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France makes diplomatic push to solve Lebanon crisis – Al Jazeera

France is making a diplomatic push to solve the political crisis caused by the snap resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri earlier this month, as the country’s foreign minister is expected to meet Hariri in Riyadh on Thursday. According to at least one analyst, however, Paris may have made a “risky bet” by getting involved in the ongoing diplomatic turmoil over Hariri’s fate, which has pit Saudi Arabiaagainst its regional rival, Iran, and Tehran’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah. “As no compromise in Lebanon will pass without an agreement between Riyadh and Tehran, Paris is looking to deal with both,” said Stephane Malsagne, a historian and professor at Sciences-Po in Paris. The highest levels of the French government are getting involved in diplomatic efforts to resolve the political turmoil gripping Lebanon, which was under French colonial rule until 1943. France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to meet with Hariri in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, an aide said, according to Agence France Presse. The meeting comes a day after Le Drian arrived in Riyadh and met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a week after French President Emmanuel Macron also flew to Riyadh to meet the Crown Prince. Macron hastily flew to Saudi Arabia on November 9 from the nearby United Arab Emirates. Macron’s stop in Riyadh came just as tensions were mounting between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the fate of the Lebanese prime minister. Hariri, a Sunni Muslim politician and longtime ally of both Saudi Arabia and France, announced his resignation in a televised address from Riyadh on November 4. Many, including Lebanese President Michel Aoun, have accused Saudi Arabia of forcing Hariri to step down and of holding him in detention. The Saudis have denied the allegations and accused Hezbollah of creating a “state within a state” in Lebanon. This week, Hariri said he planned to return to Lebanon soon, but did not specify when. According to Malsagne, French diplomacy has so far “not succeeded in obtaining guarantees from Riyadh” on Hariri’s freedom of mvoement and speech, nor has it clarified when Hariri may be allowed to return to Lebanon or what the Saudis’ true political intentions are. “It’s therefore a risky bet for France,” he told Al Jazeera. The French president also spoke with his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Aoun, on November 10. Macron stressed “the importance of preserving the stability, independence and security of Lebanon and French support for the Lebanese people,” according to a statement put out by the Elysee. He also met with Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil, in Paris on Tuesday. During a press conference at the Lebanese embassy in Paris, Bassil thanked Macron for “the initiative he is undertaking for Lebanon in the face of an exceptional situation,” French website L’Orient Le Jour reported. Bassil said, however, that Lebanon “must decide on its internal and external politics” and “counts on making a free decision”. A day later, Macron offered Hariri and his family to come spend a few days in Paris, but specified that the invitation was not an offer of political exile. The Hariri family, which holds French citizenship, has longstanding ties to the French political class. Hariri’s father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005, was a close friend of former French President Jacques Chirac. When he resigned from politics in 2007, Chirac considered moving into a Paris apartment owned by the Hariri family, Reuters reported at the time. The French government, meanwhile, has maintained close ties to Saad Hariri, explained Eric Verdeil, a professor at Sciences Po in Paris. While France has traditionally kept a balanced approach to Lebanese internal politics – often working as a facilitator between various factions – it has been closer to the Hariri-led March 14 camp, which includes Lebanese-Christian political groups. “It’s clear that the political class [in France] and successive French governments saw in Saad Hariri a politician whom they could support and that they strongly supported him for several years,” Verdeil told Al Jazeera. Nonetheless, the French “try to be in a position to talk to everyone,” Verdeil said. Hariri visited Macron at the Elysee in September and said during his visit that “relations between France and Lebanon are excellent”. Yet despite their close relationship to Hariri, his resignation came as a shock to French leaders. “They were very surprised by this resignation that was unexpected and obviously they weren’t consulted,” Verdeil said. If Hariri does not eventually return to Lebanon, France will still maintain close ties to the country in order to maintain its own interests in the region, according to Malsagne. “Franco-Lebanese relations are not confined to the men in power,” he told Al Jazeera. Since France closed its embassy in Damascus in 2012, Lebanon has served as “an observation post” for France to monitor what’s happening in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, he explained. France has a long history of mediation in Lebanese political crises, Malsagne said, and its involvement today does not come as a surprise. Joe Macaron, a resident analyst at the Arab Center Washington DC research organisation, said that Hariri is France’s major Sunni ally in Lebanon and the wider Middle East. It is in France’s interests “to make sure that Saad Hariri remains a player in Lebanon’s politics,” Macaron told Al Jazeera. “They have good relations with a lot of Lebanese leaders, but if Hariri doesn’t return to power, whoever replaces him […].....»»

Category: newsSource: mindanaoexaminer mindanaoexaminerNov 16th, 2017

Germany seeks way out of crisis after gov’t talks collapse

BERLIN — Germany’s president was to lead a push from Tuesday to save the European Union’s (EU) top economy from the political turmoil sparked by the collapse of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition talks. Frank-Walter Steinmeier — who takes center stage because he can call snap elections — was to use his diplomatic skills as former […] The post Germany seeks way out of crisis after gov’t talks collapse appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsNov 21st, 2017

Busy diplomat Macron gets stuck into Lebanon crisis

PARIS: From global warming to Iran’s nuclear deal, France’s Emmanuel Macron has already intervened in a series of diplomatic quagmires—and now finds himself pursuing an active role in Lebanon’s crisis. He and his ministers have held a flurry of talks with players shaping the turmoil, with Macron jetting to Saudi Arabia last week for surprise [...] The post Busy diplomat Macron gets stuck into Lebanon crisis appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsNov 16th, 2017

