Thursday, August 16, 2018
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US tariffs to stay on Turkey; Qatar offers Ankara aid
File photo of President Trump with his Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. AFP file

US tariffs to stay on Turkey; Qatar offers Ankara aid

16 Aug 2018 | 12:02 PM

ISTANBUL/WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday ruled out removing steel tariffs that have contributed to a currency crisis in Turkey even if Ankara frees a US pastor, as Qatar pledged $15 billion in investment to Turkey, supporting a rise in the Turkish lira.

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Istanbul/Washington, August 16

The United States on Wednesday ruled out removing steel tariffs that have contributed to a currency crisis in Turkey even if Ankara frees a US pastor, as Qatar pledged $15 billion in investment to Turkey, supporting a rise in the Turkish lira.

The White House stance appeared to give Turkish authorities little incentive to work for the release of Andrew Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges and whose case Turkish officials have said was a matter for the courts.

The dispute is one of several between the NATO allies, including diverging interests in Syria and US objections to Ankara’s ambition to buy Russian defence systems, that have contributed to instability in Turkish financial markets.

While the Brunson matter appeared far from being resolved, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan got a shot in the arm from Qatar’s Emir, who approved a package of economic projects, investments and deposits after the two met in Ankara.

The Qatari money will be channelled into banks and financial markets, a Turkish government source told Reuters.

The move by Turkey’s Gulf ally offered further support to a lira rally after the Turkish central bank tightened liquidity and curbed selling of the currency.

The lira has lost nearly 40 per cent against the dollar this year, driven by worries over Erdogan’s growing control over the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.

The dispute with the United States, focused on a tit-for-tat tariff row and Turkey’s detention of Brunson, helped turn the currency’s steady decline into meltdown.

It touched a record low of 7.24 to the dollar early on Monday, rattling global stock markets and threatening the stability of Turkey’s financial sector.

President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish metals exports to the United States last week prompting Turkey, which says it will not bow to threats, to raise tariffs on US cars, alcohol and tobacco by the same amount on Wednesday.

A decree by Erdogan doubled Turkish tariffs on imports of US passenger cars to 120 per cent, alcoholic drinks to 140 per cent and leaf tobacco to 60 per cent. Tariffs were also doubled on goods such as cosmetics, rice and coal.

The White House called the Turkish response a step in the wrong direction and signalled a hard line on Brunson’s release.

“Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man held in Turkey & justice demands that he be released. Turkey would do well not to test @POTUS Trump’s resolve to see Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned in foreign lands returned home to the United States,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a tweet.

Speaking in Washington, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders made clear the United States had no plan to remove the steel tariffs if Brunson were released though she said it could remove sanctions imposed on two senior Turkish officials.

The United States sanctioned Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, blaming both for being involved Brunson’s arrest and detention. Brunson is accused of backing a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan, which Brunson denies.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu struck a somewhat conciliatory note, saying Turkey was ready to discuss its issues with the United States as long as there are no threats.

Despite the political tensions, the lira rebounded some 6 percent on Wednesday, strengthening to around 6.0 to the dollar.

There was also optimism about better relations with the European Union after a Turkish court released two Greek soldiers pending trial. Cavusoglu said ties with the bloc, long strained, were on a firmer basis and had started normalising.

A banking watchdog’s step to limit foreign exchange swap transactions also helped the currency.

“They are squeezing lira liquidity out of the system now and pushing interest rates higher,” said Cristian Maggio, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities.

“Rates have gone up by 10 percent ... The central bank has not done this through a change in the benchmark rates, but they are squeezing liquidity, so the result is the same,” he said.

The lira firmed as far as 5.75 against the dollar on Wednesday and stood at 5.90 at 2058 GMT.

The finance minister will seek to reassure international investors on Thursday in a conference call for which a ministry official said some far 3,000 people had signed up.

The chief executive of Turkey’s Akbank said the banking sector remained strong and the measures taken to support the market had started to have an impact, adding there was no withdrawal of deposits.

There was no resolution to the Brunson case in sight. On Wednesday, a court in Izmir, where Brunson is on trial, rejected his appeal to be released from house arrest. An upper court had yet to rule on the appeal, his lawyer told Reuters.

In another high-profile case, a Turkish court freed Taner Kilic, the local chair of Amnesty International, a researcher from the rights group said. Reuters

Twitter threatened with shutdown in Pakistan

Twitter threatened with shutdown in Pakistan

16 Aug 2018 | 3:54 PM

ISLAMABAD: Micro-blogging platform Twitter has been asked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to comply with its requests to block objectionable content or face a shutdown in the country, the media reported on Thursday.

