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Convinced Donald Trump to remain in Syria: Emmanuel Macron

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Emmanuel Macron

Paris, April 16: French President Emmanuel Macron said that he “convinced” his American counterpart Donald Trump to remain in Syria before the coordinated strikes launched against targeted Syrian government sites in response to an alleged chemical attack, the media reported.

“Ten days ago, President Trump said the US’s will is to disengage from Syria. We convinced him that it was necessary to stay,” CNN quoted Macron as saying on Sunday during a two-hour televised interview with several French media outlets.

On Friday night, the US, France and the UK launched a series of strikes on a research laboratory and two storage facilities associated with Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

Satellite images of the facilities, located west of Homs and near the capital Damascus, before and after the strikes appear to show they suffered extensive damage.

France also convinced Trump that the strikes had to be limited to suspected chemical weapons sites, Macron added.

Prior to the strikes, there had been reports that Trump wanted to see tougher, more extended action in Syria but was talked down by his national security team.

The strike was fiercely condemned by Syria’s main ally Russia, who attempted to bring a motion in the UN Security Council on Saturday to denounce the “aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic by the US and its allies”.

During Sunday’s interview, Macron said Russian President Vladimir Putin was an “accomplice” to Syria’s alleged use of chemicals weapons.

“They have not used chlorine themselves, but they have methodically contributed to the international community’s powerlessness to prevent the use of chemical weapons by diplomatic means,” CNN quoted the French leader as saying.

The French President said his country had not declared war on Syria, calling the strikes a “reprisal” for violations of the treaty banning the use of chemical weapons.

“There has been repeated and proven violations of the treaty,” he said.

Friday night’s strikes were a response to the suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma, outside Damascus, on April 7 where over 70 people including children were killed.

Inspectors for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were due to go to Douma on Sunday after arriving in Syria shortly after Saturday’s strikes, and are yet to report on any findings.

The US and its allies have been criticized for acting before inspectors had a chance to examine the site.

Politicians in France and the UK on Monday will seek answers from the countries’ leaders about their decision to launch strikes without formal approval.

Protests against the strikes were held around the world Saturday, including in major cities in the UK, Mexico, Greece and the US.

IANS

Election

Kamala Harris to run for US President in 2020

The 54-year-old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in the video.

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 Kamala Harris

Washington, Jan 21 : Democrat Kamala Harris, the first Indian-American to serve in the US Senate, launched her campaign for the White House on Monday while appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America.

In a brief video from her campaign that was released on the social media at the same time she appeared on the show, Harris called on her supporters to join with her to “claim our future”. She made the announcement on Monday — America’s Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday — to honour the legacy of her hero.

The 54-year-old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in the video.

“They’re the values we as Americans cherish, and they’re all on the line now,” Harris said.

“The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values… That’s why I’m running for President of the US. I’m running to lift those voices, to bring our voices together.”

Harris’ announcement followed the entrance of her fellow senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York in the presidential race.

She is the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father who met in Berkeley, California, at the height of the civil rights movement.

Harris said the time had come to fight against what she called “the injustices of the past two years of the Donald Trump presidency”. She has accused Trump of stoking racist and xenophobic rhetoric, while aligning his administration with white supremacists at home, and cozying up to dictators abroad.

She said that the needs of the middle class had been ignored, citing the federal shutdown over the President’s “vanity project” — a border wall — as the latest example.

The Senator had earlier turned up the heat on the President by blasting his insistence on holding out for funding for his border wall before reopening the government — comparing his behaviour to how her 11-year-old godson might have behaved with his toy train.

Harris’ campaign will be headquartered in Baltimore – giving aides an East Coast hub in a racially diverse city that has struggled with wide income disparities – and Oakland, where Harris was born to immigrant parents who came to the US to advance their academic careers, CNN reported.

She began her career as a deputy district attorney in Alameda county, California, before becoming District Attorney of San Francisco, where she focused on crime prevention.

In 2010, she narrowly beat her Republican opponent to become California’s Attorney General. Six years later, she was elected to the Senate, where she became the second black woman ever to serve in the chamber.

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Middle East

Netanyahu: Iran to face consequences for threatening Israel

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Benjamin Netanyahu

Jerusalem, Jan 21 (IANS) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Monday that Iran would face consequences for threatening Israel, hours after Israeli fighter jets struck targets in Syria’s capital Damascus.

“We are acting against Iran and the Syrian forces that abet the Iranian aggression. Whoever threatens to destroy us will bear the full responsibility,” Netanyahu said in a speech.

He said that the overnight assault targeted mainly Iranian sites in Syria, which was a response to a rocket fired by Iranians in Syria towards the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We will not ignore such acts of aggression as Iran attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria,” Netanyahu said.

Earlier in the day, Damascus said that it intercepted multiple Israeli guided missiles targeting the country’s south. Some 11 pro-government fighters were killed, according to reports.

In a rare public acknowledgment, the Israeli military confirmed it carried out the attacks.

Israel says it is not part of the eight-year war in Syria but its military has carried out hundreds of air attacks over the past years against Iranian targets, which Israel accuses of attempting to entrench itself in Syria, in addition to Syrian Army positions.

It also bombed weapons convoyed to Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia militia.

Israel has mostly kept silent on its actions against Iranian targets in Syria, fearing such comments might trigger an escalation. That policy started to change under Netanyahu, who confirmed earlier in January that the Air Force had struck Iranian sites in Syria hours after the attack.

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America

Lady Gaga slams Donald Trump for government shutdown

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Lady Gaga US President Donald Trump
Lady Gaga and US President Donald Trump (File Photo)

Las Vegas, Jan 21: Singer Lady Gaga has slammed US President Donald Trump for the ongoing government shutdown.

During her show here, Gaga took out a moment to criticise Trump and urged him to put the government back in business, reports variety.com.

“And that the f****ng president of the United States could please put our government back in business. There are people who live paycheck to paycheck and need their money.”

The “A Star is Born” actor then called out Vice President Mike Pence, whose wife Karen is under fire for accepting a job at a school that excludes the LGBTQ community.

She said: “And to Pence, who thinks it’s acceptable that his wife work at a school that bans LGBTQ, you are wrong. You say we should not discriminate against Christianity; you are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian.

“I am a Christian woman and what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice and everybody is welcome. So you can take all that disgrace Mr. Pence and you can look yourself in the mirror and you’ll find it right there.”

The government closed on December 22, 2018 after Trump was refused funding for a southern border wall.

IANSi

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