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Pompeo, MBS discuss response to Saudi oil refinery attacks

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Jeddah/Washington, Sep 19 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman met here to coordinate a response to the “unprecedented” attack on the Kingdoms oil refineries for which they blame Iran. While Tehran has denied any role in the attacks.

Pompeo and bin Salman “agreed that this was an unacceptable and unprecedented attack that not only threatened Saudi Arabian national security, but… the world’s energy supply in general”, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.

They also agreed on “the need for the international community to come together to counter the continued threat of the Iranian regime and agreed that the Iranian regime must be held accountable for its continued aggressive, reckless, and threatening behaviour”, the statement said.

The attacks on September 14 was carried out by 10 unmanned aircraft. It hit the Hijra Khurais – one of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil fields, producing about 1.5 million barrels a day – and Abqaiq, the world’s biggest crude stabilization facility, which processes seven million barrels of Saudi oil a day, or about 8 per cent of the world’s total output.

Parallel to Pompeo’s visit, Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) partners Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the US held meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington.

In a joint statement, MESA partners reported that during the meetings they addressed the attack against Saudi refineries “sought to disrupt oil markets and regional stability”.

“The attack underscores the continuing importance of cooperation between the MESA partners to strengthen regional security, peace, and stability, promote and expand economic opportunities, and strengthen and secure critical energy sectors,” they added.

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Prachanda faction expels Prime Minister Oli from party

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Discord and division continue inside the Nepal Communist Party, which has not split formally but has virtually fallen apart after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli unilaterally decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on December 20 without the party’s consent.

Since then, the Nepal Communist Party is acting like two parties — one headed by Oli himself and the other led by former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Both sides are running separate programmes across the country under the same banner as they await official recognition from the Election Commission.

Amid this row, the Prachanda-Nepal faction has taken disciplinary action against Oli.

A Standing Committee meeting of the faction held on Sunday decided to expel Oli from the party, its spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the media.

The dissident faction has alleged Oli breached the party discipline and is liable to expulsion from the party. It had earlier relieved him from the post of party Chairman.

According to Pampha Bhusal, leader of the dissident faction, Sunday’s meeting decided to expel Oli even from the general membership, accusing him of violating the party statutes.

“He (Oli) is not even an ordinary member of the party now,” Bhusal said.

The faction had earlier asked Oli to furnish, within three days, an explanation why not action should be not taken against him for anti-party activities.

The faction had handed over this notice to the Prime Minister’s residence. However, Oli did not respond to the letter. Sunday’s meeting also reviewed the protest programme and discussed a new protest plan.

The faction had taken to the streets against the dissolution of the House of Representatives, terming the move unconstitutional and undemocratic.

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Pak okays Russian vaccine for ’emergency use’

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The Sputnik V has become the third vaccine to be approved for emergency use in the country — the first one being the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and the second one by Chinese state-owned firm Sinopharm. 

“In a meeting conducted by the registration board of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), another vaccine has also been given EUA which was developed with the backing of Russian Develop­ment Investment Fund,” Dawn news reported on Sunday citing the official as saying. 
“Russia’s state-owned Sputnik-V has developed a double-dose vaccine, which is administered by syringes,” said the official. 

A local pharmaceutical AGP, he said, had been authorised as the sole importer and distributor of the Russian vaccine. 
The development comes as Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 532,412 as of Sunday, while the death toll stood at 11,295.

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Twitter locks account of Chinese Embassy in US over Uyghur tweet

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Twitter has locked the official account of China’s Embassy in the US over a controversial post that referred to Muslim Uyghur women as “baby-making machines” prior to government intervention.

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