China, US to hold next round of trade talks in late August

China, US to hold next round of trade talks in late August

16 Aug 2018 | 1:13 PM

BEIJING: China said on Thursday it will hold a fresh round of trade talks with the United States in Washington later this month, offering a glimmer of hope for progress in resolving a conflict that has set world markets on edge.

Mali President Keita wins re-election with 67% of vote

Mali President Keita wins re-election with 67% of vote

16 Aug 2018 | 3:19 PM

DAKAR: Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won re-election with 67 per cent of the vote in a run-off against Opposition rival Soumaila Cisse, the Ministry of Territorial Administration said on Thursday.

Women charged with murder of Kim’s brother to testify in Malaysia trial

Women charged with murder of Kim’s brother to testify in Malaysia trial

16 Aug 2018 | 2:24 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Two women charged with murdering the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un must answer for their role in a well-planned conspiracy, a Malaysian judge said on Thursday, but added that the evidence did not prove a political assassination.

Philippines’ Duterte could resign if Marcos Jr becomes V-P: Spokesman

Philippines’ Duterte could resign if Marcos Jr becomes V-P: Spokesman

16 Aug 2018 | 2:20 PM

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte could step down if the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos succeeds in overturning his 2016 vice presidential election defeat, Duterte’s spokesman said on Thursday.

US hits Chinese, Russian firms over breach of N Korea sanctions

US hits Chinese, Russian firms over breach of N Korea sanctions

16 Aug 2018 | 11:49 AM

WASHINGTON: The United States on imposed sanctions on a Russian port service agency and Chinese firms on Wednesday for aiding North Korean ships and selling alcohol and tobacco to Pyongyang in breach of US sanctions aimed at pressuring North Korea to end its nuclear programmes.

Govt may have to take over motorways: Italy Deputy PM

Govt may have to take over motorways: Italy Deputy PM

16 Aug 2018 | 2:06 PM

ROME: The Italian state will have to take over the country’s motorways if companies who have concessions are not able to do the job properly, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Thursday.

Vietnam sentences activist to 20 years in jail amid dissent crackdown

Vietnam sentences activist to 20 years in jail amid dissent crackdown

16 Aug 2018 | 1:30 PM

HANOI: A court in northern Vietnam on Thursday sentenced an activist to 20 years in prison after he was convicted in a one-day trial of attempting to overthrow the state, his lawyer said.

Imran Khan, Shehbaz Sharif file nomination papers for Pak PM poll

16 Aug 2018 | 9:35 AM

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday filed their nomination papers for the election of Prime Minister, slated to be held in the National Assembly (NA) on August 17.

With new US law, trafficked children no longer need to testify in court

16 Aug 2018 | 12:56 PM

NEW YORK: Child sex trafficking victims will no longer be made to testify in court in the United States, after New York adopted a law on Wednesday making it the final state to end the practice.

Lula registers for Brazil race from jail as thousands rally

Lula registers for Brazil race from jail as thousands rally

16 Aug 2018 | 12:55 PM

BRASILIA: Brazil’s Workers Party registered jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday as its presidential candidate while he sat in prison serving a 12-year graft sentence expected to block his candidacy.

Scientists seek new ways to combat Florida’s growing ‘red tide’

Scientists seek new ways to combat Florida’s growing ‘red tide’

16 Aug 2018 | 12:53 PM

Scientists in Florida are on the cusp of developing promising methods to control toxic algae blooms like the “red tide” that has been killing marine life along a 150-mile (240-km) stretch of the Gulf Coast, the head of a leading marine lab said on Wednesday.

Trump says his steel tariffs will save the US industry: WSJ

Trump says his steel tariffs will save the US industry: WSJ

16 Aug 2018 | 12:51 PM

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his tariffs on foreign steel are saving the US industry and he predicted that in the future American steelmakers will mostly face domestic competition, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Judge orders Keystone XL pipeline review in setback for Trump

Judge orders Keystone XL pipeline review in setback for Trump

16 Aug 2018 | 12:44 PM

WASHINGTON: A federal judge in Montana on Wednesday ordered the US State Department to do a full environmental review of a revised route for the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, a move that could delay the project and prove a setback for the Trump administration.

US, Mexico to set up joint team to fight drug cartels

US, Mexico to set up joint team to fight drug cartels

16 Aug 2018 | 12:39 PM

CHICAGO: US and Mexican law enforcement authorities will set up a joint team based in Chicago targeting the leaders and finances of drug cartels that ship opioids into the United States, aiming to stanch a spike in overdose deaths, officials said on Wednesday.

