Chemicals factory blast injures 12 outside Cairo’s main airport

CAIRO ( ) – Egyptian firefighters battled flames that erupted after an explosion at a che,上海千花网Caleb,micals factory outside Cairo’s main airport on Thursday, with a dozen people reported injured in a blast an army spokesman said was caused by high temperatures.

State news agency MENA quoted a security source as saying that 12 people were taken to a hospital after the blast, which occurred in a storage facility belonging to a local petrochemicals company outside the airport in the northern part of the capital.

The minister of civil aviation, Younis al-Masri, said air traffic at the airport was unaffected by the explosion, which could be heard across the area.

“Due to high temperatures, an explosion happened at a petrochemicals storage belonging to the Heliopolis for Chemical Industries,” said Colonel Tamer al-Rifai, the military spokesman, in上海龙凤419 a social media posting.

“Civil defense trucks were deployed to bring the fire under control,” he added.

Rifai did not say who owned the factory, but security sourc,上海贵族宝贝论坛Caden,es and some internet postings suggested it belonged to the armed forces.

Witnesses said ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the scene as a cloud of black smoke rose over the area.

State television said firefighters had managed to bring the fire under control.

Egypt is battling an Islamist militant insurgency that has carried out attacks, mainly in the remote Sinai Peninsula, where the army has been conducting a security operation since February.

Violence appeared to have subsided in recent months, with no incidents reported in the country’s mainland outside Sinai.

Thailand’s cave boys to be discharged from hospital on Thursday

CHIANG RAI, Thailand ( ) – Twelve Thai boys and their soccer coach rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand are recovering well from the ordeal and will be discharged from hospital next week, health minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said on Saturday.

The last of the 12-member “Wild Boars” soccer team and their coach were brought out of the Tham Luang cave, near the border with Myanmar, on Tuesday night, safely ending a perilous rescue and evoking international relief and joy.

The boys and their coach have been in hospital in the northern town of Chiang Rai since they were brought to safety.

In a video played at a news conference on Saturday, they appeared well, sitting up in bed and thanking their rescuers. Some said they were looking forward to eating their favorite food such as pork fried rice and sushi.

“I want to have crispy pork rice and barbecue pork rice,” Pipat Photi, 15, said in the video.

“I want pork knuckle rice,” said Duangpetch Promtep, 13. “Thank you for all the moral support.”

Some of the boys lost as much as 5 kg (11 lb) but had started to regain weight in hospital, Piyasakol told reporters. Those who were suffering pneumonia after the rescue have also recovered and all,爱上海419Gabe, 13 should leave hospital on Thursday, he said

“I am in good health now,” said one of the boys, a 14-year-old nicknamed Note. “Thanks for saving me.”

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach had planned to explore the cavern complex for about an hour after soccer practice on June 23. But a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them.

Two British divers found them on July 2, squatting on a mound in a flooded chamber several kilometers inside the complex. Rescuers then had to work out how to get them out through the tunnels, some of which were full of fast-flowing floodwater.

MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS

All 13 were brought to safety over the course of a three-day rescue, organized by Thai navy SEALs and an international team of cave-diving experts.

Samarn Kunan, 38, a former member of the elite SEALs unit, was the only casualty in the operation. His wife has urged the boys not to blame themselves for his death.

Samarn was cremated on Saturday in a special ceremony sponsored by the Thai royal family which was broadcast live on local television.

He was also posthumously promoted and awarded a royal medal for his bravery and contribution to the rescue, according to a statement published on Saturday in the Thai Royal Gazette.

At the scene of the rescue, 4,000 volunteers arrived on Saturday to help clean up and “restore the landscape” in and around the cave complex, according to a statement from the Chiang Rai provincial office.

While the boys and their coach are now in good health, there is concern about how they will deal with their fame, given the huge attention on the case within Thailand and beyond.

Their story is already set for a retelling by Hollywood, with two production companies looking to put together movies about the boys and their rescue.

“We need to prepare both the children and their families for the attention they will receive,” Piyasakol said.

He warned relatives of the boys to resist giving interviews to media over fear,上海贵族宝贝论坛Patricia,s they could have a negative impact on thei上海419论坛r mental health.

“Everyone has worked well together to bring the children out. We worked well together then and we should work well together now so the children can recover physically and mentally as they grow up,” Piyasakol said.

Progress emerges in U.S. budget talks; Murray sees path to deal

WASHINGTON ( ) – Signs of progress began to emerge in U.S. budget talks on Tuesday as top Senate Democratic negotiator Patty Murray said she sees a path toward an agreement to ease automatic spending cuts known as the “sequester.”

Murray, asked if there was a path forward in her talks with her counterpart, Republican Representative Paul Ryan, said: “I believe there is.”

The lawmakers are racing against a December 13 deadline for a deal, as Republican resistance to including new tax revenues continued to be a ,爱上海419Tasha,sticking point, according to a senator on the negotiating committee headed by Murray and Ryan.

On January 15, funds for many government activities will be exhausted. Without a budget deal by then, another government shutdown could occur.

Senator Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, did not elaborate on possible consensus in the talks but said the two were working toward a small deal.

Her comments echoed positive sentiments expressed by some Republican and Democratic aides, and by a fellow member of the budget-negotiating panel, Senator Angus King, an in上海419论坛dependent who votes with the Democrats.

King told reporters it was his impression the regular meetings between Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Murray were yielding progress in the talks. But he added, “My understanding is there are major issues outstanding, the principal one being revenues.”

Murray and other Democrats on the 29-member budget panel are seeking revenues from the closure of tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations to replace part of the sequester cuts, which are due take a $91 billion bite out of funding for government agencies and discretionary programs next year.

Republicans have refused to consider such tax hikes and want to pay for any easing of the sequester with spending cuts on federal benefi,上海419论坛Benji,ts programs.

The next round of across-the-board spending cuts known as “sequestration” are set to begin January 15, the same date that federal government funding expires again.

A spokesman for Ryan, of Wisconsin, declined to comment on the talks.

But Ryan, speaking at a Wall Street Journal forum, said he was comfortable predicting there would not be another government shutdown on January 15 because either he and Murray would reach a deal or funding would be extended at levels reduced by the sequester cuts.

“Either one of those two scenarios will prevail and we will not have another shutdown,” he said.

He said he did not expect similar “theatrics” over the next debt-limit deadline in February because Republicans would shift away from trying to use it to stop “Obamacare” health reforms.

Ryan and Murray have been in contact daily since the negotiating panel’s second public meeting last week, a senior Democratic aide said. “They wouldn’t be having these continued conversations and they wouldn’t be continuing to work if they didn’t see some path to a deal,” the aide said.

A House Republican aide also said Ryan had told some lawmakers in private conversations that he was close to a deal with Murray. But the aide did not provide any details.

MCCONNELL’S URGINGS

The positive sentiments also came as Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, on Tuesday urged House Republicans to stand together in favor of keeping the sequester cuts in place with a $967 billion discretionary spending level for fiscal 2014 that began October 1.

Many Republicans have said that if the budget talks fail, they would simply keep this spending level in place, even if it means accepting bigger cuts to military spending. This would be preferable to any new revenues, they say.

But the party is beginning to splinter over the sequester cuts, indicating that there may not be enough Republican votes to approve the lower spending level of $967 billion. Democrats want to return to the pre-sequester level of $1.058 trillion for the current fiscal year.

It might be too difficult to pass a budget at the $967 billion level, creating an incentive for alternative deal.

The messy rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law offers another incentive for Republicans to cut a deal, said Jim Manley, a former aide to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“They want to focus, to the extent that they can, on Obamacare and not get sidetracked by budget debacles,” said Manley, who noted the problems with the healthcare laws are creating political problems for Obama and Democrats.

McConnell’s pitch in a closed-door meeting met resistance from some House Republicans, including Representative Scott Rigell, whose Virginia district is home to many naval installations in the Norfolk area that would suffer big cuts.

“Congressman Rigell did speak with the senator to make clear his views that the combination of sequester and continuing resolutions are damaging our military,” said Rigell spokeswoman Kim Mosser Knapp.

And just hours after McConnell spoke to House Republicans, some of his own Senate Republicans also expressed their opposition to the scheduled spending cuts.

