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China offers Myanmar support over Rohingya issue after US rebuke

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Beijing: China supports the Myanmar government`s efforts to protect domestic stability and approach to resolving the Rohingya issue, Premier Li Keqiang told the country`s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, after US Vice President Mike Pence offered a strong rebuke.

Pence voiced Washington`s strongest condemnation yet of Myanmar`s treatment of Rohingya Muslims, telling Suu Kyi that “persecution” by her country`s army was “without excuse”.

Meeting Suu Kyi on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian summit in Singapore, Li said China attaches great importance to its ties with Myanmar and would build on their tradition of friendship, China`s Foreign Ministry said.

“The Chinese side supports Myanmar`s efforts in maintaining its domestic stability, and supports Myanmar and Bangladesh appropriately resolving the Rakhine state issue via dialogue and consultation,” the ministry cited Li as saying.

China is “willing to provide the relevant parties with necessary support in this regard”, he added, without elaborating.

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees crossed into Bangladesh from western Myanmar`s Rakhine state, U.N. agencies say, after Rohingya insurgent attacks on Myanmar security forces in August 2017 triggered a sweeping military crackdown.

The two countries agreed on Oct. 30 to begin returning refugees to Myanmar in mid-November. The U.N. refugee agency has said conditions in Rakhine are “not yet conducive for returns”.

China has close relations with Myanmar, and backs what Myanmar officials have called a legitimate counter-insurgency operation in Rakhine.

China`s statement cited Suu Kyi as expressing thanks to China for the many times it has extended help to Myanmar, especially the constant understanding and support for the Myanmar peace process and the Rakhine issue.

A plan to begin repatriating hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees to Myanmar stalled , amid protests by refugees at camps in Bangladesh and recriminations between the officials in both countries.


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In rebuke to Trump, US Senate blames Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi’s murder

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Washington: The US Senate delivered a rare double rebuke to President Donald Trump on Saudi Arabia , voting to end US military support for the war in Yemen and blame the Saudi crown prince for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The votes were largely symbolic because to become law the resolutions would have to pass the House of Representatives, whose Republican leaders have blocked any legislation intended to rebuke the Saudis.

In a historic move, Senators voted 56-41 to end US military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned what the United Nations calls the world’s most dire human crisis, with the country on the brink of famine.

It was the first time either chamber of Congress had backed a resolution to withdraw US forces from a military engagement under the War Powers Act. That law, passed in 1973, limits the president’s ability to commit US forces to potential hostilities without congressional approval.

Seven of Trump’s fellow Republicans joined Senate Democrats to back the measure.

Immediately after the Yemen vote, the Senate backed a resolution blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi’s murder and insisting that Saudi Arabia hold accountable anyone responsible for his death.

Khashoggi, a US resident who was a columnist for the Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. The Senate vote, which was unanimous, puts pressure on House leaders to allow a vote on the Khashoggi resolution this month, before Congress adjourns for the year.

“Unanimously, the United States Senate has said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is a strong statement. I think it speaks to the values that we hold dear,” said Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and sponsor of the resolution.

Trump has said he wants Washington to stand by the Saudi government and the prince, despite a CIA assessment it was likely he ordered Khashoggi’s killing. He promised to veto the war powers resolution.

Opponents of the resolution are reluctant to take any action to disrupt the strategic US relationship with Saudi Arabia, seen as an essential counterweight in the Middle East to Iran, arch-enemy of close US ally Israel.

Administration officials also see Saudi support as a linchpin for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan yet to be unveiled by the Trump administration. And they have argued that ending US support could complicate Yemen peace talks.

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US to counter China, Russia’s influence in Africa

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WASHINGTON: The United States plans to counter the rapidly expanding economic and political influence of China and Russia in Africa, where the two nations use corrupt and predatory business practices, US national security adviser John Bolton said.

The United States’ No 1 priority will be developing economic ties with the region to create opportunities for American businesses and protect the independence of African countries, as well as US national security interests, he said in prepared remarks.

“Great-power competitors, namely China and Russia, are rapidly expanding their financial and political influence across Africa,” Bolton said. “They are deliberately and aggressively targeting their investments in the region to gain a competitive advantage over the United States.”

Bolton’s speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, comes as US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, leaders of the world’s two largest economies, seek to resolve trade disputes that have roiled global markets and created economic uncertainty.

“China uses bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands. Its investment ventures are riddled with corruption,” Bolton said in his remarks.

Bolton had equally harsh words for Russia. “Across the continent, Russia advances its political and economic relationships with little regard for the rule of law or accountable and transparent governance,” he said.

He accused Moscow of selling arms and energy in exchange for votes at the United Nations, “votes that keep strongmen in power, undermine peace and security, and run counter to the best interests of the African people”. Bolton said the “predatory practices” used by China and Russia stunt economic growth in African and threaten its nations’ economic independence.

China’s development policies in Africa have been a concern for Washington as the United States seeks to ramp up development finance in the face of Chinas global ambitions.

The head of the US Overseas Private Investment Corp (OPIC) said in July that China is saddling poor nations with unsustainable debt through large-scale infrastructure projects that are not economically viable.

Bolton contrasted China’s “bait and switch” policies in Africa to the American approach. “The way we do business is much more straightforward,” he said.

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4 dead, 43 injured after high-speed train crashes into overpass in Turkey

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ANKARA: At least four persons died and over 43 injured after a high-speed train crashed into an overpass in Turkish capital Ankara, reported the country’s media.

A video footage uploaded by Posta Gazetesi, a Turkish daily newspaper, showed mangled metal remains of the train. Emergency workers were seen rescuing people from the accident site.

The accident took place at the overpass at the Marsandiz train station, to the west of Ankara at around 6:30 am (9 am IST) as the train was travelling between Ankara and the central Turkish province of Konya.

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