US president said a deal with China was getting closer just a day after he railed against Chinese “abuses” at the UNGA summit.

US president said a deal with China was getting closer just a day after he railed against Chinese “abuses” at the UNGA summit. Trump also said Washington and Tokyo had taken a major step towards sealing a comprehensive new trade deal.

Asian markets advanced Thursday after upbeat comments from US President Donald Trump that a trade deal with China could come sooner than expected and steps towards a new agreement with Japan.

In an appearance at the UN, Trump said a deal with China was getting closer, sending Wall Street higher despite concerns over the launch of an impeachment inquiry against the mercurial leader.

The remarks came just a day after Trump railed against Chinese “abuses” at the UN summit, comments that had been seen as among the factors causing stocks to fall Tuesday.

Trump on Wednesday also said Washington and Tokyo had taken a major step towards sealing a comprehensive new trade deal, which will see Japan cut tariffs on $7 billion in US farm exports, while the US would cut tariffs on some Japanese agricultural goods.

“Investors have been ‘trade war’ bearish for so long that any sliver of optimism is cheered,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note.

The Japanese deal also “suggests the president is open to an ‘interim’ trade deal, possibly signalling he is willing to negotiate one with China”, Innes said.

Asian markets largely cheered Trump’s positive comments on trade.

“Markets have been swayed by the president’s remarks every day … in the latest move, sentiment got a boost from the president’s positive remarks” on trade, said Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.

“It eased worries for now that the spat would weigh on the global economy,” the analyst said.

Asia markets

Tokyo closed up 0.1 percent, with steelmakers and auto manufacturers climbing on the brighter outlook for US trade deals.

Nippon Steel gained 2.5 percent, while JFE Holdings was up 3.8 percent. Among automakers, Toyota climbed 1.1 percent and Nissan added 0.9 percent.

Hong Kong closed 0.4 percent higher in a late surge after Beijing said China had bought a “considerable” amount of US pork and soybeans, the latest sign of easing tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

China Resources and Tencent lead the gains, rising 2.3 percent and 1.2 percent respectively.

The announcement came too late for Shanghai, which ended down 0.9 percent with traders cautious ahead of a weeklong holiday.

Elsewhere, Sydney slipped 0.5 percent, while Seoul ended marginally higher and Singapore was flat. Jakarta was up more than one percent and Mumbai was 0.9 percent higher.

European markets were steady at the open, with London up 0.1 percent, Frankfurt flat and Paris down 0.1 percent.

Crude prices slip

Crude prices slipped after an unexpected rise in US inventory and a swift recovery in Saudi Arabia’s output following the September 14 attacks on its oil infrastructure.

Brent was 0.2 percent lower and WTI was off 0.3 percent.

On forex markets, the pound was little changed. The British currency had pulled back after it rallied on Tuesday on the belief that the odds of a no-deal Brexit had fallen.

“With the political outlook ahead of Brexit murkier than ever and an election seemingly inevitable, any good news is well and truly baked into GBP now,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“It will probably take a Brexit agreement signed and sealed to give it new upside momentum.”

Next Sunday, millions of Austrian voters will head to the ballot box for legislative elections

The country is currently being governed by a coalition of technocrats that took over in June following one of the country’s worst political crises since World War Two.

Next Sunday, millions of Austrian voters will head to the ballot box for legislative elections, a vote that will decide who governs the country after the collapse of a coalition between the ruling conservative party and the far-right party earlier this year.

With a population of an estimated 8.76 million people, Austria enjoys a generally high voter turnout. According to the Election Guide watchdog, an average of 74 percent of voters cast their ballot during elections.

The country is currently being governed by a coalition of technocrats that took over in June following one of the country’s worst political crises since World War Two.

That crisis—which saw the collapse of the coalition between the rightwing Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO)—stemmed from a controversial incident now known as the “Ibiza scandal”.

What was the Ibiza scandal?

During the October 2017 legislative elections, Austria endured a far-right surge, which saw the FPO clench around 26 percent of the vote.

The rightwing OVP garnered 31.5 percent of the vote and banded together with the controversial far-right FPO to keep out the Social Democrats, who had taken the second largest share of the vote.

From the time the new OVP-led government was sworn in, in December 2017, its junior coalition partner, the FPO, was embroiled in controversy.