Five Senate Republicans joined 28 Democratic senators in a letter to Senate Budget Committee leaders urging robust funding for National Institutes of Health medical research. The first round of automatic spending cuts, which went into effect early this year, cut NIH funding by $1.55 billion, resulting in 640 fewer research projects being awarded, the 33 senators said.

With Thai soccer team freed, Hollywood gears up for the movie

LOS ANGELES ( ) – The dramatic rescue of a Thai boys soccer team and their coach from a flooded cave complex this week transfixed news viewers around the world for more than two weeks, and the story is already headed for a retelling by Hollywood.

Divers freed the last four of the 12 boys and their adult coach on Tuesday.

The saga is reminiscent of the 2010 rescue of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days, a tale that was turned into the 2015 movie “The 33” starring Antonio Banderas.

Two production companies are now looking to put together movies about the Thai soccer team rescue.

Thailand’s Navy, whose SEAL unit led the rescue, and the Thai government have selected Ivanhoe Pictures to develop a film that would be directed by John M. Chu, the president of Ivanhoe Pictures, John Penotti, said in a statement.

Ivanhoe Pictures, which has offices in the United States and in Asia, focuses on Asia and North America. It is the co-producer of the upcoming film “Crazy Rich Asians,” based on the novel by Kevin Kwan and directed by Chu.

“I refuse to let Hollywood #whitewashout the Thai Cave rescue story!” Chu, who was born in California and has Chinese heritage, tweeted.

“There’,上海千花网Laticia,s a beautiful story abt human beings saving other human beings. So anyone thinking abt the story bet,上海419论坛Camden,ter approach it right & respectfully,” added Chu.

The other company looking to develop a movie on the event is U.S.-based Pure Flix, which specializes in Christian and family films.

Pure Flix co-founder Michael Scott, who lives in Thailand part of the year, said producers from his company were on the ground interviewing rescue workers for a potential film. He said his wife grew up with Samarn Poonan, the former Thai navy SEAL who died during the mission.

“It’s Thai, Westerners, Europeans, Aussies – people from all over the world who helped bring these kids to safety,” Scott told . “I think there is a worldwide appeal which I think will inspire millions across the globe.”

Like the Chilean rescue, the Thai drama showcases real-life courage in the face of harrowing circumstances, said Mike Medavoy, the Oscar-nominated producer of “The 33.”

“It’s about the triumphs of individuals and groups of human beings over tragedy,” Medavoy said. “It’s a terrific story.”

Bringing the Thai drama to the screen faces hurdles, however.

First, filmmakers need to secure the rights from each of the boys’ families, the coach, and any rescuers they want to portray in order to get their firsthand accounts of what happened. The boys range in age from 11 to 16.

And replicating the rescue on screen could be costly.

“The 33” was filmed in Colombia and Chile and produced for about $24 million. A movie about the Thai rescue could be made for less, Medavoy said, because filming in Thailand is cheaper.

But the rescue in murky water presents an added challenge.

“The water and scuba diving scenes would be expensive,” said Judi Farkas, the literary agent who represented author Antonio Mendez on the film rights sale of his book “Argo” for the Oscar-winning movie. “Any time you film in water it’s expensive.”

In addition, a big-screen production likely would take years to bring to theaters, and producers would have to decide if interest will remain once the story fades from the headlines, Medavoy said.

“The 33” brought in $24.9 million at theaters worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, just slightly more than its production budget.

The Thai rescue may also draw interest from TV networks, which could provide a quicker path to the screen.

In the meantime, news programming is feeding public appetite for the story.

On Tuesday, U.S. television network ABC aired a special edition of “20/20” focused on the mission, and the Discovery Channel announced it woul爱上海d air a one-hour documentary on Friday.

Macron to discuss Syria, Iran and Ukraine with Putin on Sunday: Elysee

PARIS ( ) – French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss Syria, Iran and Ukraine with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they meet in Moscow on Sunday, the day of the soccer World Cup final between France and Croatia, a source at the French president’s office said.

Macron and Putin are expected to meet at the Kremlin before the kick-off.

The Elysee Palace source said the situation in Ukraine had not evolved enough for Macron to invite Putin to a Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, in the south of France, in the summer of 2019.

Following the G7 summit in Canada, Macron had said he would like to invite his Putin to Biarritz, but that it would depend on Russia’s app爱上海lication of the process agreed in Minsk with France, Germany and Ukraine to resolve the conflict,上海419论坛Abril, in Ukraine.

The source said the discussion would also be an opportunity for both leaders to draw their positions on the Syrian crisis closer.

On Iran, Macron urged Trump in vain earlier this year not to pull out of a,上海千花网Ilya,n international deal that eased sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

A Kremlin official said on Friday that Macron was also expected to brief Putin on the recent NATO summit, and that they would discuss Putin’s impending meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki on Monday.

Afghan president signals return of exiled Dostum possible after…

KABUL ( ) – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani gave his first indication on Sunday that vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum could be allowed to return from exile after days of protests by the former warlord’s supporters.

Ethnic Uzbek leader Dostum was forced into exile last year over accusations of human rights abuse, settling in Turkey.

In recent days supporters of Dostum’s Junbish-i Milli party have staged protests across northern Afghanistan, blocking major highways and shutting down government build,上海419论坛Dakota,ings including electoral offices.

Speaking at a news conference in Kabul, Ghani said Dostum’s case was under consideration and “the possibility of his return has increased.”

“His case has a legal aspect and it is with the attorney general,” he said, promising more information later.

Dostum, a great上海419论坛 survivor of Afghanistan’s turbulent politics who has faced multiple accusations of human rights abuses over decades, denies accusations that he ordered his guards to kidnap, beat and sexually abuse a political rival. He has not been charged.

Kabul’s international partners including the United States have demanded that Dostum face justice. Last year he flew to Turkey, ostensibly for medical treatment, and has not returned since.

However, while in exile Dostum has kept his formal title of vice president and his influence among the ethnic Uzbeks of northern Afghanistan has remained strong, fueled by growing enmity among the country’s mix of different ethnic groups including Pashtuns and Persian-speaking Tajiks and Hazaras.

With parliamentary elections due in October ahead of the more important presidential vote next year, tensions have risen sharply as Afghanistan’s political strongmen position themselves and the cracks in Ghani’s unwieldy unity government widen.

On Saturd,上海419论坛Nikki,ay, a meeting of the main parties demanded that voter registrations be annulled because of concerns over electoral fraud, a demand Ghani angrily rejected, pledging the elections would go ahead as planned.

Although Dostum joined Ghani as one of two vice presidents in the national unity government formed after the disputed 2014 presidential election, he has always been an uncomfortable partner.

While in exile, he has formed a loose coalition with Atta Mohammad Noor, one of the leaders of the mainly Tajik Jamiat-i Islami party and Mohammad Mohaqiq, a leader of the Hazara ethnic minority.

All three are veterans of decades of conflict in Afghanistan and bitter former rivals but for the moment they have set aside their rivalry to band together against what they see as Ghani’s favoritism for his own Pashtun group.

Italy to take some migrants after EU countries offer to help

MILAN/BERLIN ( ) – Italy will allow some migrants to disembark in Sicily from two ships which picked up 450 asylum seekers from an overcrowded boat, Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Sunday on TV channel RaiNews24.

The minister’s comments came after Germany, France and Malta pledged to host in total 150 migrants from the two ships, responding to a request for help by Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday.

Conte said in a tweet on Sunday that Spain and Portuga,爱上海Idaleen,l had also promised to accept 50 asylum seekers each.

Salvini, who is also the head of far-right League and a prominent member of the new Italian government, is leading a high-profile campaign to exclude humanitarian rescue ships from Italian ports.

He also argues that European countries should find a way to block the migrants before they leave Africa or send boats with asylum seekers back to the ports where they came from, including to Libya’s harbors.

Under international law, refugees cannot be returned to a place where their lives are in danger. Both the United Nations and EU have ruled that Libya is not safe.

“I am monitoring the situation of two ships traveling in Italian waters… there are 16 mothers and 11 children who will disembark in the next few minutes, hours…,” Salvini told the broadcaster.

