Tag Archives: minister

Ecuador grants citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Assange: foreign minister

Ecuador grants citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Assange: foreign ministerEcuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been sheltering at its London embassy for five years to avoid arrest, Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa announced Thursday. Espinosa told a press conference in Quito that Assange, a 46-year-old Australian, became an Ecuadoran citizen on December 12. As a result, she said Ecuador had asked London to recognize Assange as a diplomat — which would give him safe passage out of the embassy without fear of arrest — but Britain had refused.



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Minister: Norway to extradite cleric if Italy convicts him

Minister: Norway to extradite cleric if Italy convicts himCOPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway's justice minister said Saturday that an Iraqi-born cleric suspected of enticing recruits to fight in Iraq and Syria will be extradited if a court in Italy convicts him.



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Saudi Arabia Pressured Lebanese Prime Minister To Resign: Report

Saudi Arabia Pressured Lebanese Prime Minister To Resign: ReportLebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his short-lived resignation in early November under heavy duress from the Saudi Arabian government, according to a New York Times report based on the accounts of Lebanese, Western and regional officials, as well as other figures close to Hariri.



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UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's releaseBritain’s foreign minister visited Iran on Saturday to press for the release of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe amid accusations at home that one of his gaffes has seriously harmed her case. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson held two hours of “frank” talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, which also touched on the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, the future of which has been thrown into doubt by US President Donald Trump.



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Gold trader tells US court: I paid ex-Turk minister over Iran deals

Gold trader tells US court: I paid ex-Turk minister over Iran dealsA Turkish-Iranian gold trader paid millions of dollars in bribes to Ankara’s former economy minister to facilitate illegal gold transactions with sanctions-hit Iran, the trader testified on Wednesday. Reza Zarrab had been due to go on trial Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, but the prosecution made clear that Zarrab was, instead, their star witness. The lone man in the dock is now Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, accused of violating sanctions against Iran, bribery and money laundering.



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Pakistan minister resigns as officials bow to Islamists' demands

Pakistan minister resigns as officials bow to Islamists' demandsPakistan’s law minister resigned Monday after the embattled government bowed to demands from a small Islamist group, striking a deal with the help of the military to end a weeks-long anti-blasphemy protest. Khadim Hussain Rizvi and his supporters from the once-obscure Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLY) group had paralysed the capital since November 6 with just 2,000 demonstrators, enraging millions of commuters and the judiciary who blasted the government for hesitating to act against them. Analysts said the capitulation to him and his supporters was an unsettling sign of the influence even marginal religious groups wield in Pakistan and an embarrassment for the government before elections due in 2018.



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No Irish border deal before EU trade agreement: British minister

No Irish border deal before EU trade agreement: British ministerBritain will not resolve the question of the Irish border after Brexit until it has also agreed the outline of a trade deal with the European Union, the country’s International Trade Minister Liam Fox said on Sunday. The EU has said “sufficient progress” needs to be made on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, along with two other key issues, before EU leaders meeting at a summit on Dec. 14-15 can approve the opening of trade talks next year.



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Israeli minister publicly confirms contacts with Saudi Arabia amid growing threat from Iran

Israeli minister publicly confirms contacts with Saudi Arabia amid growing threat from IranAn Israeli minister has publicly admitted for the first time that Israel and Saudi Arabia have been in covert contact as both countries strive to confront Iran in the Middle East. The Jewish state and the Arab kingdom do not have formal diplomatic relations but there have long been rumours and reports of the two sides secretly working together.  Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, confirmed there had been contact between Israel and Saudi Arabia but said that Riyadh was eager to keep the cooperation a secret.  "We have ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries, and usually (we are) the party that is not ashamed,” Mr Steinitz said.  "It's the other side that is interested in keeping the ties quiet. With us, usually, there is no problem, but we respect the other side's wish, when ties are developing, whether it's with Saudi Arabia or with other Arab countries or other Muslim countries.” Benjamin Netanyahu has boasted of improved but secret ties between Israel and the "moderate Sunni states" in the Middle East Credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen Saudi Arabia’s leaders are deeply sensitive to claims that they are working with Israel because the Jewish state is still seen as an enemy by much of the Saudi public.  Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, has said several times in the last two years that Saudi Arabia has “no relationship” with Israel and no secret back channels. Asked about the persistent reports that Saudi Arabia and Israel were cooperating against Iran, Mr Jubeir said last week that there could only be a relationship between the two countries if there was a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. #عادل_الجبير : #السعودية لا تملك علاقات مع #إسرائيل وليس هناك تواصل مباشر او عبر قنوات غير مباشرة معهم… pic.twitter.com/zrc1eiZpBT— بن هباس ���� (@5a1di) July 24, 2016 "We have always said that if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved on the basis of the Arab peace initiative that Israel would have enjoyed normal relations, economic, political, diplomatic relations with all of the Arab countries, and so until that happens, we don't have relations with Israel," he said. There was no immediate Saudi response to the Israeli minister’s comments.  Israel and Saudi Arabia both see Iran as a major threat and there have been public signs of their warming ties since Donald Trump took office. After visiting Riyadh in February, Mr Trump told Israelis that he found the Saudi leadership to be “very positive” towards Israel.  Donald Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia for his first foreign trip 00:41 Israel’s top military commander gave an unprecedented interview to a Saudi newspaper last week in which he offered to share intelligence against Iran.  Both Israel and Saudi Arabia speak often about the threat from Hizbollah, the Lebanese militant group which is supported by Iran.  Jerusalem says Hizbollah is amassing weapons in southern Lebanon with the aim of attacking Israel while Riyadh accuses Hizbollah of helping rebels in Yemen to launch missiles into Saudi Arabia.