A spate of highly-criticised incidents prompted backlash against the FPO. Among those were a series of scandals surrounding FPO members’ use of anti-Semitic language and praise of the German Nazis as well as the FPO member and interior minister’s comments about “concentrating” refugees in a single area, a turn of phrase that prompted critics to liken his comments to Holocaust-era rhetoric.

But those scandals paled in comparison to the Ibiza affair.

In May, German media outlets published a video that shows the Austrian deputy chancellor and FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache in an Ibiza resort, speaking to a woman who claimed to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.

The woman said she would like to gain control of Kronen Zeitung, one of the country’s largest tabloids, and Strache offered public contracts in exchange for electoral campaign support.

The video turned out to be part of a sting operation, and it was leaked to journalists, prompting outcry and condemnation in Austria.

Strache was subsequently pushed to resign, but he described the sting operation as “a honey trap stage-managed by intelligence agencies”.

On May 18, the governing coalition collapsed and an early election was called. On May 27, Chancellor Sebastien Kurz was ousted by a vote of no confidence.

At the time of publication, the FPO had not replied to TRT World’s request for a comment.

Caretaker government

Following the Ibiza affair, President Alexander Van der Bellen appointed a transitional caretaker government to run the country until the September 29 elections.

The president picked Brigitte Bierlein, the country’s chief public prosecutor, to serve as chancellor, as well as a slew of civil servants to fill in the slots for most of the ministries.

A recent poll found that 42 percent of Austrians support Bierlein, while only 32 support former chancellor Kurz.

In July, a poll found that 56 percent of respondents believed the interim government was “good for Austria”.

Possible far-right return to coalition

As the elections approach, the OVP is polling in the lead, although the party has seen its support numbers dip in recent weeks.

The FPO—which is currently polling at around 20 percent—replaced Strache in a recent vote, which saw a reported 98.25 percent of its members choose Norbert Hofer as the party’s new leader.

“We extend a sincere hand to the conservatives [OVP] to continue the work begun together to reform Austria,” Hofer told reporters last month.

Many observers expect that, if the polls prove accurate, the OVP and the FPO will strike up another coalition government.

Founded by former Nazi functionaries after World War Two, the FPO also maintains a cooperation agreement with Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party.

Kurz previously stated that any coalition with the FPO would depend on the party not bringing former firebrand interior minister Herbert Kickl back to government.

NEOS – The New Austria and Liberal Forum is also polling at roughly eight percent, while the Green Party stands at around 12 percent backing.

Farid Hafez, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, described an alternative coalition to the OVP-FPO alliance as “quite unrealistic”.

“For me, this is the most realistic option to have a second coalition led by Kurz and this time Hofer,” he told TRT World.

“Why? Both parties still declare their commonalities and argue that the last coalition was a good one going into the right direction.”

“The second option would be a coalition between the OVP and NEOS, which would only work if NEOS receives up to 20 percent of the votes,” he said, adding that the possibility seemed distant owing to the comparably low support for NEOS in polls.

With conflicts raging around the world the UN is finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant.

With conflicts raging around the world the UN is finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant.

World leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this week for their annual meeting.

There is much scepticism about whether the UN can still be a forum for change or whether it has become a talking shop.

Conflicts in Yemen, Syria and South Sudan show no sign of stopping, while tensions in the Persian Gulf continue to increase with the US unilaterally abandoning the Iran nuclear deal. US President Donald Trump’s trade wars are also creating a drag on the global economy. And with ongoing climate crises, the UN is seen as increasingly irrelevant in bringing nations together to resolve the most pressing issues of the day.

As the UNGA was preparing to convene, Russia for the 13th time vetoed a resolution on Syria.

Alongside China, Russia blocked a demand by the rest of the Security Council to end the bloodshed in Idlib, which has seen the Assad regime, supported by Moscow and Iran, kill more than 500 civilians since April.

So what will UN member states discuss?

Iran vs the US

The stage was set for a showdown between the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Trump at the UNGA.

Both leaders were expected to take the stage and put their version of events forward on who is causing insecurity in the Persian Gulf.

Trump took the podium at the UNGA to announce that “one of the greatest security threats facing peace-loving nations today is the repressive regime in Iran”, words that have pleased Israel and Saudi Arabia.