These are in addition to eight other migrants who landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Saturday.

Salvini did not say上海龙凤419 when the rest of the migrants would be allowed to disembark and when Berlin, Paris, Valletta, Madrid and Lisbon would take the 50 people each, as promised.

Other EU countries could join in after Conte sent letters to the heads of state and heads of government of the 27 other EU members asking them to share responsibility for the migrants, who had sailed from Libya.

“Spain will take in 50 of the people rescued yesterday in the Mediterranean. This shows our commitment to offer solutions to migration flows and solidarity with the humanitarian drama,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted.

Malta had rejected pressure from Rome on Friday to rescue them, but said on Saturday it was ready to host 50 asylum seekers. France will take another 50, Conte said in a message posted on his Facebook profile.

The Czech Republic, however, refused the request.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis tweeted that the country would not accept any of the 450 asylum seekers.

Babis reiterated his stance th,上海419论坛Mace,at boats should be stopped and turned back and that migrants should be helped in their countries instead of being allowed into the European Union.

Turkey says reports of Kurdish militia withdrawal from Manbij…

ANKARA ( ) – A source at Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Monday dismissed a militia report that Kurdish YPG fighters had completely left Syria’s Manbij region as exaggerated, saying their withdrawal was still under way.

Turkey and the United States reached a deal last month over Manbij, a town in northern Syria, after months of disagreement. Under the deal, the YPG would withdraw from Manbij and Turkish and U.S. forces would maintain security and stability around the town.

The Manbij Military Council militia controlling Manbij said the last YPG fighters had left on Sunday after completing their mission of military training of local forces. The Manbij Military Council has repeatedly said there are no YPG fighters there, only some YPG military advisers.

The Manbij Military Council is allied to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed militia spearheaded by the YPG.

However, the Turkish Foreign Ministry source rejected the council’s report.

“We find reports that the PYD/YPG have completely withdrawn from Manbij to be exaggerated. T,上海千花网Garrett,he process is sti,上海419论坛Bernadette,ll continuing,” the source said, referring to the Kurdish YPG militia, and its political arm, the PYD.

“Withdrawal from the checkpoints on the patrol route is ongoing. Joint patrol preparations are continuing. Therefore, at this stage, reports that PYD/YPG have completely withdrawn from Manbij do not reflect the truth.”

It was not possible to independently verify the progress of the fighters’ withdrawal.

In a phone call on Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the importance of implementing the joint roadmap in Manbij, the Turkish presidency said.

The two leaders said the implementation of the deal would “significantly contribute” to the cooperation in solving the Syria problem, the presidency said.

Washington’s support for the YPG militia in the fight against Islamic State has infuriated Ankara, which sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The PKK, considered a terrorist group by the United States, the Europ上海419论坛ean Union and Turkey, has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast. Ankara fears advances by the YPG in Syria will embolden Kurdish militants at home.

Highlights: Trump and Putin speak after meeting in Helsinki

HELSINKI ( ) – Donald Trump met one-on-one with Russia’s Vladimir Putin behind closed doors on Monday in a long-awaited summit overshadowed by the U.S. president blaming his own country’s past “foolishness and stupidity” for the two powers’ hostile relations.

Following are highlights of comments made by Trump and Putin at a news conference after their meeting in Finland’s capital Helsinki.

TRUMP’S OPENING REMARKS

“We discussed a wide range of critical issues for both our countries. We had a productive dialogue, it went very well.”

“I want to congratulate Russian President Putin for hosting one of the best ever World Cups. A great job.”

“We’re here today to extend the proud tradition of bold American diplomacy. Diplomacy and engagement are preferable to conflict and hostility … A productive dialogue is not only good for (the United States) and Russia but good for the world.”

“If we are going to solve many of the problems facing our world, we will have to find ways to cooperate … We have seen the consequences when diplomacy is left on the table.”

“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now, however that changed as of about four hours ago … To refuse to engage would not accomplish anything.”

“As president I cannot make decisions on foreign policy to appease the media or the Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than risk peace in pursuit of politics.

“I will do what is best for the American people.”

“I addressed directly (the question of) Russian interference in our elections. We spent a great deal of time talking about it. President Putin feels strongly about the issue and has an interesting idea.”

“We discussed … nuclear proliferation. After today I am sure that we and them want to end that problem.”

“We also discussed the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism that both Russia and the United States have suffered…

“We have agreed to maintain open communication between our security agencies to protect our citizen from this global menace.”

“We also discussed at length the crisis in Syria. Cooperation between our countries has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives.

“I made clear we will not allow Iran to benefit from our successful c爱上海ampaign against ISIS (Islamic State).”

“We also agreed that representatives from our national security councils will meet to follow up on all the issues we discussed today. We have made the first steps toward a brighter future…, grounded in America’s desire for friendship, cooperation and peace.”

“President Putin I want to thank you for … advancing open dialogue between Russia and the United States … for the greater good of all.

“This was a very constructive day, the few hours we spent together today. It is in the interest of both our countries to continue this conversation and I’m sure we will be meeting again in the future.”

PUTIN’S OPENING REMARKS

“Negotiations with Trump took place in an open and constructive atmosphere, I find them rather successful and useful.”

“It is obvious to everyone that international relations have lived through a difficult period … The Cold War has ended a long time ago, the situation in the world has drastically changed. Russia and the United States are now facing totally different challenges.”

Putin said the meeting marked the first steps to restore “an acceptable level of trust and go back to previous level of interaction on all mutual interest issues”.

“As far as Syria is concerned the task of establishing peace and reconciliation in this country could b,上海千花网Ralph,e the first showcase example of successful joint work.”

“The United States could convince the Ukrainian leadership to fulfill the Minsk (peace) accords.”

“(Trump) touched upon the theme of Russia’s so-called meddling (in the 2016 U.S. election). I had to repeat what I’ve said before, that the Russian state has never interfered and has no intention to interfere.”

“We have offered to consider building the philosophy of bilateral relations for the long term.”

“We have good talks, we started to understand each other better.”

“The talks have reflected our mutual desire to improve the situation … to restore trust,” Putin said, referring to global security, economic issues and ecological risks.

“We find it important to have dialogue on strategic stability.”

“We have everything necessary for efficient cooperation on Syria.”

“We as the largest gas state – and the United States is also such a country – could have worked on regulating the global market. We are not interested in prices dropping to low levels as producers could get hurt. We are also not interested in excessively high prices.”

“Concerning Nord Stream 2 I have reassured Trump that Russia is ready to preserve (gas) transit via Ukraine. We are ready to extend the contract that expires in 2019 if the dispute in Stockholm (court) is solved.”

“No one should trust anyone. He (Trump) is defending U.S. interests, I am defending interests of the Russian Federation. We have matching interests, we are looking for common points.”

“Concerning 12 alleged security officers, I know nothing about it, I need to figure out. Trump has put this question to me, we have discussed this.”

ASKED ABOUT U.S. INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED RUSSIAN MEDDLING IN THE 2016 ELECTION

TRUMP:

“The probe is a disaster for our country. I think it has kept us apart. There was no collusion at all…, so far that I know virtually nothing related to the campaign. It was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her…We won that race and it’s a shame that there can be even a little bit of a cloud over it.

“This had a negative impact upon the relationship between the two biggest nuclear powers of the world.

“There was no collusion, I did not know the president (Putin), there was nobody to collude with … We ran a brilliant campaign and that is why I am president.”

“I wonder why the FBI did not take the server. Where is the server? I want to know where is it, and what is the server saying? With that, all I can do is ask the question.

“Putin just said it’s not Russia. I do not see any reason why it should be … It (the election dispute) will go on for a while but it cannot be (resolved) unless we know what happened to the server.

“What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails — 33,000 just gone, gone.”

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people but President Putin was extremely strong and confident in his denial today.”

“He offered to have (our) people working on the case come and work with their (Russian) people on the case.”

PUTIN:

“We can suggest that the Mueller commission … files us an official request to carry out interrogation of the people that they deem guilty. Representatives of our prosecutor’s office and investigative authorities can carry out these interrogations and file the materials to the United States.”

