Trump makes surprise visit to US troops in Iraq

US troops

MNA International Desk: President Donald Trump made a surprise Christmas visit to US troops in Iraq on Wednesday, his first trip to a conflict zone nearly two years into his presidency and days after announcing a pullout of American troops from neighbouring Syria. Trump was looking for some positive headlines after several days of turmoil over his decisions to withdraw the 2,000 US troops in Syria, pull out half of the 14,000-strong contingent in Afghanistan, and push out Defence Secretary James Mattis two months earlier than planned for criticising his policies. Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and speaking at ...

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IS claims Tripoli suicide attack


MNA International Desk: Suicide attackers stormed the Libyan foreign ministry in the capital Tripoli on Tuesday, killing at least three people including a senior civil servant in an attack claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group, reported news agency. Twenty-one other people were wounded in the attack, authorities said. A car bomb exploded near the ministry, prompting security forces to rush to the scene, said special forces spokesman Tarak al-Dawass. A suicide bomber then blew himself up on the second floor of the building while a second attacker died when a suitcase he was carrying exploded, he said. A third ...

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Death toll from Indonesia tsunami rises to 281

death toll

MNA International Desk: The death toll from an Indonesian tsunami has risen past 280 with more than 1,000 people injured. The tsunami struck Sunda Strait coastal areas along western Java and southern Sumatra islands without warning in the darkness Saturday night. A disaster agency spokesperson, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said 281 people were killed and 1,016 others injured. Fifty-seven people were missing but that number was expected to rise. The waves that swept terrified people into the sea followed an eruption and possible landslide on Anak Krakatau, one of the world’s most infamous volcanic islands. Dramatic video posted on social media ...

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Indonesia Tsunami: Death toll rises to 168


MNA International Desk: A tsunami killed at least 168 people and injured hundreds on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra following an underwater landslide believed caused by the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano, officials and media said on Sunday, reported news agency. Hundreds of homes and other buildings were “heavily damaged” in the tsunami which struck along the rim of the Sunda Strait. Authorities warned residents and tourists in coastal areas around the Sunda Strait to stay away from beaches and a high-tide warning remained in place through till Dec. 25. On Dec. 26 in 2004, an Indian Ocean tsunami ...

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Nepal bus crash claims 23 lives


MNA International Desk: Twenty three people were killed and 14 other injured in a road accident in western Nepal when a bus carrying school students and teachers back from a botanical field trip plunged into a gorge. The students were aged mostly between 16 and 20. Two teachers and the driver also died in the accident early evening on Friday in a remote area. The vehicle was carrying 37 people, with 22 killed at the scene and another in a nearby hospital. Fourteen people were treated for injuries, reported news agency. Road accidents are relatively common in Nepal because of ...

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‘Thousands’ of EU diplomatic cables hacked

diplomatic cables

MNA International Desk: The EU announced an urgent investigation Wednesday after hackers with possible links to China accessed thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables. In the latest embarrassing data breach to hit a major international organisation, the New York Times reported that hackers using similar techniques to the Chinese military gained entry to EU communications. The cables from European Union diplomatic missions around the world reveal anxiety about how to handle US president Donald Trump as well as concerns about the behaviour of China, Russia and Iran. The leak, discovered by cybersecurity firm Area 1, recalls the publication by Wikileaks of ...

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Trump to shut down charity accused of illegality


MNA International Desk: US president Donald Trump has agreed to close down his personal charity, the Trump Foundation, the New York attorney general said Tuesday, accusing it of engaging in a “shocking pattern of illegality” to advance his political and business interests. The Trump Foundation would be dissolved and its remaining assets distributed to other charities under her supervision, attorney general Barbara Underwood said in a statement. Underwood said there had been a “shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and wilful self-dealing, and much more.” “This amounted to ...

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Saudi Arabia rejects US Senate position on Khashoggi


MNA International Desk: Saudi Arabia early on Monday rejected “the position expressed recently by the United States Senate”, saying that the Jamal Khashoggi murder is a crime that does not reflect the policy of the kingdom, a statement by Saudi’s foreign ministry said. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rejects the position expressed recently by the United States Senate, which was based upon unsubstantiated claims and allegations, and contained blatant interferences in the Kingdom’s internal affairs, undermining the Kingdom’s regional and international role”, the statement carried by Saudi Press Agency said. “The Kingdom has previously asserted that the murder of Saudi ...

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‘Cyclone Phethai’ intensifies, likely to hit India coast


MNA International Desk: Coastal areas in India’s Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are on high alert as the cyclonic storm developing over the Bay of Bengal is set to make landfall around Kakinada Monday afternoon, according to the Indian Met office. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) of India has been put on high alert along with the Coast Guard. Nearly 350 vulnerable coastal villages of 30 mandals in the north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and many districts of South Bengal have been put on high alert by the respective administrations in view of cyclone Phethai. Earlier, on November ...