This month’s attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia resulted in the country losing more than half its oil output.

The Houthi rebels in Yemen, which Saudi Arabia has been bombing, claimed credit for the attack; however, Saudi Arabia, the US, Germany, the UK and France have claimed that Iran is behind the attack.

Concrete evidence linking Iran to the attack has not been made public.

Rouhani and Trump were expected to meet at the sidelines of the UNGA; however, it is not yet clear whether this will be possible with both sides aiming to project strength before any future nuclear deal negotiation.

“Nothing is ever off the table completely, but I have no intention of meeting with Iran, and that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen,” Trump recently said.

Iranian officials for their part have argued that a meeting will only be possible if Trump is ready to exchange sanctions relief for “permanent monitoring of Iranian nuclear facilities”.

French President Emmanual Macron has been shuttling back and forth between Trump and Rouhani in an attempt to broker a possible meeting between the two sides. As yet those efforts appear to have been in vain.

Who won’t be at UNGA?

The UNGA will this year not be graced by embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, currently fighting for his political life. Neither will Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, another leader fighting for internal and international legitimacy, attend the meeting. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will also not be in attendance.

Other developments

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan both spoke out against the continuing occupation by Israel of Palestinian land.

Erdogan also spoke about the continuing humanitarian toll the Syrian war has taken on civilians and the pressure it has placed on neighbouring states.

The embattled UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the stage at the UNGA to deliver his speech which failed to mention Brexit, instead focusing on the dangers and opportunities offered by Artificial Intelligence and Iran.

Hours before Johnson was about to deliver his speech, the UK Supreme Court delivered a scathing judgment on his decision to suspend parliament for five weeks calling his actions “unlawful”.

Climate crises

Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s rebuke to world leaders at the UN has once again brought much-needed attention to one of the most pressing challenges facing the world that of climate change.

While outside the UN building, there will be protests throughout the week, many will be watching Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Trump and what they say or don’t say.

Bolsonaro has already announced that his speech will be different from the ones delivered in the past, while indigenous Brazilian leaders have called out his “colonialist and ethnocidal” policies.

Hillary Clinton joined her fellow Democrats in calling for impeachment proceedings against President Trump on Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton joined her fellow Democrats in calling for impeachment proceedings against President Trump on Tuesday.

Clinton made the statement while speaking to People Magazine, saying the country is in a “crisis.”

“I did not come to that decision easily or quickly, but this is an emergency as I see it,” she told the magazine.

“This latest behavior around Ukraine, trying to enlist the president of Ukraine in a plot to undermine former Vice President Biden or lose the military aid he needs to defend against Trump’s friend Vladimir Putin — if that’s not an impeachable offense, I don’t know what is.”

Clinton’s comments came the same day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would back an official impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Pelosi reached her decision after reports surfaced that the Trump administration blocked the release of whistleblower report related to his relationship with Ukraine.

“The president of the United States is betraying our country on a daily basis,” Clinton added in her interview with People.

“This man who is in the Oval Office right now is a clear and present danger to the future of the United States.”

Texas Rep. Al Green was the first congressional Democrat to explicitly call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment

WASHINGTON — Texas Rep. Al Green was the first congressional Democrat to explicitly call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, and now, nearly two and a half years later, he says he feels “vindicated.”

More than 160 Democrats in the House now support an impeachment inquiry — including many from conservative districts — with a flood of support coming shortly after it was reported that Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son.

 House Democrats met late Tuesday afternoon, and Pelosi made an announcement that she now backs a formal impeachment inquiry, following months of avoidance of the topic, frustration with the press, and caution to members of her caucus on the topic.
“I felt then as I feel now that I’m being vindicated. I said that I would be vindicated and I am being vindicated — the truth has been vindicated,” Green, the eight-term Democrat, told BuzzFeed News in an interview. “I felt compelled because for me it was about more than making a speech. It was about taking a stand that would be based on principle, not politics.”

In a lengthy phone interview with BuzzFeed News, Green said his decision to wave the flag on impeachment — back in May 2017, just four months into Trump’s presidency — came because he is a “liberated Democrat,” and that he was doing so “in the spirit of Shirley Chisholm,” the black feminist political icon who was the first black woman elected to Congress.

