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Australian PM Turnbull brushes off calls to resign

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Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday rejected opposition calls for his resignation.Australia’s opposition Labor Party called Turnbull the “David Cameron of the southern hemisphere” after he failed to secure an emphatic election victory.

On Monday evening, opposition Labour Party Leader Bill Shorten called for Turnbull to quit as leader of the Liberal National Party coalition, claiming that the premier was “out of touch” and was unable to provide parliamentary “stability” which he promised to Australian voters throughout his campaign.

But on Tuesday, Turnbull said he would not be stepping down from the position and described the Labour leader’s attack as purely political.

“Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” Turnbull said of Shorten, “I’m sure he would (like me to resign).”

“I don’t think we’ll be taking advice from the leader of the opposition, I think he couldn’t think of anything else better to say.”

The election’s vote count resumed early Tuesday with postal votes and pre-poll votes set to be tallied, two days after the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) said it could take weeks to get a decisive result from all seats.

Turnbull said he was confident of a forming a majority government despite numerous election analysts suggesting Labor had, by Tuesday, secured more seats than the coalition.

“The count is continuing and we remain confident that we will secure enough seats to have a majority in the parliament,” Turnbull told the press.

“All the votes have been cast and it’s now simply a matter to count them so we’re just awaiting that.”

Meanwhile the nation’s Attorney General George Brandis has played down concerns that the deadlocked election was bad news for Australia or the coalition; he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that there’s “no such thing as a failed election”.

He said there was nothing unusual about the deadlock, despite Trunbull facing a wall of conservative criticism, both from political commentators and from within the far-right factions of his party.

“An election always produces the parliament the people choose,” Brandis said.

“Sometimes that’s a large majority, sometimes a narrow one, and sometimes the party that forms government relies on other elements of the parliament to govern, but there’s nothing unusual here.”

Conservative factions of the coalition have already hinted at discontent within the party; the ABC reported that anonymous sources would have no issue ousting Turnbull at a partyroom meeting if he “sells out” the conservative principles of the party while brokering a deal with independent MPs.

A decisive result to determine the government still might not be known for days, while the final results from tightly-contested seats may be in limbo for weeks.

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US to revoke visas of Saudi officials implicated in death of Jamal Khashoggi

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journalist Jamal Khashoggi

BREAKING: The United State to revoke visas of some Saudi officials implicated in death of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Pompeo also said during a press conference that the State and Treasury departments are looking at the possibility of sanctions meant to target those responsible for human rights violations.

The announcement comes after President Trump called the kingdom’s efforts to hide Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul the “worst cover-up ever,” stepping up his rhetoric as frustrations directed at Riyadh grow.

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US slaps sanctions on Taliban, Iranian supporters

Washington has intensified its sanctions against Iranian entities and individuals after President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal in May, a move that has been widely criticized by the international community.

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Washington, Oct 24 : The US Treasury announced on Tuesday that it has imposed sanctions on eight individuals, including two associated with Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — Qods Force (IRGC-QF), in an effort to hit Afghanistan’s Taliban militants.

The Treasury accused the designated Taliban members of engaging in suicide attacks and other activities in Afghanistan and blamed the Iranians for providing financial and material support for the Taliban, Xinhau reported.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed in a statement that Iran was “exploiting Afghanistan to further their destabilizing behaviour”.

Mnuchin is on a week-long trip to the Middle East with talks on combating terrorist financing and looming Iran sanctions.

Also on Tuesday, the other member nations of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre (TFTC), all US Gulf allies, also imposed Taliban-related sanctions.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain announced Tuesday to add Iran’s IRGC to the list of terror-related individuals and organisations, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Washington has intensified its sanctions against Iranian entities and individuals after President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal in May, a move that has been widely criticized by the international community.

New US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports are set to kick in on November 4.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country will manage to abort anti-Iran sanctions by the United States, Press TV reported on Monday.

The TFTC, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, was formed in May 2017 and inaugurated by the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Trump on the sidelines of the Arab-Islamic-American Summit last year.

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UN calls for probe into Pakistani reporter’s murder

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Paris, Oct 23 The head of the United Nations cultural organisation UNESCO on Tuesday deplored the slaying of journalist Sohail Khan in northwest Pakistan last week and urged the country’s authorities to bring his killers to justice.

“I condemn the killing of Sohail Khan,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “I trust the authorities will spare no effort in investigating this crime, which undermines the fundamental human right of freedom of expression as well as the right to access information,” he said.

“A free press plays an essential role in combating organized crime and upholding the rule of law,” Azoulay added.

Sohail Khan, a reporter for local Urdu daily, which also operates a local television channel, was gunned down on October 16 in the Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan.

Khan, 28, was murdered days after a report on drug trafficking, the Freedom Network watchdog organization said. He was the third journalist killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this year. His killing sparked protests by journalists across Pakistan.

Four reporters have been murdered in Pakistan since January, the watchdog said.(IANS/AKI)

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