Merkel, Macron to front diplomatic push at UN climate talks

BONN, Germany – The leaders of France and Germany will lead a diplomatic charge Wednesday, November 15, to reinvigorate UN climate talks clouded by Washington's rejection of a planet rescue plan backed by the rest of the world. Despite announcing it will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the United States ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 15th, 2017

North Korea preparing more missile launches, says South – BBC News

South Korea says it has seen indications that the North is preparing more missile launches, possibly an intercontinental ballistic missile. Defence officials have been briefing parliament in Seoul after the North's test of a nuclear bomb at the weekend. The South has responded to the test with live-fire exercises, with both ground- and air-launched rockets. The US has warned that any threat to itself or its allies would be met with a &'8220;massive military response&'8221;. The North says it tested a hydrogen bomb that can fit on to a long-range missile. Pyongyang has repeatedly defied UN sanctions and international pressure by developing nuclear weapons and testing missiles, and the provocations have only intensified. launches, possibly an intercontinental ballistic missile. Defence officials have been briefing parliament in Seoul after the North's test of a nuclear bomb at the weekend. The South has responded to the test with live-fire exercises, with both ground- and air-launched rockets. The US has warned that any threat to itself or its allies would be met with a &'8220;massive military response&'8221;. The North says it tested a hydrogen bomb that can fit on to a long-range missile. Pyongyang has repeatedly defied UN sanctions and international pressure by developing nuclear weapons and testing missiles, and the provocations have only intensified. In the past two months it has conducted intercontinental ballistic missile tests, sending one over mainland Japan into the Pacific Ocean. It has also threatened to fire missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam. The United Nations Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting later on Monday to discuss its response. Ahead of that meeting, South Korea and Japan's leaders had agreed to push for a stronger UN resolution on North Korea, said a South Korean presidential palace spokesman. The Security Council last imposed sanctions in August, targeting North Korean exports. Chang Kyung-soo, a defence ministry official, told parliament: &'8220;We have continued to see signs of possibly more ballistic missile launches. We also forecast North Korea could fire an intercontinental ballistic missile.&'8221; The ministry also told parliament the US would seek to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to seas off the peninsula. It also said there would be more live-fire drills this month, involving Taurus air-to-surface missiles mounted on F-15 jets. Monday's drills by the South simulated the targeting of the Punggye-ri nuclear site in Kilju County, where North Korea carried out its bomb test. &'8220;The training demonstrates the South Korean military's resolve to destroy not only the origin of provocation but also the enemy's leadership and supporting forces if they threaten the security of our people,&'8221; army spokesman Col Roh Jae-cheon is quoted as saying by South Korea's Yonhap news agency. South Korea and the US had also agreed &'8220;in principle&'8221; to revise current guidelines so that the South could double the maximum payload of its ballistic missiles, Yonhap also reported. On Sunday, seismologists started picking up readings of an earth tremor in the area where North Korea had conducted nuclear tests before The US Geological Survey put the tremor at 6.3 magnitude. North Korean state media later confirmed it was no earthquake, claiming it was in fact its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, detonating what it said was a hydrogen bomb that could be loaded on to a long-range missile. Pyongyang then released pictures of leader Kim Jong-un with what state media said was a new type of hydrogen bomb. Officials in China, where the blast was felt as a tremor, said they were carrying out emergency radiation testing along the border with North Korea. &'160; Although experts have urged caution, Sunday's event appears to be the biggest and most successful nuclear test by North Korea to date &'' and the messaging is clear: North Korea wants to demonstrate it knows what makes a credible nuclear warhead. It's become a war of photographs, for a few hours at least. After Sunday's underground nuclear test in the North, the government in the South released images of its own missiles launched at dawn. It's the second time in a week that Seoul has responded with a test bombing run. That's in addition to the show of military might that was on display in its annual exercise with US forces at the end of last month. That enraged Pyongyang, as it does every year, and there are more missiles on the way. South Korea is expected to approve the deployment of the US missile defence system known as Thaad (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense) &'' an environmental impact report is the final hurdle. But that involves a fourth party. China has criticised the system, claiming it threatens its security. The nuclear test prompted an angry response from US President Donald Trump who denounced the test as &'8220;hostile&'8221; and &'8220;dangerous&'8221;, and called the North a &'8220;rogue nation&'8221;. He added that the US was considering stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea, which relies on China for about 90% of its foreign trade. US Defence Secretary James Mattis later told reporters that while the US would respond to any threat &'8220;with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming&'8221;, although they were &'8220;not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea&'8221;. A White House statement also said that Washington would defend itself and its allies &'8220;using the full range of diplomatic, conventional, and nuclear capabilities at our disposal&'8221;. South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the test an &'8220;absurd strategic mistake&'8221; [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsSep 4th, 2017

