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Iran used accord to sow discord, says Saudi Arabia

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has welcomed President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the nuclear agreement with Iran, saying it would work with the United States and the international community to address Tehran’s nuclear programme as well as its ballistic missile programme and support of militant groups in the region.

“Iran used economic gains from the lifting of sanctions to continue its activities to destabilise the region, particularly by developing ballistic missiles and supporting terrorist groups in the region,” said a foreign ministry statement.

It confirmed “the need to deal with the danger that Iran’s policies pose to international peace and security through a comprehensive view that is not limited to its nuclear programme but also includes all hostile activities” in the region.

 

Saudi Arabia has called the 2015 nuclear deal a “flawed agreement”, and in March Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS news that his country would without a doubt develop nuclear weapons if Iran did so.


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New Zealand terrorist attack suspect grins in court

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Christchurch: The Australian suspect arrested after dozens of worshippers were gunned down in two mosques appeared unrepentant in court in New Zealand on Saturday, staring down media members with a smirk on his face.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, appeared in a Christchurch District Court and was charged with murder. He was remanded without a plea until his next appearance in the South Island city’s High Court on April 5.

Handcuffed, shoeless, and wearing a white prison suit, Tarrant did not speak. His court-appointed lawyer made no application for bail or name suppression.
He flashed an upside-down “okay” signal, a symbol used by white power groups across the globe.

 

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Christchurch, said the suspect locked eyes intensely with journalists.

“He came into court, he didn’t say anything at all. He stood there looking directly at the media in the courtroom and was smirking throughout his appearance,” Thomas reported.

Judge Paul Kellar allowed photos to be taken but ordered that the face of the former fitness instructor be blurred to preserve fair-trial rights.

Two other suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand – a country so peaceful that police officers rarely carry guns.

None of those arrested had a criminal history or was on any watch-list in New Zealand or Australia.

With 49 people killed in the mosque attacks, it was by far the deadliest shooting in modern New Zealand history. Funerals were planned on Saturday for some of the victims.

Medical staff said 39 wounded people were being treated in hospitals, 11 in critical condition including a four-year-old girl.

Victims were from across the Muslim world including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia. The dead included women and children.

Calling it a well-planned terrorist attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the main suspect was a licensed gun owner who used five weapons during his rampage, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns.

The weapons had been modified to allow the quicker discharge of rounds, she said.

“I can tell you one thing right now, our gun laws will change,” Ardern told reporters, saying a ban on semi-automatic weapons would be considered.

She said the suspect intended to continue the rampage before he was caught by police.

New Zealand, with a population of five million, has relatively loose gun laws and an estimated 1.5 million firearms, or roughly one for every three people. But it has one of the lowest gun homicide rates in the world. In 2015, it had just eight gun homicides.

Tarrant posted a jumbled, 74-page manifesto on social media in which he identified himself by name and said he was a white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.

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Haven’t forgotten lessons from 9/11: US

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Washington: In yet another warning to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has asked Islamabad to stop harbouring militants on its soil and do more to tackle the menace of terrorism, while also reminding that his country has still not forgotten the bitter lessons from the 9/11 attacks in New York.

The warning from the US Secretary of State to Pakistan came as he chatted with Brian Kilmeade of Fox and Friends on Friday.

To a question related to the recent India-Pakistan conflict in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, Pompeo said, ”We saw what happened with India, the conflict that arose there as a result of terrorists that departed from Pakistan.”

 

”We need the Pakistanis to step up. They need to stop harbouring militants,” Pompeo said during the interview.

The top-ranking US official reiterated that the Donald Trump Administration has taken strong action against Pakistan which no other previous governments have taken.
Pompeo, however, stressed, “We need Pakistan to do more. They have to stop harbouring these terrorists.”

He made these remarks while referring to the recent escalation in tensions between the two nuclear states following the February 14 attack carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district that left at least 40 personnel dead.

During the interview Pompeo was reminded that Pakistan still remains a breeding ground for terrorists and it is still providing training, arming and equipping the Taliban and without its support the Afghanistan terror outfit can’t regroup itself.

Replying to it, Pompeo said, ”Well, we’ve taken actions against Pakistan that no other administration has taken. I do see this. I see this from – I’ve had friends killed. You have too, I’m sure. Lots of New Yorkers were killed when those towers came down. I’ve not forgotten the lesson from 9/11. We need Pakistan to do more. They have to stop harbouring these terrorists.”

To a question on nuclear disarmament negotiations with North Korea, Pompeo expressed hopes that it would continue despite reports that Pyongyang is considering to suspend the talks.

“We are hopeful that we can continue to hold this conversation,” he said.

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India supportive of BRICS cooperation on counter-terrorism

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Curitiba: India extended support for the priority areas set out by Brazil, especially the BRICS cooperation on counter-terrorism, during first BRICS Sherpa meeting held here on March 14 and 15.

The Indian delegation was led by Secretary (ER), TS Tirumurti for the meeting, held under the Presidency of Brazil.

“Brazil has identified countering terrorism as one of its priority areas for BRICS under its presidency. Brazil’s priorities for its Presidency includes inter-alia science, technology, and innovation, digital economy, New Development Bank and BRICS Business Council as well as countering transnational crime and terrorism,” an official statement outlined.

 

India conveyed its support for the priority areas, particularly to take forward BRICS cooperation on counter-terrorism in a meaningful and concrete manner with BRICS member countries. “India also underlined the need to take forward inter-alia people-to-people cooperation, cooperation in science and technology and innovation, and also in health and traditional medicine,” the statement outlined.

BRICS brings together five major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – comprising 43 per cent of the world population, having 37 per cent of the world gross domestic product (GDP) and 17 per cent share in the world trade, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

India is one of the founder-nations of the association.

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