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British PM Theresa May calls snap election on June 8

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Theresa May

London, April 18: British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday announced a snap General Election on June 8, seeking a stronger mandate in talks over leaving the European Union (EU).

In an unexpected statement at Downing Street, May said she was starting the process of calling a vote, less than halfway through the government’s term, BBC reported.

Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum, she said.

Explaining the decision, May said: The country is coming together but Westminster is not.

There will be a Commons vote on the proposed election on Wednesday — opposition Labour Party has said it will vote with the government, reported BBC.

The Prime Minister needs Parliament’s backing to hold a vote before the next scheduled date of 2020.

Explaining her change of heart on an early election, May said: I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.

She accused Britain’s other political parties of “game playing”, adding that this risks “our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country”.

“So we need a General Election and we need one now. We have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done.

In a statement outside Number 10, May said: “Labour had threatened to vote against the final Brexit agreement, the Liberal Democrats had stated they wanted to ‘grind the business of government to a standstill’.”

“…The Scottish Nationalist Party had said they would vote against the negotiations and ‘unelected’ members of the House of Lords had vowed ‘to fight us every step of the way’,” she added.

“If we don’t hold a General Election now, their political game-playing will continue and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run up to the next General Election,” she said.

The Prime Minister challenged the opposition parties: “This is your moment to show you mean it — to show you’re not opposing the government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game.”

Let’s tomorrow vote for an election — let’s put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programmes for government and then let the people decide.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision, saying it would “give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first”.

He said: “Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.”

In his response to May’s announcement, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron tweeted: “This is your chance to change the direction of your country. If you want to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the single market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.”

“Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority,” he added.

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North Korea suspends nuclear, ballistic missile testing

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North Korean Kim Jong un

Seoul, April 21: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday announced the immediate suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests.

“From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Efe quoted Kim as saying.

According to the report, North Korea will also close a nuclear test site in the country’s northern side in a bid to guarantee transparency in suspending nuclear tests.

Having established a nuclear deterrent, North Korea can now turn to overhauling its economy, Kim said.

Pyongyang’s decision comes ahead of Kim’s April 27 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries.

The last bilateral talks between the leaders of North and South Korea took place 11 years ago.

US President Donald Trump, who accepted Kim’s proposal for a meeting after months that saw the two men trade insults and threats, praised the announcement from Pyongyang.

“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit,” Trump said in a tweet.

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DJ Avicii dead at 28

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Madrid, April 21: World-renowned Swedish DJ and electronic music producer Avicii was found dead in Muscat, Oman, his agent said on Friday. He was 28.

“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” Efe quoted Diana Baron as saying.

“The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time,” Baron said. “No further statements will be given.”

Bergling had struggled with health problems, some caused by excessive drinking and was hospitalized for 11 days in 2012 for treatment of acute pancreatitis.

In early 2016, he announced his temporary retirement from touring, citing a desire to “explore other interests.”

“To me it was something I had to do for my health,” Bergling told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, adding that he had taken on board “too much negative energy” from the music scene.

Avicii achieved global fame in 2011 with the release of his smash hit “Levels,” which was followed by other chart sensations, such as “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother”.

He was known for his collaborations with other artists, including Coldplay, David Guetta, Lenny Kravitz, Robbie Williams and Rita Ora.

In 2014, he teamed up with Carlos Santana, Wyclef Jean and Alexandre Pires on the official FIFA World Cup anthem, “We Will Find a Way”.

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IMF expects India’s role to expand in Indo-Pacific region

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International Monetary Fund

United Nations, April 21: The International Monetary Fund expects India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region’s development to continue to expand because of its robust growth, but it has to carry out more trade reforms, Ken Kang, the deputy director in IMF’s Asia Pacific Department said on Friday.

“Given our robust growth forecast where we see India’s growth rising from 7.4 per cent in 2017-18 to 7.8 per cent in 2019, we do expect India’s role in the region to continue to expand,” he said at a news conference in Washington.

“That being said, India does have room to expand its export orientation and to reduce further trade and non-trade barriers,” he added.

“The statutory tariff rate in India is relatively high at about 15 per cent, and higher than those in the rest of the region,” he added. “So there is room to do more on trade reform.”

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