“To be true to myself, I could not stray from this cause,” he said.

Green also introduced and forced a vote to move forward on articles of impeachment in December 2017. At that time, 60 Democrats joined Green.

Pelosi has long been protective of the more moderate and vulnerable members of her caucus; as more moderates came out in support of an impeachment inquiry, it became harder for her to avoid action.

Green, a Democrat from Houston, did not have a national profile. But as a red-state lawmaker from a blue district, he faced very few, if any, political consequences for emerging as the face of the effort to impeach Trump. Further, for Democrats uncertain how to navigate Washington with the White House and both chambers of Congress under Republican control, Green represented a wing of the anti-Trump movement in Congress who viewed Trump’s actions — even pre-Charlottesville — as a matter of national security.

Green’s comments came Tuesday afternoon after a whirlwind news cycle that fundamentally changed the impeachment debate on Capitol Hill. Pelosi announced her support for an impeachment inquiry, a stunning reversal highlighting the seriousness of an apparent effort by Trump to ask a foreign entity to help him gain a political advantage against a possible opponent.

Green said he drew support from many of his colleagues, but his bluster — which rankled some members inside the caucus who characterized Green’s approach as premature — was not without consequences. He said the most difficult part was “realizing that taking the stand would put others in jeopardy.” Green said his office received multiple death threats and additional steps were taken to protect himself and his staffers, including at his district office in Houston.


Asked if he looked forward to speaking with her, Green said, “I always enjoy hearing from anyone who wants to speak to me, and obviously that would include the speaker.”

He went on, “It’s not like she and I don’t talk to each other. I talk to her, and I’m always honored to be in her company. … I’ve had a lot of things said, but I don’t single people out. I don’t recall anybody that I’ve singled out, so I don’t think I’ll start today. I’ve tried to state my position, and I understand that people will differ with me. But that doesn’t change my position.”

Green is getting what he wants. But he is also wanting to make Trump’s discrimination against minorities and people of color part of the investigation into Trump’s actions as president, which could signal his next fight. His hope is that “there will be at least one article of impeachment concerning the president’s bigotry infused into policy that is harming our society.”

Air raid sirens were tested across the Saudi Arabian capital on Thursday

Air raid sirens were tested across the Saudi Arabian capital on Thursday as the country prepared for a possible escalation with Iran, following a weekend attack on its oil fields raised the stakes in the conflict.

Text messages were sent out to residents ahead of the 1pm tests in Riyadh and neighbouring provinces, which civil defence said was to ensure the sirens were “effective and ready.”


He said there was “plenty of time to do some dastardly things . . . We’ll see what happens.”

“The US stands with Saudi Arabia and supports its right to defend itself,” Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, tweeted from Jeddah following a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Mr Pompeo said the attack on the world’s largest oil processing plant and knocked out half of Saudi’s production, was “of a scale we’ve just not seen before”.

“‘Act of war’ or agitation for war?” he said in a tweet. “For their own sake, they should pray that they won’t get what they seek.”

In an interview later with CNN, he said: “I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want war; we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation… But we won’t blink to defend our territory.”

One working theory being considered by US intelligence is that the cruise missiles were launched from Iran and programmed to fly around the northern Persian Gulf through Iraqi air space instead of directly across the gulf where the US has much better surveillance.

Riyadh, which said it is still investigating the assault, on Wednesday displayed the remnants of 25 Iranian drones and missiles it said were used in the strike as undeniable evidence of Iranian aggression. 

“We have had strikes on Saudi, even on Riyadh, before. But this feels different. The Houthis, we can deal with,” said Khaled, who did not wish to give his last name. “But Iran is another matter.”

Such a hypothesis would explain how they were not picked up and intercepted by Saudi’s costly missile defence system.



Gantz demands Netanyahu resign

Benny Gantz, the leader of Israel’s centrist party, insisted Thursday that he will “not be dictated to” by Benjamin Netanyahu in post-election negotiations and repeated his demand that the prime minister resign to make way for a new unity government.

“Blue & White, headed by me, has won the election. Blue and White is the largest party,” Mr Gantz said in his first comments since election night. “The process of building a government has begun. We will not be dictated to.”