Bolton says he’s no longer allowed to see Trump – CNN News

A hawkish ally of Donald Trump claims he cannot see the President due to &'8220;staff changes&'8221; at the White House. John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN who at one point was a candidate to lead the State Department, claimed in a National Review op-ed published Monday that his plan for the US to exit the Iran nuclear deal had to be presented publicly, because staff changes at the White House have made &'8220;presenting it to President Trump impossible.&'8221; CNN has reached out to the White House for comment. His alleged snubbing is the latest development in the tug-of-war for influence over Trump's White House between firebrands such as Bolton and those who have taken a more moderate approach to foreign policy, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis. Bolton's op-ed comes days after Sebastian Gorka, who advocated a hawkish stance against terrorism, left his position as a White House adviser. Chief of staff John Kelly, who assumed the role in late July, has been conducting a review of the West Wing that includes assessing individual staffers' portfolios. In a memo drawn up after a July directive from Steve Bannon, the recently ousted White House chief strategist, Bolton pushes for selling the idea of leaving the Iran deal to the public in a &'8220;white paper&'8221; and lays out a strategy for the &'8220;campaign&'8221; and its &'8220;execution.&'8221; Bolton has been frustrated at the rise of more traditional foreign policy thinkers within the White House, such as Mattis and Tillerson, who have favored remaining in the deal. The agreement curbs Iran's nuclear weapons program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Iran remains under multiple sanctions for terrorism-related activities. &'8220;Trump can and should free America from this execrable deal at the earliest opportunity,&'8221; Bolton writes. Where proponents of the deal, including lawmakers and former Obama administration officials, see the pact as a way to get visibility on Iran's nuclear activities, and, at least for the time being, stop it's nuclear program, Bolton sees only danger. &'8220;The JCPOA is a threat to US national-security interests, growing more serious by the day,&'8221; Bolton writes, though he doesn't offer evidence. &'8220;If the President decides to abrogate the JCPOA, a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to build domestic and international support for the new policy.&'8221; His memo, he says, fills that function. &'8220;It is only five pages long, but like instant coffee, it can be readily expanded to a comprehensive, 100-page playbook if the administration were to decide to leave the Iran agreement,&'8221; Bolton writes. He adds that there is no need to wait for the next deadline in October, when the US must next certify that Iran is sticking to the deal. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the JCPOA, was an international agreement hammered out over 20 arduous months of negotiations. China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the US, the EU and Iran reached a deal in July 2015 and it was implemented in January 2016. The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency has regular access to nuclear sites inside Iran and verifies that it is implementing its side of the deal; in exchange, the US, UN and EU lifted nuclear related sanctions. Every 90 days, the US president must certify that Iran is keeping up its end of the deal. Trump campaigned against the deal and continues to criticize it, but because Iran is complying, he has certified it twice on the advice of his national security staff. But officials in his administration have clearly been looking for ways to find wiggle room to get out of the deal. Some, like US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, have used the line that Iran is not complying with the &'8220;spirit&'8221; of the deal, pointing to Tehran's activities in the region, including its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and its backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Bolton says that Trump can bolster his case for abrogating the deal &'8220;by providing new, declassified information on Iran's unacceptable behavior around the world.&'8221; These activities, though, are not part of the JCPOA, deliberately left as a separate issue by the Obama administration and the other international negotiators, who said that to include every single gripe with Iran would make negotiations too unwieldy to resolve. Some proponents of the deal, watching the Trump administration's moves, are already campaigning to keep it. They point to the security consequences of an Iran without constraints on its nuclear weapons program and to the economic fallout as European and Asian firms would likely continue to do business with Tehran while US firms are shut out. &'8220;Accordingly,&'8221; Bolton writes, &'8220;we must explain the grave threat to the US and our allies, particularly Israel.&'8221; But many in Israel's security establishment argue for keeping the deal in place, and making sure its implementation is as rigorous as possible. Bolton makes the case for a four-step campaign that begins with &'8220;early, quiet consultations with key players such as the UK, France, Germany, Israel and Saudi Arabia, to tell them we are going to abrogate the deal based on outright violations and other unacceptable Iranian behavior, and seek their input.&'8221; That would be followed by a detailed white paper that includes declassified intelligence explaining why the deal hurts US security interests; a diplomatic campaign against the deal, especially in Europe and the Middle East; and efforts to sway lawmakers and the [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsAug 30th, 2017

