjoying a sort of autonomy in northeastern Syria since the early time of the Syrian war.

The Syrian government has stressed that all Syrian areas should return under its control in reference to the Kurdish-controlled areas among others.

The SDC has already held discussions with government representatives and both sides agreed to form negotiation committees to continue the dialogues.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 16:04:11 GMT
European countries heard Russia’s stance on Kerch Strait incident european countries heard russia’s stance on kerch strait incident

Germany and France heard Russia’s position on Kiev’s provocation in the Kerch Strait at talks with Vladimir Putin in Buenos Aires, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the program "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin" on Rossiya 1 TV channel on Sunday.

"I think they could not but hear it [Russia’s stance] because Russian President Vladimir Putin at the meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally showed in hand-waving terms how all this happened, how this provocation was plotted and how they tried to carry it out and how responsibly our border guards fulfilled their duty, attempting to avoid any undesirable incidents," Lavrov said.

Lavrov noted that unfortunately provocateurs of the Ukrainian Security Service "did everything to fulfill an order, the text of which was found when our border guards boarded these gunboats." "It clearly said: to secretly enter the neutral waters without any pilots and notifications and break under the Crimean Bridge through the Kerch Strait to Azov," he said.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin personally told his interlocutors about this," Lavrov said. "I haven’t heard from them any reaction, which is based on other facts."

On November 25, three warships of the Ukrainian Navy violated the rules of passage through Russia's territorial waters while en route from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea. The Russian side had to use weapons to compel the ships to stop. Three Ukrainian servicemen were lightly wounded. They received medical assistance. The ships were detained and escorted to the port of Kerch. A criminal case was launched on border violation charges.

Moscow described the incident as a provocation. The Ukrainian authorities declared martial law. The EU and NATO called for de-escalation of the situation.


Sun, 02 Dec 2018 15:53:49 GMT
G20 summit managed to yield important and useful decisions, says Russian top diplomat g20 summit managed to yield important and useful decisions says russian top diplomat

The Group of Twenty summit in Buenos Aires has managed to yield serious and useful decisions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Sunday.

"The Group of Twenty has taken rather useful decisions. We outlined our position on the digital economy, on the need to begin to adapt employment, labor and education markets to it. We laid bare our views on the situation in the area of food security. As the biggest grain producer, Russia’s in these spheres in growing," he said in an interview with the Moscow. Kremlin. Putin program on the Rossiya-1 television channel.

According to the Russian top diplomat, special attention was focused on the problem of migration and refugees. "We repelled attempt to impose on the Group of Twenty and the entire world community a concept of ‘equal responsibility’ of all states for refugees who rush to these or those countries trying to find a better life there. We stressed to our colleagues that the cause of the current unprecedented migration wave in Europe and other countries is the irresponsible policy of brutal force interference into domestic affairs of sovereign states, first of all in the Middle East and North Africa," he stressed.

"The most serious factor, obviously, was the aggression against Libya, which ruined that country turning it into a black hole for illegal weapons and drugs trafficking to southern Africa. And flows of refugees who are now a serious problem in the European Union streamed to Europe via Libya," Lavrov noted.

Apart from that, in his words, Russia tried to draw attention of other nations to the problem of terrorism and the phenomenon of foreign terrorists in particular. "They find paid work in Libya, Syria, Iraq and other countries, including in Sub-Saharan Africa and then they return to their native countries or in any third countries. It is very important to track movements of these dangerous people," he said, adding that a database of such foreign terrorists and militants was established several years ago at Russia’s initiative. Forty-two security services from 35 states, including the BRICS nations, Turkey and South Korea, as well as international counter-terrorist structures, take part in maintaining this database.

The Group of Twenty summit yielded a joint declaration on Saturday. It was not clear till the very end of the summit whether a final declaration would be ultimately passed.

The Group of Twenty nations agreed that the system of international trade and the World Trade Organization need to be improved. Possible reforms will be in focus of the next such summit in Japan in 2019.

The joint declaration reflected a gap in the positions of the United States and other member nations on climate change. The United States reiterated its plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, while the rest of the G20 nations confirmed their commitment to the development of clean energy.

The Group of Twenty also approved an anti-corruption plan of action for the next three years. Apart from that, the G20 leaders called for measures to prevent the use of the internet in terrorism purposes and stressed the importance of joint actions to address the causes why people have to flee their countries.


