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UK gives up 2017 presidency of European Council,says Theresa May

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Theresa May

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday said the UK will not take up its six-month presidency of the European Council in 2017.

In the first concrete signs of the country’s preparations to leave the European Union (EU)c, May told the current council President Donald Tusk during a phone call that the UK would relinquish the role.

The council is the body that sets the priorities and general direction of the EU and it is made up of the heads of state from each of the 27-member nations.

However, May told Tusk that because of the Brexit vote it would be inappropriate for the UK to take its turn.

A Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister told Tusk that she thought it was “the right thing to do given we will be very busy with negotiations to leave the EU”.

The call was May’s first conversation with Tusk since she became the Prime Minister earlier this month and the European Council president welcomed her quick decision on the issue.

The spokesman said that Tusk asked May for a “velvet divorce”.

The Prime Minister travels to Germany later in the day for what she has described as frank and open talks with her counterpart Angela Merkel.

Speaking ahead of the trip she said she was “determined that Britain will make a success of leaving the EU” and her visits to Germany and France on Friday was to “forge strong working relationships”.

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Europe

Belgian court ends extradition case against Catalan leader Puigdemont

The judge had declared the case to be “without merit” during an in-camera hearing.

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Carles Puigdemont

A Belgian court formally closed extradition proceedings against deposed Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont on Thursday.

Puigdemont and four of his deputies fled to Belgium in October to avoid charges of rebellion, sedition and misusing public money in relation to Catalonia’s independence bid. The Spanish Supreme Court withdrew the European arrest warrants last week.

The judge had declared the case to be “without merit” during an in-camera hearing, Paul Bekaert, Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer, told AFP.

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Terror plot to assassinate British PM foiled: Report

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Theresa May

London, Dec 6 : British intelligence have reportedly foiled a plot by Islamic extremists to assassinate Prime Minister Theresa May, a media report said.

The disrupted plot against May included an explosive device that terrorists planned to detonate in front of May’s residence on 10 Downing Street, a Sky News report said.

“It is in essence an extreme Islamist suicide plot against Downing Street,” it said.

“Essentially police believe that the plan was to launch some sort of improvised explosive device at Downing Street and in the ensuing chaos attack and kill Theresa May, the Prime Minister,” the news report said.

The plot was just one in a number of planned attacks in 2017 that cops and British security services have been able to prevent, Sky said.

It was not clear on Tuesday night what stage the plot was in or if any suspects have been arrested.

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EU’s Mogherini meets with Tillerson, calls on US to stick with Iran nuclear deal

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File:Rex Tillerson Federica Mogherini 2017-02-09 03

The EU’s top diplomat says Washington’s decision to step away from a landmark nuclear deal would be counterproductive, and insisted that other disputes with Tehran should be tackled in other ways.

Federica Mogherini, who met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Brussels on Tuesday, said that the EU attaches great importance to upholding the agreement. Scrapping the deal “would not put us in a better position to discuss all the rest, on the contrary,” Mogherini added.

Tillerson said that “Iran is carrying out a number of other destabilizing activities throughout the region” and called for joint action to counter it, AP reports.

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