“We can take another step: We can let U.S. official representatives, including Mueller, take part in these interrogations. We can raise the question of making these actions mutual. We can expect from the United States to question those representatives of special services that we suspect have carried out unlawful actions against Russia.”

“There is a well-known case of Hermitage Capital.  According to our investigation, (British businessman Bill) Browder’s partners have illegally made more than $1.5 billion in Russia. They have paid no taxes in Russia and the United States but they transferred this money to the United States, $400 million have been channeled into (Hillary) Clinton’s pre-election campaign.”

ASKED IF RUS,上海龙凤419Olsen,SIA HAS COMPROMISING MATERIAL ON TRUMP PRE-DATING HIS PRESIDENCY

PUTIN:

Putin denied what he called a “rumor” that Russia possessed compromising material on Trump dating back to when he was a businessman and visited Moscow.

“I’ve heard about us allegedly collecting compromising material on him when he came to Moscow. When he came to Moscow I didn’t even know he was there.

“It’s hard to imagine more nonsense. Throw this rubbish out of your head.

“I treat President Trump with utmost respect but back then nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.

“I was an intelligence officer myself and know how these dossiers are put together.”

TRUMP:

“If they (the Russian government) had anything (compromising material) on me it would have been out long ago … It (the allegations) was a disgrace to the FBI, our country, and it was a total witch-hunt.”

PUTIN ON CRIMEA

Putin said Trump’s position on Crimea is “well known now and he stands firmly by it. He continues to maintain it was illegal” for Russia to annex Crimea. He said his own position is that it was legal based on a referendum.

TRUMP:

“We both spoke with Bibi Netanyahu (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and we would like to do certain things with Syria having to do with the safety of Israel. Russia and the U.S. will work jointly (in this regard).

“Creating safety for Israel is something both President Putin and I would like to see very much … We (also) want to help the Syrians on a humanitarian basis.

“Our (U.S. and Russian) militaries have gotten along better than our political leaders for a number of years. (And we get along in Syria as well).”

PUTIN:

“Yesterday I discussed this with French President Mr Macron and we reached an agreement that together with European countries including France we will step up this effort. On our side, we’ll provide military cargo aircraft to deliver humanitarian aid and today I brought up this issue with President Trump. There’s a huge amount of refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. If we help then immigration pressure on European countries will drop dramatically.”

“Generally, I agree with President (Trump), our military work rather successfully with each other (in Syria). I hope they will manage to make arrangements as they have managed to do this so far.”

TRUMP, ASKED IF HE’D CALLED PUTIN AN ADVERSARY:

“Actually I called him a competitor and a good competitor he is, and I think the word competitor is a compliment.”

TRUMP, ASKED ABOUT HIS EARLIER COMMENT ON U.S. FOOLISHNESS AND STUPIDITY TOWARD RUSSIA

“I hold both countries responsible. I think the U.S. has been foolish. We’ve all been foolish. I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her … We won that race and it’s a shame that there can be even a little bit of a cloud over it.”

PUTIN, ASKED WHETHER HE WANTED TRUMP TO WIN THE 2016 ELECTION

“Yes, I did.”

U.S. role in typhoon relief boosts new military deal with Manila

MANILA ( ) – Emergency relief provided by U.S. troops in areas devastated by typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines makes a strong case for the two allies to clinch a new military accord, Manila’s foreign minister said on Monday.

The Philippines and the United States have been negotiating a new security agreement allowing wider and more prolonged access for the U.S. military at bases and other facilities in its former colony. It also provides for storage of equipment and supplies for humanitarian and maritime operations.

Last month, after four meetings, the talks stalled over legal and constitutional issues. Both sides, however, are committed to concluding a deal, a bo,上海419论坛Janelle,ost to the foreign policy of President Barack Obama’s administration focusing on Asia and the Pacific.

“What has been demonstrated in the central Philippines as a result of this typhoon and the assistance provided in terms of relief, rescue operation… is the need for this framework agreement that we are working on with the United States,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters.

“It accentuates one of the main purposes of the framework agreement, which is to make humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and response a very major aspect of the agreement.”

The United States ran two military bases in the Philippines until the early 1990s, but abandoned them when the government refused to extend the necessary agreements.

The current talks are taking place as the Philippines is engaged in a long-running territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea. Tensions have periodically sharpened, with vessels from each side keeping close watch on the other.

FIFTY SHIPS AND AIRCRAFT

The world’s biggest-ever storm to make landfall struck the central Philippines on November 8, killing more than 5,200 people, displacing 4.4 million and destroying 24 billion pesos ($547 million) in crops and infrastructure.

Within days, the U.S. military sent some 50 ships and aircraft to help distribute food, water and other supplies and speed up delivery by reopening roads, ports and airports.

Washington has contributed nearly $52 million in relief and shelter materials, including about $30 million in direct aid from the U.S. Department of Defense, which sent the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and escort ships.

New Jersey Congressman,上海龙凤419Genavieve, Chris Smith, speaking to journalists after meeting del Rosario, said the storm “has brought all of us even closer together”.

“We realized that this is a jewel of a friendship. We must preserve it at all cost. So I think… all other ongoing negotiations will all be given a positive boost as a direct result of this.”

Smith said the United States was committed to long-term reconstruction, particularly housing. “There’s a colossal need,” he said. “We saw it first hand and that would be something that we take back because we want to be part of the solution.”

The U.N. humanitarian office said life saving assistance is still urgently needed, particularly food, water and shelter due to limited access and lack of long-term supplies. The U.N. says it needs to raise $348 million to address those needs.

China’s post-typhoon relief efforts were initially criticized, even by Chinese media, as inadequate, but Beijing last week sent a state of the art hospital ship to assist.

The head of China’s relief mission said there could be no notion of diplomatic disputes in times of humanitarian crises.

“We know that our n爱上海eighbor is suffering from the … disaster. It is our duty to provide assistance in the fastest possible time,” Rear Admiral Shen Hao said on Monday aboard the 14,000-tonne Peace Ark.

“In the eyes of the doctors and nurses there is no conflict, there is no problem. The only thing in their eyes is medical assistance.”

($1 = 43.8650 Philippine pesos)

Commission probing Cuba plane crash rejects speculation about cause

HAVANA/MEXICO CITY ( ) – The Cuban-led commission investigating the crash of a Cubana passenger jet in May said on Tuesday that reports on what caused it were premature, after the Mexican plane-leasing company Damojh that owned the plane blamed the crash on human error.

The commission labeled Damojh’s conclusion speculation and said in a statement published by state media, “Any affirmation about possible causes of this fatal accident is premature.”

“The commission continues its work … Once it,上海419论坛Harriet, has concluded its analysis of the evidence, it will inform on the results.”

Damojh, which leased the Boeing 737 to Cubana, Cuba’s national airline, said in a statement on its website on Monday that black boxes retrieved from the wreckage showed the crew had piloted it at a “very steep angle.” This, it said, led to a lack of lift that made the plane plunge after take-off.

It was not known how Damojh arrived at its conclusion or if it had access to the black box data.

Damojh could not be reached for comment. Cubana did not reply上海419论坛 to a request for comment.

has not independently confirmed what the black box data showed, and Cuban, Mexican and U.S. agencies investigating the May 18 crash outside Havana have not released any findings.

The ,上海贵族宝贝论坛Queenie,U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing referred queries to Cuba’s aviation authority. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board declined to comment.

Mexico’s civil aviation authority suspended Damojh operations after the crash and said on Monday that it would not lift the suspension, which the company is fighting, noting that its Cuba counterpart leading the crash investigation had yet to issue findings. It generally takes months to investigate an air crash.

Cuban Transport Minister Adel Yzquierdo said in May that Cubana had leased the 39-year-old plane from Damojh less than a month before the crash in which 112 people died.

Mexico’s pilots union, ASPA, said on Monday that Damojh was “irresponsible” in releasing its statement before the investigation had been concluded, and that it did not take into account factors such as distribution of weight or possible equipment failures.

Damojh was banned from flying in Guyana last year because of safety concerns, the Guyana civil aviation authority said after the crash.

Mexico’s aviation authority said after the crash that it had suspended Damojh in 2010 and 2013 during regulatory compliance reviews.

