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Lebanese PM resigns

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Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri

Beirut, Nov 5: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has unexpectedly resigned during a trip to Saudi Arabia, saying his life was in danger, and creating a leadership vacuum in an already politically fractured country, the media reported.

In a televised address from Riyadh on Saturday night, Hariri said he feared an assassination plot and accused Iran of meddling in the region, causing “devastation and chaos”, reports CNN.

“Iran controls the region and the decision-making in both Syria and Iraq,” he said.

“I want to tell Iran and its followers that it will lose in its interventions in the internal affairs of Arab countries.”

In response, Tehran dismissed the reports, accusing the US and Saudi Arabia of orchestrating the resignation.

“Hariri’s resignation was coordinated with US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman,” Iranian Foreign Ministry official Hossein Sheikholeslam told the Fars News Agency.

“The resignation was aimed at creating tension in Lebanon and the region. This resignation was also meant to compensate the US for its failures after the defeat of the IS (Islamic State).”

In his speech, Hariri, a Sunni politician, also pointed to Hezbollah, the powerful Iranian-backed Shia militant group in Lebanon, CNN reported.

“Over the past decades, Hezbollah has unfortunately managed to impose a fait accompli in Lebanon by the force of its weapons, which it alleges is a resistance weapon,.

“Lebanon and the great Lebanese people became in the eye of the storm and subjected to international condemnations and economic sanctions because of Iran and its arm Hezbollah,” he said.

While the US considers Hezbollah a terrorist group, its political wing is the most powerful bloc in Lebanon’s divided coalition government, and several of its politicians are ministers.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a Christian who is affiliated with Hezbollah, confirmed he had received a phone call from Hariri about stepping down.

Aoun’s office said he would wait for the Prime Minister to return to Beirut to discuss the circumstances of his resignation.

Hariri added that the present atmosphere in Lebanon was similar to the one that existed 12 years ago right before the assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

“We live in an atmosphere similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and I sensed what is being woven in secret to target my life,” he said.

Rafik Hariri was assassinated in February 2005 when a bomb struck his motorcade near the Beirut seafront.

President Aoun asked Hariri to become Prime Minister last year. He headed a national unity Cabinet that included Hezbollah, CNN reported.

It marked Hariri’s second stint as Prime Minister. He first took office in June 2009. Less than two years later, 11 Hezbollah members of his Cabinet resigned, causing a coalition government to collapse.

Under the Lebanese Constitution, the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker of the Parliament a Shia Muslim.

IANS

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Nepal, China sign 8 deals worth $2.24bn

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nepal china ties

Beijing, June 20: Nepal and China on Wednesday signed eight agreements worth $2.4 billion on the second day of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s visit.

These agreements were reached between the two governments and private sectors where Chinese investors will put money on developing hydroelectricity, water resources, cement factories and fruit cultivation and farming.

The signing ceremony took place at the Nepal Embassy here.

Additional memorandum of understandings will be signed on Thursday after delegation-level talks between Oli and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.

Oli, who arrived here on Monday on his five-day-visit, will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday afternoon at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

This is Oli’s first official visit to China after returning to power in February and second foreign trip after India.

IANS

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US withdraws from ‘biased’ UN Human Rights Council

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Donald Trump

Washington, June 20: The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday. 

The US envoy Nikki Haley told the UN, the body is “hypocritical and self-serving” and “makes a mockery of human rights”.

Last year, Haley accused the council of “chronic anti-Israel bias” and said America was reviewing its membership, a BBC report said.

Constituted in 2006, the council invited flak for allowing countries with questionable human rights records to be members.

Following this United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres regretted the Donald Trump’s administration decision.

“The Secretary-General would have much preferred for the United States to remain in the Human Rights Council,” reported Xinhua news agency quoting spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying in a note to correspondents.

“The UN’s human rights architecture plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide,” the note said.

The move comes amid sharp criticism over the Trump administration’s policy of separating child migrants from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad has called the policy “unconscionable”.

Haley announced the US’s intention to exit the council at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

She described the council a “cesspool of political bias”, but stressed: “I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments.”

Last year, she told the council it was “hard to accept” that resolutions had been passed against Israel yet none had been considered for Venezuela, which at the time witnessed the killing of dozens of protesters during political turmoil.

Israel is the only nation that is subject to a permanent standing agenda item, meaning its treatment of the Palestinians is scrutinised at a regular basis.

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UN chief regrets as US exits ‘biased’ Human Rights Council

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations, June 20: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres regretted the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), said his spokesman on Tuesday.

“The Secretary-General would have much preferred for the United States to remain in the Human Rights Council,” reported Xinhua news agency quoting spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying in a note to correspondents.

“The UN’s human rights architecture plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide,” the note read.

Earlier, announcing the country’s withdrawal from the UNHRC, US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley described the body as “hypocritical and self-serving” and one that “makes a mockery of human rights”.

According to a BBC report, Haley last year accused the council of “chronic anti-Israel bias” and said the US was reviewing its membership.

Formed in 2006, the council has been criticised for allowing countries with questionable human rights records to be members.

The move comes amid intense criticism over the Trump administration’s policy of separating child migrants from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

UN human rights chief Zeid bin Ra’ad has called the policy “unconscionable”.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch also condemned separation of families, and called President Trump’s human rights policy “one-dimensional”.

Reacting to the US’ exit from the global rights body, Ra’ad said in Geneva that the US withdrawal is “disappointing, if not really surprising.”

“Given the state of human rights in today’s world, the US should be stepping up, not stepping back,” Zeid said.

Haley announced the US intention to quit the council at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

She called the council a “cesspool of political bias”, but stressed: “I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments.”

Last year, she told the Council it was “hard to accept” that resolutions had been passed against Israel yet none had been considered for Venezuela, which at the time saw dozens of protesters killed during political turmoil.

Israel is the only country that is subject to a permanent standing agenda item, meaning its treatment of the Palestinians is regularly scrutinised.

IANS

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