What the Qatar crisis means for Hamas – CNN News

When Palestinian militant group Hamas announced its new charter to the world, it wasn't from Ramallah or Gaza City, but from the Sheraton hotel's gilded Salwa Ballroom in Doha. It was no surprise that Hamas chose Qatar. It's the home of outgoing Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, and much of his senior leadership. &'8220;Qatar is quite important for Hamas,&'8221; said H.A. Hellyer, a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council. &'8220;Qatar provides strong financial aid to the occupied Palestinian territories and is a safe haven for a number of Hamas leaders.&'8221; The recent crisis in the Persian Gulf region is putting that relationship in jeopardy. Earlier this month, nine countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed financial embargoes of varying severity. The announcement was the culmination of a feud that had been simmering for years. The nine countries accused Doha of assisting terrorist organizations, providing support for the Muslim Brotherhood and of being far too cozy with Iran. Ironically perhaps, Qatar's relationship with Hamas had not been among the biggest issues dividing the region. Unlike the US, Britain, and Europe, all of which designate Hamas as a terrorist organization, Arab states &'8212; including Qatar &'8212; do not. This was something Qatar's Foreign Minister sought to remind people in an interview with Russia's RT, in response to a call from his Saudi counterpart that Qatar stop supporting Hamas. &'8220;The US views Hamas as a terror organization. But to the rest of the Arab nations, it is a legitimate resistance movement. We do not support Hamas, we support the Palestinian people,&'8221; Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said. &'8220;Hamas' presence [in Doha] is coordinated with the US and the countries in the region, and it's part of our effort to mediate between the Palestinian factions to reach reconciliation.&'8221; For its part, Hamas says it is being squeezed unreasonably. &'8220;The Gulf Countries are pressuring Qatar to cut relations with resistance organizations. This is unacceptable and we refuse this pressure,&'8221; Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom said in a statement to CNN. &'8220;We are a resistance movement and the whole world is a witness to this.&'8221; Hamas is seen as having been under a series of pressures for the last few years, reflected in some significant internal changes. Last month, a new leader was announced &'8212; Ismail Haniya taking over from long-time leader Meshaal &'8212; at the same time as the militant group issued its new charter. While Israel pointed to the fact the new document continued to espouse violent resistance, and a commitment to the &'8220;rejection of the Zionist entity,&'8221; others observers said the document's description of a Palestinian state with the borders existing on the eve of the Six Day War in 1967 provided evidence of a new moderation. As Hamas rank and file were digesting those changes, so the leadership was suddenly forced to pay careful attention to diplomatic developments. Hellyer sees two main reasons the nine regional allies are turning their attention towards Hamas. &'8220;First, Hamas has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood organization, which puts it in the firing line of Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia,&'8221; Hellyer says. &'8220;But I think this has more to do with a western audience. The Saudi rulers took advantage of Trump's recognition of them as a powerful actor in the region and that might have encouraged them.&'8221; Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, has been a thorn in the side of regional autocrats for years. Qatar's regional influence also comes from support for Islamists, whether it is the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas at one end of the spectrum, or Al Qaeda at the other. Doha has used this sway to negotiate with various groups including the Taliban, as well as to help negotiate ceasefires between Israel and Hamas. In late 2010 and into 2011, Qatar saw its influence throughout the Middle East rise sharply. Al Jazeera, already a thorn in the side of Arab autocrats, reported extensively on the Arab Spring. The Al Jazeera Arabic channel grew additional roots in Egypt after the uprising and election of Mohamed Morsy who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood. The international community praised the new Egyptian president for bringing a swift end to a war between Gaza militants and Israel that same year. In the long run, though, as it unraveled across the region, the Arab Spring proved to be disastrous for Hamas, which saw the number of countries it could call a friend whittled away. &'8220;Hamas had very strong relations with Syria, Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and Iran,&'8221; says Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian politician. &'8220;Things have changed over time so they had to diversify relations.&'8221; Before 2012, the Hamas leadership was based out of Damascus. Tensions grew between the militants and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad as revolution gripped the country. Eventually, Hamas sided with the rebels and cut ties to some extent with Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran. &'8220;Hamas lost a lot in the uprisings,&'8221; says Hellyer. &'8220;This is one of the reasons why Qatar stepped in.&'8221; Qatar, a strong supporter of both the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas, took advantage of the situation. In the fall of 2012, the head of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited the Gaza Strip becoming the first world leader to do so under Hamas control. The emir inaugurated projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In the vacuum left [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJun 13th, 2017

West Africa bloc to apply diplomatic solutions to Gambia

ACCRA — The West African regional bloc stands with the people of Gambia and will apply diplomatic solutions to solve the country's political crisis, the body.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Froome debacle makes cycling ‘a laughing stock’ – Bardet

Leading French rider Romain Bardet has called cycling "a laughing stock" for failing to announce any sanctions against Chris Froome since his adverse doping test during last year's Vuelta a Espana was revealed. In an interview with French sports daily L'Equipe, Bardet, who has finished on the podium in the Tour de France in each of the last two years, also said he doubts the British rider will be cleared. "I would like to believe in Chris Froome's good faith, but when you go over the limit, the rules provide for sanctions. We can no longer be permissive about this," Bardet said. Bardet finished second on the Tour in 2016 and then third last year, both times behind Froome, wh...Keep on reading: Froome debacle makes cycling ‘a laughing stock’ – Bardet.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 16th, 2018

US, allies meet to find diplomatic way out of NKorea crisis

VANCOUVER: Foreign ministers from 20 nations began crisis talks Monday on North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, though China’s absence cast doubt over the effectiveness of any deal. The two-day Vancouver meeting hosted by Canada and the United States comes amid signs of easing tensions on the Korean peninsula, after the North and [...] The post US, allies meet to find diplomatic way out of NKorea crisis appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsJan 16th, 2018

Talks in Myanmar to settle issues on Rohingya return

YANGON, Myanmar – Talks were held on Monday, January 15, to "settle issues" over the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, Bangladeshi officials told the Agence France-Presse, as doubts linger over how many of the 655,000 Muslim minority who fled violence are likely to return. Under diplomatic pressure, Myanmar has vowed ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

France s playful baby panda makes 1st public appearance

PARIS — France's first baby panda has made his grand public entrance by acting like many five-month-olds — climbing all over his mother, who looked like she.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 14th, 2018

Marvel seeks Pinoy talent in Asia thrust

MANILA: Chinese superheroes will soon be joining the pantheon of larger-than-life Marvel universe mainstays Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men, a company official said as the comic book giant makes a major thrust into Asia. As part of a push to grow its Asia fanbase, the Disney-owned franchise has released mobile games in China, opened [...] The post Marvel seeks Pinoy talent in Asia thrust appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsJan 12th, 2018

Marvel creates Chinese superheroes to attract Asian fans

Chinese superheroes will soon be joining the pantheon of larger-than-life Marvel universe mainstays Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men, a company official said as the comic book giant makes a major thrust into Asia. As part of a push to grow its Asia fanbase, the Disney-owned franchise has released mobile games in China, opened "Marvel Stores" in South Korea and is searching for artistic talent in the Philippines, Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski said. "We have been making great strides especially in Asia. We try to hire more Asian creators, writers and artists to bring a piece of their culture to Marvel comics," he said in Manila where he visited a De La Salle-College of S...Keep on reading: Marvel creates Chinese superheroes to attract Asian fans.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 12th, 2018

23 civilians killed in Syria, most in Russian air strikes – monitor

BEIRUT, Lebanon – At least 23 civilians were killed Wednesday, January 3, in the Syrian opposition stronghold of Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, most of them in Russian air raids, a monitor said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Agence France-Presse that 18 people were killed by Russian strikes ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 4th, 2018

