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NAFTA talks: Trump open to bilateral Canada-US trade deal

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Donald Trump with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau
Donald Trump with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Washington, Oct 12:US President Donald Trump has said if talks to reform North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) fail, he could envisage a US-Canada trade pact, excluding Mexico.

The US president said if there was no deal on the NAFTA, it would be terminated. He was speaking at the White House on Wednesday with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, BBC reported.

Replying to a question, Trump said he would consider a trade pact with Canada minus Mexico, adding that both the US and Canada wanted to protect their workers.

The current round of talks on renegotiating the trade bloc is reported to be stalling, with Mexico opposing a US move to increase the percentage of US-made components in car manufacturing.

Trump’s stance has, however, been criticised by US businesses.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, speaking ahead of the latest round of talks, said terminating Nafta could harm US-Mexico relations and damage co-operation on issues like fighting drug-trafficking.

Trudeau said he believed the Nafta talks could still end in a “win, win, win”.

But he said Canada had to “be ready for anything” if the attempts to modernise the 23-year-old deal faltered.

Overall trade between the three Nafta partners reached $1.1 trillion in 2016.

American and Mexican officials say they want a re-negotiated deal by December.

This week the influential US Chamber of Commerce warned it was time to “ring alarm bells” over the NAFTA talks.

The business lobby group said there were “several poison pill proposals” put on the table by the US that could tank the renegotiations.

Those include US demands to adjust the rules of origin, which would increase the percentage of the content of car parts and other materials that would come from NAFTA countries in order for a good to qualify as duty free – a specific concern for the North American auto industry.

The US and Canadian leaders also discussed the Bombardier-Boeing trade dispute.

Canada and the UK are sparring with the US over Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier.

The Trump administration has imposed hefty duties on Bombardier’s C-Series jetliner.

American aerospace firm Boeing claims Bombardier received unfair government subsidies to produce its showcase passenger jet.

Bombardier is a significant employer in Northern Ireland and Canada.

Trudeau said he “highlighted to the president how much we disagree vehemently” on the decision to impose anti-dumping duties.

(IANS)

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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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