EU’s Juncker demands ‘respect’ after drink question on health

BRUSSELS ( ) – European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker asked for “respect” after a journalist asked him on Wednesday if he was drunk when he staggered and needed help walking at a NATO summit last week.

The EU chief executive told a news conference on an EU project financing plan that he had, as his aides have previously said, been suffering an attack of longstanding sciatica along with cramp in the legs last Wednesday.爱上海

Video of Juncker, who next,爱上海419Octavio, week travels to Washington for crunch talks on trade with U.S. President Donald Trump, being helped by other leaders at the NATO meeting had prompted calls from eurosceptic politicians for his resignation.

The 63-year-old former Luxembourg prime minister has spoken before of suffering back and leg pain and he rejected suggestions that his problem last week had anything to do with alcohol.

“That was correct last Wednesday and that is correct this morning and will be correct tonight and tomorrow morning,” he told reporters.

“I’m really struck by the in,上海贵族宝贝论坛Terrell,terest some are taking about these not even marginal issues and I’m asking for respect.”

Following the NATO summit Juncker participated in a series of meetings and foreign trips this week to China and Japan.

Juncker has repeatedly dismissed allegations he has an alcohol problem — an allegation raised notably by British media when London was trying to block his appointment four years ago.

Colombia’s President-elect names Maria Fernanda Suarez energy minister

BOGOTA ( ) – Colombia’s President-elect Ivan Duque on Wednesday named Maria Fernanda Suarez as mining and energy minister when he takes office next month, a role that will require her to bolster oil output to help a weak economy and settle messy mining disputes.

Suarez, 44, is currently executive vice president at state oil company Ecopetrol. She served as director of public credit at the finance ministry and as vice president of investments for the Porvenir pension fund. She has also held senior positions at Citibank, ABN AMRO and Bank of America.

Suarez has a Masters degree in public policy from Georgetown University. She will replace German Arce on Aug. 7.

“She has a brilliant resume in the public and private sectors,” Duque said in a statement.

As mines and energy minister, Suarez faces a difficult task as Colombia struggles to increase oil production to help increase revenue and stimulate a sluggish economy after years of weak international oil prices.

“With her, we will promote greater diversification of national energy, efficiency and competitiveness in the sector, p,爱上海Sabina,rovide energy security for Colombia, and social and environmental responsibility in all energy mining production sectors,” Duque said.

At current rates of production, Colombia has less than six years worth of oil reserves – about 1.8 billion barrels – the energy ministry says, and urgent investment in exploration is needed to replace reserves.

Duque’s solution to dwindling oil reserves is to encourage investment in exploration, which he says could provide years more oil production, and give tax relief to the sector.

He has also pledged additional investment at state-run Ecopetrol’s refineries to allow exports of more higher-value derivatives.

Still, with the economy growing at an expected pace of just 2.7 percent this year and a budget deficit that needs to be reduced, funding such expenditure may be tough.

The Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP), which represents private oil companies, says the industry needs to spend about上海龙凤419 $7 billion a year just to keep output between 800,000 and 860,000 barrels per day.

In a presentation on Wednesday, the ACP said oil companies could invest $34.7 billion over the next five years to help growth in the economy and boost reserves by about 2 billion barrels, but tax cuts per barrel and legal security are needed.

“We need to create and keep conditions to invest around $7 billion a year in exploration and production of hydrocarbons,” said Francisco Jose Lloreda, ACP president.

“It’s necessary that we have a fiscal regime that’s more competitive, that the royalty system is reformed so that its distribution is more equitable and fair with producing regions.”

Oil companies are already grappling with security concerns as well as local referendums – on whether to allow mining in certain areas – and environmental court r,上海千花网Nell,ulings that have stymied major mining projects in Latin America’s fourth-largest economy.

A recent paper by the ACP, which represents private crude producers, warned that planned referendums put one-fifth of oil production at risk.

U.S. lawmaker urges continuation of Boeing F/A-18 fighter line

WASHINGTON ( ) – Randy Forbes, a key member of the House Armed Services Committee, on Thursday urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to rethink the U.S. Navy’s current plan to allow Boeing Co’s F/A-18 fighter jet production to close in 2016.

Forbes released a December 4 letter to Hagel in which he raised concerns about the fighter industrial base and warned about relying solely on the next-generation F-35C fighter jet being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp since it will not be ready for operational use on an aircraft carrier until 2019.

“The risk to U.S. national security and the health of our aviation industrial base of relying on only one tactical aircraft supply line is simply too great to allow the line to close,” Forbes said in the letter.

The lawmaker’s warning comes amid a concerted push by Boeing for additional U.S. and foreign orders for its popular F/A-18 Super Hornet and the EA-18G Growler electronic attack plane based on the same airframe to keep production going.

Boeing executives say they see good prospects for additional F/A-18 orders from the U.S. Navy, Canada, Australia, Denmark and several other countries, and they plan to continue investing in the fighter line.

Dennis Muilenburg, head of Boeing’s defense business, last month said ,上海419论坛Sam,the company must decide soon whether to self fund certain long-lead procurement items to extend the line beyond 2016, but he did not expect a decision to shut the line.

U.S. Navy officials say they would like to buy more F/A-18s and are exploring options to do so but caution that there is no funding for any such purchases at this point. The timing of any new foreign orders also remains unclear.

Forbes said the Pentagon should maintain F/A-18 production in St. Louis, Missouri to safeguard the industrial base and ensure competition. Shutting the line, he warned, would eliminate “vital competition that could result in spiraling costs, leading to more expensive, less capable systems.”

It would also eliminate competition among suppliers, including companies that build aircraft radar and engines.

Forbes urged Hagel to ensure continued competition in the fighter jet market, just as it has done in shipbuilding and submarine industries.

A Navy official, speaking on background, said the service would “very much like” to order more F/A-18 or EA-18G aircraft, but there was no funding available at the moment.

“The F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler bring unique, proven and exceptional warfighting capability to the Navy and joint forces,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record. “The Navy continues to closely monitor the production lines and evaluate options to meet our strike fighter requirements.”

POTENTIAL ORDER NOTICE WITHDRAWN

Richard Gilpin, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for air programs, told last month the Navy was looking at options for buying more F/A-18 jets, but no decisions had been made. U.S. officials are also talking with foreign buyers about orders that could extend production.

The Navy in October flagged a possible order of up to 36 more F/A-18 fighters or EA-18G electronic attack planes in fiscal 2015, but later withdrew the notice on federal procurement website since there is no funding for more planes.

Navy officials say their talks about possible additional purchases of the Boeing fighter do not reflect any wavering of their commitment to the Lockheed F-35 program,上海贵族宝贝论坛Lenny,, since both fighter jets are intended to operate together for decades.

But some F-35 backers worry that the Navy’s proposal to deal with across-the-board spending cuts required under sequestration by pausing production of the F-35 C-model for two years could unravel that part of the F-35 program, especially if the Navy continues to buy Boeing je爱上海ts in the meantime.

A two-year delay in order could push pack initial use of the F-35C until 2021, said one former Navy official. “At some point, depending on how the F-35 carrier variant and unmanned planes come along, they may just not need the F-35C anymore.”

The $392 billion F-35 JSF, the Pentagon’s biggest arms program, has seen a 70 percent increase in costs over initial estimates and repeated schedule delays, but U.S. officials say the program has made progress in recent years.

(See interview with F-35 program chief: reut.rs/1dSZGgd0)

Eritrean troops withdraw from Ethiopian border: Eritrean Press agency

ADDIS ABABA ( ) – Eritrea has pulled troops back from its heavily militarized border with Ethiopia as a “gesture of reconciliation”, the pro-government Eritrean Press agency said on its Facebook page.

There was no immediate confirmation from the government in Asmara, but the move would be consistent with rapidly improving ties between the Horn of Africa neighbors, whose 1998 war killed tens of thousands and led to two decades of military stalemate.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki signed an agreement in Asmara on July 9 to restore ties and have since taken steps to put it into practice including reopening embassies in each others countries.

