Iraq seeks exemption from U.S. sanctions on Iran, PM says

admin   •   December 12, 2018   •   1869

Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi | Iraqi Parliament Office/Handout via REUTERS

Iraq will send a delegation to the United States seeking an exemption from sanctions against Iran that would allow it to keep importing Iranian gas, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday (December 12).

Washington gave Iraq a 45-day waiver for imports of gas from Iran when it reimposed sanctions on Iran‘s oil sector on Nov. 5. Iraqi officials have said they need around two years to find an alternative source.

Washington is seeking to roll back Iranian influence in the Middle East, including in Iraq, where Iran holds broad sway over politics and trade.

Abdul Mahdi, who assumed office in October after six months of political uncertainty following an inconclusive election, on Tuesday met U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry in Baghdad.

Abdul Mahdi’s office said Perry was in Baghdad with a delegation of over 50 business people. — Reuters

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Pompeo says closed Chinese consulate in Houston was ‘den of spies’

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday (July 30) the “tide is turning” in U.S. dealings with China, saying there is international support for American policies, including the step-up of maritime maneuvers in the South China Sea.

Reflecting rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, Pompeo took a tough line on China in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We see the Chinese Communist Party for what it is: the center threat of our times,” Pompeo said.

In recent days, Washington and Beijing have each closed one of the other country’s consulates – the United States closing China’s office in Houston and China retaliating by shuttering the U.S. facility in Chengdu – and Pompeo recently announced an end to Hong Kong’s special trading status.

“We closed the consulate in Houston because it was a den of spies,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo was testifying publicly at Foreign Relations Committee hearing for the first time in 15 months, discussing the State Department’s annual budget request.

President Donald Trump’s administration has tried to slash the State Department budget since it took office, which has been rejected by Congress every year. Democratic lawmakers told the hearing that they would not support steep cuts this year either. (Reuters)

(Production: Kia Johnson)

China informs US to close consulate general in Chengdu

UNTV News   •   July 24, 2020

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday informed the U.S. Embassy in China of its decision to withdraw its consent for the establishment and operation of the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu.

The ministry also made specific requirements on the ceasing of all operations and events by the Consulate General, said a statement issued by the ministry.

On July 21, the United States launched a unilateral provocation by abruptly demanding that China close its Consulate General in Houston, the statement said.

The U.S. move seriously breached international law, the basic norms of international relations, and the terms of the China-U.S. Consular Convention. It gravely harmed China-U.S. relations, said the statement.

The measure taken by China is a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the United States. It conforms with international law, the basic norms of international relations, and customary diplomatic practices, said the statement.

The statement said the current situation in China-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see, and the United States is responsible for all this.

“We once again urge the United States to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track,” the statement added. (Reuters)

Trump says closing more Chinese consulates in US ‘always possible’

UNTV News   •   July 23, 2020

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (July 22) it was “always possible” he would order the closure of more Chinese consulates in the United States in the wake of the State Department’s order to close Beijing’s consulate in Houston.

Trump, at a White House news conference, noted that a fire was spotted on the Houston consulate’s grounds after the State Department ordered the closure in 72 hours, marking a dramatic deterioration in relations between the world’s two biggest economies.

The U.S. State Department said earlier on Wednesday the Chinese mission in Houston was being closed “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”

Overnight in Houston, firefighters went to the consulate after smoke was seen. Two U.S. government officials said they had information that documents were being burned there.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the consulate was operating normally.

The ministry said Washington had abruptly issued the demand to close the consulate on Tuesday and called it an “unprecedented escalation.” (Reuters)

(Production: Njuwa Maina)

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