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US may reimpose sanctions on Iran: Official

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Washington, Jan 12: The US is planning to reimpose sanctions on Iran, an official said ahead of President Donald Trump’s decision on sanctions relief on Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal.

“I am expecting new sanctions on Iran. We continue to look at them. We’ve rolled them out,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters on Thursday at a White House briefing.

Mnuchin’s remarks came as the world was waiting for Trump to decide if he would reimpose sanctions on Iran, a move that might endanger the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

Trump’s decision was expected to be made at a Thursday meeting, Xinhua quoted US State Department spokesperson Stephen Goldstein as saying.

“I’m not sure when the announcement will be, whether it will be tonight, or whether it will be tomorrow. But we do expect a decision to be made later today,” Goldstein told reporters.

In a telephone conversation with Trump on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated “the determination of France to support the strict implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and the importance of it being respected by all signatories,” said the Elysee Palace.

In July 2015, after a decade of strenuous negotiations, Iran and six major countries — China, Russia, Britain, France, the US and Germany, struck a final agreement on Iran’s controversial nuclear program, in which the West promised to relieve sanctions on Tehran in exchange for a halt in Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.

However, as one of the most significant diplomatic legacies of Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, the hard-won nuclear deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been running the gauntlet of Trump on his campaign trail and since he became president.

In October, Trump announced that he had decided to decertify Iran’s compliance with the pact.

His move triggered a 60-day window for Congress to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran. Reimposing sanctions would mean violating the Iran nuclear deal on the US side.

The Congress did not come up with any resolution, thus passing the ball back to Trump, who should decide on Friday if he would like to waive energy sanctions on Iran.

Despite the Iran nuclear deal, the US has kept on slapping separate sanctions on Iran, accusing the country of having a ballistic missiles program as well as human rights abuses.

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Earthquake – Magnitude 4.8 in Pakistan

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Earthquake Strong

An earthquake of magnitude 4.8 on the Richter scale occurred at 4:14 am today in Pakistan: National Center for Seismology

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Pakistani PM Imran Khan writes to Facebook CEO seeking ban on Islamophobic content

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Imran Khan Pakistan PM

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister has written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeking a ban on Islamophobic content on the site, warning of an increase in radicalisisation amongst Muslims, the government said on Sunday.

In the letter, shared by the Pakistani government on Twitter, Imran Khan said that “growing Islamophobia” is encouraging extremism and violence across the world — especially through social media platforms such as Facebook.

“I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust,” Khan said.

Facebook said this month it was updating its hate speech policy to ban any content that denied or distorted the Holocaust.

Facebook did not immediately reply to Reuters’ request for comment on Khan’s letter.

“One cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others,” Khan said, adding that this was “reflective of prejudice and bias that will encourage further radicalisation”.

Khan in his letter made reference to the situation in France, where, he said, Islam was being associated with terrorism.

Earlier on Sunday, Khan said that French President Emmanuel Macron had “attacked Islam” by encouraging the display of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

Khan’s comments came after Macron paid tribute to a French history teacher beheaded by an Islamist radical who wanted to avenge the use of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression.

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Election

Putin rejects Donald Trump’s criticism of Biden family business

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Joe Biden Family

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that he saw nothing criminal in Hunter Biden’s past business ties with Ukraine or Russia, marking out his disagreement with one of Donald Trump’s attack lines in the U.S. presidential election.

Putin was responding to comments made by Trump during televised debates with Democratic challenger Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Trump, who is trailing in opinion polls, has used the debates to make accusations that Biden and his son Hunter engaged in unethical practices in Ukraine. No evidence has been verified to support the allegations, and Joe Biden has called them false and discredited.

Putin, who has praised Trump in the past for saying he wanted better ties with Moscow, has said Russia will work with any U.S. leader, while noting what he called Joe Biden’s “sharp anti-Russian rhetoric”.

Putin appeared less friendly towards Trump in remarks broadcast by Russian state TV on Sunday. In what may be seen by some analysts as an attempt to try to curry favour with the Biden camp, he took the time to knock down what he made clear he regarded as false allegations from Trump about the Bidens.

“Yes, in Ukraine he (Hunter Biden) had or maybe still has a business, I don’t know. It doesn’t concern us. It concerns the Americans and the Ukrainians,” said Putin.

“But well yes he had at least one company, which he practically headed up, and judging from everything he made good money. I don’t see anything criminal about this, at least we don’t know anything about this (being criminal).”

Putin also reacted with visible irritation when asked about comments Trump has made concerning Putin’s ties to the former mayor of Moscow, and to an alleged payment made to Hunter Biden by the ex-mayor’s widow. Putin said he knew nothing about the existence of any commercial relationship between Hunter and the woman. Joe Biden says the accusation about his son is not true.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to tilt the contest in Trump’s favour, an allegation Moscow has denied.

Russia has also dismissed accusations by U.S. intelligence agencies of trying to interfere with this year’s election too.

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