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Brexit a punishment for UK, says EU

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London, March 31: European Council President Donald Tusk has said the EU will not punish Britain, because Brexit is “punishment enough”, as he released a set of draft guidelines on Friday for the two-year Brexit negotiations.

Tusk spoke at a news conference in Malta on Friday after the guidelines were sent to the heads of the 27 remaining members of the EU, reported the Independent.

The draft guidelines appeared to offer a concession to Prime Minister Theresa May, suggesting that talks on future trade arrangements could begin once “sufficient progress” was made on the initial Brexit deal.

Tusk said that the EU will not seek to punish Britain in the initial stages of the talks. “We will not be punitive. Brexit itself is punitive enough,” he said.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who is the incumbent rotating EU President, appeared alongside Tusk at the conference and said the Brexit negotiations will be tough but “it will not be a war”.

He warned both sides that citizens in Britain and other EU nations should not be used as “bargaining chips”.

Going into the two-year negotiation period triggered by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (official process to leave the EU), the EU would think of the people first, Tusk said.

The residential rights of EU citizens living in Britain would be one of the main focuses.

The EU companies in Britain would need to be safeguarded against losing the protection of the 27-member bloc’s law and regulation, he said.

Tusk also said the EU would honour all its commitments, and stressed that Britain would have to as well.

He also raised the issue of Britain’s financial bills with the EU, estimated to be as much as 51 billion pounds ($64 billion).

In a sign of the bloc’s determination to secure a “divorce bill” from Britain, he said: “We will need to make sure that Britain honours all financial commitments and liabilities it has taken as a member state.”

He also said the EU would seek “flexible and creative solutions” to avoid the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Britain’s only land border with the EU.

Tusk will meet May in London ahead of an EU summit on Brexit, which will not include her, on April 29.

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Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving officially ends

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Saudi Women Driving

Riyadh, June 24 : Saudi women can legally get behind the wheel of a car for the first time Sunday as the Kingdom lifts its decades-old ban on women driving.

The change was announced last September and Saudi Arabia issued the first licences to women earlier this month, BBC reported on Sunday.

It was the only country left in the world where women could not drive and families had to hire private chauffeurs for female relatives.

However, the move comes amid an intensified crackdown on activists who campaigned for the right to drive.

At least eight women’s rights activists are being detained and could face trial in a counter-terrorism court and long prison sentences for their activism, human rights group Amnesty says.

They include Loujain al-Hathloul, a well-known figure in the campaign for women’s driving rights.

Amnesty has also called for wider reforms in Saudi Arabia, where women remain subject to male guardianship laws.

Human rights groups in the kingdom have campaigned for years to allow women to drive.

Dozens of women were arrested for driving in Riyadh in 1990 and some Saudi women began posting videos of themselves at the wheel in 2008, and between 2011 and 2014.

Thousands of women could soon take to the roads.

“It is a historic moment for every Saudi woman,” Saudi television presenter said.

She said she was behind the wheel minutes after the end of the driving ban at midnight local time (21:00 GMT Saturday).

“Those days of waiting long hours for a driver are over,” said pharmacy student Hatoun bin Dakhil, 21. “We no longer need a man.”

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President of Zimbabwe survives ‘assassination attempt’ in Bulawayo

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Cairo, June 24:Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has survived an assassination attempt when he was addressing thousands at his ruling ZANU-PF party election campaign rally in the city of Bulawayo on Saturday.

The Zimbabwean president said he narrowly survived an attempt on his life after a explosion at a party rally that injured two of his vice-presidents and several party officials.

He said an object “exploded a few inches away from me – but it is not my time”.

In a message on Twitter, Mnangagwa called the explosion a “senseless act of violence”.

“The campaign has been conducted in a free and peaceful environment, and we will not allow this cowardly act to get in our way as we move towards elections,” he wrote.

Egypt condemns attack

Egypt has condemned the attack on a rally of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he was addressing an electoral campaign, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement on Saturday expressed Egypt’s solidarity “with the Zimbabwean government and people to achieve security and stability in the country”.

“Egypt is comfort with the failure of such a sinful attack and the survival of the Zimbabwean president,” said the statement.

Earlier on Saturday, Egypt condemned a failed attempt to “assassinate” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during a mass rally in the capital Addis Ababa, which left at least three people dead and more than 160 injured.

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South Korean former PM Kim Jong-pil dies at 92

Before becoming Prime Minister for the first time, the retired military leader and father of two created and ran the Korean Intelligence Agency and later headed the then ruling Democratic Republican Party.

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PM Kim Jong-pil

Seoul, June 23 (IANS) Former South Korean Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil died here on Saturday at the age of 92 while being taken to a hospital.

Kim, considered among the most influential politicians in the country in previous decades, served as Prime Minister on two occasions, between 1971 and 1975, and between 1998 and 2000, Yonhap agency reported.

Born in 1926, Kim graduated from the Korea Military Academy and played an important role in the 1961 military coup led by former President Park Chung-hee, who ruled the country with an iron fist until his assassination in 1979.

Before becoming Prime Minister for the first time, the retired military leader and father of two created and ran the Korean Intelligence Agency and later headed the then ruling Democratic Republican Party.

Besides holding government posts, the influential and conservative politician served as lawmaker on nine occasions until his retirement in 2004.

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