Tag Archives: foreign

Iran foreign minister offers prisoner swap deal for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Iran foreign minister offers prisoner swap deal for Nazanin Zaghari-RatcliffeIran’s foreign minister has offered a prisoner exchange of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and an Iranian woman held in Australia on “phony charges”. Mohammed Javad Zarif, speaking at an event held by the Asia Society in New York on Wednesday, said the proposal was made to the US six months ago but he was now making it public. Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, a British-Iranian who has been held in prison in Tehran on spying charges since 2016, was last month granted diplomatic protection by the UK government in an attempt to secure her release, with little effect. “We have an Iranian lady in Australia who gave birth in prison after she was arrested on an extradition request from the United States because she was responsible as a translator in the purchase of transmission equipment for (an) Iranian broadcasting company,” Mr Zarif said. While he did not name the woman, it is believed he was referring to Negar Ghodskani, who has been detained in Australia since 2017 on a charge of “conspiracy to export US-origin technology to Iran without the required licenses.” Video of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's arrest shown on Iranian state TV “She’s been lingering in an Australian jail for two years. We hear about Nazanin and her child. I feel sorry for them and I’ve done my best to help, but nobody talks about this lady in Australia whose child is growing up apart from its mother.” Mr Zarif said he “had the authority” to negotiate such a deal, adding that it should also include other Iranian nationals held on sanctions violation charges in the US: “I put this offer on the table publicly now. Exchange them. “We believe that their charges are phony. The United States believes charges against those in prison in Iran are phony.” He claimed he has not received an answer from the US administration after floating the idea six months ago. The comments mark the first public suggestion from the Iranian government that it would be willing to use Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was working at the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the time of her arrest, as diplomatic leverage. The issue of the mother-of-one’s citizenship has created an impasse between the two countries as Iran does not recognise dual nationality. Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from Hampstead, north London, has complained of being denied access to medical care at Evin prison, going on a hunger strike earlier this year in protest. Her husband, Richard, said he was surprised by Mr Zarif's offer and that the UK government gave her protection precisely to protect her from being used as leverage. Mr Zarif, seen as a moderate inside the conservative Islamic Republic, also discussed Washington’s announcement on Monday that it would sanction all countries that buy Iranian oil, in a move meant to squeeze Iran's main source of revenue. Oil prices have hit their highest level since November, with the decision further tightening global supply. “(President Donald) Trump thinks he can bring us to our knees, but he is mistaken,” Mr Zarif warned. "We believe that Iran will continue to sell its oil. We will continue to find buyers for our oil and we will continue to use the Strait of Hormuz as a safe transit passage for the sale of our oil," he told the event in New York. "If the United States takes the crazy measure of trying to prevent us from doing that then it should be prepared for the consequences." He ended by saying that "it's not a crisis yet, but it's a dangerous situation. "Accidents, plotted accidents are possible."



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Five Britons killed in Sri Lanka terror attacks which left more than 200 dead, foreign ministry confirms

Five Britons killed in Sri Lanka terror attacks which left more than 200 dead, foreign ministry confirmsFive Britons have been killed in the Sri Lankan terror attacks which left more than 200 people dead, the country’s foreign ministry has confirmed. James Dauris, the UK's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, who visited some of the injured Britons in hospital, earlier today condemned the "deplorable violence" as he urged people in Sri Lanka to get in touch with members of their family to let them know they were safe. The country’s foreign ministry said the nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified. It was confirmed that three Britons and two people holding joint US and British citizenship were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks after a series of explosions which ripped through churches and luxury hotels. Sri Lanka attacks – Locator map Three Indians, one Portuguese national, two Turkish nationals were killed while a further nine foreigners were also reported missing. A Dutch national and a Chinese national also have been reported among the victims. The Easter attacks mark the worst bloodshed Sri Lanka has seen since its brutal civil war ended a decade ago. The authorities said 207 were killed and 450 injured in the attacks, most of which were being blamed on suspected suicide bombers. No one has taken responsibility for the killings, but officials say seven suspects have been arrested. pic gallery News of the death of the British nationals came as the first victims of the Easter bombings were named as a TV chef and her daughter, Nisanga. Shantha Mayadunne had been staying at the Shangri-La hotel in the capital Colombo which was one of four hotels bombed this morning. Her daughter had posted a photo of the family in the hotel shortly before the explosion with the caption, 'Easter breakfast with my family'. Six nearly simultaneous explosions at churches and hotels killed scores of people in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa. Hours later there were further explosions in Dehiwala and Dematagoda on the outskirts of Colombo. In Colombo, St Anthony's Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted in the first wave of explosions. Other blasts were reported at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a majority Catholic town north of Colombo, and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa. Mr Dauris said: "I've been speaking this afternoon with Brits in hospital who have been affected by today's senseless attacks. "My team's and my thoughts go out to all those people who are suffering as a result of the deplorable violence Sri Lanka has witnessed this Easter Sunday." Prime Minister, Theresa May said the Easter Sunday massacre was "truly appalling" and "no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear".