Sun, 02 Dec 2018 15:45:19 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel russian president vladimir putin and german chancellor angela merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin have discussed the situation in Syria, the Kerch Strait incident and the situation in the Sea of Azov on the sidelines of the G20 summit, German Government Spokesperson Steffen Seibert informed on Twitter on Saturday.

The German chancellor and the Russian leader had a working breakfast. "The focus was on the situation in Syria, as well as the situation that arose between Russia and Ukraine in the Kerch Strait and in the Sea of Azov," Seibert noted.

The German government spokesperson also posted a photograph of Merkel and Putin shaking hands before the beginning of the meeting.

Kerch Strait incident
On November 27, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, endorsed President Pyotr Poroshenko’s decree on imposing a 30-day martial law from November 28 in the Vinnitsa, Lugansk, Nikolayevsk, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, as well as Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Sea of Azov. Initially, Poroshenko sought to impose martial law for 60 days, but this put into question holding the March presidential election and sparked a public outcry.

The pretext for the decision to declare martial law was an incident in the Kerch Strait on November 25, when three Ukrainian warships, en route from Odessa to Mariupol, illegally crossed Russia’s state border, entered Russia’s territorial waters and started performing dangerous maneuvers.

Despite the repeated warnings and demands to stop, the Ukrainian vessels continued their way, forcing Russia to use weapons. All three Ukrainian ships were detained in the Black Sea. Three Ukrainian servicemen were wounded and received medical assistance. Their lives are currently not under threat. A criminal case has been launched over the violation of Russia’s state border. Moscow slammed the incident as a provocation.


Sun, 02 Dec 2018 13:43:59 GMT
Numerous ceasefire violations by militants reported in two Syrian governorates numerous ceasefire violations by militants reported in two syrian governorates

Numerous ceasefire violations by militants operating in the Idlib de-escalation zone were reported in Syria’s Latakia and Hama governorates over the past day, chief of the Russian Center for reconciliation of conflicting sides Sergei Solomatin said on Friday.

"Ceasefire violations by illegal armed groups operating in the Idlib de-escalation zone continue. Thus, during the day shelling attacks were reported in the settlement of Beit Ziwan in the Latakia governorate and northwestern suburbs of the settlement of Suran in the Hama governorate," he said.

Apart from that, according to Solomatin, officers of the Russian reconciliation center conducted a humanitarian operation in the settlement of Tell Bisa in the Homs governorate. As many as 450 bags with food products were handed out to civilians.

The Russian reconciliation center continues to fulfill assigned tasks after the completion of the military campaign in Syria. The center’s officers regularly travel around the country's liberated areas to assess the humanitarian situation. The main efforts of the Russian military are now focused on assistance to the refugees returning to their homes.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 13:37:29 GMT
Gabriel says Ukraine sought to draw Germany into war gabriel says ukraine sought to draw germany into war

Ukraine’s authorities tried to draw Germany into a war after an incident with Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait, former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told news channel NTV.

"I think we should not let Ukraine draw us into a war, and Ukraine tried to do that," Gabriel said in an interview, voicing concerns over the situation in the Sea of Azov.

In an interview, published by Tagesspiegel newspaper on Saturday, Gabriel also criticized Kiev’s demands to send warships to the Black Sea and its suggestion to close international ports for Russian vessels traveling from the Sea of Azov.

The former top diplomat believes that Germany’s role should be to conduct efforts for de-escalation and mediation rather than to stir up a conflict. He suggested taking advantage of a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, which Germany will get in January, to ensure the creation of a UN mission for Donbass.

"Finally establishing a ceasefire, achieving the withdrawal of heavy armaments from both sides and then to make the first step towards lifting sanctions - that’s the only way out of this absolutely hopeless conflict," Gabriel told the paper.

On November 25, three Ukrainian warships violated the rules of passage through Russia’s territorial sea when heading from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. Despite the repeated warnings and demands to stop, the Ukrainian vessels continued their way, forcing Russia to use weapons. All three Ukrainian ships were detained and taken to Kerch. Three Ukrainian servicemen were slightly wounded and received medical assistance, and their lives are not under threat. A criminal case has been launched over the violation of Russia’s state border. Moscow slammed the incident as a provocation. The EU and NATO called for de-escalation, while Ukraine’s authorities imposed martial law.


Sun, 02 Dec 2018 13:18:24 GMT
French authorities may declare state of emergency over street riots french authorities may declare state of emergency over street riots

The French authorities are considering all options of countering street riots in Paris, including declaring a state of emergency, French Government Spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told Europe 1 radio station on Sunday.