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Rajapaksa to resign as Sri Lanka’s premier to end crisis


MNA International Desk: A Sri Lankan lawmaker said that disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will resign Saturday to end the country’s political crisis, reported news agency. The pro-Rajapaksa lawmaker, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, told reporters that Rajapaksa decided in a meeting Friday with President Maithripala Sirisena to resign to allow the president to appoint a new government. Sri Lanka has had no functioning government for nearly two weeks and is facing the prospect of being unable to pass a budget for next year. “Unless the prime minister resigns, another prime minister cannot be appointed. But the country needs to face situations ...

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Canada warns US not to politicize extradition cases

extradition cases

MNA International Desk: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday warned the United States not to politicize extradition cases, a day after President Donald Trump said he could intervene in the affair of a Chinese executive detained in Canada at Washington’s request. Freeland also told reporters that a second Canadian citizen could be in trouble in China. Authorities in China are already holding former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who was detained on Monday, reported news agency. Officials say China had so far not linked Kovrig’s detention to the arrest in Vancouver on Dec. 1 of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial ...

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Gunman kills 3 in French Christmas market

Christmas market

MNA International Desk: A gunman on a security watch-list killed three people and wounded a dozen others near the picturesque Christmas market in the historic French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday evening before fleeing, reported news agency. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the shooter had evaded a police dragnet and was on the run, raising concerns of a follow-up attack. “The government has raised its security threat to the highest level and is bolstering border controls,” Castaner told a late-night news conference. “We will also reinforce security at all Christmas markets to prevent copycat attacks.” With France still on high ...

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Modi may see biggest election loss


MNA International Desk: India’s ruling party could lose power in three key states, four TV networks said on Tuesday, citing vote count leads, potentially handing Indian prime minister Narendra Modi his biggest defeat since he took office in 2014, and months ahead of a general election. The main opposition Congress party could form governments in the central states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, and in the western state of Rajasthan, all big heartland states that powered Modi to a landslide win in the 2014 general election. Analysts say a big loss for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party would signify rural dismay ...

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Najib arrested over tampered 1MDB audit report


MNA International Desk: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) arrested former prime minister Najib Tun Razak on Monday for his alleged role in the tampering of the final audit report on graft-plagued state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Najib was arrested at around 11am at the MACC headquarters shortly after he had arrived for a fresh round of questioning over the issue. MACC sources said the ex-premier would be released if he can come up with money for bail. Najib had spent about four hours at the office on Dec 6, giving his statement to assist in the same probe. ...

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Kelly to leave chief of staff job


MNA International Desk: White House chief of staff John Kelly will leave his job at the end of the year, US president Donald Trump said on Saturday, his latest staff shakeup since midterm elections a month ago cost Republicans control of the House of Representatives. Trump, speaking to reporters as he left the White House to attend the annual football game between the Army and Navy military academies in Philadelphia, said he would name a successor for Kelly, possibly on an interim basis, in the next day or two. “He’s a great guy,” Trump said of Kelly, who led the ...

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Italian nightclub stampede kills 6


MNA International Desk: Six people have died in a stampede at an Italian nightclub near Ancona on the Adriatic coast after panic erupted, firefighters said Saturday. The incident took place near the eastern coastal city of Ancona. Some reports say there was panic after pepper spray was fired inside the club in the town of Corinaldo. The Lanterna Azzurra club was hosting a concert by rapper Sfera Ebbasta and up to 1,000 people were thought to be inside. The incident took place at around 01:00 (midnight GMT) as Italy began celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The injured have ...

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Myanmar closes Rohingya camps


MNA International Desk: As the world was focused on abortive efforts to begin repatriating hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar last month, hundreds of their fellow Muslims still in Myanmar were boarding boats seeking to escape the country. Their attempted flight cast the spotlight back on 128,000 Rohingya and other displaced Muslims still living in crowded camps in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, six years after Buddhist mobs razed most of their homes. The government of Aung San Suu Kyi, under international pressure to address their plight, says it is now closing the camps on the ...

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Gunmen kill 24 construction workers in Indonesia

construction workers

MNA International Desk: Gunmen in the remote Indonesian province of Papua have killed as many as 31 construction workers who were brought from a distant island to help build a major highway, officials said Tuesday. The police attributed the attacks to separatists who have long pushed for an independent Papua, The Associated Press reported. But there were few details of the killings, which were said to have begun on Sunday with the shooting of 24 workers. Indonesia’s public works minister, Basuki Hadimuljono, told reporters on Tuesday that work on the highway would be halted while the authorities investigated the killings ...

