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UK PM May: Getting rid of me risks delaying Brexit

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday toppling her would risk delaying Brexit and she would not let talk of a leadership challenge distract her from a critical week of negotiations.

Since unveiling a draft divorce deal with the European Union on Wednesday, May’s premiership has been thrust into crisis by the resignation of several ministers, including her Brexit minister, and some lawmakers from her own party seeking to oust her.

To trigger a confidence vote, 48 of her Conservative Party lawmakers must submit a letter to the chairman of the so-called 1922 committee, Graham Brady.

More than 20 lawmakers have said publicly that they have submitted a letter, but others are expected to have done so confidentially. Brady told BBC Radio on Sunday the 48 threshold had not yet been reached.

“These next seven days are going to be critical, they are about the future of this country,” May told Sky News. “I am not going to be distracted from the important job.

“A change of leadership at this point isn’t going to make the negotiations any easier … what it will do is mean that there is a risk that actually we delay the negotiations and that is a risk that Brexit gets delayed or frustrated.”

May said negotiating teams were working “as we speak” and she intended to go to Brussels and meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. She said she would also be speaking to other EU leaders ahead of an EU summit to discuss the deal on Nov. 25.

Several British newspapers reported that five senior pro-Brexit ministers were working together to pressure May to change the deal, but writing in the Sun on Sunday newspaper May said she saw no alternative plan on the table.

Former Brexit minister Dominic Raab, who resigned on Thursday in protest at the deal, said he supported May as leader but her deal was “fatally flawed” and he did not think it would be approved by parliament. He said May must change course.

“I still think a deal could be done but it is very late in the day now and we need to change course,” Raab told the BBC. “The biggest risk of no deal is taking a bad deal to the House of Commons … it is very important to take the action now.”

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would vote against May’s deal when it came to parliament, but distanced himself from calls for a so-called people’s vote on the final agreement.

“It’s an option for the future, but it’s not an option for today, because if we had a referendum tomorrow, what’s it going to be on? What’s the question going to be?” Corbyn told Sky News.

Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said on Saturday that British pro-Brexit ministers were “not living in the real world” if they thought they could renegotiate the divorce treaty agreed with the EU last week.

Several British newspapers had reported that Leadsom was working with four other senior ministers and Brexit enthusiasts — Michael Gove, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling and Penny Mordaunt — to pressure May to change the deal.

Mordaunt, Raab, and five other top Conservatives — former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Raab’s predecessor David Davis, Interior Minister Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and Work and Pensions Minister Amber Rudd — are all “actively preparing” leadership campaigns, the Sunday Times said.

More than 20 Conservative lawmakers have written to call for May to go, and a total 48 requests are needed to trigger a leadership contest.

The Sunday Times also reported Britain’s army had been ordered to step up contingency plans to help police maintain public order in case of food and medicine shortages after a “no deal” Brexit, citing an unnamed “well-placed army source.”

 

 

 

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Boko Haram spox killed in NE Nigeria: Army

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA): A spokesman of Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist movement has been killed in a military operation in the country’s northeastern Borno state, the army said late Saturday.

“Reports available reveal that one Sale Ahmad Sale a. k. a. Baban Hassan the leader of Al-Barnawi Media group, a faction of Boko Haram was killed by a joint operation conducted by the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Airforce,” according to the statement.

The statement said the spokesman was in the camp of Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, factional leader of the Boko Haram officially affiliated to Daesh.

“The killing of the media leader is indicative of efforts by the Nigerian Army to eliminate key members of the sect.

It is worthy to note that the sect is directly affiliated to the Islamic State and has carried out several attacks against own troops and innocent civilians in the past.

“Therefore, the death of the group’s media leader shows that the leadership is being targeted successfully and soon other key members would be apprehended or neutralized, thus decimating the group and its activities,” it added.

Last week the Nigerian military said two top Boko Haram commanders were killed in a military offensive in Borno state.

Nigeria has been battling Boko Haram insurgency since 2009 when the group turned violent following the death of its former leader Mohamed Yusuf in police custody.

No fewer than 20,000 people have been killed, mostly civilians, while 2-3 million have been displaced from their homes across the Lake Chad region.

 

 

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US to issue Khashoggi report next week: Trump

WASHINGTON (AA): U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday the U.S. will issue a “very full report” on the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi early next week.

The report, which Trump said will be released either on Monday or Tuesday, is slated to assess what “we think the overall impact was and who caused it, and who did it.”

Trump earlier spoke with CIA Director Gina Haspel, who briefed him on the agency’s findings in the case.

Trumps said the CIA has not “assessed anything yet. It’s too early,” after the Washington Post first reported on Friday the CIA determined with high confidence Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

The State Department also denied reports the administration has made a final conclusion, calling them “inaccurate.”

“There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts. In the meantime, we will continue to consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”

Khashoggi was killed shortly after he entered the Saudi consulate general in Istanbul Oct. 2.

Saudi Arabia had offered shifting explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance before suggesting he was killed during a botched rendition operation by rogue agents.

His body has yet to be returned to his family, which has been seeking its return, amid reports that it was chemically dissolved.

