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13 Chinese And North Korean Organizations Sanctioned By US

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions against 13 Chinese and North Korean organizations Washington accused of helping evade nuclear restrictions against Pyongyang and supporting the country through trade.

 

The action, coming one day after President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism, was announced by the U.S. Treasury in a statement on its website.

The new sanctions demonstrate the Trump administration’s focus on hurting trade between China and North Korea, which the administration has said is key to pressuring Pyongyang to back away from its ambition to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States.

“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

The sanctions included blacklisting three Chinese companies, Dandong Kehua Economy & Trade Co., Dandong Xianghe Trading Co., and Dandong Hongda Trade Co., which the Treasury Department said have done more than $750 million in combined trade with North Korea.

The sanctions also blacklisted Sun Sidong and his company Dandong Dongyuan Industrial Co. In a June report, Washington think tank C4ADS said Sun Sidong’s firm was part of an interconnected network of Chinese companies that account for the vast proportion of trade with North Korea.

U.S. authorities have repeatedly targeted companies and individuals from the Chinese city of Dandong, which borders North Korea, for alleged business ties to North Korea.

Anthony Ruggiero, a North Korea expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said China doesn’t strictly enforce financial rules in the Dandong area. As a result, Dandong draws companies interested in making a profit by selling to North Korea, he said.

Robert Mugabe Finally Resigns

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has resigned, parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda has said.

A letter from Mr Mugabe said that the decision was voluntary and that he had made it to allow a smooth transition of power.

The surprise announcement halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him.

Lawmakers roared in jubilation and people have begun celebrating in the streets.

Mr Mugabe, 93, was until now the world's oldest leader. He had previously refused to resign despite last week's military takeover and days of protests.

The letter did not mention who would take over from Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since independence in 1980.

The constitution says it should be the current vice-president, Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Grace Mugabe, Mr Mugabe's wife.

Mr Mudenda said moves were under way to ensure a new leader could take over by late on Wednesday.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Mr Mugabe's resignation "provides Zimbabwe with an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterised his rule".

She said that former colonial power Britain, "as Zimbabwe's oldest friend", will do all it can to support free and fair elections and the rebuilding of the Zimbabwean economy.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he hoped that Zimbabwe was on a "new trajectory" that would include free and fair elections. He said Mr Mugabe should be allowed to "go and rest for his last days".

In other reaction: The US Embassy in Harare, the capital, said it was a "historic moment" and congratulated Zimbabweans who "raised their voices and stated peacefully and clearly that the time for change was overdue"

South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance welcomed the move, saying Mr Mugabe had turned from "liberator to dictator"

Prominent Zimbabwean opposition politician David Coltart tweeted: "We have removed a tyrant but not yet a tyranny"

Robert Mugabe won elections during his 37 years in power, but over the past 15 years these were marred by violence against political opponents.

He presided over a deepening economic crisis in Zimbabwe, where people are on average 15% poorer now than they were in 1980.

However, Mr Mugabe was not forced out after decades in power by a popular mass movement but rather as a result of political splits within his Zanu-PF party.

His dismissal of Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice-president two weeks ago was seen by many as clearing the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader.

It riled the military leadership, who stepped in and put Mr Mugabe under house arrest

The leader of the influential liberation war veterans - former allies of Mr Mugabe - said after the army takeover that Mr Mugabe was a "dictator", who "as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife".

Yet despite huge demonstrations in the streets celebrating what seemed like his impending demise, Robert Mugabe had until now refused to step down.

Brexit: I’m Ready To Pay More To Leave EU, Says British PM

Senior cabinet ministers have agreed the government should increase its financial offer to the EU as the UK leaves in 2019, the BBC understands.

There was no substantial discussion of an amount at the meeting held by the prime minister on Monday night.

But more money would be paid if the EU moves on, in December, to talks about a future trade deal and implementation phase after the UK's departure.

Meanwhile, MPs will later continue to debate legislation governing Brexit.

The attention in the Commons will be on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which brings much of EU law into UK law.

Monday evening's cabinet committee meeting at Downing Street was held to try to make progress on stalled Brexit talks with the EU.

This "divorce bill" is one of the main reasons for the logjam in negotiations between the UK and the EU.

Downing Street has dismissed reports the UK could double its £20bn offer. One ex-minister warned voters would "go bananas" if £40bn was offered.

European Council president Donald Tusk has set a deadline of the start of next month for Britain to make further movement on the divorce bill and the Irish border issue.

The reason for the ultimatum is that the EU leaders are due to decide at a summit on 14 and 15 December whether to allow talks on a future trade relationship to begin.

Downing Street has been tight-lipped about what was discussed at the Cabinet Exit and Trade (Strategy and Negotiations) sub-committee, chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May.

After the meeting, a No 10 source said: "It remains our position that nothing's agreed until everything's agreed in negotiations with the EU."

But it is understood that the ministers concluded there is the possibility that talks with the EU will move on to the next phase in December but "we are not going to move on our own".

There were also tensions over the future role of the European Court of Justice.

Some believe the court will need to supervise the trading rules between the UK and EU during a period of transition after Britain leaves.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has floated the idea of a tribunal, similar to the arrangements in place in European Economic Area countries such as Norway, to settle any disputes.

But the EU may insist on a continued role for the European Court of Justice.

The EU says the UK needs to settle its accounts before it leaves. It says the UK has made financial commitments that have to be settled as part of an overall withdrawal agreement.

The UK accepts that it has some obligations. And it has promised not to leave any other country out of pocket in the current EU budget period from 2014-20.

But the devil is in the detail.

There are also issues like pensions for EU staff, and how the UK's contribution to these is calculated for years to come, and the question of what happens to building projects - for instance in Spain - that had funding agreed by all EU members including the UK but which will only begin construction after the UK has left.

