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Chemical attack probe: France wants immediate access!

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PARIS: France urged the Syrian regime and its ally Moscow today to grant weapons inspectors immediate access to the site of an alleged chemical attack, accusing them of “obstruction” aimed at eroding the quality of the evidence.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), who arrived in Damascus last Saturday, needed “full, immediate and unhindered access” to the site in the town of Douma.

Their mission has been put on hold after a United Nations security assessment team were fired at, and officials at the OPCW have said that Russian and Syrian forces have likely removed key evidence.

“At this time the OPCW investigators still have no access to the chemical attack site in Douma. If Russia and Syria ultimately abide by their commitments, it will take (the investigators) at least two weeks,” Le Drian said in a statement.

“The OPCW mission has as its goal establishing whether a chemical attack indeed took place and identifying the nature of the chemical agent used. This obstruction will obviously harm the quality of the investigation,” he added.

“It seems likely that this attitude is intended to make proof and material evidence linked to the chemical attack disappear.” France joined the United States and Britain in launching air strikes a week ago against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, in retaliation against an alleged chemical attack in Douma which local medics said killed at least 40 people.

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Asia

US Senator Graham calls on PM Khan

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ISLAMABAD: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called on PM Imran Khan here today. 

During the meeting, PM reiterated his government’s commitment to continue working with the US and other regional stakeholders in order to find a political settlement in Afghanistan. Khan further stressed the need for normalizing relations with all neighboring countries to unleash the potential of regional cooperation. Imran Khan said that his economic team was constantly striving to evolve business-friendly policies for potential investors which could be benefited by the US companies.

Senator Graham, lauding PM’s vision apropos political solution to the Afghan conflict,  conveyed his appreciation of Pakistan’s positive role in the ongoing efforts to find a political settlement in Afghanistan. He also appreciated PM’s endeavor vis-a-vis improvement of the economy, elimination of corruption and creation of jobs. He termed Imran Khan’s efforts to normalize relations with neighboring countries as noteworthy.

It is pertinent to mention here that  Lindsey Graham is Chairman of the US Senate’s Judicial Committee and Senior Member of the committees of the House on armed services and budget.

Earlier Senator Lindsey Graham called on Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi here today. During the meeting,  views on matters related to bilateral cooperation, situation in Afghanistan, regional and international issues were discussed. Various aspects to increase bilateral cooperation in economic and trade sectors were also pondered over.

 

 

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Asia

US Sp. Envoy Khalilzad’s Pak visit ends today

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ISLAMABAD:  Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, visited Islamabad from 17th to 20th January 2019 to follow up on discussions held in December. 

Special Representative Khalilzad met Prime Minister Khan, Foreign Minister Qureshi, Foreign Secretary Janjua, Chief of Army Staff Bajwa, and members of the diplomatic corps in Islamabad. 

During the consultations, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to advance the Afghan peace process.  Ambassador Khalilzad highlighted that all countries in the region will benefit from peace in Afghanistan.

 

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Crime

Syria: Bomb blast in a bus kills 3 

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BEIRUT: A bomb blast in a bus killed three civilians Sunday in the northern Syrian city of Afrin on the first anniversary of a Turkish attack on the Kurdish-majority region, a war monitor said.
Nine other people, including fighters, were killed in the explosion, said the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Turkish troops and allied rebel groups seized the Afrin region from Kurdish forces in March last year after a two-month air and ground offensive.

 

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