Facebook says it was ‘too slow’ to fight hate speech in Myanmar

Facebook says it was ‘too slow’ to fight hate speech in Myanmar

16 Aug 2018 | 12:34 PM

YANGON: Facebook has been “too slow” to address hate speech in Myanmar and is acting to remedy the problem by hiring more Burmese speakers and investing in technology to identify problematic content, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Central American child migrants move in ‘shadows’, at risk from traffickers: UN

Central American child migrants move in ‘shadows’, at risk from traffickers: UN

16 Aug 2018 | 12:27 PM

BOGOTA: Refugee and migrant children fleeing Central America to escape gang violence and poverty are at risk from human traffickers during their journey to the United States, the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) said on Thursday.

Mass overdose at US park, one arrested

Mass overdose at US park, one arrested

16 Aug 2018 | 11:33 AM

NEW YORK: Over 40 individuals had overdosed in a Connecticut park in US on a drug suspected of being laced with an opioid. A suspect has been taken into custody, police said.

48 killed in Kabul suicide attack: Officials

48 killed in Kabul suicide attack: Officials

15 Aug 2018 | 9:14 PM

KABUL: The death toll from a suicide blast at an educational centre in a mainly Shiite area of the Afghan capital on Wednesday reached 48, with another 67 wounded, the health ministry said.

Venezuela asks Peru to find drone blasts suspects

Venezuela asks Peru to find drone blasts suspects

16 Aug 2018 | 11:43 AM

LIMA: Venezuela has asked Peruvian police to help locate two Venezuelan citizens it says were involved in drone explosions during a speech by President Nicolas Maduro earlier this month, Peru’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Turkey to boycott US electronic goods: Erdogan

Turkey to boycott US electronic goods: Erdogan

15 Aug 2018 | 9:37 AM

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey would boycott US electronic goods like the iPhone in retaliation for punitive sanctions from Washington, as the Turkish lira finally clawed back some of the ground lost in its stand-off with Washington.

Pakistan's newly-formed Parliament elects Imran Khan's ally as Speaker

Pakistan's newly-formed Parliament elects Imran Khan's ally as Speaker

15 Aug 2018 | 5:01 PM

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's newly-elected Parliament on Wednesday voted an ally of Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan as the Speaker of its lower house, kicking off the process of transition and handing over powers to the new government.

China blasts US solar tariffs, takes WTO action

China blasts US solar tariffs, takes WTO action

15 Aug 2018 | 1:16 PM

BEIJING: China has blasted US tariffs on solar panel imports, filing a complaint at the World Trade Organization in the latest salvo of the trade battle between the world’s two economic giants.

300 ‘predator priests’ accused of abusing thousands of children in US

300 ‘predator priests’ accused of abusing thousands of children in US

15 Aug 2018 | 8:19 PM

WASHINGTON: Internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in the US state of Pennsylvania showed that over 300 “predator priests” have been credibly accused of sexually abusing thousands of children, according to a grand jury report.

Italy bridge collapse toll mounts to 37, national anger grows

Italy bridge collapse toll mounts to 37, national anger grows

15 Aug 2018 | 2:47 PM

GENOA: Rescuers scoured the wreckage of Italy’s bridge collapse on Wednesday as the death toll climbed to 37 and the government blamed the bridge’s private owner, demanding resignations and moving to strip its toll concession.

Asia-Pacific money-laundering watchlist’s review of Pak to conclude tomorrow

Asia-Pacific money-laundering watchlist’s review of Pak to conclude tomorrow

15 Aug 2018 | 1:22 PM

ISLAMABAD: A visiting delegation from the Asia-Pacific group on money laundering will complete its review tomorrow of Pakistan’s compliance with obligations regarding fighting terror financing in order to submit its report to the Financial Action Task Force.

I-Day celebrations in Pakistan claim 3 lives, leave 35 injured

I-Day celebrations in Pakistan claim 3 lives, leave 35 injured

15 Aug 2018 | 2:57 PM

KARACHI: At least three persons were killed and over 35 others, including children and women, injured in various incidents of aerial firing and firework displays by the revellers during Pakistan’s Independence Day celebrations, media reports said on Thursday.

Japan’s Emperor makes last war-end anniversary speech

Japan’s Emperor makes last war-end anniversary speech

15 Aug 2018 | 11:24 AM

TOKYO: Emperor Akihito, in his last appearance as reigning monarch at an annual ceremony marking Japan’s World War Two surrender, expressed “deep remorse” over the conflict, while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed never to repeat the horrors of war.

Sudanese-origin British citizen named in car crash outside UK Parliament: Reports

Sudanese-origin British citizen named in car crash outside UK Parliament: Reports

15 Aug 2018 | 2:37 PM

LONDON: British citizen of Sudanese origin Salih Khater was driving the car that injured three persons in a terror attack outside the UK’s Parliament, government sources said on Thursday.

