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UK PM says trade deal with EU this year ‘enormously likely’

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Boris Johnson

London, Jan 14 : British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that a trade deal with the European Union (EU) by the end of this year was “enormously likely,” as the country is set to officially leave the world’s largest trading bloc.

Johnson made the comments in his first major TV interview since the general election. He said the two sides would start working on building a “fantastic new partnership” after Britain leaves the EU on January 31, Efe news reported.

The Prime Minister said he was “very, very, very confident” regarding the deal, although he added that in any negotiation a country had “to budget for a complete failure of common sense.”

India

Modi creating a Hindu nationalist state: Billionaire philanthropist George Soros

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros slams Modi govt at World Economic Forum in Davos

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American billionaire Soros
Hungarian-born US investor and philanthropist George Soros delivering a speech on the sideline of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday. He criticised China’s hi-tech surveillance regime. Photo: AFP

New Delhi, Jan 25 : American billionaire philanthropist George Soros said on Friday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) retreat in Davos, Switzerland, Soros said the biggest and most frightening setback in India came from nationalism.

“Nationalism, far from being reversed, made further headway. The biggest and most frightening setback occurred in India where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship,” Soros said.

Soros was unsparing on US President Donald Trump as well. “President Trump is a con man and the ultimate narcissist who wants the world to revolve around him. When his fantasy of becoming President came true, his narcissism developed a pathological dimension. Indeed, he has transgressed the limits imposed on the presidency by the Constitution and has been impeached for it,” he said.

On the US economy, Soros said, “President Trump’s economic team is overheating the economy. An overheated economy can’t be kept boiling for too long,” he said, adding: “If all this had happened closer to the elections, it would have assured his re-election. His problem is that the elections are still 10 months away and in a revolutionary situation, that is a lifetime.”

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Middle East

Iraqi Shia leader calls for scheduled pullout of US troops

“We will try to do our utmost not to throw Iraq into another war with the unjust occupier who perched on the chest of Iraq,” al-Sadr said.

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Iraq Protest
Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr protest against U.S. presence and violations in Iraq. PIC Credit : @Cropperboyce

Baghdad, Jan 24 : Iraqi Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday called for a scheduled withdrawal of US troops from the country through peaceful means.

Al-Sadr made the call in a letter sent to a massive rally of Iraqis in al-Jaderiyah district, central Baghdad, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We will try to pursue all peaceful political, economic, social, cultural and popular means,” the leader said.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis, mainly al-Sadr’s followers, gathered to reject the presence of US troops in Iraq, in response to an earlier call by al-Sadr.

If the primary goal, which is to schedule the withdrawal of the US forces, is fulfilled, the peaceful means will continue until full withdrawal is realized, al-Sadr said in the letter.

He said full withdrawal can only be achieved by closing all American military bases on Iraqi soil, closing the headquarters of American security companies and ending their work in Iraq, and closing the Iraqi airspace to the military and intelligence flights of the US forces.

He also called on cancelling all security agreements with the US due to the absence of an international balance in them since concluded, and they were approved during the years of the American occupation of Iraq after 2003.

Referring to the sporadic attacks on facilities and military bases housing US troops, al-Sadr pledged a “pause of all resistance” until the withdrawal of the last American soldier from Iraq.

“We will try to do our utmost not to throw Iraq into another war with the unjust occupier who perched on the chest of Iraq,” al-Sadr said.

On January 5, the Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces, two days after an American drone attack on a convoy near the Baghdad airport killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

Over 5,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces in the battles against Islamic State militants, mainly providing training and advising.

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World

3 US firefighters killed in Aus identified

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Sydney: Australian authorities on Friday revealed the identities of the three US firefighters who died when their air tanker crashed while battling blazes in New South Wales (NSW) state.

Captain Ian McBeth, 45, first officer Paul Clyde Hudson, 43, and flight engineer Rick A DeMorgan Jr, 44, were killed, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, while calling the deaths an “unbelievable loss” and offered a state memorial, reports the BBC.

Fitzsimmons said the experienced and “well known” crew had been contracted to Australia to help fight the unprecedented bushfires.

The state government ordered flags to be flown at half-mast on Friday, in tribute to the three men.

Officials lost contact with the C-130 Hercules plane, owned by Canadian firefighting company Coulson Aviation, shortly before 1.30 p.m., on Thursday.

It crashed in an active fire zone in the Snowy Mountains, south of Canberra, said the NSW Rural Fire Service.

The cause of the crash is yet to be determined.

In another fire-hit state, Victoria, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) tweeted its thanks to US firefighters who had just arrived on deployment, said the BBC report.

Since September 2019, Australia has battled a bushfire crisis which has now killed at least 33 people. More than 70 bushfires were still raging across NSW alone.

Fires in southern Australia are expected to peak in February and continue into April.

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