“It is imperative for all those who care about the long-term stability and economic viability of the region to do everything they can to help the two countries move beyond the senseless war that wrought so much suffering on both peoples,” the agency said.

Earlier on Thursday, Ethiopia appointed its first ambassador to Eritrea in two decades, the state-affiliated Fana news agency said. An online rep上海419论坛ort from Fana said Redwan Hussien, formerly Ethiopian ambassador to Ireland, had become Addis Ababa’s representative in Asmara.

Abiy became prime minister in April and said he wanted to implement a peace deal that ended the war. The surprise decision was part of a broader effort to reform economics and politics in Ethiopia, the second-most populous country in Africa and east Africa’s largest economy.

The reforms included releasing thousands of political prisoners, a big step in a tightly controlled country ruled by a coalition of parties that drove the previous regime from power in 1991.

Better relations between the two countries could eventually give landlocked Ethiopia access to Eritrea’s ports and lay the groundwork for an easing of the political isolation of Eritrea.

Both leaders have visited each other, and Isaias this week reopened his country’s embassy in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia’s national carrier Ethiopia Airlines on Wednesday made its first flight to Asmara in two decades and was greeted by dancers waving flags and flowers as families separated for decades had emotional reunions.

Ethiopian Airlines is in talks to take a stake in Eritrean Airlines, Tewolde GebreMariam, chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines, said in an interview on Thursday, adding that a study would be conducted to de,上海贵族宝贝论坛Samara,termine the size of the stake.

INEVITABLE POLICY CHANGES

In another sign of change, the new Ethiopian central bank governor met the business community and heads of major banks and listened to their complaints for two hours while private TV cameras rolled and journalists took notes.

“We are open to listen to the challenges of the business community unlike in previous days,” said Yinager Dessie, who was appointed last month.

Business leaders said his predecessor was too conservative and sources in Addis ,上海龙凤419Saray,Ababa said he rarely met bank executives and businesspeople and did not engage with institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Yinager pledged to meet the business community regularly and said two main concerns they raised, scant access to credit and crippling foreign exchange shortages, were government priorities.

“We are working on amending regulations and directives that have caused challenges for the business community,” said Yinager, who previously served as head of the government’s National Planning Commission.

He also said that sweeping changes should be expected.

“It is inevitable to have a secondary market. We cannot be square and keep our economy closed to foreign markets,” he said.

Ethiopian law currently does not allow any secondary markets. The state controls the banking sector and foreign banks are not allowed to invest in Ethiopian banks.

Yinager said Ethiopian banks should provide better services and said he told bank heads privately the average lending rate to 18 to 20 percent is “not fair” to average people.

Ethiopia could sell stakes in state-owned firms as part of reforms to “unleash the potential of the private sector”, the information minister told on Wednesday.

Turkey’s Erdogan says may seek coalition if fails to get majority

ISTANBUL ( ) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his ruling AK Party could seek to form a coalition if it fails to secure a parliamentary majority in Sunday’s elections, a prospect which has unsettled investors who fear it could lead to political deadlock.

Polls indicate elections may be closer than anticipated when Erdogan called the snap elections in April, suggesting he may be p,爱上海419Carly,ushed to a second-round run-off for the presidency, and his AKP could lose its majority in the 600-seat assembly.

While investors have been spooked by what they see as Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism, the prospect of political deadlock is also seen as a negative, as it causes uncertainty, making it difficult to gauge the investment outlook.

“If it is under 300 (seats), then there could be a search for a coalition,” Erdogan said in an interview with the Kral FM radio station late on Wednesday.

He added that the probability of this was “very, very low”.

Erdogan has long argued that a stronger presidential system — d,上海千花网Randy,ue to go into effect after the election — is a guarantee against the fractious coalition politics that hampered the Turkish government in the 1990s.

The lira dipped 0.6 percent to 4.76 against the dollar by 1000 GMT. The currency has slumped more than 20 percent this year, and has been hit this week by concern about potential political uncertainty.

A compromise would be sought if the opposition obtains a majority, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, the minister charged with oversight of the economy, said.

The AKP formed an alliance with the nationalist MHP before the elections. The ruling party has held a majority in parliament for nearly all of its almost 16 years in power, only losing it in the June 2015 election. But parties failed to form a coalition then and Erdogan called a fresh election in November, restoring the AKP majority.

The leader of the nationalist MHP said on Monday another election could be held if his alliance with the AKP could not form a majority in parliament after Sunday’s vote.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Opposition parties also formed an alliance, which excluded the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). If the pro-Kurdish party exceeds the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament, it will be harder for the AKP to achieve a majority.

In the presidential election, opinion polls on average put Erdogan around 20 percentage points ahead of his nearest challenger, Muharrem Ince of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

However, if the election goes to a second round between the two candidates who get the most votes, parties in the “Nation Alliance” that includes the CHP have signaled they will call on voters to support the alliance’s second-round candidate.

Ince has said he would offer vice presidential roles to leaders of the other parties in their alliance.

He has reached out to the HDP during his campaign, visiting its presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas in jail. Ince’s wife paid a visit to Demirtas’ wife during a visit to Diyarbakir, the largest city in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

Although it traditionally has little support in the southeast, the HDP stronghold, Ince’s rally in Diyarbakir attracted a large crowd. Erdogan 上海龙凤419said he received intelligence indicating nearly all those attending were HDP supporters.

CHP deputy chair Unal Cevikoz, a former ambassador to Britain, told that if the opposition obtains a majority of parliamentary seats the opposition candidate would have a better chance in a second round of the presidential race.

It is unclear whether other opposition voters would rally around Ince in the second round, however, given traditional misgivings about the CHP among opposition nationalist, conservative and Kurdish voters.

Under the constitutional changes going into effect after the elections, the number of lawmakers in parliament will increase to 600 from 550 currently.

Hungarian STOP Soros laws are openly xenophobic: U.N.’s Zeid

GENEVA ( ) – New Hungarian laws that criminalize people for helping asylum-seekers are shameful and blatantly xenophobic, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said on Thursday.

The legislation, passed by the H上海龙凤419ungarian parliament on Wednesday, could come into force as early as July 1, he said in a statement. This makes it a criminal offense to provide advice to migrants and refugees or to monitor human rights at borders, he added. Individuals could get a year in prison and organizations could be banned.

Hungary says the legislation targets those assisting illegal immigrants, including by helping people to seek asylum when they are not entitled to it.

Zeid accused the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban of using the issue to win votes.

“The constant stoking of hatred by the current government for political gain has led to this latest shameful development, which is blatantly ,上海千花网Kaison,xenophobic and runs counter to European and international human rights standards and values,” he said.

Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party, which increased its parli,爱上海419Radley,amentary majority in April on an anti-immigration platform, has demonized Hungarian-born U.S. billionaire George Soros and the liberal NGOs he backs, naming the new legislation the STOP Soros law.

Orban accuses Soros of encouraging mass immigration to undermine Europe, a charge Soros denies, and has played on memories of large numbers of mostly Muslim migrants fleeing war and poverty who surged into Hungary in the summer of 2015.

Most moved on to wealthier western European countries, but Orban has branded the migrants a threat to Europe’s Christian civilization and built a border fence along Hungary’s southern borders to deter more from coming.

The U.N. statement said Hungarian authorities had also announced they would introduce a 25 percent tax on funding for NGOs that “support immigration”.

Zeid said the new laws struck at the heart of the European Union’s values of pluralism, tolerance and solidarity.

“It continues and deepens the Hungarian government’s assault on civic space, threatening those who work on behalf of the most vulnerable and in defense of our highest human rights values.”

The Orban government expects possible legal action by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, over the new law.

Turkish court rules to keep Amnesty official in jail

ISTANBUL ( ) – A Turkish court ruled on Thursday to keep the local chair of Amnesty International in jail as his trial on terror charges continues, the group said, 爱上海extending a year-long detention that has prompted global outrage.

The court ruled that Taner Kilic would be remanded in prison and his next hearing would be in November, Amnesty officials said on Twitter. Kilic has been jailed since June 2017 on charges of supporting the cleric that Ankara blames for a July 2016 failed coup.

