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“Never, ever threaten the US”: Trump hits back at Iran ‘war’ talk

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Trump hits back at Iran

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Sunday hit back at bellicose comments by Iran’s president, warning him of dire consequences as the US intensifies its campaign against the Islamic republic.
“NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE,” Trump said on Twitter in a direct message to President Hassan Rouhani.
Earlier Sunday the Iranian leader had warned Trump not to “play with the lion’s tail,” saying that conflict with Iran would be the “mother of all wars”.  The US president, writing his entire message in capital letters, continued his riposte: “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
His comments Sunday night came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a major address to the Iranian diaspora in California, said Washington is not afraid to sanction top-ranking leaders of the “nightmare” Iranian regime.
Trump in May pulled the US out of a hard-won agreement with Tehran, also signed by Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia, which lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program. The 2015 agreement was in response to fears that Iran was developing a nuclear bomb.
European allies maintain their support for the deal and have vowed to stay in it, though their businesses fear US penalties. Following Washington’s pullout Pompeo unveiled Washington’s tougher line under which, he said, the US would lift the new sanctions if Iran ended its ballistic missile program and interventions in regional conflicts from Yemen to Syria.
Rouhani immediately dismissed those US threats and on Sunday said: “You cannot provoke the Iranian people against their own security and interests.” In a televised speech ahead of Pompeo’s address, Rouhani repeated his warning that Iran could shut down the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping lane for international oil supplies.
“Peace with Iran would be the mother of all peace and war with Iran would be the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said.
On Saturday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said US words and “even… their signature” cannot be trusted, “so negotiations with the United States are useless.”
The US in January had already sanctioned Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary, for human rights violations, Pompeo noted on Sunday.
“We weren’t afraid to tackle the regime at its highest level,” he said, confirming that Washington wants all countries to reduce their imports of Iranian oil “as close to zero as possible” by November 4 or face American sanctions.
Pompeo called on “all governments to end their flirtations” with Iran’s regime and said “there’s more to come” in terms of sanctions.
“Regime leaders — especially those at the top of the IRGC and the Quds Force like Qasem Soleimani — must be made to feel painful consequences of their bad decision making,” said Pompeo, a longtime Iran hawk. He was referring to Iran’s special forces and Revolutionary Guards.
Roundly applauded by his audience, Pompeo affirmed support by Washington for protesters who have taken to the streets of Iran as economic woes mount after the US withdrawal from the nuclear accord.
“The regime in Iran has been a nightmare for the Iranian people,” he said. “The United States hears you. The United States supports you. The United States is with you.”
To reinforce that message, Washington’s top diplomat announced an intensified American propaganda campaign, through the launch of a multimedia channel with 24-hour coverage on television, radio, and social media. Pompeo refused to distinguish between moderates and radicals at the heart of the Islamic republic. The Trump administration is regularly suspected of favoring regime change in Iran, and Pompeo said: “our hope is that ultimately the regime will make meaningful changes in its behavior both inside Iran and globally.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Joint strategy to eradicate terrorism!

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Joint strategy to eradicate terrorism

KABUL: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has stressed for a joint strategy to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the region.

Pakistani Foreign Minister was addressing a joint Presser along with his Chinese and Afghan counterparts after trilateral dialogue here today.  Shah Mehmood Qureishi held that only through collective efforts we can wipe out terrorism and achieve the objectives of peace and development.  Maintaining that we all want peace and stability in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister said Pakistan would benefit the most from the peace and stability of the neighboring country. 

He said Pakistan will extend cooperation to bring all the Afghan groups to the table of negotiations. He, however, said it is up to the Afghans themselves as to how they want to achieve the goal of peace.  Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. He said he is visiting Kabul to bridge the trust deficit. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addressing the Media personnel held that both Afghanistan and Pakistan were friends of China and his country would extend every possible cooperation to build trust and confidence between the two countries. He said his country will also assist in establishing connectivity projects including a rail line between Peshawar-Kabul and Kandahar. The Chinese foreign minister said the Afghan reconciliation process can be taken forward by bringing the Taliban to the table of negotiations.

Salahuddin Rabbani, the Afghan Foreign Minister, said Pakistan has an important role for peace in Afghanistan.  He said peace in his country is vital for peace and security of the entire region. He said eradication of terrorism will pave the way for economic development and augmentation of employment opportunities. 

Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul today and discussed improvement in bilateral relations and important issues of mutual and regional interest. Foreign Minister on the occasion said trilateral dialogue forum will help promote connectivity as well as regional peace and stability. He expressed the hope that a stable Afghanistan will lead to the well-being of the whole region. Foreign Minister Qureshi congratulated Afghan President on making best arrangements for holding of trilateral dialogue. President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani thanked Shah Mehmood Qureshi for participating in the trilateral dialogue and his assurance of cooperation. 