Saudi diplomat approved in Lebanon, ending diplomatic tussle

BEIRUT — Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon has assumed office after presenting his credentials to the president, ending a diplomatic tussle between the tw.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2018

S. Korea offers to talk with North on Olympic cooperation

HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Tuesday offered high-level talks with rival North Korea to find ways to cooperate on next month's Winter Olympics in the South. Seoul's quick proposal following a rare rapprochement overture from the North a day earlier offers the possibility of better ties after a year that saw a nuclear standoff increase fear of war on the Korean Peninsula. In a closely watched New Year's address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday that he was willing to send a delegation to the Olympics, though he also repeated fiery nuclear threats against the United States. Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington in a bid to reduce international isolation and sanctions against North Korea. Kim's overture was welcome news for a South Korean government led by liberal President Moon Jae-in, who favors dialogue to ease the North's nuclear threats and wants to use the Olympics as a chance to improve inter-Korean ties. Moon's unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, proposed in a nationally televised news conference that the two Koreas meet Jan. 9 at the shared border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic cooperation and how to improve overall ties. Earlier Tuesday, Moon spoke of what he described as Kim's positive response to his earlier dialogue overtures and ordered officials to study how to restore talks with North Korea and get the North to participate in the Olympics. North Korea did not immediately react. But if there are talks, they would be the first formal dialogue between the Koreas since December 2015. Relations between the Koreas have plunged as North Korea has expanded its weapons programs amid a hard-line stance by Moon's conservative predecessors. Last year, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test and test-launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles as part of its push to possess a nuclear missile capable of reaching anywhere in the United States. The North was subsequently hit with toughened U.N. sanctions, and Kim and President Donald Trump exchanged warlike rhetoric and crude personal insults against each other. Kim said in his speech Monday that North Korea last year achieved the historic feat of "completing" its nuclear forces. Outside experts say that it's only a matter of time before the North acquires the ability to hurl nuclear weapons at the mainland U.S., but that the country still has a few technologies to master, such as a warhead's ability to survive atmospheric re-entry. Talks could provide a temporary thaw in strained inter-Korean ties, but conservative critics worry that they may only earn the North time to perfect its nuclear weapons. After the Olympics, inter-Korean ties could become frosty again because the North has made it clear it has no intention of accepting international calls for nuclear disarmament and instead wants to bolster its weapons arsenal in the face of what it considers increasing U.S. threats. "Kim Jong Un's strategy remains the same. He's developing nukes while trying to weaken international pressure and the South Korea-U.S. military alliance and get international sanctions lifted," said Shin Beomchul of the Seoul-based Korea National Diplomatic Academy. He said the North might also be using its potential Olympic participation as a chance to show its nuclear program is not intended to pose a threat to regional peace. In his address Monday, Kim said the United States should be aware that his country's nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. He said he has a "nuclear button" on his office desk, warning that "the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike." He called for improved ties and a relaxation of military tensions with South Korea, saying the Winter Olympics could showcase the status of the Korean nation. But Kim also repeated that South Korea must stop annual military exercises with the United States, which he calls an invasion rehearsal against the North. About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to help deter potential aggression from the North, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2018