Prosecutors say Kilic downloaded ByLock, a messaging app allegedly used by followers of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based Muslim preacher Turkey says orchestrated the attempt to topple President Tayyip Erdogan. Kilic has denied the charge, according to Amnesty.

“Today’s heart-breaking decision to keep our colleague in jail is yet another tra,上海龙凤419Darius,vesty of justice,” Amnesty’s secretary general, Salil Shetty, said in a statement.

“Taner’s situation is emblematic of what is happening in Turkey today. Many of human rights defenders are either languishing in jail or living in consta,爱上海Karen,nt fear of arrest.”

A court in February ruled for Kilic’s conditional release, but changed that decision later the same day following an appeal by a prosecutor.

Kilic’s case has attracted global attention and is seen by some as representative of a broad crackdown under Erdogan, who is facing a presidential election on Sunday.

Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concern about what they say is deepening authoritarianism. The government says its measures are necessary given the security threats it faces.

Kilic is facing trial on terrorism charges as are 10 other human rights activists in a similar case. All deny the charges. The 10 others had been previously released, while Kilic has remained in detention.

Mexico leftist’s motley coalition augurs post-election balancing act

MEXICO CITY ( ) – Mexican leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has forged a coalition of voters of all stripes in a bid to win the presidency at the third time of asking and now, with victory within his grasp, he must ,上海贵族宝贝论坛Sabina,work out how to hold it together.

The 64-year-old former mayor of Mexico City, whom opinion polls give a wide lead over rivals before the July 1 election, will have to balance the interests of leftist economic nationalists, social liberals and religious conservatives.

Aside from loyalty to AMLO himself, as Lopez Obrador is commonly known, the broad group is united by little more than opposition to the status quo and to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Lopez Obrador has made a career of denouncing corruption, electoral fraud and economic mismanagement by the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the center-right National Action Party (PAN), which governed from 2000 to 2012.

Yet, a week on Sunday, dozens of former politicians for the two parties will line up alongside him, amplifying his appeal to a wide swathe of the electorate but also creating a divergent platform with no clear center of political equilibrium.

“The cohesive element in this whole mix of elements and ways of thinking is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador,” said Abraham Gonzalez, a deputy interior minister in the last PAN government who now supports Lopez Obrador.

“So his actions, his ability to find common points of agreement, are crucial.”

So far Lopez Obrador has kept a lid on potential conflict within his alliance by adopting ambiguous stances on contentious issues such as abortion, gay marriage and economic liberalization.

Still, Mexico’s next president will face a more challenging start than his predecessors. Murders are at record levels, the peso currency is languishing close to historic lows against the dollar and a trade war has been brewing with Trump.

However, the U.S. president could prove useful. If Trump stays hostile, insisting Mexico will pay for his planned border wall and seeking to repatriate jobs to the United States, it could help Lopez Obrador paper over divisions on how to move Mexico forward.

“If Trump continues on the path he is on, he could easily help Lopez Obrador bring the country closer together,” said Andres Rozental, a former deputy foreign minister.

‘STRICTLY ELECTORAL’

Opinion polls suggest Lopez Obrador could win twice as many votes as his nearest challenger, former PAN leader Ricardo Anaya, who is battling for second place with ex-finance minister Jose Antonio Meade, the PRI candidate.

After his defeat in 2012, Lopez Obrador jettisoned the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and formed the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), which is on track to become the biggest force in Congress after the election.

Built around Lopez Obrador, MORENA entered an electoral pact with the smaller leftist Labor Party (PT) and the conservative, religious Social Encounter Party (PES).

The latter tie-up met with vocal resistance from a number of Lopez Obrador’s traditional supporters on the left, uneasy about allying with the staunchly anti-abortion PES.

Aaron Lara, a senior PES official, said the alliance was “strictly electoral” and conceded his party was quite likely to vote differently to MORENA in future “because our convictions are different from theirs”.

Excluding votes with cross-party backing, the PES nearly always voted with the PRI and against MORENA until the alliance was announced in December 2017, lower house records show. After that, votin,上海龙凤419Elizabeth,g became more aligned but differences persisted.

PRI ‘INVASION’

The electoral partnerships and drift of former PRI and PAN members into MORENA have stirred protests by party faithful.

In the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas, long a bastion of the PRI and PAN, many MORENA candidates have links to the two traditionally dominant parties.

The mayoral candidate for Reynosa, Tamaulipas’ biggest city, is a former PAN member of the state congress and brother-in-law to the PAN governor. MORENA’s contenders for the cities of Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and Tampico are all ex-PRI.

Omar Salomon, a MORENA activist in Ciudad Mante in southern Tamaulipas, said “imposition” of candidates had gone too far and MORENA was at risk 上海419论坛of being overrun by opportunists.

“We’ve been invaded by PRI people,” he said, branding the PES a “far right” party. Salomon said he would vote for Lopez Obrador, but not MORENA’s local candidate for Congress, or for mayor of Ciudad Mante.

Lopez Obrador accused the PAN of rigging the vote to rob him of the presidency in 2006, yet his supporters now include the man who was then chairman of the party, and his successor. He also has the backing of a former PRI interior minister who oversaw the 1988 election of President Carlos Salinas, a man he often depicts as the arch-villain of Mexican politics.

Like many MORENA members, including Lopez Obrador, Salomon opposed outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto’s energy reform, which opened the oil and gas industry to private capital.

However, Alfonso Romo, one of Lopez Obrador’s top economic advisers, said the candidate will not overturn the reform, and the new intake of MORENA lawmakers is set to feature former PRI and PAN legislators who voted for the historic measure.

At least 16 dead in central Mali ethnic clashes: government

BAMAKO ( ) – At least 16 Fulani herders have been killed in suspected ethnic clashes in central Mali, the government and local sources said on Sunday, underscoring the chronic instability blighting the West African nation ahead of elections next month.

Mali is expected to go to the polls at the end of July, but north of the capital Bamako has become a lawless scrubland used as a launch pad for jihadist attacks across West Africa that, coupled with local ethnic tensions, has made governing near impossible and the forthcoming elections difficult to manage.

Saturday’s attack involved an attack on the village ,上海419论坛Ora,of Koumaga in the Mopti region, the government said.

“I confirm there were clashes between people from the same village (Koumaga), in the circle of Djenné (near Mopti). The army intervened to intervened and counted 16 dead for the moment,” security spokesman Amadou Sangho told .

The government did not provide further details of the attack, but an organization representing Fulani herders said on Sunday that close to 50 people were killed in Koumaga by Donzo hunters as part of ongoing clashes between the two,上海千花网Cammy, groups that have long fought over land, grazing grounds and water rights.

“Shepherds, very young children with their animals in the bush, people returning … to cultivate their fields, were cowardly murdered,” said Abdoul Aziz Diallo, who runs Tabital Pulaaku, a Fulani association.

The government has made no sign of a dela上海419论坛y to July’s polls, but Saturday’s violence comes after a turbulent month in the cotton- and gold-producing nation.

The defense ministry said last week that some of its soldiers were implicated in “gross violations” after the discovery of some mass graves in the center of the country. The graves were found after a military crackdown on suspected jihadists and allied ethnic militia.

Mali has been in turmoil since Tuareg rebels and loosely allied Islamists took over its north in 2012, prompting French forces to intervene to push them back the following year. Those groups have since regained a foothold in the north and center.

Assad pledges to regain control of northern Syria by force if needed

MOSCOW ( ) – The Syrian army will regain control of the country’s north by force if rebels there refuse to surrender, President Bashar a上海龙凤419l-Assad said in an interview with Russian television channel NTV on Sunday.

Assad, who said in the same interview he would not accept Western funds to rebuild his country, was speaking after Damascus said it rejected the presence of Turkish and U.S. forces around the northern town of Manbij, a day after soldiers of the two countries began patrolling the area.

“We have chosen two paths: the first and most important one is reconciliation… The second path is to attack terrorists if they don’t s,爱上海Ira,urrender and refuse to make peace,” Assad said in the interview.

“We will fight with them (rebels) and return control by force. It is certainly not the best option for us, but it’s the only way to get control of the country,” said Assad, responding to a question about the northern part of Syria where rebel groups backed by Turkey hold some territory.