Several police trade unions have called on the government to impose a state of emergency to prevent violence next Saturday, the radio station reported. In comments to this report, Griveaux did not rule out this measure, saying that "all options are on the table."

Mass protests, triggered by the rising fuel prices and taxes, flared up in France on November 17. The demonstrators are wearing yellow reflective vests for drivers. This and last Saturday the demonstrations turned violent. At least 133 people were injured in clashes with police in Paris, including nearly 23 of them police personnel, AFP reported, citing the city police. More than 400 people have been detained, and 378 of them are in custody.

France’s authorities announced that starting from January 1, 2019 petrol and diesel prices would rise by 3 euro cents and 6.5 euro cents, respectively. One of the factors behind the price hikes is the government’s move to introduce an environmental tax on greenhouse gas emissions. Prime Minister Eduard Philippe said the government planned to keep the new tax despite the protests.


Sun, 02 Dec 2018 13:12:23 GMT
Terrorists’ infiltration attempts to military points in Hama countryside foiled terrorists’ infiltration attempts to military points in hama countryside foiled

The Syrian Arab Army units thwarted terrorist groups’ infiltration attempts towards military posts centered to protect safe towns in the northern countryside of Hama, causing casualties among the terrorists.

To the north of Maharda city, SANA reporter said that an army unit stationed in the vicinity of Shaliot village tracked movement of a terrorist group in the agricultural lands south of al-Zakat village and conducted heavy strikes against them , inflicting heavy losses upon the terrorists’ ranks while the rest fled away.

The reporter added that an army unit tracked the movement of a terrorist group in the olive groves south of Latamina town trying to infiltrate towards military points on the direction of Zlain to the south and targeted them with light weapons.

The terrorist groups continue to breach the demilitarized zone agreement in Idleb by repeating their attempts to attack military points in Hama northern countryside.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 12:59:51 GMT
George H. Bush dies at 94 george h bush dies at 94

George H.Bush, the 41st president of the United States died Friday night at his home in Houston. He was 94 years old.

His death came less than eight months after his wife Barbara died. The couple was married for of 73 years. Their son George W. Bush was elected 43rd president of the US.

"Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” George W. Bush said in a statement. 

“George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens."

Bush served for one time after he lost his bid for re-election. His defeat was attributed mainly to the economic downturn and to lack of focus on domestic affairs.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 12:25:09 GMT
Hassan bin Abdullah receives bank official hassan bin abdullah receives bank official

Adviser of HM the King for Economic Affairs, Dr. Hassan bin Abdullah Fakhro, has received President and CEO of Habib Bank Ltd, Muhammad Aurangzeb.

The adviser praised the role played by the banking sector in the Kingdom's economic and commercial progress, noting the bank's efforts to achieve developmental and investment targets

They also discussed various topics pertaining to economic and commercial matters.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 12:12:37 GMT
Ashrawi calls not to broadcast Eurovision contest ashrawi calls not to broadcast eurovision contest

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi in a statement called on the EBU to respect the Palestinian people’s rights and to not broadcast any Eurovision Song Contest events in Israel’s illegal settlements.

“Giving Israel the privilege of hosting the 2019 Eurovision amounts to rewarding it for and helping it to conceal its decades-old military occupation and grave violations of Palestinian national and human rights,” Ashrawi said. “At the very least, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) must ensure that Israel’s illegal settlements throughout the occupied Palestinian territory are strictly excluded from any broadcast of the Eurovision activities.

The UN Security Council has repeatedly affirmed that Israel’s settlement enterprise constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity,” and has rejected Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem as “illegal” and “as null and void.” The European Union also has a long-standing policy that strongly opposes the illegal settlements.

Ashrawi said that therefore, the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, demands that the EBU oblige all of its members and associate members, especially Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, to not broadcast any Eurovision Song Contest events in Israel’s illegal settlements, including those in occupied East Jerusalem, adding that this is the minimum that the EBU must do to be in compliance with the obligations of non-state actors, including businesses and organizations, under international law and European policy, particularly given the unprecedented escalation of Israel’s unlawful unilateralism and criminal behavior.

