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Russia and the United States must normalise diplomatic missions: Russian FM

Lavrov expressed regrets the US Congress stood in the way of US President Donald Trump’s efforts to bring relations with Russia back on track.

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Sergei Lavrov

Moscow, Oct 21 : Russia and the United States must normalize the work of each other’s diplomatic missions, and Moscow is ready to do that on the basis of the “zero option” plan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“When we understood that sanctions are not only not frozen or lifted, but are also expanding and deepening, we also responded and insisted that the number of American diplomats in Russia and Russian diplomats in the US be equal,” Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiya-1 TV channel, according to the transcript of the interview published by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

In March 2018, Russia announced the decision to expel 60 US diplomats and close the US consulate general in St. Petersburg, in retaliation to Washington’s move to expel 60 Russian diplomats and intelligence officials in the United States.

Lavrov expressed regrets the US Congress stood in the way of US President Donald Trump’s efforts to bring relations with Russia back on track.

“I repeat, we are ready at any time to resolve these issues on the basis of the ‘zero option’ and return to the normal functioning of our diplomatic institutions,” Lavrov said.

He said that he had already discussed the issue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, who understands that “sometime we must return to this. The sooner, the better.”

The “zero option” refers to an American proposal for the withdrawal of all Soviet and United States intermediate-range nuclear missiles from Europe.

On August 2, Russia and the United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty after accusing each other of violating the landmark arms control deal.

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Europe

UK’s Prince Andrew steps back from public duties over scandal

The 59-year-old has been accused of having sex with a 17-year-old girl, Virginia Roberts, in 2001 after going to a London nightclub.

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Prince Andrew

London, Nov 21 (IANS) The United Kingdoms Prince Andrew has announced he is stepping back from royal duties over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

In a statement released on Wednesday he said he would end his public work “for the foreseeable future “over his links to the convicted sex offender, Efe news reported.

He also offered to help police investigating allegations against the disgraced hedge-fund manager and accused sex trafficker.

Andrew said his former association with Epstein had become a “major disruption” to the royal family.

“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission,” he added.

“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstien.”

Epstein was found dead in a prison cell in the United States while awaiting trial for sex trafficking of minors.

He was found to have died of suicide by hanging.

Andrew’s statement said his death “has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure”.

“I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives,” he added.

“Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”

Andrew has been under increasing criticism for his relationship with the well-connected financier, with a number of sponsors severing ties with the royal after an interview he gave with the BBC on Saturday.

The 59-year-old has been accused of having sex with a 17-year-old girl, Virginia Roberts, in 2001 after going to a London nightclub.

He has denied all the allegations and in the BBC interview said he was at a pizza restaurant on the day in question.

Roberts said she had sex with Andrew three times, in London in March 2001, weeks later at Epstein’s New York mansion and a third time on his private island.

Epstein, who was known for friendships with high-profile figures such as US Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, and Israeli former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

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Business

US govt grants export licenses for some Huawei’s suppliers

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business Network late on Tuesday that the department has “had 290-something requests for specific licences.”

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Huawei US Suppliers

Washington, Nov 21 : The US government has started to issue licenses to some US suppliers, allowing them to resume shipping to China’s telecom giant Huawei, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The US Department of Commerce in May put Huawei on its Entity List over the so-called “national security concerns.” The sale or transfer of American technology to a company or person on the Entity List requires a license issued by the department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, Xinhua news agency reported.

Reuters cited two industry sources as saying that companies began receiving notices of approval and “intent to deny” notices from the Commerce Department on Wednesday.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business Network late on Tuesday that the department has “had 290-something requests for specific licences.”

“We now have been starting to send out the 20-day intent to deny letters and some approvals,” said Ross.

The Commerce Department announced Monday to extend, for the third time, a temporary license loosening restrictions on business deals with Huawei for another 90 days.

Huawei said in a statement on May 20 that the US export control decision is in no one’s interest and will do significant economic harm to the American companies with which Huawei does business.

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Europe

Donald Tusk elected as new EPP leader

Outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk was elected the new president of the European People’s Party, the largest bloc within the EU Parliament. Tusk vowed to fight “populists, manipulators and autocrats.”

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Donald Tusk

Zagreb, Nov 21 : The European People’s Party (EPP) elected outgoing President of the European Council Donald Tusk as its new leader at annual congress here.

Tusk, whose term in the European Council expires at the end of November, got 93 per cent of votes in his favour on Wednesday night.

He is replacing Joseph Daul who has been leading the largest political group in the European Parliament since 2013, Xinhua news agency reported.

Tusk promised earlier on Wednesday that he will tackle populists as soon as he becomes the new president of the EPP.

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