Assad has previously promised to also squeeze rebels from the country’s south, ,上海千花网Leroy,and a war monitor and rebel officials said on Friday that the Syrian army had dropped barrel bombs on opposition areas of the country’s southwest for the first time in a year. Damascus denies using barrel bombs.

Italy’s League advances in local polls amid immigration crackdown

ROME ( ) – Italy’s ruling right-wing League party gained ground in local elections at the weekend, strengthening its hand as it cracks down on immigrants fleeing Africa and urges the European Union to revise its policy on asylum-seekers.

The League, in a governing coalition with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, extended its political reach in a second round of municipal elections on Sunday, taking over some strongholds of the center-left, which lost power nationally in March.

The results are a boost for League leader Matteo Salvini, who flew on Monday to Libya, staging post for waves of Africans fleeing to Italy in flimsy boats, many with the ultimate aim of settling in other EU countries such as Germany and France.

The elections appeared to confirm opinion poll findings which show the League doubling its support since the March 4 election and putting it on par with its larger coalition partner.

Salvini, who wants the EU to do more to help Libya stop people making the perilous journey, announced his departure for Libya in a Twitter post on Monday, without giving details.

He is due to meet Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taher Siala and Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, and appear at a news conference there later on Monday.

Salvini, interior minister responsible for border contr,上海龙凤419Fergus,ol, wants his EU partners to revise the rules governing asylum seekers crossing the Medit上海419论坛erranean so that the bloc shares out the burden of handling them.

Under current EU rules, responsibility for handling boatloads of asylum seekers rests with the country where they first disembark. Italy, which lies close to North Africa, has taken in some 650,000 boat migrants since 2014.

Salvini’s decision to close port access to foreign-registered rescue vessels has caused a standoff with Malta, which also has refused ,爱上海Lake,to allow them to dock.

Rescue vessel Lifeline is carrying more than 230 migrants and is stuck in international waters in the Mediterranean.[nL8N1TQ0A5]

A private cargo ship, the Alexander Maersk, also has been waiting to be assigned a port since it picked up 113 migrants off southern Italy on Friday, the ship owner said.

Turkey’s Erdogan wins presidential election, opposition yet to concede

ANKARA ( ) – Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey’s presidential election on Sunday, the head of the country’s electoral body said, overcoming the biggest electoral challenge to his rule in a decade and a half.

Electoral board Chairman Sadi Guven said that with more than 97 percent of votes counted, Erdogan had an absolute majority. Unofficial results broadcast on Turkish television also gave his ruling party and its alliance partner a majority in parliament.

The main opposition party did not immediately concede defeat. But after initially saying Erdogan would fall well short of a first-round victory, it said simply it would continue its democratic struggle “whatever the result”.

“Starting tomorrow, we will start working to realize the promises we made our people,” Erdogan told flag-waving supporters in a victory speech delivered from the balcony of his ruling AK Party’s headquarters in Ankara shortly after 3 a.m.

He also pledged that authorities, who have waged a nationwide crackdown since a failed military coup two years ago, would act more decisively against terrorist organizations.

Erdogan, 64, the most popular but also the most divisive politician in modern Turkey, added that Turkish forces would continue to “liberate Syrian lands” so that the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey could return home safely.

Sunday’s vote ushered in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.

Erdogan’s victory paves the way for,上海贵族宝贝论坛Rebel, another five-year term. Under the new constitution, he could serve a further term from 2023, taking him to 2028.

U.N. to present plan for Mediterranean migrant centers for EU

LUXEMBOURG ( ) – The United Nations agencies for migration and refugees will present the European Union with a plan for “regional disembarkation platforms” around the Mediterranean where the bloc could hold migrants and decide whether to admit them.

The plan appears to have fairly broad support in an EU now bitterly split over immigration policy, although countries have yet to settle on the details.

Europe’s migration crisis, which peaked with the arrival of more than 1 million asylum seekers in 2015, has been tapering off with arrivals falling to the tens of thousands so far this year. But the issue has taken on new political urgency in ,上海419论坛Belinda,recent weeks as anti-immigrant parties make their influence felt.

A new government in Italy is refusing to allow charities that rescue migrants at sea to dock ships on its shores, and migration policy has threatened to divide Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition in Germany.

EU leaders will hold a summit later this week to discuss more measures to curb arrival numbers, including by tightening external borders and giving more aid to countries from Turkey to Libya to help them prevent people from setting sail for Europe.

One new idea is for “regional disembarkation platforms” where the EU would take in people saved from boats crossing the Mediterranean, assess their asylum requests and hold those whose applications fail before they are sent back.

Various EU爱上海419 states have expressed differing opinions of what such centers could comprise. France has said Italy could host them; Italy wants them to sit in Africa.

A similar plan for “Africa hot spots” proposed two years ago by one of Europe’s most hardline anti-immigrant leaders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was widely criticized as potentially violating rights of those who attempt the crossing.

The initiative still poses legal, security and rights challenges but EU leaders now want the two U.N. bodies – the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – to make a proposal and run such sites in the future with EU money.

Another challenge is finding a state that would want to host such centers. Migrant camps run by Tripoli in Libya – where the U.N. also works with EU money to assist people – have been heavily criticized for horrid conditions.

Before EU leaders meet over migration in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, UNHCR chief Filipo Grandi said in a letter he wanted to discuss with them “new collaborative arrangements, within and outside the EU”.

“UNHCR is currently preparing a proposal in this respect, together with the International Organization for Migration, which we will share with you shortly,” Grandi said in his letter, dated June 18 and seen by on Tuesday.

The IOM and UNHCR did not immediately reply to request for comment.

Italy’s new populist government has refused entry in recent days to two rescue ships with hundreds of people aboard. Spain took in one; Malta is now expected to let in the other.

Italy has long been overwhelmed with arrivals and is now together with governments such as Austria and Hungary pushing tougher anti-immigration policies for the whole of the EU.

U.N,上海419论坛Ferdinand,. data shows some 43,000 people arrived to the EU across the Mediterranean this year. More than one thousand perished in trying to make the crossing.

Austria deploys police and troops for immigration exercise on border

SPIELFELD, Austria ( ) – Austria deployed police, soldiers and Black Hawk military helicopters on Tuesday in an exercise, overseen by the far-right interior minister, which enacted the arrival of hundreds of migrants on its border with Slovenia.

The drill, designed to show Austria’s preparedness for any repeat of Europe’s migration crisis, dovetailed with the right-wing government’s efforts to discourage migrants from setting off to find a home in central Europe.

Austria took in more than 1 percent of its population in asylum seekers during the 2015-2016 migration crisis, and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives won last year’s election pledging to prevent a repeat of that influx. They govern in coalition with the far-right Freedom Party.

“A state that in the worst case cannot protect its borders loses its credibility,” Interior Minister Herbert Kickl of the Freedom Party told reporters.

“I am determined that events like those of 2015 must not occur again. And that is exactly the message we want to send from here.”

Neighboring Slovenia however said the drill exaggerated the risk of another influx.

“The exercise is not needed. I see it even as a little provocative,” Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar was quoted as saying by national news agency STA.

The exercise was carried out at Spielfeld, a crossing where Austria se,爱上海419Eileen,t up a large crowd-management system in early 2016 designed to handle up ,爱上海Jaxton,to 11,000 people a day, only for the number of arrivals to collapse soon afterwards.

In contrast to a smaller exercise held under the previous government, Tuesday’s drill did not involve migrants being violent or any arrests. But five military helicopters, including two Black Hawks, hovered overhead.

Two hundred trainee police officers acted the part of migrants seeking entry. The peaceful crowds were hemmed in by security forces and fed through a system of fences and other barriers.

Migration has ret爱上海419urned to the top of the political agenda in Europe after the Bavarian sister party to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats last week gave her an ultimatum to broker a European immigration deal. The issue threatens to wreck her coalition government.

After meeting Germany’s Bavarian interior minister this month, Kurz called for an “axis of the willing” on illegal immigration including Italy, where the far right is also in government.

He is pushing for the European Union to set up centers outside its territory where asylum claims can be processed. He also wants migrants rescued in the Mediterranean to be taken back to Africa rather than transported to Europe.