“The recently adopted ‘Jewish Nation-State’ law, for instance, has given Israel license to apartheid, discrimination and ethnic cleansing at the expense of the Palestinian people. Such racist and prejudicial legislation is illegal by all standards of international law, democracy, humanity, justice, tolerance, and inclusion. The extremist government coalition in Israel has once again exposed its true character by demonstrating that it is bent on sustaining an official policy of ethnic purity and supremacy, thereby regulating the indigenous Palestinian citizens to an inferior-class status,” Ashrawi said.

“Such legislation also affirms Israel’s willful intent, with blind support from the current US administration, to omit the Palestinian narrative, presence and continuity on the land, while actively eradicating the history, culture and identity of the Palestinian people. Despite all Israeli efforts at erasing our rights and our identity, the Palestinian people’s determination to remain on our land and our commitment to the global principles of justice, freedom and self-determination are a remarkable tribute to Palestinian resilience and humanity,” she added.

“The EBU has an obligation to ensure that it does not provide a platform for the legitimization and/or normalization of the illegal system of colonization in Palestine. The EBU must also understand that it is legally accountable to the act of profiteering from this illegal system of colonization, directly or indirectly. I conclude by reiterating my call to the EBU to respect the Palestinian people’s rights, as recognized by the multilateral legal and political system, and to comply with its moral and legal obligations not to support directly or indirectly any violations of international law,” she concluded.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 10:46:34 GMT
Thousands celebrate Christmas tree lighting in Bethlehem thousands celebrate christmas tree lighting in bethlehem

Only meters away from where baby Jesus is said to be born, thousands of people made their way to Manger Square and gathered around the gigantic Christmas tree, to welcome in the holiest month of the Christian year – December.

Locals and foreigners, wrapped up in their coats and beanies, listened to speeches from the likes of the Mayor of Bethlehem, and the Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, with many others including top officials from the Catholic church, such as Father Francesco Patton.

Leading up to the lighting of the square, there were also musical performances and creative nativity videos.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 10:40:46 GMT
Israel bans call to prayer at Ibrahimi Mosque 47 times in November israel bans call to prayer at ibrahimi mosque 47 times in november

The Israeli occupation authorities banned the Muslim call for prayer at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron 47 times in November alone, according to Palestinian Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs Yousef Ed'ais.

in a statement on Sunday, the minister that Israeli policy and violations against Muslims aim at preventing them from practicing religious rights have intensified and reached a dangerous level.

The Israeli measures, which include closures of the mosque to allow Jewish settlers to storm the shrine and banning the call for prayer which is repeated not only every month but even on daily basis, he added.

The occupation measures, he said, aimed to pave the way for the occupation authorities to control over the holy shrines, which are Muslims religious endowment, he added.

The Minister urged the international community to protect the holy places in Palestine from the Israeli violations or any attempts to change features of the shrines.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 10:14:47 GMT
Tear gas fired, hundreds arrested at 'Yellow Vest' protests in Paris tear gas fired hundreds arrested at yellow vest protests in paris

Several thousand "Yellow Vest" demonstrators descended on Paris on Saturday for another day of violent protests against rising fuel costs that led to scuffles with security forces.

Police deployed tear gas and water cannon to fight back the protesters at the Arc de Triomphe as they tried to break through barriers set up by authorities.

Cars and other city infrastructure were set on fire as the skirmishes with police moved into the side streets surrounding the famous Champs-Elysees shopping boulevard. Many shops and restaurants were damaged or entirely destroyed.

"We work just to pay taxes," one of the protesters told broadcaster BFMTV.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe estimated the number of protesters in Paris at about 5,500, while French media reported a total of approximately 75,000 people protested across the country Saturday.

More than 200 people were arrested, according to media reports.

In Paris, 65 people were injured, including 11 members of security forces.

French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned the violence during a speech he held at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

"I will always accept protests, I will always listen to the opposition, but I will never accept violence," the French leader said.

Anyone who is that violent doesn't want change - only chaos, Macron said. Nothing justifies attacks on police, plundering or vandalism, he added.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in protests since mid-November against fuel tax hikes and reforms, which the government said were necessary to support environmental programmes.

On Tuesday, Macron promised a wide-ranging consultation process with protesters, who often wear yellow safety vests in a sign of solidarity with the movement.

But Friday, a representative of the "Yellow Vest" movement broke off a meeting with Philippe because the prime minister had refused to let the session be filmed and broadcast live.

The fuel tax protests have also spilled over into other European countries.

On Saturday, a small number of protesters were also on the streets in the Netherlands.

In Brussels, two police vehicles were burned on Friday near the European Commission office in protests.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 08:35:18 GMT