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

admin   •   December 12, 2018   •   1684

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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Japan, US sympathize with PH as it reels from powerful earthquakes

Marje Pelayo   •   October 31, 2019

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim (L) and Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda (R)

MANILA, Philippines – The governments of Japan and the United States extended their condolences to the victims of the powerful earthquakes that rocked parts of Mindanao.

In a statement, Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda expressed his sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and offered his sympathies to all those affected.

“As an earthquake-prone country, Japan fully understands the hardship caused by such natural disasters,” Haneda said.

“We stand in solidarity with the Government and the people of the Philippines,” he added.

Meanwhile, outgoing US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim tweeted his message of condolences to the families of the victims in the powerful earthquakes.

“I would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the victims of yesterday’s earthquake in Mindanao,” he said.

“To those in affected communities, please stay safe and know that our thoughts and prayers are with you,” he continued.

Strong aftershocks of up to magnitude 6.5 were felt in several parts of Mindanao following the main tremor on Tuesday (October 29).

Since then, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) recorded more than 700 aftershocks with strength equal to the main tremor in the same epicenter specifically in Tulunan town, North Cotabato.

As of this writing, search and rescue operations for the missing and relief efforts for the displaced residents are ongoing in the affected areas.

Iraqis defy tear gas, upcoming curfew as protests stretch on

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019

 Iraqi protesters react after police fired tear gas at them during a protest at al-Tahrir square, central Baghdad, Iraq, 28 October 2019. EPA-EFE/MURTAJA LATEEF

Thousands of people in Baghdad continued their protests at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on Monday (October 28), defying a curfew scheduled to be imposed from midnight until 6am (2100GMT to 0300 GMT).

Protesters took to the streets for a fourth day, despite having endured bloody clashes over the weekend and an overnight raid by security forces seeking to disperse them.

At least 74 Iraqis were killed and hundreds wounded across the country on Friday (October 25) and Saturday (October 26) as demonstrators clashed with security forces and militia groups in the second wave of this month’s protests against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government.

More than 200 people have been killed in October so far.

Iraqi security forces on Monday fired tear gas at school and university students who defied a warning from the prime minister and joined anti-government protests.

A spokesman for Abdul Mahdi, whose position is increasingly precarious as he faces the largest challenge since he came to power a year ago, said on Sunday (October 27) that anyone disrupting work or school days would be severely punished.

Mass street protests in Baghdad and other cities in the southern Shi’te heartland against economic hardship began at the start of the month and resumed on Friday after a pause of about two weeks. (Reuters)

READ: DFA cautions Filipinos against travel to Iraq

(Production: Haider Kadhim, Mohammed Al-Ramahi, Mohammed Katfan, Hannah Ellison)

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U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo in Ankara for talks on Turkey’s Syria offensive

Robie de Guzman   •   October 17, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens to US President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks during a meeting with President of Italy Sergio Mattarella in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 16 October 2019. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS / POOL

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Ankara on Thursday (October 17) as part of Washington’s efforts to convince Turkey to halt its offensive against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.

Turkey’s week-long assault has created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria with 160,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of Islamic State fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for Trump.

Trump has been accused of abandoning Kurdish fighters, who were Washington’s main partners in the battle to dismantle Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria, by withdrawing troops from the border as Turkey launched its offensive on Oct. 9.

Following a phone call with Erdogan, who has rejected calls for ceasefire or mediation, Trump dispatched top aides including Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Ankara for emergency talks to try to persuade Turkey to halt the offensive. (Reuters)

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