Mr Lieberman is expected to eventually throw his support behind Mr Gantz, according to Israeli media reports, but has yet to say so officially. Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, will make a decision next week on which leader should be tasked with forming a government.

Mr Netanyahu then called on Mr Gantz to join with his Right-wing coalition to form a unity government. “The nation expects us, both of us, to accept responsibility and work together,” Mr Netanyahu said.

The two party leaders met briefly at a memorial ceremony for Shimon Peres, the late Israeli president, where they smiled and shook hands in front of the cameras. But the moment of political harmony did not last long.

 “One person is preventing the formation of a liberal unity government,” Mr Lapid said. “When faced with the choice between what’s important for the country and what’s important for one person, the country comes first.”

Mr Gantz dismissed the prime minister’s offer as “spin”. His deputy leader, Yair Lapid, put it more bluntly by saying that Mr Netanyahu’s resignation was the only thing standing in the way of a unity government between Blue & White and Likud.

 Mr Gantz hopes that if Mr Netanyahu refuses to step down then his own Likud ministers will rise up and force him out. So far Likud ministers are insisting they will remain loyal to Mr Netanyahu. 

If he fails, then Mr Netanyahu could be given another chance at cobbling together a majority. Israel could be plunged into an unprecedented third election in a year if neither side is able to reach a majority of 61 seats.

If Mr Gantz is unable forge a unity pact with the Likud then he he will face daunting math to try to form a majority. Once tasked by the president, Mr Gantz would have a maximum of 42 days to assemble a government.

Emmanuel Macron and his government on Tuesday warned teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg that her “radical” stance risked “depressing a generation” after she singled out France at the UN.

Emmanuel Macron and his government on Tuesday warned teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg that her “radical” stance risked “depressing a generation” after she singled out France at the UN.

The same day, she and 15 other young activists filed a complaint at the UN against five countries, including France, for not doing enough to ward off global warming.

President Macron criticised Greta’s attack, saying: “There are lots of citizen’s actions that are useful. Here, such very radical positions are liable to antagonise our societies.”

Mr Macron has styled himself internationally as a champion of environment issues abroad, but climate activists accuse him of failing to take enough concrete measures at home to fight climate change.

He denied that the “French or German government” were blocking any green transition, saying they were “stopping our coal activities, our fossil fuel production”.

His government leapt to this defence too, with ecological transition minister Brune Poirson warning: “You cannot mobilise with despair, almost hatred.”

Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer added: “France is today a locomotive in (fighting climate change) and Président Macron has done a lot on the issue.

You mustn’t create a generation of depressed people over this issue,” he warned.

He managed to annoyed Poland on Monday by calling on France’s climate activists to “go protest in Poland”, which is heavily dependent on coal.

Mr Macron has been seeking to gild his green credentials since placing a high-profile green second on his party’s list for European elections, seeing young green vote as crucial to municipal elections next year and the presidentials in 2022.

He said they were preventing the EU reaching its plan to eliminate coal by 2050. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek said he hoped that “in this area as well as in other areas, (Mr Macron) will refrain from this kind of lecturing which, in his case, has become tiring”.

Greta’s UN speech saw her come in for mockery from Donald Trump.

“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” the climate-skeptic American president tweeted afterwards.

That drew a furious online response from 16,000 users, with many slamming Mr Trump for attacking a young girl who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism.

Veteran conservationist David Attenborough has, meanwhile, taken aim at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for not giving a “damn” about coal emissions and his lack of action on climate change.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son Archie Harrison has met Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son Archie Harrison has met Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the royal couple’s tour of South Africa.

The young royal was described as a “ladies man” by the South African statesman’s daughter as the four-month-old made his first appearance on the royal tour.

In a post Prince Harry and Meghan shared on Instagram, with the caption “Arch meets Archie”, the family-of-three can be seen walking down a gangway to meet the statesman.

The four-month-old posed with the man they call “The Arch” with proud mother and father. And Meghan, joked with the Archbishop’s daughter Thandeka Tutu Gxashe, that the little royal would have have to get used the the cameras in his life.

All three are beaming in the video as they walk through a tiled archway. Just before turning to walk up the stairs to meet Desmond Tutu, Archie lets out a yelp, which causes his parents to laugh.

