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Saudis close to Crown Prince discussed killing enemies: NYT

Saudi officials have portrayed Khashoggi’s death as a rogue killing ordered by an official who has since been fired.

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Mohammed bin Salman

New York, Nov 12 : Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate enemies of the Kingdom, The New York Times reported.

The Saudis inquired at a time when Prince Mohammed, then the deputy crown prince and defence minister, was consolidating power and directing his advisers to escalate military and intelligence operations outside the Kingdom, informed sources told The Times on Sunday.

Their discussions, more than a year before the killing of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, indicate that top Saudi officials have considered assassinations since the beginning of Prince Mohammed’s ascent.

Saudi officials have portrayed Khashoggi’s death as a rogue killing ordered by an official who has since been fired.

But that official, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, was present for a meeting in March 2017 in Riyadh where the businessmen pitched a $2 billion plan to use private intelligence operatives to try to sabotage the Iranian economy, the sources said.

During the discussion, part of a series of meetings where the men tried to win Saudi funding for their plan, General Assiri’s top aides inquired about killing Qassim Suleimani, the leader of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and a man considered a determined enemy of Saudi Arabia.

George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, arranged the meeting.

He had met previously with Prince Mohammed, and had pitched the Iran plan to Trump White House officials.

Another participant in the meetings was Joel Zamel, an Israeli with deep ties to his country’s intelligence and security agencies.

Both Nader and Zamel are witnesses in the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and prosecutors have asked them about their discussions with American and Saudi officials about the Iran proposal, The New York Times reported.

General Assiri was dismissed last month when the Saudi government acknowledged Khashoggi’s killing and said he had organised the operation.

On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government had handed over a recording of Khashoggi’s killing to the US, Saudi Arabia, Britain and France, pressuring President Donald Trump to more harshly punish the Saudis over the murder.

India

India To Host G20 Summit In 2023: Grouping’s Declaration

India looks forward to taking forward the G20 agenda in 2023 after the Italian and Indonesian presidencies, the source said.

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g20 summit

G20 leaders announced on Sunday that India will host the summit of the high-profile grouping in 2023 — a year later than what was decided earlier.

India was earlier slated to host the summit in 2022 with the Osaka declaration of the G20 stating last year that “we look forward to meeting again in Saudi Arabia in 2020, in Italy in 2021 and in India in 2022”.

“We thank Saudi Arabia for hosting a successful Riyadh Summit and its contribution to the G20 process. We look forward to our next meetings in Italy in 2021, Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024,” the G20 Riyadh Summit Leaders Declaration said.

On India now hosting the summit in 2023, a source said, “The order of the rotating presidency is decided among member states on the basis of consultations and mutual convenience.”

India looks forward to taking forward the G20 agenda in 2023 after the Italian and Indonesian presidencies, the source said.

In a statement on the summit, the Ministry of External Affairs said it was decided that the G20 presidency will be held by Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024.

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Middle East

G20 leadership vital in defence against Covid: UN chief

It means broadening the eligibility of the G20 debt initiatives to all vulnerable developing countries, including the middle-income ones that need it, he said.

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the leadership of the Group of 20 (G20) is vital in the global struggle with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our greatest defence against Covid-19 is solidarity and cooperation,” the UN chief was speaking at a virtual summit of G20 leaders under the theme “Building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future,” where he highlighted the importance of G20 leadership in the fight against the pandemic and the effort to build back better, Xinhua news agency reported.

First of all, the Secretary-General said that the G20 leadership is critical in “halting the further spread of the pandemic.”

“Yesterday, I was encouraged by the broad recognition that vaccines – as well as tests and treatments – must be global public goods, available and affordable for all,” he said, referring to the progress in the first-day meeting of the summit.

“But I want to repeat the call on G20 members to support the ACT-Accelerator and its COVAX facility. There is a financial gap of 28 billion US dollars and we need 4.2 billion dollars of that immediately for mass manufacturing, procurement and distribution around the world,” he said.

The top UN official also said, the leadership is also vital in mobilizing the resources to build forward better.

“There will be no different and better future without stronger action now to provide the necessary liquidity and tackle the debt emergency of the most vulnerable,” he explained.

“It means strengthening the firepower of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and other international financial institutions in support of the developing world, including through a new issuance of Special Drawing Rights and the reallocation of unused SDRs,” Guterres added.

It means broadening the eligibility of the G20 debt initiatives to all vulnerable developing countries, including the middle-income ones that need it, he said.

The UN chief believed that the third important role of the G20 leadership is aligning their recovery efforts with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

To build an inclusive, resilient and sustainable post-COVID world, public spending must be linked with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, said the Secretary-General.

“We have a moral obligation to ensure that the trillions of dollars for Covid-19 recovery – money that we are borrowing from future generations – does not leave them burdened by a mountain of debt on a broken planet,” he said.

“The recovery must help to reconcile humankind and nature on all fronts. From climate to biodiversity, from protecting the oceans to stopping deforestation and land degradation,” he added.

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Middle East

Rocket launched from Gaza toward southern Israel

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Rocket Hits

Jerusalem: A handmade rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel, according to Palestinian and Israeli security sources.

The Palestinian sources told Xinhua news agency that the rocket, which was fired on Saturday from northern Gaza, caused an explosion in the border areas.

Meanwhile, Avichai Adraee, spokesman of the Israeli army, said in a statement that “Palestinian militants launched a handmade rocket from the Gaza Strip toward an Israeli territory”.

No injuries were reported, according to Adraee.

No Palestinian faction claimed responsibility for launching the rocket.

In retaliation on Sunday morning, the Israeli army struck several Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, the army said.

Rocket sirens sounded in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on Saturday night, and locals reported hearing explosions.

Police said a building in Ashkelon was damaged but there were no injuries or casualties.

Last week, two rockets launched from Gaza fell in open areas in Ashdod and the central city of Rishon Letzion Israel after the Iron Dome missile defence system failed to intercept them, the Haaretz newspaper said in a report.

The latest developments come after Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on November 16 warned that his country will launch a heavy attack on the Gaza Strip if rocket fire from the besieged enclave continued.

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