February 17, 2019

Review Category : People

Germany's SPD climbs in polls after welfare rethink

Germany's SPD climbs in polls after welfare rethinkSupport for Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) has hit its highest level in almost six months, a poll showed on Sunday, a week after the center-left party outlined new welfare plans aimed at winning back working class voters. Ahead of European elections in May and four regional votes this year, the Emnid poll for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper put support for the SPD, which shares power with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, on 19 percent, up 2 points from a week ago.


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India ends police protection for Kashmir leaders after bombing

India ends police protection for Kashmir leaders after bombingIndian authorities withdrew police protection for five separatist leaders in Kashmir on Sunday amid mounting fallout from a suicide bombing that killed 41 soldiers in the disputed region. New Delhi has vowed to retaliate after a van packed with explosives ripped through a convoy transporting 2,500 soldiers across the Indian-administered territory on Thursday, the deadliest-ever attack in a 30-year-old armed conflict. Indian officials said police protection had been withdrawn for Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and four other leaders.


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Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman heads to Pakistan on Asian diplomatic offensive

Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman heads to Pakistan on Asian diplomatic offensiveSaudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman flew to Pakistan at the start of a three nation diplomatic tour designed to repair the kingdom's reputation and bolster ties with key regional allies. The crown prince's visit could be overshadowed by dangerously spiraling tensions between Pakistan and India. The trip comes days after a suicide bomber killed 44 Indian paramilitary police in the disputed Kashmir region.  New Delhi has accused Pakistan of having a hand in Thursday's attack and vowed to punish Islamabad, which denies involvement. Iran, a regional rival of Saudi Arabia, accused Pakistan of harbouring and training militants behind a suicide bombing in Baluchistan that killed 27 troops on Wednesday.  Crown prince Mohammed is expected to travel to Dehli to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday. He will spend Thursday and Friday in China.  The three nation tour has been characterized as part of a Saudi "pivot to the east" and is in part meant to repair the crown prince's reputation following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ensuing state-led cover-up. Despite his vow to shift Saudi Arabia to renewable energy, the trip is also in part a roadshow to sell Saudi oil. China is the world’s largest buyer of Saudi crude, and India is close behind. As the guardians of the most holy site in Islam, the Saudi royal family carry great clout in Pakistan. The visit also deepens a long standing alliance that has seen Saudi Arabia propping up Pakistan's fragile economy.  Pakistani officials have said that Saudi Arabia will announce eight investment agreements during the visit, including a $10 billion refinery and petrochemicals complex in the coastal city of Gwadar, where China is building a port. Saudi Arabia has in recent months helped keep Pakistan's economy afloat by propping up its rapidly dwindling foreign exchange reserves with a $6 billion loan, giving Islamabad breathing room as it negotiates a bailout with the International Monetary Fund.


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Netanyahu's main rival in Israeli election voices agreement with him on Iran

Netanyahu's main rival in Israeli election voices agreement with him on IranFormer general Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's strongest challenger in an election scheduled for April, voiced support on Sunday for the right-wing leader's tough policy toward Iran. "I am standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the fight against Iran's aggression," Gantz, a former chief of Israel's armed forces and a centrist candidate, told the Munich Security Conference. Polls predict that Netanyahu's Likud party will win the April 9 election, taking about 30 of parliament’s 120 seats - enough to form a coalition of right-wing and religious factions similar to one he now heads.


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Iran takes aim at 'hateful' Pence comments

Iran takes aim at 'hateful' Pence commentsIran's foreign minister on Sunday launched a blistering attack on US Vice President Mike Pence, saying his allegations that Tehran was plotting a "new Holocaust" were "hateful" and "ignorant". Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Munich Security Conference that Pence's demands for the EU to follow the US in abandoning the 2015 Iran nuclear deal amounted to asking Europe to undermine its own security.


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U.S. envoy on Syria tells allies troop withdrawal won't be abrupt

U.S. envoy on Syria tells allies troop withdrawal won't be abruptThe United States will not make an abrupt and rapid withdrawal of its troops from Syria and will consult closely with its allies on the issue, its special envoy on Syria said on Sunday. "We've been telling them (allies) continuously this is not going to be an abrupt, rapid withdrawal but a step-by-step withdrawal," James Franklin Jeffrey told the Munich Security Conference, addressing concerns from allies over the U.S. decision to pullout 2,000 troops.


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US-backed Syria force says IS holding 1,000 civilians

US-backed Syria force says IS holding 1,000 civiliansAL-OMAR OIL FIELD BASE, Syria (AP) — Islamic State militants are preventing more than 1,000 civilians from leaving a tiny area still held by the extremist group in a village in eastern Syria, a spokesman for the U.S.-backed Syrian militia fighting the group said Sunday.


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In Syria's Baghouz, dying palms and a wilting IS 'caliphate'

In Syria's Baghouz, dying palms and a wilting IS 'caliphate'The wilted palms and pomegranate trees at the entrance to Baghouz were struggling to survive, much like diehard Islamic State group fighters in the Syrian village. "The SDF were here," read a spray-painted Arabic message on a one-storey house. Atop a building captured by the SDF, a fighter peered out at columns of smoke from fresh bombardment.


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