She said: “I have cameras in my genes.” Meghan replied: “He’s an old soul.” Harry said: “I think he is used to it already.”

The veteran Nobel Peace Prize winner anti – who effectively the leader of the liberation struggle during Nelson Mandela’s long imprisonment – said he was “thrilled” by the “rare privilege and honour” to meet the royals.

He greeted the royals with laughter with his daughter Thandeka Tutu Gxashe, CEO Desmond Tutu Desk campaign – which creates portable desks for schoolchildren.

The foundation is the global rallying point for the now retired archbishop’s values in respect of people and the earth.

“We are enormously grateful to welcome the Duke and Duchess to our magnificent space, and for their love and respect for the Arch,” said foundation chair Niclas Kjellstrom-Matseke.

Established by the Archbishop and his wife Nomalizo Leah, its mission is to distill the timeless wisdom of our founders and to instill their values in new generations of leaders.

At a reception on Tuesday night hosted at the residence of Nigel Casey, British High Commissioner to South Africa, the Sussexes met Tutu’s daughter, Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe.

She added about the planned meeting with the duke and duchess: “He is looking forward to it.”

Speaking about Meghan and Harry she added: “They were saying that they were happy to be here and looking forward to meeting my father… and hopefully they will have some time for conversation.”

Harry and Meghan are on a 10-day visit to Africa with their four-month-old son Archie and later the duke will leave his family to travel to Botswana.

She arrived in South Africa laden with children’s clothes, books and other items for the charity – presents donated to their son Archie.

At another event the duchess will meet 12 inspiring female entrepreneurs when she visits the UK-SA Tech Hub.

The hub focuses on skills development, capacity building, mentorship and access to markets by helping entrepreneurs, particularly women, with resources and support.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu – the Nobel Peace Prize winner who helped end apartheid

He was also a recipient the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in resolving and ending apartheid.

Born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, South Africa, he became the first Black Anglican Archbishop of both Cape Town and Johannesburg.

During the 1980s, he played a role in drawing national and international attention to the iniquities of apartheid.

In 1993, South African apartheid finally came to an end, and in 1994, South Africans elected Nelson Mandela as their first black president.

The father of four chaired the commission and since then has continued to draw attention to a number of social justice issues.

Although he officially retired from public life in the late 1990s, the Archbishop continues to advocate for social justice and equality across the globe.

He has written several books over the years, including No Future Without Forgiveness (1999), and The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (2016).

Among his famous remarks is the quotation: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”.

Trump asks Pakistan’s Khan to mediate with Iran

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump had asked him to mediate with Iran to defuse tensions.

“Trump asked me that if we could de-escalate the situation and maybe come up with another deal,” Khan told reporters at the United Nations after meeting both Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

“I can’t say anything right now more than this, except that we are trying and mediating.”

Iran rejects UK, France and Germany statements on Saudi attacks

Iran said on Tuesday that a statement by Britain, France and Germany accusing it of responsibility for attacks on Saudi oil facilities showed that they lacked the will to confront US “bullying”, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

“These allegations, which lack evidence, are based solely on a ridiculous rationale that ‘there is no other possible explanation’,” Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

UK, France and Germany blame Iran for Saudi oil attacks

Britain, France and Germany joined the United States on Monday in blaming Iran for attacks on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, but the Iranian foreign minister pointed to claims of responsibility by Yemeni rebels and said: “If Iran were behind this attack, nothing would have been left of this refinery.”

They pledged to try to ease tensions in the Middle East and urged Iran to “refrain from choosing provocation and escalation.”

Seized British tanker still in Iran

British-flagged tanker Stena Impero, detained by Iran in July, remains in that country even as Iranian officials have said it was free to leave, Erik Hanell, chief executive of the tanker’s Swedish owner Stena Bulk said on Tuesday.

Iran’s ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, had said in a Twitter post on Monday that the vessel was free to leave after legal hurdles had been cleared.

“The detention order on Stena Impero had been lifted and the vessel is going through the proceedings to leave Bandar Abbas” port, Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, was quoted as saying on Tuesday by the semi-official news agency ILNA.

“She has moved during her time there to get fresh water, among other things, but is still in Bandar Abbas,” Hanell said in a text message, adding he had no information as to why the ship had not left Iran.