Large amounts of the EU's budget are spent in two areas - agriculture and fisheries, and development of poorer areas.

Projects include business start-ups, roads and railways, education and health programmes and many others.

The EU says it will not discuss a new trade deal with the UK until issues like the "divorce bill" have been settled, and has given Mrs May a deadline of early December to increase the UK's offer.

The issue of the Irish border and what happens to EU and UK citizens living in each other's countries also needs to be settled.

 

Arab League Tagged Hezbollah Terrorist Group

Saudi Arabia ramped up its campaign against Iran's growing influence in the Arab World Sunday by persuading most of the 22 member states of the Arab League to condemn Iran's Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, as a "terrorist organization."

Arab foreign ministers gathered at the League's headquarters in Cairo Sunday for an emergency meeting called by Saudi Arabia. Lebanon's foreign minister, Gibran Bassil, did not attend, and the Lebanese representative at the meeting expressed reservations over the final communique.
 
Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari also did not attend the meeting. Iran, along with the US-led international coalition, has been a major supporter of Baghdad in its war against ISIS.
"We want to hold everyone responsible," Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said during the deliberations. "We want to hold countries where Hezbollah is a partner in government responsible, specifically Lebanon." Al-Khalifa claimed that Lebanon "is subject to full control by this terrorist group."
 
The cabinet, led by outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, includes several ministers affiliated with Hezbollah.
Commenting on the Bahraini foreign minister's statement, American University of Beirut professor Rami Khouri said that "Hezbollah is certainly the single most powerful political group in Lebanon, where governance requires complex consensus building in which Hezbollah is clearly preeminent. But it is not in total control."
 
This latest flare up between Saudi Arabia and Iran was sparked by a November 4 incident in which Iranian-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh's international airport. Saudi Arabia subsequently accused Hezbollah and Iran as being behind the attack. Both have denied any involvement in the incident. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been rocky since the 1979 Iranian revolution.
 
Saudi Arabia subsequently expressed its anger at Hezbollah, which maintains close ties with Iran. Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamar Sabah has warned the Lebanese they must choose "either peace, or to live within the political fold of Hezbollah."
 
Hariri announced his resignation as prime minister of Lebanon on November 4 from Riyadh on the Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya news network, accusing Iran of destabilizing Lebanon and the region. Many Lebanese, including President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, have said they believe Hariri resigned under Saudi pressure. Hariri flew to Paris Saturday and vowed to return to Lebanon to attend celebrations marking the country's independence day on November 22.
 
It's not clear whether Sunday's Arab League meeting will translate into concrete action. The League is notorious for passing resolutions and issuing communiques which are rarely acted upon. It is, however, the first time the Arab League has taken such a strong public stand against Hezbollah.
 
Reacting to the emergency meeting, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, "Unfortunately countries like the Saudi regime are pursuing divisions and creating differences, and because of this they don't see any results other than divisions."
 
While the Arab foreign ministers deliberated in Cairo, Iran's growing power across the region was on display in Syria. On Sunday evening Hezbollah's media unit posted on YouTube a video of Qassem Suleimani, the powerful head of Iran's Quds Force, meeting with what appeared to be Iraqi, Lebanese and Syrian fighters in the newly liberated Syrian town of Albu Kamal. The town, on the Iraqi-Syrian border, was the last significant population center in Syria to be held by ISIS.
 
Iranian forces have played a key role in backing the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in its war against the rebels and ISIS.

Germany Coalition Talks Collapsed

Talks on forming a coalition government in Germany have collapsed after the free-market liberal FDP pulled out.

FDP leader Christian Lindner said there was no "basis of trust" with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU bloc and the Greens.

What happens next is unclear, but Mrs Merkel is due to meet President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has the power to call snap elections.

Her bloc won September's poll, but many voters deserted the mainstream parties.

After winning its first parliamentary seats, the far-right nationalist AfD (Alternative for Germany) vowed to fight "an invasion of foreigners" into the country.

Mrs Merkel said she regretted the collapse of the talks, adding she would meet the German president later on Monday to formally tell him negotiations had failed.

"It is a day of deep reflection on how to go forward in Germany," she said. "As chancellor, I will do everything to ensure that this country is well managed in the difficult weeks to come."

Aside from early elections, Mrs Merkel could also form a minority government with the Greens, who are yet to comment.

German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called the development the worst crisis of Mrs Merkel's 12 years in office.

I Will Unite Zimbabweans, Says Defiant Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has defied expectations he would resign on Sunday, pledging to preside over a ZANU-PF congress next month even though the ruling party had removed him as its leader hours earlier.

 

ZANU-PF had given the 93-year-old less than 24 hours to quit as head of state or face impeachment, an attempt to secure a peaceful end to his tenure after a de facto coup.

Mugabe said in a address on state television that he acknowledged criticism against him from ZANU-PF, the military and the public, but did not comment on the possibility of standing down.

Mugabe Agrees To Stand Down As Zimbabwe President

Robert Mugabe agreed on Sunday to resign as Zimbabwe’s president hours after the ruling ZANU-PF party fired him as its leader following 37 years in charge, a source familiar with the negotiations said.

 

ZANU-PF had given the 93-year-old less than 24 hours to quit as head of state or face impeachment, an attempt to secure a peaceful end to his tenure after a de facto coup.

The source said the Zimbabwe military was working on a resignation statement by Mugabe, without giving details.

Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster ZBC said Mugabe would address the nation shortly. Earlier on Sunday, the official Herald newspaper showed pictures of him meeting top generals at his State House office

15 Dead In Food Aid Stampede In Morocco

About fifteen people were killed and five more injured when a stampede broke out in the Moroccan town of Sidi Boulaalam on Sunday as food aid was being distributed in a market, the Interior Ministry said.

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