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Afghanistan bans imports of 4 types of Iranian products

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Tehran, Sep 17 (IANS) Afghanistan Customs Department has banned the imports of four types of Iranian products, Eghtesadonline reported on Sunday.

The banned items include oil products, cement, steel products, tiles and ceramics from Iran as of Sept. 16.

Ali Shariati, a member of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, said that the ban is said to be aligned with the sanctions reimposed by the United States on Iran.

The Afghanistan Customs Department has asked all Afghan traders consider the new trade regulations with Iran, Shariati was quoted as saying.

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Theresa May likely to delay vote on Brexit deal

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Theresa May

London, Dec 10 UK Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to postpone Tuesday’s key parliamentary vote on her Brexit plan, the media reported on Monday, amid predictions that she would suffer a “significant” defeat that could threaten to end her premiership and topple the government.

British media reports cited government sources as saying that May would inform MPs in the House of Commons about the delay in a statement later in the day. However, Downing Street insisted that the vote would go ahead.

The pound fell sharply following the reports, shedding 0.5 per cent versus the US dollar to stand at $1.26. Against the euro, the pound was 0.8 per cent down at 1.10 euros, the BBC reported.

May’s Commons address will be followed by a statement from the leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom. Later, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will also make a statement on Article 50 — the legal mechanism taking the UK out of the EU on March 29.

According to the Guardian, a vote could take place next week or even be delayed till early January. The ultimate deadline for the vote is January 21.

The deal has been agreed with the EU, but it needs to be backed by the UK Parliament if it is to become law ahead of the UK’s departure.

The news followed the European Court of Justice’s ruling earlier in the day that the UK could cancel Brexit without the permission of the other 27 bloc members.

The court in a statement said: “When a member state has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU, as the UK has done, that member state is free to revoke unilaterally that notification.”

“That possibility exists for as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that member state has not entered into force or, if no such agreement has been concluded, for as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, and any possible extension, has not expired,” stated the ruling tweeted by the court.

The judges ruled that this could be done without altering the terms of Britain’s membership. The court rejected arguments from both the UK government and the European Commission that Article 50, the two-year-long process that triggers a member state’s departure from the EU, could not be revoked unilaterally.

The case was brought to the European Court of Justice by a cross-party group of Scottish lawmakers.

The court ruling matched legal advice given to the court last week by its Advocate General Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona, who said as a sovereign country Britain could reverse its decision even at this stage.

This legal decision was significant because it meant Britain can prevent a no-deal Brexit from happening if it wanted, even if May’s deal was voted down by MPs.

May, whose Conservative Party executive wields a minority in the Commons, enacted Article 50 on March 29, 2017, meaning the UK is due to withdraw from the EU on March 29, 2019, with or without a deal.

She is due to attend a meeting of European leaders on Saturday, at which the parliamentary impasse over Brexit is likely to be top of the agenda.

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday ruled out the possibility of further negotiations with London, saying that the draft deal has already been unanimously adopted by member states.

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London’s Westminster Court orders extradition of Vijay Mallya to India

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Vijay Mallya

London, Dec 10: London’s Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday ordered the extradition of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya to India.

Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot has found prima facie a case against Mallya for fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

The matter of extradition of Vijay Mallya to India has been referred to the Secretary of State.

The Central Bureau of Investigation welcomed the UK court orders.

Reacting to the verdict, the CBI spokesperson said that “We hope to bring him soon and conclude the case. CBI has its own inherent strengths. We worked hard on this case. We are strong on Law and facts and we were confident while pursuing extradition process”.

The Court announced the verdict following a prolonged litigation involving Mallya, who fled India in March 2016.

The development took place came six days after British national and alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, Christian Michael, was extradited to India from Dubai.

Mallya has repeatedly denied fleeing from India and said he was ready to pay back the money he owed to Indian banks.

Proceedings are on in the Mumbai Special Court against the businessman under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

Last year, India filed extradition proceedings against Mallya which he has contested. He is currently on bail in London.

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‘I can’t breathe’, Khashoggi’s last words

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journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Washington, Dec 10: “I can’t breathe,” were the last words uttered by Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi before he was killed by a Saudi hit squad at the country’s consulate in Istanbul in October, a CNN report said.

An informed source, who has read a translated transcript of an audio recording of the journalist’s painful last moments, told CNN on Sunday it was clear that the killing on October 2 was no botched rendition attempt, but the execution of a premeditated plan to murder Khashoggi.

The transcript begins at the moment Khashoggi enters the Saudi consulate in a quiet residential district of Istanbul at lunchtime on October 2.

Khashoggi thought he had made a routine appointment to pick up papers that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, but he soon found out that something was wrong when he recognised one of the men who meets him.

According to CNN’s source, a voice identified in the transcript as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a former Saudi diplomat and intelligence official working for Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and known to Khashoggi from their time together at the Saudi Embassy in London, addresses him.

“You are coming back,” the man says.

“You can’t do that,” Khashoggi replies. “People are waiting outside.”

Without any further dialogue, according to the source, the transcript indicates that several people set upon Khashoggi.

Noises follow and very quickly Khashoggi is fighting for air.

“I can’t breathe,” Khashoggi says. “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”

The transcript notes the sounds of the journalist’s body then being dismembered by a saw, as the alleged perpetrators were advised to listen to music to block out the sound.

However, it does not specify the exact moment of Khashoggi’s death.

According to the source, the transcript notes that at least three phone calls were placed by Mutreb and according to Turkish officials, the calls were made to senior figures in Riyadh.

The original transcript of the audio was prepared by Turkish intelligence services but they have not revealed how they obtained the audio.

In response to the development, a Saudi official told CNN: “The relevant Saudi security officials have reviewed the transcript and tape materials through Turkish security channels and nowhere in them is there any reference or indication of a call being made.

“If there is additional information Turkish authorities have that we are unaware of, we would welcome it being officially handed over to us for review.”

The official did not address the transcript’s characterisation of the scene inside the Saudi consulate, nor Khashoggi’s last words.

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