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US labels elite Iran force a foreign terrorist organization

US labels elite Iran force a foreign terrorist organizationWASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Monday designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization, an unprecedented declaration against a foreign government that may prompt retaliation and make it harder for American diplomats and military officers to work with allies in the region.



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U.S. seeks 'quagmire' with Iran in designating IRGC as terrorist group: Iran foreign minister

U.S. seeks 'quagmire' with Iran in designating IRGC as terrorist group: Iran foreign ministerIran’s foreign minister said on Sunday U.S. officials aiming to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist group want to “drag the U.S. into a quagmire” on behalf of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “#NetanyahuFirsters who have long agitated for FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organisaton) of the IRGC fully understand its consequences for US forces in the region.



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U.S. designates Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps foreign terror group

U.S. designates Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps foreign terror groupTrump administration calls Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist group, the first time Washington has described a foreign military this way.



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Trump calls AOC 'young bartender' after she accuses White House of using WhatsApp for foreign relations

Trump calls AOC 'young bartender' after she accuses White House of using WhatsApp for foreign relationsDonald Trump has mocked congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her plans to address climate change at a Republican party event, dismissing the left-wing Democrat “a young bartender”.Speaking to the National Republican Congressional Committee on Tuesday night, Mr Trump attacked Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s so-called Green New Deal proposal as “the craziest thing”, and suggested the Democrats were “petrified” of her.“The Green New Deal, done by a young bartender, 29 years old,” he said, referring to her previous employment. “A young bartender, wonderful young woman.”The insult followed Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s attack on the White House security clearance process after a whistleblower claimed several individuals had received approval despite disqualifying issues.The congresswoman said reports suggested “that we are conducting foreign relations with folks with security clearances via WhatsApp”.She added: “I mean, every day that we go without getting to the bottom of this matter is a day that we are putting hundreds, if not potentially thousands of Americans at risk.“What is next? Putting nuclear codes in Instagram DMs? This is ridiculous.”Her remarks were an apparent reference to evidence previously seen by the committee that the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner used WhatsApp to communicate with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.A Democratic-led committee later voted to subpoena Carl Kline, the former White House security clearance chief, over allegations that the Trump administration inappropriately reversed career officials’ decisions to deny security clearances to some of the president’s advisers.Whistleblower Tricia Newbold said the Trump administration overruled security experts to give questionable clearances to more than two dozen people.Two sources familiar with the congressional investigation told Reuters that two of the senior officials whose clearances Ms Newbold said were initially denied were Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and Mr Kushner.Speaking at the Republican fundraiser event on Tuesday evening, Mr Trump did not address Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s security criticisms, but did concede that the Democrats had a potential electoral advantage on one key issue: health care. “We have to take that away from them,” the president said. “Republicans should not run away from health care,” he added. “You can’t do it. You’re going to get clobbered.”He also said some of the Democrats’ proposals could prove enticing to votes in the short term. He said free health care sounds very seductive. “Don’t underestimate the power of socialism to get a vote.” The president suggested Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s climate change concerns were outside of the mainstream. “If they beat me with the Green New Deal, I deserve to lose,” he said.



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Mueller investigation probed if longstanding Trump fixer Cohen was unregistered foreign agent, search warrants reveal

Mueller investigation probed if longstanding Trump fixer Cohen was unregistered foreign agent, search warrants revealNew court filings reveal the extent of investigations Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office conducted against Donald Trump’s longtime fixer and former lawyer Michael Cohen – well before the infamous raid against him took place last year. The special counsel received warrants nearly a year before the raid to begin reading Cohen’s private email correspondence, according to court documents that were unsealed on Tuesday morning and reviewed by The Independent. Initially, the special counsel’s office had launched a probe into whether Cohen was acting as an unregistered foreign agent, an allegation he has not been charged over.



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Senate GOP Shows More Zeal to Challenge Trump on Foreign Policy

Senate GOP Shows More Zeal to Challenge Trump on Foreign PolicySome conservatives are indicating they may join Democrats to defy the White House in a vote planned Wednesday on a resolution that would withdraw U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Republican senators also are sponsoring legislation to impose additional sanctions on Russia and are pushing additional punishment for Saudi Arabia over the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Republican senators generally have been reluctant to criticize Trump on domestic issues — in part because of the president’s sway with GOP voters — though at least a few plan to vote Thursday against the president’s emergency declaration to fund border wall construction.



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The Latest: Sweden suggests tribunal for IS foreign fighters

The Latest: Sweden suggests tribunal for IS foreign fightersBEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in, and relating to, Syria (all times local):



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Justice Department taps Mueller prosecutor to enforce foreign lobbying disclosure

Justice Department taps Mueller prosecutor to enforce foreign lobbying disclosureBrandon Van Grack, a prosecutor in the Justice Department’s national security division who was on Mueller’s team until August, will lead the effort to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the official said. “We have increased our focus into FARA prosecutions,” John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for the national security division, told lawyers at the American Bar Association’s annual white collar crime conference, held this year in New Orleans. Demers said Van Grack would lead a team of attorneys and administrative staff whose mission was to make sure the FARA law, which requires disclosure of lobbying on behalf of foreign interests, is more aggressively enforced.



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