The U.S. earlier this week sanctioned 17 people tied to Khashoggi’s murder, including the Saudi Consul General in Istanbul Mohammad al-Otaibi.

But bin Salman, the de facto Saudi leader, was not among the designated individuals amid widespread speculation the hit could not have been carried out without his consent.

Nauert alluded to the U.S. action as well as previously announced visa penalties on the Saudi suspects, saying Washington has already “taken decisive measures against the individuals responsible.”

“We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those accountable who planned, led and were connected to the murder.

And, we will do that while maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” she said.

Earlier Saturday, Senator Bob Corker who chairs the pivotal Foreign Relations Committee cast doubt that anyone besides bin Salman could have been responsible for ordering Khashoggi’s muder.

“Everything points to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, MbS, ordering @washingtonpost journalist Jamal #Khashoggi’s killing.

The Trump administration should make a credible determination of responsibility before MbS executes the men who apparently carried out his orders,” he said on Twitter, alluding to Riyadh’s announcement that it would seek the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged with Khashoggi’s murder.

 

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Three killed in blast in Amritsar, India

AMRITSAR (AFP): A blast at a religious ceremony in India’s Punjab state Sunday killed at least three people and injured 10, police said.

Media reports said two armed men on a motorcycle forced their way into a building where the Nirankari spiritual group was meeting.

They brandished a pistol at a woman at the gate before throwing a hand grenade at the crowd, the local Tribune newspaper said.

Police did not immediately confirm the media accounts of the attack in Amritsar district, which came just ahead of a major Sikh festival on Friday.

“Three people have been killed and 10 people are injured. We are trying to gather more information,” senior police officer Surinder Pal Singh Parmar told reporters.

Nirankari followers are at odds with many Sikhs who dominate in Punjab and consider the group heretics.

Punjab, which was divided between India and Pakistan when they split after independence in 1947, has a history of sectarian violence.

In 1984, the Indian military launched an assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar aimed at flushing out militants inside who were demanding an independent Sikh homeland.

The Sikh community was enraged by what it felt was desecration of the revered shrine. Later that year Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards.

The assassination triggered anti-Sikh riots in which some 3,000 people were killed, many on the streets of New Delhi.

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China says no developing country will fall into ‘debt trap’ by cooperating with Beijing

BEIJING (Agencies): China’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that no developing country would fall into a debt trap simply because of its cooperation with Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comment in an online statement responding to remarks made by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

“No developing country will fall into debt difficulties because of cooperation with China,” Hua said.

“On the contrary, cooperating with China helps these countries raise independent development capabilities and levels, and improves the lives of the local people.”

Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit on Saturday, Pence took aim at China’s Belt and Road initiative, saying countries should not accept debt that compromised their sovereignty.

In a similar statement in October, the Chinese foreign ministry had rejected the claim that China was using “debt diplomacy” to expand its global influence and said the cooperation with the developing countries had effectively promoted their economic and social development and improvement of people’s livelihood.

“For example, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) contributed 2.5 percentage points to Pakistan’s GDP growth in 2016,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, which is financed and built by China, has created nearly 50,000 jobs for Kenya.

“The cooperation is of course well received by the developing countries,” senior Chinese foreign ministry official, Lu Kang, said during his regular briefing .

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Indian troops martyr two youth in IoK’s Shopian district

SRINAGAR (Web Desk): Indian troops martyred two more youth in Indian occupied Kashmir’s Shopian district on Sunday, the Kashmir Media Service reported.

The youth were killed during a cordon and search operation launched by the troops in the Zainpora area of the district.

The martyred youth have been identified as Nawaz Ahmad and Yawar Wani. The authorities have suspended internet services in the area.

Earlier this year, in June, a United Nations report accused India of having used excessive force in occupied Kashmir to martyr and wound civilians since 2016, as it called for an international inquiry into the accusations of rights violations.

Activists estimate that up to 145 civilians were martyred by security forces and up to 20 civilians martyred by armed groups in the same period, it said.

India rejected the report, calling it a “selective compilation of largely unverified information” that sought to build “a false narrative”, adding that it violated the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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Trump says US to issue Khashoggi report early next week

WASHINGTON (AA): U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday the U.S. will issue a “very full report” on the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi early next week.

The report, which Trump said will be released either on Monday or Tuesday, is slated to assess what “we think the overall impact was and who caused it, and who did it.”

Trump earlier spoke with CIA Director Gina Haspel, who briefed him on the agency’s findings in the case. Trumps said the CIA has not “assessed anything yet. It’s too early,” after the Washington Post first reported on Friday the CIA determined with high confidence Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

The State Department also denied reports the administration has made a final conclusion, calling them “inaccurate.”

“There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. “The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts. In the meantime, we will continue to consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”

Khashoggi was killed shortly after he entered the Saudi consulate general in Istanbul Oct. 2.

Saudi Arabia had offered shifting explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance before suggesting he was killed during a botched rendition operation by rogue agents.

His body has yet to be returned to his family, which has been seeking its return, amid reports that it was chemically dissolved.

