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It ‘certainly’ seems that Khashoggi is dead, says Trump

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Washington:US President Donald Trump said that it “certainly” seems that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared two weeks ago in Istanbul, is dead, adding that if this is confirmed there will be very serious consequences.

“It certainly looks that way… Very sad,” said the President when asked by a reporter whether Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, was dead.

Trump also said in remarks to reporters before boarding Air Force One to fly to a campaign rally in Montana that the alleged crime “will have serious consequences”, an Efe report said.

 

In previous comments to The New York Times, the President said on Thursday that it would be a miracle if the journalist is not dead.

“Unless the miracle of all miracles happens, I would acknowledge that he’s dead,” the President said. “That’s based on everything – intelligence coming from every side,” he added, noting that the case is not a positive development for US-Saudi relations.

Trump’s words came after he was informed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of the latest aspects of the case – insofar as they have been related to the US officials by Saudi and Turkish authorities.

Pompeo had travelled to Riyadh and Ankara this week to speak with local authorities there regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance, but returned and briefed the President personally at the White House on Thursday morning about what he had learned.

At their meeting, Pompeo asked Trump to give Saudi Arabia “a few more days” to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance, although he did not specify when he expected that investigation to be completed.

The Saudi journalist had been living in the US since 2017, periodically writing columns for The Washington Post, but he disappeared on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Many lawmakers, media outlets and other experts have said that there is virtually no doubt that Khashoggi is dead, murdered by specially dispatched Saudi agents inside the consulate.

“We made clear to them that we take this matter with respect to Mr. Khashoggi very seriously,” Pompeo told reporters after his White House meeting with Trump, adding that the Saudis “assured me that they will conduct a complete, thorough investigation of all the facts surrounding Mr. Khashoggi and that they will do so in a timely fashion”.

“I told President Trump this morning that we ought to give them a few more days to complete that so that we, too, have a complete understanding of the facts surrounding that, at which point we can make decisions about how, or if, the United States should respond to the incident surrounding Khashoggi,” he added.

Trump had predicted on Wednesday that the truth about Khashoggi’s disappearance probably would become known before the end of this week, adding that the most important thing as far as he’s concerned is to determine if Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman knew anything about the journalist’s possible murder.

Pompeo’s new remarks point to the possibility that the Saudi investigation could take longer, despite the growing impatience of the international community.

The top US diplomat emphasized that the Saudi report will be “transparent” and that everyone will be able to ask questions about the matter.

The US administration then will also be able to judge whether the Saudi report was credible, accurate, fair and transparent, Pompeo said in response to a reporter’s question.

Pompeo also mentioned the long strategic relationship between Washington and Riyadh, saying that “They are an important strategic alliance of the United States and we need to be mindful of that as well.”

The Secretary of State noted that Turkey is also investigating the matter and predicted that the two separate probes, when considered together, will be able to provide a full picture of what actually occurred in Istanbul.


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International

Iran ready to hold talks with US if sanctions lifted: Rouhani

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Tehran: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that his country was ready to hold talks with the US if Washington lifts sanctions imposed on Tehran.

“We are always ready for negotiations. I tell you this hour and this moment to abandon bullying and lift the sanctions and return to logic and wisdom. We are ready,” the Iranian Mehr News Agency quoted Rouhani as saying on Sunday.

Leaders of France, Germany and Britain, European signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement said on Sunday that they were “extremely concerned” about the escalating tension in the Gulf region, which they said is likely to put the accord at risk unless the concerned parties join the same table of talks.

 

In May 2018, Washington unilaterally abandoned the Iran nuclear deal and restarted imposing sanctions on Iran.

On May 8, Iran stopped implementing some of its commitments under the deal and set a 60-day deadline for the Europeans to help Tehran reap the economic benefits of the deal.

On July 7, as the deadline expired, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi announced that Tehran was ready to begin enriching uranium beyond the 3.67 per cent level set in the Iran nuclear deal, adding that Tehran would go on gradually abandoning its nuclear commitments every 60 days.

On July 8, Iran announced that it had raised the concentration of its enriched uranium to 4.5 per cent from 3.67 purity.

Following Tehran’s announcement, US Vice President Mike Pence, along with other senior administration officials, vowed to continue to pile up economic pressure on Iran.

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Nepal flooding and landslides: Death toll reaches 65

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New Delhi: Authorities are battling against time and elements as the death toll in Nepal has reached 65 after widespread flooding and landslides hit the country’s Terai region.

Flooding and landslides have hit the Terai region of the country after incessant rainfall over the past several days. While many villages have been evacuated here, many people were either injured or killed due to nature’s fury. The most affected districts include Lalitpur, Khotang, Bhojpur, Kavre, Makwanpur, Sindhuli and Dhading.

Nepal Police, according to news agency ANI, has said that as many as 30 people are missing.

 

A total of 1146 people have been rescued from areas at maximum risk from flooding and landslides, as on Monday morning, from 22 districts. Authorities here have said that all the injured are being given medical assistance at local hospitals while people are being advised to get to safer grounds because the threat from swelling rivers remains. More rainfall here could complicate rescue efforts.

Incessant rainfall and the consequent flooding here has also put several districts in Bihar at risk. News agency IANS reported that water level in Koshi, Gandak, Budhi Gandak, Ganga and Bagmati rivers are on the rise. The state government, along with National Disaster Response Force, is helping locals in areas like Supaul, Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, West Champaran, Araria and Kishanganj move to safer locations.

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Leave the US, Trump tells liberal Democratic congresswomen

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Washington: United States President Donald Trump assailed a group of Democratic congresswomen of colour as foreign-born troublemakers who should go back to the “broken and crime infested places from which they came”, ignoring the fact that the women are American citizens and all but one was born in the US.

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” he said in tweets.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

 

He added: “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Trump was almost certainly referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and her allies in what’s become known as the squad. The others are Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Only Omar, from Somalia, is foreign-born.

With his remarks, Trump again inserted himself into a rift between Pelosi and the liberal congresswomen, after offering an unsolicited defence of the Democratic speaker days earlier. Pelosi has been seeking to minimise Ocasio-Cortez’s influence in recent days, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to accuse Pelosi of trying to marginalise women of color.

“She is not a racist,” Trump had said on Friday.

Today, Trump’s tone changed.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in suburban Westchester County.

Pressley, the first black woman elected to the House from Massachusetts, was born in Cincinnati.

Omar, the first Somali native elected to Congress and one of its first Muslim women, was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country. She immigrated to the US at age 12, teaching herself English by watching American TV and eventually settling with her family in Minneapolis.

Tlaib was born in Detroit.

Trump’s tweets drew a sharp rebuke from Pelosi, who said the president wants to “make America white again”.

Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a Trump critic who recently took steps to leave his party, called the remarks “racist and disgusting”.

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