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North Korean foreign minister heads to Cuba

North Korean foreign minister heads to CubaBy Marc Frank HAVANA (Reuters) – North Korea’s foreign minister will arrive in Cuba on Monday, in search of support amid unprecedented pressure from the United States and the international community to cease its nuclear weapons and missile programs. The Cuban foreign ministry, in a brief note on its web page, said Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho would meet with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez, among other unspecified activities.



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Lebanon's prime minister resigns, saying he cannot tolerate Iranian interference and fears assassination 

Lebanon's prime minister resigns, saying he cannot tolerate Iranian interference and fears assassination Lebanon’s prime minister resigned abruptly on Saturday, saying that he was stepping down in protest at Iran’s interference in his country and feared he would be assassinated like his father 12 years ago.  Saad al-Hariri announced his resignation from Saudi Arabia and the move appeared to have been done in coordination with Riyadh, which sees Iran as an arch-rival to be countered across the Middle East.    "The evil that Iran spreads in the region will backfire on it,” Mr Hariri said in a televised address.  “Despite my efforts, Iran continues to abuse Lebanon.” He also said his life was in danger and he was believed he was being targeted like his father, former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was killed by a massive car bomb in 2005.   “We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafik al-Hariri. I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life,” he said. Saad al-Hariri's father, Rafik, was assassinated in 2005 Credit: REUTERS/ Mohamed Azakir Mr Hariri also lashed out against Hizbollah, the Lebanese militant group which plays a major role in the country’s politics and is strongly supported by Iran.  Hizbollah’s armed wing is considered a terrorist group by the US, UK and most Gulf Arab states and new American sanctions imposed on the group may harm Lebanon’s overall economy. Mr  Hariri said the group’s actions had put Lebanon “in the eye of the storm”.  Mr Hariri had been in the role a little over a year and his resignation plunges Lebanon into uncertainty after what had appeared to be a period of progress in the small Middle East state.  In October, the parliament passed its budget since 2005 and last year it successfully elected a president, ending a standoff which had left Lebanon without a head of state for more than two years.   Under Lebanon’s complicated political power sharing system, the role of prime minister must be held by a Sunni, while the president is Christian and the speaker of the house is a Shia.  Hizbollah plays a major role in Lebanon's politics and its armed wing is beyond the control of the government Michael Aroun, the president, is closely aligned with Hizbollah and Mr Hariri’s resignation may remove one of the few anti-Hizbollah bulwarks inside the Lebanese government.  Mr Hariri announced he was stepping down after a flurry of visits to Saudi Arabia. He travelled to the Sunni kingdom earlier this week and met with the Thamer al-Sabhan, the Saudi minister for Gulf affairs, who takes a hawkish stance against Iranian influence in the region. Mr Sabhan called for the “toppling” of Hizbollah and days before Mr Hariri’s resignation he said he expected “astonishing developments”, suggesting he may have had advance warning of the Lebanese politician’s plans.  Mr Hariri quietly returned to Saudi Arabia later in the week and made his resignation speech from there. Minutes after Mr Hariri’s speech, the Saudi minister tweeted what appeared to be a warning to Iran: “Hands of treachery and aggression must be cut off.” ايدي الغدر والعدوان يجب ان تبتر— ثامر السبهان (@thamersas) November 4, 2017 Iran immediately cast Mr Hariri’s resignation as part of a US-Saudi plan for control in the Middle East.  "Al-Hariri's resignation was done in coordination with Trump and [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman to foment tension in Lebanon and the region,” Hossein Sheikholeslam, an advisor to Iran’s foreign ministry, told the Fars News agency, which is closely linked to the government.  Mr Hariri was born in Saudi Arabia and holds Saudi citizenship.  Saudi Arabia has taken a more aggressive stance against Hizbollah in the last two years, arguing it is an Iranian proxy force that is destabilising the Arab world. Hizbollah’s supporters say it is an organic Lebanese group that rose up to fight against Israel.  While Hizbollah is fighting in Syria in support of the Assad regime, it also maintains large stockpiles of weapons in southern Lebanon pointed at Israel.  Both Israeli and Lebanese fear that an eventual clash between Hizbollah and the Israeli military is almost inevitable and likely to be bloodier than the 2006 war, which killed around 1,000 Lebanese civilians and 44 Israeli civilians. 



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