The U.S. earlier this week sanctioned 17 people tied to Khashoggi’s murder, including the Saudi Consul General in Istanbul Mohammad al-Otaibi. But bin Salman, the de facto Saudi leader, was not among the designated individuals amid widespread speculation the hit could not have been carried out without his consent.

Nauert alluded to the U.S. action as well as previously announced visa penalties on the Saudi suspects, saying Washington has already “taken decisive measures against the individuals responsible.”

“We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those accountable who planned, led and were connected to the murder. And, we will do that while maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” she said.

Earlier Saturday, Senator Bob Corker who chairs the pivotal Foreign Relations Committee cast doubt that anyone besides bin Salman could have been responsible for ordering Khashoggi’s muder.

“Everything points to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, MbS, ordering @washingtonpost journalist Jamal #Khashoggi’s killing. The Trump administration should make a credible determination of responsibility before MbS executes the men who apparently carried out his orders,” he said on Twitter, alluding to Riyadh’s announcement that it would seek the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged with Khashoggi’s murder.

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One dead in French protests over fuel prices

PARIS (AA): One protestor was killed and more than 100 others injured during nation-wide demonstrations over rising fuel prices in France.

The death occurred in the south-eastern Savoy region when a female driver panicked when surrounded by protesters and accidentally struck a woman.

Police used tear gas to disperse protestors dubbed the “yellow vests” in Porte Maillot neighborhood, Bastille Square and Champs- Elysees Street in Paris.

Over 1,000 protestors also gathered in front of Elysee Palace calling for President Emmanuel Macron to resign.

Some 244,000 people took part in around 2,000 demonstrations across the country, according to the interior ministry.

The ministry said 106 people were also injured, while 38 others were arrested.

Demonstrations over the government’s reform policies have recently increased in the country.

Millions of people had also taken part in the nation-wide demonstrations in May and June.

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UK’s May sees ‘no alternative’ to her Brexit plan

LONDON (Reuters): British Prime Minister Theresa May says she sees no alternative to the Brexit deal she presented earlier this week, amid reports that some of her senior ministers want her to renegotiate the draft agreement before meeting EU leaders next weekend.

“There is no alternative plan on the table. There is no different approach that we could agree with the EU,” May wrote in an article for the Sun on Sunday newspaper.

“If MPs (legislators) reject the deal, they will simply take us back to square one. It would mean more division, more uncertainty and a failure to deliver on the vote of the British people,” she added.

Just hours after announcing on Wednesday that her senior ministers had collectively backed her divorce deal, May was thrust into her premiership’s most perilous crisis when Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigned on Thursday to oppose the agreement.

Other mutinous lawmakers in her party have openly spoken of ousting her and said the Brexit deal would not pass parliament.

Brexit supporters say the transitional deal risks leaving Britain subject to EU rules for an indefinite period.

On Saturday Andrea Leadsom, the minister in charge of government business in parliament, told the BBC that she was supporting May but was not fully happy with the deal.

“I think there’s still the potential to improve on the clarification and on some of the measures within it and that’s what I’m hoping to be able to help with,” she said.

Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said on Saturday that British pro-Brexit ministers were “not living in the real world” if they thought they could renegotiate the divorce treaty agreed with the EU last week.

Several British newspapers had reported that Leadsom was working with four other senior ministers and Brexit enthusiasts – Michael Gove, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling and Penny Mordaunt – to pressure May to change the deal.

Mordaunt, Raab, and five other top Conservatives – former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Raab’s predecessor David Davis, Interior Minister Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and Work and Pensions Minister Amber Rudd – are all “actively preparing” leadership campaigns, the Sunday Times said.

More than 20 Conservative lawmakers have written to call for May to go, and a total 48 requests are needed to trigger a leadership contest.

The Sunday Times also reported Britain’s army had been ordered to step up contingency plans to help police maintain public order in case of food and medicine shortages after a “no deal” Brexit, citing an unnamed “well-placed army source.”

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No one can turn Turkey into their backyard: Erdogan

ANKARA: Those who tried to dominate Turkey over the last century have been pushed back by the Turkish people, said Turkey’s president on Saturday.

“To those who tried to turn Turkey into their backyard since the Battle of Gallipoli, the War of Independence, and the July 15, 2016 defeated coup, we gave the necessary answer as a nation,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the opening ceremony of the National Gardens in Basaksehir, Istanbul, referring to decisive historic military campaigns and a failed putsch that martyred 251 people.

“One of the commitments in our 100-day performance program was fulfilled today by opening these National Gardens, and the others will be completed one by one,” Erdogan added.

“We say that we will build the Istanbul Canal, they say ‘We don’t want it,’ ‘Don’t build it”. We will build it whether you want to or not,” he said.

Next year Turkey plans to launch the construction of the Istanbul Canal, an artificial sea-level waterway, and complete it in 2023, according to Turkey’s Transport And Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan.

The canal is meant to provide relief to shipping traffic between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, particularly oil tanker traffic passing through the Bosphorus.

The 45-kilometer (nearly 28-mile) canal, which will be built along Istanbul’s Kucukcekmece-Sazlidere-Durusu corridor, is to boast a capacity of 160 vessels a day.