Notes to know: 2017 NBA Christmas Day games

NBA press release Here are some important stats and info about this year's batch of NBA Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) games PHILADELPHIA 76ERS @ NEW YORK KNICKS (1am, PHL time on NBA League Pass) All-Time Head-to-Head: PHI leads 244-201 Christmas Head-to-Head: PHI leads 6-5 Christmas Day Records: PHI – 16-13 (Last: 2001) | NYK – 22-29 (2016) • Philadelphia and New York are meeting for the first time this season. • The Knicks are playing in their NBA-high 52nd Christmas Day game, a history that dates to 1947, when the team defeated the Providence Steamrollers 89-75 during the first edition of the NBA on Christmas. New York’s 22 victories are tied for the most on Christmas with the Lakers. • Philadelphia is playing on Christmas for the first time since 2001 – an 88-82 loss to the Lakers in a rematch of the 2001 NBA Finals. • New York and Philadelphia are meeting on Christmas for the first time since 1978. • The matchup features three potential first-time All-Star selections in the 76ers’ Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis. All three international standouts have unique skill sets relative to their size and position. • Both teams have a substantial international presence. Five of the 10 projected starters hail from outside the U.S.: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Dario Saric (Croatia) and Ben Simmons (Australia), and New York’s Enes Kanter (Turkey) and Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia). Other countries represented on the two rosters are France, Spain and Canada.   • Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek played for the 76ers for two seasons (1992-94). He was part of the trade the sent Hall of Famer Charles Barkley from Philadelphia to Phoenix in 1992. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS @ GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (4am, PHL time on S+A and NBA Premium) All-Time Head-to-Head: GSW leads 57-52 Christmas Head-to-Head: Tied 1-1 Christmas Day Records: CLE – 7-6 (Last: 2016) | GSW – 11-15 (Last: 2016) • Cleveland and Golden State are meeting for the first time since the 2017 NBA Finals. • This is the third consecutive Christmas Day matchup between the teams. The last teams to meet three straight years on Christmas were the Lakers and Heat from 2004-06. • Last season’s Christmas matchup was a classic. Cleveland rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and Kyrie Irving made a game-winning shot with 3.4 seconds left. • Last season, the Cavs and Warriors became the first teams to meet in three straight NBA Finals. • The rosters have combined for 55 All-Star selections and eight of the last nine MVP awards. • Cleveland’s Dwyane Wade is the NBA’s winningest player on Christmas Day (10-2). This year will be his 13th Christmas game, tied for the second-most appearances behind Kobe Bryant (16).   • Teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are tied for third in scoring (301 points) and assists (76) on the NBA’s all-time Christmas Day lists, making them the active leaders in both categories. Kobe Bryant (395) and Oscar Robertson (377) are the top two in scoring. Robertson (145) and Bryant (85) are the top two in assists. • Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas could be back in time from his hip injury to play on Christmas. Last season, Thomas finished fifth in the MVP voting – just behind new teammate LeBron James and just ahead of his point guard counterpart in this game, Stephen Curry (health permitting). • Golden State forward Kevin Durant’s 44-point performance for Oklahoma City against Denver in 2010 is the highest-scoring game by an active player on Christmas Day. WASHINGTON WIZARDS @ BOSTON CELTICS (6:30am, PHL time on NBA League Pass) All-Time Head-to-Head: BOS leads 187-111 Christmas Head-to-Head: BOS leads 1-0 Christmas Day Records: WAS – 15-7 (Last: 2014) | BOS – 13-17 (Last: 2016) • This is the first meeting between the Celtics and Wizards since their dramatic playoff series in the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Boston won in seven games. • The Celtics have four new starters since last facing the Wizards – including 19-year-old Jayson Tatum and 21-year-old Jaylen Brown – and yet Boston has gotten off to the NBA’s best start. • The Celtics are playing a home game on Christmas Day for the first time in franchise history. Boston has played 30 previous games on Christmas – 28 on the road and two at neutral sites. • In the teams’ only Christmas Day matchup, Boston defeated the Baltimore Bullets 113-99 in 1965. In that game, Bill Russell grabbed 34 rebounds for the Celtics. • Twin brothers Marcus Morris of the Celtics and Markieff Morris of the Wizards square off for the first time with Marcus in a Celtics uniform. Marcus was traded from Detroit in the offseason. • Washington’s John Wall (2010) and Boston’s Kyrie Irving (2011) were the top overall picks in their respective NBA Drafts and have each appeared in four NBA All-Star Games. • Washington’s Bradley Beal is making a strong push to be a first-time All-Star selection. He recently scored a career-high 51 points in a game against Portland. HOUSTON ROCKETS @ OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (9am, PHL time on BTV) All-Time Head-to-Head: OKC leads 107-106 Christmas Head-to-Head: First meeting Christmas Day Records: HOU – 5-4 (Last: 2015) | OKC – 5-13 (Last: 2016) • Houston and Oklahoma City are meeting for the first time since the Rockets defeated the Thunder in five games in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. • Former teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden dueled for the MVP last season. Westbrook earned the honor and Harden finished second. Harden, however, was the only unanimous selection to the 2016-17 All-NBA First Team.   • James Harden leads the NBA in scoring and narrowly trails Russell Westbrook for the assists lead. The only player to lead in both categories for a season is Tiny Archibald in 1972-73. Last season, Harden ranked second in scoring behind Westbrook and was the league leader in assists.   • The center matchup features two top young international big men in Houston’s Clint Capela (Switzerland) and Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams (New Zealand).    • Carmelo Anthony is averaging 33.2 points in five Christmas Day games, the highest mark among all players who have appeared in four or more games on the holiday. • The Seattle SuperSonics went 0-11 on Christmas Day. Since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder, the team is 5-2 on Christmas. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES @ L.A. LAKERS (11:30am, PHL time on NBA Premium) All-Time Head-to-Head: LAL leads 77-29 Christmas Head-to-Head: First meeting Christmas Day Records: MIN – 0-1 (Last: 2016) | LAL – 22-21 (Last: 2016) • Minnesota and Los Angeles are meeting for the first time this season. • This year marks the Lakers’ 19th consecutive appearance on Christmas Day. Los Angeles has appeared in the second-most Christmas Day game in history (43) and is tied with the Knicks for the most victories (22).   • The Lakers made their first 11 Christmas Day appearances (1949-1959) when the franchise was in Minneapolis. • Last year was Minnesota’s first game on Christmas Day. The Timberwolves lost to Oklahoma City 112-100. • Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins averaged 37.8 points in four games against the Lakers last season, including a career-high 47 points on Nov. 13, 2016, and 41 points on April 9, 2017. • The Timberwolves, fifth in the West midway through Week 8 of the season, are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. That season, they lost in the Western Conference Finals to a Lakers team that included current Lakers coach Luke Walton. • The Lakers are seeking to build around former No. 2 overall draft picks Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball in much the same way that the Timberwolves are bringing along former No. 1 overall draft picks and NBA Rookie of the Year winners Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2017

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Hussein detained for one year – Al Jazeera