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Trump seeks Imran’s help to end Afghan war


MNA International Desk: Pakistan’s foreign ministry said Monday that US President Donald Trump has written a letter to prime minister Imran Khan seeking Islamabad’s support in securing a “negotiated settlement” to the war in Afghanistan, reported news agency. The development comes as Washington steps up efforts to hold peace talks with the resurgent Taliban, more than 17 years after the invasion of Afghanistan. In the letter, Trump said a settlement is “his most important regional priority”, the Pakistani foreign ministry stated. “In this regard, he has sought Pakistan’s support and facilitation”, it continued. US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or ...

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Top Afghan Taliban commander killed


MNA International Desk: A top commander of the Taliban was killed in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand in a joint operation by Afghan and US Special Forces, reported news agency. Abdul Manan, who was in charge of Helmand province for the insurgent group, was killed along with 29 others by an air strike on Saturday while he was meeting local commanders and fighters in the Nawzad district, Helmand provincial governor Mohammad Yasin Khan said. His death was confirmed by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid and by the US military, which said Afghan forces had gone on the offensive with US support, ...

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Anti-Macron protests turn violent in Paris


MNA Sports Desk: Anti-government protesters torched dozens of cars and set fire to storefronts during daylong clashes with riot police across central Paris on Saturday, as thousands took part in fresh “yellow vest” protests against high fuel taxes. Officers responded with tear gas after being targeted by protesters hurling rocks and other projectiles on the third weekend of demonstrations which have morphed into a broader rebuke of French president Emmanuel Macron. Smoke engulfed several shopping districts as the violence spread from the Arc de Triomphe, where crowds had gathered earlier hoping to march down the Champs-Elysees. While several dozens were ...

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Ex-US president George Bush dies


MNA International Desk: Former US president George HW Bush, who presided over the end of the Cold War and routed Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army but lost a chance for a second term after breaking a no-new-taxes pledge, died on Friday at the age of 94, a family spokesman said. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, lived longer than any of his predecessors. His death at 10:10pm Central time was announced in a statement issued by longtime spokesman Jim McGrath. He was the father of former president George W Bush, who served two terms in the White House from ...

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India won’t attend SAARC Summit in Pakistan

SAARC Summit

MNA International Desk: India on Wednesday put to rest any speculation over Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelling to Pakistan to attend the SAARC Summit. Addressing the press, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj categorically stated that there was no way PM Modi would travel to Pakistan for the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) regional grouping. The minister said no dialogue can take place between India and Pakistan till the time the latter puts a curb on terrorist activities emanating from its soil. “PM Narendra Modi will not go to Pakistan to attend the SAARC Summit,” she ...

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May, Corbyn agree to TV debate over Brexit


MNA International Desk: British prime minister Theresa May challenged opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to a live prime time television debate on Brexit before a crunch parliamentary vote as she struggles to win support for the deal agreed with the European. May said the format of the debate would need to be decided by broadcasters. Corbyn’s team swiftly accepted the offer, prompting demands from other parties and anti-Brexit groups to insist one of their supporters is allowed to take part. This would be the first time May has been willing to go head-to-head with the Labour leader in a live ...

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HRW asks Argentina to probe Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi

crown prince

MNA International Desk: Human Rights Watch has asked Argentina to use a war crimes clause in its constitution to investigate the role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in possible crimes against humanity in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Argentina’s constitution recognizes universal jurisdiction for war crimes and torture, meaning judicial authorities can investigate and prosecute those crimes no matter where they were committed. Human Rights Watch said its submission was sent to federal judge Ariel Lijo. Neither Lijo’s office nor the office of Argentina’s public prosecutor responded to requests for comment. HRW’s Middle East and ...

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Hindu activists, monks protest at Ayodhya


MNA International Desk: More than 200,000 Hindu activists and monks protesting near a disputed religious site in northern India dispersed peacefully on Sunday after demanding the government build a temple at the site of a 16th-century mosque. A similar rally in 1992 near Ayodhya led to a Hindu mob tearing down the mosque, sparking riots that killed about 2,000 people in one of the worst instances of communal violence in India since the 1947 partition. Tensions have again been running high ahead of the latest rally, with a heavy security presence at the site, reported news agency. Prime Minister Narendra ...

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French President slams violent protesters

French President

MNA International Desk: French President Emmanuel Macron came down heavily at demonstrators who clashed with police in Paris during the latest protests sparked by rising fuel prices. “Shame on those who attacked” officers, he tweeted. “There is no place for violence in the [French] Republic.” There was chaos on the Champs-Elysées on Saturday as police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters. The demonstrations had been billed by the “yellow vest” movement as “act two” in a campaign that began a week ago, BBC reports. Named after their distinctive high-visibility attire, the protests initially focused on a rise ...

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