Buddhist monk master in China resigns over sexual misconduct

Buddhist monk master in China resigns over sexual misconduct

15 Aug 2018 | 1:44 PM

BEIJING: One of China’s highest-ranking Buddhist monks quit as the head of the country’s Buddhist association on Wednesday after facing a government investigation over accusations of sexual misconduct.

Pak EC should look into rigging allegations: Prez

Pak EC should look into rigging allegations: Prez

15 Aug 2018 | 12:40 AM

ISLAMABAD: In an unusual move, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain in his Independence Day address, raised the issue of alleged rigging in the July 25 elections and asked the election commission to look into the complaints of political parties to make the poll process “fully transparent”.

S Korea seeks progress on denuclearisation at Sept summit

S Korea seeks progress on denuclearisation at Sept summit

15 Aug 2018 | 9:57 AM

SEOUL: A third summit of Korean leaders planned for next month will be a further step towards denuclearisation of the peninsula and a peace treaty to end the Korean War, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday.

Putin ready to meet N Korea’s Kim at ‘early date’: KCNA

Putin ready to meet N Korea’s Kim at ‘early date’: KCNA

15 Aug 2018 | 1:13 PM

SEOUL: Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “at an early date”, the North’s state media reported today, amid a rapid diplomatic thaw on the peninsula.

New Mexico Judge gets death threats after granting bail to compound members

New Mexico Judge gets death threats after granting bail to compound members

15 Aug 2018 | 12:52 PM

TAOS: A New Mexico judge received death threats on Tuesday a day after she granted bail to two men and three women charged with child abuse and accused of training children at their compound to carry out attacks, court officials said.

Trump Tower operators sued over water release into river

Trump Tower operators sued over water release into river

15 Aug 2018 | 12:51 PM

CHICAGO: Illinois’ attorney general is suing the operators of Trump International Hotel and Tower for removing water from and releasing water into the Chicago River in violation of federal environmental laws.

Afghan Taliban considering Eid holiday ceasefire: Sources

Afghan Taliban considering Eid holiday ceasefire: Sources

15 Aug 2018 | 12:47 PM

PESHAWAR: The Taliban are considering announcing a ceasefire during next week’s Eid holiday, despite heavy fighting seen over recent days in the central Afghan city of Ghazni, two senior Taliban officials said.

US transgender woman wins Democratic nod for Governor in Vermont

15 Aug 2018 | 11:37 AM

WASHINGTON: Christine Hallquist has won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the US state of Vermont, moving a step closer to becoming the nation’s first transgender governor, US media reported.

Congresswoman-elect kidnapped in Mexico: Official

Congresswoman-elect kidnapped in Mexico: Official

15 Aug 2018 | 11:35 AM

PACHUCA: An incoming member of Mexico’s Congress was kidnapped at gunpoint, an official said, the latest violent episode surrounding the July 1 elections, the bloodiest in the country’s history.

China should temper its behaviour in disputed waters: Duterte

China should temper its behaviour in disputed waters: Duterte

15 Aug 2018 | 11:04 AM

MANILA: The Philippine President has said that China’s claim to airspace above newly built islands and surrounding waters in the disputed South China Sea “is wrong” and Beijing should not tell others to leave those areas to avoid possible clashes.

30 dead in Italy bridge collapse

30 dead in Italy bridge collapse

15 Aug 2018 | 12:40 AM

GENOA: Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Tuesday that 30 persons have been killed after a motorway bridge collapsed in the northwestern port city of Genoa.

Car crashes outside UK Parliament in ‘terror attack’; 3 hurt

15 Aug 2018 | 12:40 AM

LONDON: In a terror attack, a man drove a car at high speed and ploughed into several pedestrians and cyclists before crashing into security barriers outside the UK’s Parliament during rush hour on Tuesday, injuring three persons, Scotland Yard said.

Fukushima nuclear statue ignites online furoreGlobe Trot

Fukushima nuclear statue ignites online furore

15 Aug 2018 | 12:40 AM

TOKYO: A giant statue of a child wearing a radiation suit in the Japanese city of Fukushima has touched off a storm of criticism online as the nuclear-hit area seeks to rebuild its reputation.

China rebuffs Philippines President’s South China Sea's rebuke

China rebuffs Philippines President’s South China Sea's rebuke

16 Aug 2018 | 2:36 PM

BEIJING: China rebuffed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for Beijing to rethink its conduct in the South China Sea on Thursday, saying China had the right to react to foreign ships or aircraft that get close to its islands.

Trump ends critical ex-CIA chief’s security access

Trump ends critical ex-CIA chief’s security access

16 Aug 2018 | 12:49 PM

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has revoked the security clearance of former CIA chief John Brennan, denying his critic any access to sensitive information, the White House has said.

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