US to take part in Iranian investigation into plane crash

UNTV News   •   January 10, 2020   •   439

Washington – The National Transportation Safety Board of the United States announced on Thursday that it had accepted an invitation from Iran to participate in its investigation into the crash of a Ukrainian aircraft amid speculations that an Iranian missile might have brought down the plane.

The federal agency said in a statement that the Iran Civil Aviation Organization has notified them that they could take part in the investigation of the plane crash that occurred near Tehran Thursday, in which all 176 people on board lost their lives.

“The NTSB has designated an accredited representative to the investigation of the crash,” said the independent US government agency tasked with investigating transport accidents.

Since the aircraft was a US-made Boeing 737-800, international regulations allow Washington to be a part of the accident investigation.

However, it remains unclear to what extent the NTSB representative will be able to play an active role in the probe, as US sanctions complicate cooperation with Iran, and the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

The NTSB announcement came hours after US intelligence sources told several media outlets that the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) Flight 752 could have been accidentally shot down by an Iranian missile.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later confirmed that his government had “evidence” indicating that the aircraft “was shot down by an Iranian surface to air missile,” although he added it may have been unintentional.

The accident occurred shortly after the Middle Eastern country launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two US military bases in Iraq, in retaliation for the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike in Baghdad on Jan. 3.

However, the Iranian authorities have denied that they had accidentally shot down the plane and claimed the accusations were a part of a psychological warfare campaign against Tehran.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said they welcomed the presence of experts from countries whose citizens have died in the tragic accident, and requested the Canadian prime minister and any other government to provide any information they had regarding the crash.

At least 63 Canadians, mostly of Iranian origin, were traveling on the plane bound for Kiev. The aircraft crashed shortly after take off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. EFE-EPA

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US donates hygiene kits, handwashing stations to Manila City gov’t

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government of the United States on Thursday donated hygiene kits and handwashing stations to the city government of Manila in support of the Philippine capital’s fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, US Ambassador Sung Kim said he visited the Delpan Quarantine Facility in Tondo to handover 5,000 hygiene kits and 16 handwashing stations to Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.

Kim said the hygiene kits could provide additional protection against COVID-19 through the provision of items essential to practicing good personal hygiene.

The kits contain face masks, soap, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, and toothbrushes.

“The U.S. government is a friend, partner, and ally of the Manileños in facing this pandemic. The American people are pleased to support the City of Manila’s efforts to fight COVID-19,” Kim said.

To complement the donation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said it will continue to collaborate with the Manila City Health Office to help ensure that citizens can access quality tuberculosis services during the pandemic as well as to support the rollout of the Department of Health’s “Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE)” strategy to contain the pandemic.

USAID recently donated two ventilators to the Tondo Medical Center as part of the 100 ventilators that the U.S. government handed over last August 28 to the Philippine government.

To date, the U.S. government has donated over P1 billion ($22.6 million) to support the Philippines’ COVID-19 response.

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)

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