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Riyadh signs deal with Moscow to buy S-400 defence systems

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia today signed a deal with Russia to buy S-400 air defence systems and receive during King Salman’s landmark visit to Moscow, the Saudi military industries firm said.

King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz reached Moscow on the first official trip and met Russian President Vladimir Putin at Kremlin.

Under the agreements, Saudi Arabia is set to buy S-400 air defence systems, Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems and multiple rocket launchers.

These agreements are “expected to play a pivotal role in the growth and development of the military and military systems industry in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) said.

“The memorandum of understanding includes the transfer of technology for the local production” of the Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems, advanced multiple rocket launchers and automatic grenade launchers.

Europe

Brexit: France warns to prepare for ‘no deal’

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BRUSSELS: The Brexit accord that has stumbled in the British parliament is the “only deal possible” and Europe must prepare for London to crash out without an agreement, France warned today. 
France’s minister for European affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, sounded the alarm bells in Brussels as Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a lightning mini-tour of EU capitals to beg for support. “The withdrawal agreement is the only one possible,” she said, echoing previous warnings from EU leaders Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, presidents of the European Commission and European Council.
On Monday, May abandoned an attempt to push the divorce deal she brokered with EU leaders last month through a hostile House of Commons, triggering dismay in European capitals who fear more chaos ahead. “Our responsibility is to prepare for a ‘no deal’ because it’s a hypothesis that is not unlikely,” Loiseau said, suggesting Britain could leave the EU on March 29 without arrangements to keep trade flowing.  “I’m very worried,” she added. “A Brexit without an agreement would be very bad news for the United Kingdom and would have consequences for France.”

 

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Europe

UK seeks ‘legally binding’ Brexit promises

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BRUSSELS: Britain wants “legally binding” assurances from EU leaders it will not be trapped indefinitely in their customs union by the Irish “backstop” clause in the Brexit divorce, a minister said today.

Martin Callanan, junior minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union, was speaking on arrival in Brussels for talks as Prime Minister Theresa May tours EU capitals in a bid to save her deal. On Monday, May postponed a bid to get the Brexit deal she negotiated with EU leaders last month past parliament, and now she wants new reassurances over the emergency backstop clause.

EU leaders have warned repeatedly that the deal cannot be “renegotiated” but EU president Jean-Claude Juncker – who May was to meet later today – has said there could be “further clarification and further interpretations”. But this may not be enough for London. Callanan, arriving at the European Council for foreign policy talks with fellow ministers, said May was seeking a binding promise that the backstop is not indefinite. “Each side has the interests that they have to protect, and the Prime Minister is negotiating hard for the best interests of the UK,” he told reporters.

“Well, she wants additional legal reassurances that the UK cannot be permanently trapped in the Irish backstop. That’s been the issue all along and that is the issue that is the heart of the concerns expressed by many members of the parliament.” Asked whether these assurances could be made as a political declaration separate to the text of the deal itself, which EU leaders say cannot be reopened, Callanan said: “I think that it is very important that these have to be additional legally binding reassurances”

 

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Asia

Tokyo stocks close lower

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Tokyo stocks close down

TOKYO: Shares here closed lower today as uncertainty caused by factors including Brexit and trade tensions weighed on the market, wiping out early gains.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.34 percent or 71.48 points to 21,148.02 while the broader Topix index was down 0.91 percent or 14.50 points at 1,575.31. Tokyo shares opened higher, rebounding from sharp drops the previous day, with investors apparently relieved that Wall Street eked out gains after a volatile session.
“But sentiment worsened as investors remained cautious amid uncertain elements such as the postponement of Britain’s Brexit vote and the US-China trade war,” Daiwa Securities senior technical analyst Hikaru Sato told AFP. European stock markets and the pound slid Monday after British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was delaying a parliamentary vote on her deal to leave the EU after conceding it would not win sufficient support.
“The market is concerned that the postponement uses up valuable time before the 29th March exit date, and the risk of a no-deal scenario is growing,” David de Garis, director of economics and markets at National Australia Bank said in a commentary. The dollar slipped to 113.10 yen in late Asian trade from 113.35 yen in New York Monday afternoon. In individual stocks trade, SoftBank Group jumped 2.44 percent to 8,827 yen after announcing Monday it aims to raise over $23 billion by listing its Japanese mobile unit next week.
Nissan kept falling, down 3.10 percent at 915.7 yen after tumbling 2.90 percent on Monday as ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn was charged and faced new allegations of alleged financial misconduct. Prosecutors also charged Nissan for filing documents that allegedly understated Ghosn’s earnings. The Nikkei daily reported Tuesday that Nissan plans to book years of under-reported compensation paid to Ghosn as expenses in the year to March 2019 all at once, a move that could worsen the automaker’s balance sheet. Toyota lost 1.09 percent to 6,745 yen but Sony rose 0.72 percent to 5,735 yen.

 

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