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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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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife charged with fraud

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Jerusalem, June 21: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara on Thursday charged with fraud over alleged misuse of funds at latter’s residence.

Suspicions included the misuse of around $100,000 in official funds for catering services at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, Reuters reported citing the ministry said in a statement.

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Trump signs executive order ending family separations at border

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Washington, June 21 : US President Donald Trump has bowed to public pressure and signed an executive order promising to “keep families together” in migrant detentions.

Trump reversed his own policy amid international fury over the separation of undocumented parents and children.

He said he had been swayed by images of children who have been taken from parents while they are jailed and prosecuted for illegal border-crossing.

It was not immediately clear when Trump’s order would be implemented.

“It’s about keeping families together,” Trump said at the signing ceremony on Wednesday, reports BBC.

“I did not like the sight of families being separated,” he said, but added the administration would continue its “zero tolerance policy” of criminally prosecuting anyone who crosses the border illegally.

The executive order states that immigrant families will be detained together, except in cases where there are concerns about the child’s welfare, but it is unclear for how long.

Trump’s order also calls for prioritising immigration cases involving detained families.

The President said his wife, Melania, and daughter, Ivanka, who reportedly have been applying pressure on him to drop the policy in recent days, “feel strongly” about ending the practice of separating migrant families.

“I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it,” he said. “We don’t like to see families separated.”

Vice-President Mike Pence and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has emerged as the face of the White House policy, were both present for Wednesday’s order signing.

Republican congressional leader Paul Ryan said the House of Representatives will vote on Thursday “on legislation to keep families together”.

He did not immediately provide details of the bill, but said it resolves the issue of so-called Dreamers, undocumented adult migrants who entered the US as children, “in a very elegant way”.

On Wednesday, American Airlines, United Airlines and Frontier Airlines said they did not want their planes used by the US government to transport the migrant children.

United chief executive Oscar Munoz said: “We want no part of it.”

For days administration officials have insisted they were simply following the law as written and their “zero tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings meant they “have to take the children away”, in the president’s words.

Critics have countered that Mr Trump unilaterally created the situation that produced the heart-rending accounts of children separated from their parents, and he could unilaterally fix it.

By taking executive action, the president is effectively acknowledging they were correct.

Now the fight will probably move to the courts, with legal challenges to the administration’s decision to hold detained families together while their immigration status is adjudicated.

That is more politically hospitable ground for Republicans, who already face challenging mid-term congressional elections.

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Turkey hits US with retaliatory tariffs

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Ankara, June 21 : Turkey on Thursday became the latest country to hit back at the US for its tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Turkey’s Ministry of Economy said that it was imposing tariffs worth $267 million on US goods, targeting items like coal, paper, walnuts, tobacco, rice, whiskey and cars after negotiations with Washington failed to yield meaningful progress, CNN reported.

“Turkey is committed to active, robust and reciprocal trade relations with the US — but with the understanding that fairness cannot be one-sided,” Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said in a statement. “We cannot and will not allow Turkey to be wrongly blamed for America’s economic challenges.”

The US enacted 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel and 10 per cent tariffs on imported aluminium in March. Exemptions were initially given to the EU, Canada and Mexico, but the Trump administration let them lapse at the beginning of the month.

Turkey didn’t receive an exemption.

Later, the EU, Canada and Mexico announced retaliatory tariffs against the US. China imposed tariffs on $3 billion of US products in early April in response to the steel and aluminium measures.

Turkey is the world’s eighth largest steel exporter, according to a report prepared in March by the Department of Commerce. The US was Turkey’s top market for steel in 2017.

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