When his daughter Hagar graduated from high school, Mahmoud Hussein clipped articles from newspapers about universities from the confines of his prison cell. He wanted to be there for Hagar as she was about to embark on a new journey – higher education, and inform her of the best choices. “When I visited, I found that he’d made a list of universities that are suitable for her,” says Zahra Hussein, Hagar’s sister. At 23 years old, Zahra is the second oldest of Hussein’s nine children. Wednesday marks one year since Egypt arrested the Al Jazeera journalist, who is now 51 years old having celebrated a recent birthday at Cairo’s Tora prison. To date, Hussein has not been formally charged. “We’re all unable to adjust,” says Zahra. “The house is dead. Dad is under arrest, so there is no happiness coming in.”  An Egyptian national who was based in Qatar, Hussein was stopped and questioned for 15 hours by authorities, after travelling to Cairo on holiday last December 20.  He was accused of “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos”, allegations he, his lawyers and Al Jazeera strongly deny. He is in poor physical and mental condition and is being denied adequate medical treatment. After he fractured his arm last summer, officials refused to let Hussein undergo surgery or have his cast changed. Human rights groups say there are currently around 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt, many of whom have disappeared. There are at least 20 journalists currently languishing in Egyptian prisons, according to a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists. “I go through many phases of depression, and then I feel that I can’t continue,” says Zahra, who has adopted the role of family caretaker since her father’s arrest. As Hussein was being branded a “terrorist who works for Al Jazeera” by Egypt’s media, her bosses sacked her, saying they could not risk keeping her employed. She now works from home as a freelance translator. “I never wanted to be placed in this terrifying situation. I’ve always had this comforting idea that dad’s here. If any problem arises, dad will solve it.”  As part of his imprisonment, Hussein spent around three months in solitary confinement before being moved to a cell with other prisoners.   At the time of his arrest, Sherif Mansour of CPJ said: “Egyptian authorities are waging a systematic campaign against Al Jazeera, consisting of arbitrary arrest, censorship, and systematic harassment.” Al Jazeera Media Network has said it “rejects all the baseless allegations against Hussein, and condemns the unfair detention, in addition to obtaining false confessions by force. Furthermore, the network holds the Egyptian authorities responsible for Hussein’s safety and well-being”. Hussein is the oldest of nine siblings and hails from a village within the Giza governorate. The first member of his family to attend school, he has two degrees from Cairo University – one in political science, and another in law. “I loved school very much,” he told Al Jazeera in a March 2016 interview for an internal staff magazine. “I used to be top of my class through high school.” In 1988, Hussein started his journalism career as politics editor with the Cairo-based Sawt al-Arab Radio (Voice of Arabs Radio). He later became a broadcaster at the station.   During his years in radio, he also worked for several research centres in Egypt. He joined the state-run Nile TV in 1997 as a political affairs correspondent, before later being promoted as the channel’s head of correspondents.   During his years in radio, he also worked for several research centres in Egypt. He joined the state-run Nile TV in 1997 as a political affairs correspondent, before later being promoted as the channel’s head of correspondents. He spent years in Palestine where he interviewed Yasser Arafat, former chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), and covered major events such as Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2006.  He then worked with several Arabic news channels, eventually becoming Sudan TV’s Cairo bureau chief. During those years, Hussein also taught at the Radio and Television Institute in Cairo, giving courses on news production and editing.  In 2010, Hussein joined Al Jazeera’s Cairo bureau as a correspondent, after freelancing for the network. He covered Egypt’s 2011 revolution which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak and the events that followed, up until the closing of Al Jazeera’s Cairo bureau in 2013. He then moved to Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, where he worked as a news producer. Hussein is someone “who knows how news is made”, says Majed Khedr, his manager in Doha. Sitting in Al Jazeera Arabic’s bustling newsroom, Khedr remembers Hussein’s ability to lighten the mood in a stressful work environment. “What is unique about Mahmoud is his fun spirit. He has a good sense of humour,” Khedr says. “He always brought food, and it was usually Egyptian food …This was Mahmoud’s spirit, God bless him.  “His name is still in our daily work schedule because we are still convinced he is with us.” Anas Zaki, a news editor at Al Jazeera Arabic, described Hussein as someone who “was always there for his friends”. The pair studied at university together and have been friends for more than 30 years. If someone called Hussein in distress late at night, he would rush to their house and “never make him feel like he sacrificed his sleep or comfort”, Zaki says. […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsDec 20th, 2017

U.S., Canada to host North Korea crisis talks

OTTAWA, Canada (UPDATED) – The United States and Canada announced Tuesday, December 19, that they will host a summit of foreign ministers in Vancouver, Canada on January 16, 2018, to seek progress on the  North Korean nuclear crisis . "We believe a diplomatic solution to the crisis is essential and possible," Canadian Foreign ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 20th, 2017