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Ankara train crash leaves nine dead

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ANKARA: Nine people were killed and nearly 90 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said, becoming the latest rail disaster to hit the country.
The accident comes less than six months after 24 people were killed in a train crash in northwestern Turkey in a series of several fatal accidents in recent years.
Transport Minister Cahit Turhan told reporters that three of those killed were operators of the train. One of the victims died in hospital, he added.
Among those killed was a German citizen, a source in the Ankara governor’s office told AFP, confirming reports in German media.
The Ankara public prosecutor said 86 people were injured. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca earlier said 34 of those injured were still in hospital for treatment.
Two were in a serious condition, Koca added on Twitter.
The fast train had been on its way from Ankara’s main station to the central province of Konya. According to Hurriyet daily, there were 206 passengers on board.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said three people had been detained. In a speech in Ankara, he vowed those responsible would be held to account.
The three were employees of the Turkish state railways agency who were detained over suspected negligence, according to state news agency Anadolu.
Ankara governor Vasip Sahin said the accident happened “after the 6.30 high-speed train to Konya hit a locomotive tasked with checking rails on the same route.”
Turhan said the accident took place six minutes after the train left Ankara as it entered the Marsandiz station.
The governor said, “technical investigations” were underway to find out exactly what caused the crash in Yenimahalle district.
The capital’s chief prosecutor launched an investigation into the crash, Anadolu said.
Images published by Turkish media showed some wagons had derailed and debris from the train scattered on the track, which was covered in snow.
The windows of one wagon were completely broken while another wagon had been smashed after hitting the footbridge, which also collapsed, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
The correspondent saw at least seven bodies taken away as rescue workers searched the blue and white wagons covered with debris.
Turkish Red Crescent relief workers distributed blankets and tea to the survivors, who were gathered on a road near the scene that had been blocked to traffic.
A female witness whose name was not given told NTV broadcaster that the passenger train had not yet increased its speed when the crash happened.
A relative of one of those aboard the train told the channel that some passengers had broken windows and then safely exited the wagons.
One of those killed was Berahitdin Albayrak, a science lecturer and former vice-chancellor at Ankara University, the institution said on Twitter.
Later trains from Konya to Ankara and vice versa were canceled.

 

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ADB to provide $7.528 bn to Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has planned to support Pakistan with lending of $7.528 billion for various development projects during the next three years.

In its new Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) for Pakistan 2019-21 revealed on Thursday, the ADB has proposed a sovereign lending program for next three years worth $7.528 billion, consisting of $5.37 billion from regular Ordinary Capital Resource (OCR) lending and $2.158 billion from Concessional COR Lending (COL). COL includes a carryover of $600 million from 2018. The non-lending program for 2019–2021 is $21.7 million, including transaction technical assistance for various pipeline projects. An amount of $2.245 billion in ADB loan financing is allocated for the energy sector, which is 29.8 percent of the total pipeline for 2019–2021.  

The pipeline includes a multi-tranche financing facility for Transmission Strengthening (tranche 1) for National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), Hydropower Development Project for Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), and support for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project. For the transport sector, some $1.394 billion of ADB loan financing for the sector (18.5% of the total pipeline) have been allocated for the transport sector.  The pipeline includes the Sustainable National Highway Project and the Sindh Hyderabad Southern Bypass Project.

ADB also proposes support for the revitalization of Pakistan Railways to improve transport sector sustainability, including exploring non-conventional financing arrangements. For agriculture, natural resources, and rural development, ADB has allocated $794 million in loan financing to the sector (10.6% of the total pipeline).  The pipeline includes the Greater Thal Canal Irrigation Project, the Kurram Tangi Water Resources Project, and the Smaller Cholistan Water Resources Development Project. Similarly, for water and other urban infrastructure and services, the ADB has allocated $470 million in ADB loan financing (6.2% of the total pipeline).  The pipeline includes a cross-sector project readiness facility for Punjab and the Punjab Cities Improvement Project. ADB has also allocated $2.4 billion in loan financing to the finance and public sector management sectors (31.9% of the total pipeline).

The COBP, 2019-2021, includes new projects such as trade and competitiveness program (subprogram 1) in 2019; financial markets development in 2020; infrastructure financing and PPPs in 2021; as well as the second phase of support for the Benazir Income Support Program in 2020. The education and health sectors pipeline includes $225 million in loan financing (3.0% of the total pipeline). ADB’s re-engagement in education and health sectors includes $175 million for projects on secondary education in Sindh and improving workforce readiness and skills development in Punjab, and $50 million projects to improve quality of health care services in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

ADB will also provide technical assistance across sectors to help project implementation and to generate and disseminate knowledge products to support policy and project development, as well as to enhance project quality and readiness. Pakistan, a group B developing member country, is eligible for regular OCR lending and concessional OCR lending (COL).  The indicative resources available during 2019–2021 for sovereign operations amount to $5,712 billion, comprising $4.29 billion for regular OCR lending and $1.422 billion for COL. The final allocation will depend on available resources, project readiness, project performance and debt distress rating of the country among others. ADB’s non-sovereign operations will supplement these resources.  ADB will also explore co-financing from other sources and seek financing from the regional pool under concessional resources and regular OCR for regional cooperation and integration.

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