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US seeks answers about missing writer Jamal Khashoggi from Saudi ally

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Turkish claims that a well-known Saudi writer and government critic was slain inside his country’s diplomatic mission in Turkey have put the Trump administration in a delicate spot.
Members of Congress have grown increasingly insistent in recent days that the administration get to the bottom of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a writer for The Washington Post. He had apparently drawn the wrath of the Saudi government, which has become an ever-closer United States (US) ally under President Donald Trump.
Angry lawmakers likely won’t cause the administration to turn away from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But they could throw a wrench into arms sales that require their approval and demand the US scale back support for the Saudi military campaign against rebels in Yemen.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has warned that if there was any truth to the allegations of wrongdoing by the Saudi government, it would be “devastating” to the US-Saudi relationship.
Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C, said the disappearance of the journalist sends a “chilling message” and called for the Saudis to “immediately investigate and verify Jamal’s location”.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, a longtime critic of the Saudi government, went further. He said he’ll try to force a vote in the Senate this week blocking US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. He told local radio in his home state that he wants to end the arms shipments if there’s “any indication” the Saudis are “implicated in killing this journalist that was critical of them”.
Saudi Arabia denies involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, and the Trump’s administration’s response has been far more cautious than that coming from Capitol Hill.
The administration has expressed concern but has refused to even entertain questions about what the consequences would be if Turkish allegations turn out to be true that the 59-year-old journalist was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after entering it on Oct 2 to get routine paperwork for his marriage while his Turkish fiance waited outside.
“We don’t know what has happened to him. We don’t have any information on that,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters on Tuesday. “That’s why I want to say, we don’t want to make any judgements about what happened, and we call for a thorough and transparent investigation.”
The Washington Post said it has repeatedly asked the Saudi and Turkish governments for information about Khashoggi’s whereabouts but has not received any satisfactory answers.
“Instead, reports about Jamal’s fate have suggested he was a victim of state-sponsored, cold-blooded murder,” CEO and publisher Fred Ryan said in a statement late on Tuesday. “Silence, denials and delays are not acceptable. We demand to know the truth.”
Analysts said there were reasons for skepticism about the Turkish account. Ties between Ankara and Riyadh are at a low point over Turkey’s support for Qatar in that country’s year-long dispute with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations. Saudi Arabia is also annoyed by Ankara’s rapprochement with the Kingdom’s archrival, Iran.


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Pakistan among the few countries to successfully turn tide against terrorism: Imran

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Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the country condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state-terrorism against people under illegal occupation. The PM stated that Pakistan is “among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism”.

Addressing the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit at Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Khan reiterated that Pakistan is ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. He added that growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. He further said that Pakistan will remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives.

Speaking on Afghanistan, PM Khan said that “the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution”, adding that Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for “peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process”.

 

“Excellencies, The world stands at a crossroads. For the first time in ages, we are seeing the advent of a multi-polar global order. Epicentres of economic power and growth momentum are shifting eastwards. Regional integration is speeding up. Disruptive technologies are maturing. Threats from terrorism to climate change to narcotics to bacterial resistance continue to loom large,” said PM Khan.

“There are increasing barriers to open trade and innovation. Meanwhile, growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. For its part, Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State-terrorism against people under illegal occupation. We are among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism,” added the Pakistan PM.

“Pakistan remains ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. We will also remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives. Excellencies, There is finally a realization that the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution. Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process,” further said Pakistan PM Khan.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reiterated India’s strong stand against terrorism and appealed that countries supporting, aiding and funding terrorism must be held accountable. PM Modi highlighted the spirit and ideals of SCO to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism even as Khan looked on.

Without naming Pakistan, a country that has made state-sponsored terrorism its biggest policy to counter India for the last several decades, PM Modi said every country needs to come together, unite and fight against the scourge.

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Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state

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Moscow: Vladimir Putin has said Russia will fight for an independent Palestinian state, and called for the issues of the Middle East to be resolved through peaceful means.

Despite international criticism over Russia’s own role in the Ukrainian crisis, Mr Putin was hailed last week by a St Petersburg Cossack group for his ability to “bring order and stop wars”.

In an address to the Arab League summit in Egypt on Saturday, Putin spoke against foreign intervention in countries’ internal disputes and spoke of the role Russia can play in diplomatic channels.

 

While Russia openly opposes the stance of US-backed Israel on the Gaza crisis, its position in the Middle East is complicated. Putin is one of Iran’s key allies, but as he spoke on Saturday the core nations of the Arab League engaged in air strikes on the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

His attempts to urge a peaceful solution in Yemen haven’t had much of an immediate impact – on Sunday, the Arab League agreed to the creation of a joint military forces comprised of around 40,000 elite troops to resolve the future “challenges” of the Middle East.

As one of the “Quartet” entities involved in Middle East peace negotiations, Russia has played a key role in talks about the fallout of last year’s Gaza crisis.

He told the summit this weekend: “Palestinians have the right to establish an independent and habitable state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

“Russia will continue to contribute to achieving this goal through bilateral and multilateral channels,” he said.

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Trump claims Queen had fun with him during his UK visit

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Washington: US President Donald Trump claimed that Britains Queen Elizabeth II had more fun during his state visit to the UK than in the last 25 years."I have such a great relationship, and we were laughing and having fun. And her people said she hasnt had so much fun in 25 years. Then I got criticized for it because they said we were having too much fun,” the Hill quoted Trump as saying.

Trump`s comments come two weeks after his first state visit to London to meet the 93-year-old monarch. During his three-day visit, the president dined with the Queen, members of the British royal family and other British politicians at Buckingham Palace.

Trump and the queen reaffirmed the importance of the Washington-London relationship during an elaborate state banquet.”On behalf of all Americans I offer a toast to the eternal friendship of our people, the vitality of our nations and to the long cherished and truly remarkable reign of her majesty, the queen,” Trump said in his toast during the event.

 

He also met Prime Minister Theresa May. Opposing Trumps visit, thousands of people hit the streets. TheTrump Baby` blimp was flown by the demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament, according to CNN, alongside a 16-foot robot version of Trump sitting on the toilet and tweeting.

Other activists came dressed as gorillas, with signs reading that they “only eat chlorinated chicken” — a nod to concerns in Britain that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US would mean a decline in food standards for imported produce.

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