PBA Season 43 preview: The Pack

Forget the PBA impasse for a second. Seriously, forget it. Why? There are basketball games to be played. That's right, the PBA will push through with the opening of the 43rd season as originally scheduled and before we start what appears to be another long, exciting, stressful (for the good reasons, of course), and eventful year of basketball, let's look at all 12 teams first. We start with "The Pack" in this preview. Special thanks to Alaska's coach Alex Compton for this idea. Okay here we go.   Rain or Shine Elasto Painters PBA Season 42 results: Philippine Cup - Quarterfinals Commissioner's Cup - Quarterfinals Governors' Cup - Quarterfinals PBA Season 43 opening day line up: Gabe Norwood Ed Daquioag Jericho Cruz Dexter Maiquez Maverick Ahanmisi Jewel Ponferrada Mark Borboran Chris Tiu James Yap Don Trollano Raymond Almazan Rey Nambatac Beau Belga Ronnie Matias Jeremy King Injured/Reserve: Jay Washington Head coach: Caloy Garcia The Elasto Painters, after losing so many key peices from their championship team in the previous offseason, didn't exactly have a bad year in 2017. ROS made it to the playoffs in each of the three conferences. However, the Painters failed to advance to the semifinals in all three as well. Rain or Shine is a champion team but the transition period for this franchise might be extended unless they can actually sustain their strong starts to conferences.   NLEX Road Warriors PBA Season 42 results: Philippine Cup - Missed playoffs Commissioner's Cup - Missed playoffs Governors' Cup - Quarterfinals PBA Season 43 opening day line up: Emman Monfort Michael Miranda Juami Tiongson Jansen Rios Kevin Alas Cyrus Baguio Alex Mallari Larry Fonacier Kiefer Ravena Raul Soyud Kenneth Ighalo Rabeh Al-Hussaini Alfonso Gotladera JR Quinahan Asi Taulava Injured/Reserve: Ronjay Buenafe Head coach: Yeng Guiao It took them a while but the Road Warriors finally figured things out under coach Yeng Guiao. And now with a new star at poing guard plus a another offseason of playing together, this season feels like the actual start of the Yeng Guiao era in NLEX. The Road Warriors have a nice mix of young and veteran talent and they have a champion coach at the helm. The potential is there to make noise in the playoffs.   Phoenix Fuel Masters PBA Season 42 results: Philippine Cup - Quarterfinals Commissioner's Cup - Quarterfinals Governors' Cup - Missed playoffs PBA Season 43 opening day line up: LA Revilla Jason Perkins Gelo Alolino JC Intal Joseph Eriobu Justin Chua Marvin Hayes Jeff Chan Doug Kramer Jam Cortez Karl Dehesa Rey Guevarra William Wilson RJ Jazul Matthew Wright Head coach: Louie Alas Phoenix is in it to win it. The Fuel Masters missed the playoffs once for the first time in four conferences and the team literally changed almost their entire coaching staff. Coach Louie Alas will have an interesting squad to work with in his debut season with the team. If Phoenix can avoid a major slide similar to what happened in the 2017 Governors' Cup, expect the Fuel Masters to be featured in the playoff race.   KIA Picanto PBA Season 42 results: Philippine Cup - Missed playoffs Commissioner's Cup - Missed playoffs Governors' Cup - Missed playoffs PBA Season 43 opening day line up: Reden Celda Jackson Corpuz JR Reyes Jon Gabriel Philip Paniamogan Rashawn McCarthy Prince Caperal Eric Camson Jan Jamon Pedrito Galanza Roldan Sara Glenn Khobuntin Mark Yee Dylan Ababou Ronald Tubid Head coach: Chris Gavina Kia's unconventional ways will be tested this season. After basically trading away Christian Standhardinger, people will most certainly watch the Picanto to lose. But you never know with this team, they have a brilliant coach and maybe Kia manages to pull off an upset or two this season. Maybe it's not so bad after all. We'll see.   Meralco Bolts PBA Season 42 results: Philippine Cup - Missed playoffs Commissioner's Cup - Quarterfinals Governors' Cup - Finals PBA Season 43 opening day line up: Bryan Faundo Mike Tolomia Cliff Hodge Nico Salva Baser Amer Chris Newsome KG Canaleta Garvo Lanete Joseph Sedurifa Anjo Caram Jason Ballesteros Jared Dillinger Reynel Hugnatan Ranidel De Ocampo Mac Baracael Injured/Reserve: Ken Bono Head coach: Norman Black For the past two seasons, Meralco has not performed well in the Philippine Cup. Without an import, the Bolts just shut down for some reason. However, the team can build on a more mature set of locals this time around to make some noise in the All-Filipino. And you already know coach Norman Black is not allowing another All-Filipino collapse from his team.   Blackwater Elite PBA Season 42 results: Philippine Cup - Missed playoffs Commissioner's Cup - Missed playoffs Governors' Cup - Quarterfinals PBA Season 43 opening day line up: Mike Cortez Mike Digregorio Ael Banal Roi Sumang JP Erram Mark Cruz John Pinto Mac Belo James Sena Renz Palma Chris Javier Allein Maliksi Dave Marcelo Raymar Jose Kyle Neypes Head coach: Leo Isaac Blackwater has an interesting team. Just looking at their line up from top to bottom, the Elite have all the tools to make a playoff runs this season. Starting with the All-Filipino, Blackwater can finish the job that they failed to do last season. People forget that the Elite, despite missing the playoffs, had a pretty good Philippine Cup last year.   Globalport Batang Pier PBA Season 42 results: Philippine Cup - Quarterfinals Commissioner's Cup - Quarterfinals Governors' Cup - Missed playoffs PBA Season 43 opening day line up: Yousef Taha Julian Sargent Stanley Pringle Terrence Romeo Nico Elorde Sean Anthony Micahel Juico Jonathan Gray Ryan Arana Kelly Nabong Lervin Flores Joseph Gabayni Bradwyn Guinto Injured/Reserve: Arnold Van Opstal Head coach: Pido Jarencio Regardless if its Pido Jarencio or Franz Pumaren coaching this team, things will be hard for Globalport if Terrence Romeo continues to miss time. But looking at it from another angle, maybe Stanley Pringle shows us another level to his game and takes the Batang Pier to new heights. However, Globalport fans would feel more comfortable if the Bro recovers according to schedule and makes his debut sooner rather than later.   Alaska Aces PBA Season 42 results: Philippine Cup - Quarterfinals Commissioner's Cup - Missed playoffs Governors' Cup - Missed playoffs PBA Season 43 opening day line up: Simon Enciso Chris Banchero Sonny Thoss Calvin Abueva Marion Magat Jake Pascual Jeron Teng Chris Exciminiano Carl Bryan Cruz Abel Galiguez Davon Potts Jvee Casio Kevin Racal Vic Manuel Injured/Reserve: Noy Baclao Head coach: Alex Compton It possibly can't get any worse for Alaska this season. After a down year, the Aces are poised for a bounce back season. If Alaska can re-learn how to finish games, the team can absolutely regain its lofty standing on top of the league. The pieces are there, it's amazing how the Aces lost so many games last season. It cannot get any worse.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 15th, 2017