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Pompeo warns Venezuela President Maduro with of ‘a series of actions’

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Washington, Sep 22 :US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened President Nicolas Maduro with “a series of actions” against the Venezuelan government in the coming days.

Speaking at an interview on Friday with Fox News, Pompeo said that “I think you’ll see in the coming days a series of actions that continue to increase the pressure level against the Venezuelan leadership folks”.

The Trump administration has  increased sanctions against officials in the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro, accusing it of stifling democracy by jailing opposition leaders.

Claiming that “we’re determined to ensure that the Venezuelan people get their say,” Pompeo declined to detail whether Washington will impose more sanctions on Caracas.

The remarks came ahead of the annual UN General Assembly slated in New York next week.

Several US media outlets reported earlier this month that the Trump administration has talked secretly with rebellious Venezuelan military officers several times to discuss their plans to stage a coup in the South American country.

For his part, US President Donald Trump said in August of last year that he would not rule out a “military option” in Venezuela “if necessary,” despite his aides’ opposition.

The US has also announced several rounds of sanctions against Venezuelan government officials ever since.

In response, Venezuela has slammed the “warmongering” declarations of Trump as “threats to peace” and a “violation” of UN and international laws.

The Nicolas Maduro government has also instructed the military to prepare to “shoulder arms” in case of a US invasion.

 Washington had imposed sanctions prohibiting trading new debt and equity issued by the Venezuelan government and its state oil company PDVSA.

Venezuela’s economy has collapsed under Maduro, with annual inflation running at 200,000 percent.

World

5 killed in France building fire

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Fire

Paris, Feb 27 (IANS) Five people were killed and seven others injured in a building fire in the French city of Strasbourg on Thursday, the local fire service said in a statement.

According to local media, firefighters responded to the incident at 1.16 a.m. after receiving an alert that there was smoke in the seven-storey building, Xinhua news agency reported.

Some 23 people were rescued and the fire was brought under control.

The cause of the blaze was under probe.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and Mayor Roland Ries of Strasbourg have expressed their condolences to the victims and their families on social media.

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Business

US Commerce Sec Wilbur Ross eyes strengthening economic ties with Pakistan

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US President Donald Trump and Pak PM Imran Khan

Islamabad, Feb 27 : US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross visited Pakistan and explored areas where both countries could renew their economic partnership and step up efforts to enhance economic, trade and investment ties, the media and government officials said on Thursday.

During his visit on Wednesday, the US official along with his trade delegation held detailed discussions with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan, and Abdul Razak Dawood, advisor to the premier on commerce, textile, industry and production, and investment, reports Xinhua news agency.

Khan said that Ross’s visit would help in realizing the shared vision of Pakistan-US leadership to transform the bilateral relationship into a broad-based, multifaceted and economic-centred partnership.

The Prime Minister also underscored the need to “take full advantage of trade and investment opportunities” in Pakistan, stressing the importance of enhancing business-to-business cooperation between the two countries.

During his separate meeting with Dawood, the Commerce Secretary said that several American companies hoped to enhancing their investments in Pakistan, adding that Islamabad and Washington would have to collectively work to promote the volume of their bilateral trade.

“We want to play our full part in the progress and development of Pakistan,” Ross said.

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India calls USCIRF remarks on Delhi violence ‘misleading’

“Instead, reports are mounting that the Delhi police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims, and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens.”

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Delhi Violence

New Delhi/Washington, Feb 27 : India on Thursday hit back at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), by calling their scathing remarks on the Delhi violence “factually inaccurate and misleading”.

The USCIRF had said that the Delhi violence in which over 30 people were killed, was specifically targeted against Muslims.

Rebutting their comments, the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said: “We have seen the comments made by USCIRF, sections of the media and a few individuals regarding recent incidents of violence in Delhi. These are factually inaccurate and misleading, and appear to be aimed at politicising the issue.”

The government said that the law enforcement agencies were working on the ground to prevent violence and ensure restoration of confidence and normalcy.

“Senior representatives of the government have been involved in that process. Prime Minister has publicly appealed for peace and brotherhood. We would urge that irresponsible comments are not made at this sensitive time,” the statement added.

Earlier, USCIRF had expressed “grave concern over the ongoing violence taking place in Delhi” and accused India of “targeting and potentially disenfranchising Muslims across the country, in clear violation of international human rights standards”.

USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava in a statement had said: “According to reports, several mosques have also been set alight or vandalized. Many Muslim residents have been forced to flee the area. This unrest comes in the wake of widespread protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act following its passage in December 2019.”

“The brutal and unchecked violence growing across Delhi cannot continue,” Bhargava said, adding that the Indian government must take swift action to ensure the safety of all of its citizens.

“Instead, reports are mounting that the Delhi police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims, and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens.”

USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins said the ongoing violence in Delhi and the reported “attacks against Muslims, their homes and shops, and their houses of worship are greatly disturbing”.

One of the essential duties of any responsible government, he said, is to provide protection and physical security for its citizens, regardless of faith.

“We urge the Indian government to take serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence.”

In its annual report last year, the USCIRF classified India as a “Tier 2” country for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious standard for designations as a “country of particular concern (CPC)”, under the International Religious Freedom Act.

The ongoing violence in North-East Delhi erupted after clashes between pro and anti-CAA protesters on Sunday.

Besides the casualties, over 200 others have been injured in the deadliest violence in the national capital in decades.

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