Kampala, Oct 16 (AP/UNB) — Kanye West handed Uganda's president a pair of his autographed sneakers on Monday during a visit to the East African nation in which the rapper is said to be recording music in a tent.
The 74-year-old President Yoweri Museveni said he and West held "fruitful discussions" about promoting tourism and arts. He also gave West and his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, "Ugandan" names, the State House said in a Facebook post.
The couple has been vacationing in a national park in Uganda while excited tourism officials see the visit as an endorsement of the country's tourism potential.
While Uganda's presidency released photos of a hoodie-wearing West meeting Museveni at the State House, some Ugandans wryly pointed out that the president cracked down on hoodies earlier this year, saying motorcycle riders could no longer wear them in a bid to fight rising crime.
Museveni, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, has been at the center of unrest in recent weeks after a local pop star-turned-opposition lawmaker, Bobi Wine, alleged torture by security forces. The government denies it.
Uganda's large youth population has increasingly expressed frustration over unemployment and accused the president of being out of touch. The government recently imposed a tax on social media and the constitution was changed to remove an age limit on the presidency, leading some to worry that Museveni plans to rule for life.
Istanbul, Oct 16 (AP/UNB) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived Tuesday in Saudi Arabia for talks with King Salman over the disappearance and alleged slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished two weeks ago during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Pompeo landed in Riyadh on Tuesday morning and was to immediately meet the king over the crisis surrounding Khashoggi. He made no remarks on landing.
Turkish officials say they fear Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate. Saudi officials previously have called the allegations "baseless," but reports in U.S. media on Tuesday suggested the kingdom may acknowledge the writer was killed there.
Meanwhile, a Turkish forensics team finished earlier in the morning a search inside the consulate. Technicians in coveralls, gloves and covered shoes treated the diplomatic mission as a crime scene during their hours-long search. It wasn't immediately clear what evidence they gathered.
President Donald Trump, after speaking with King Salman, had dispatched Pompeo to speak to the monarch of the world's top oil exporter over Khashoggi's disappearance. Trump himself said without offering evidence that the slaying could have been carried out by "rogue killers," offering the U.S.-allied kingdom a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm.
However, left unsaid was the fact that any decision in the ultraconservative kingdom rests solely with the ruling Al Saud family. Noticeably absent from discussions was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom Khashoggi wrote critically about for The Washington Post and whose rise to power prompted the writer to go into a self-imposed exile in the United States.
"The effort behind the scenes is focused on avoiding a diplomatic crisis between the two countries and has succeeded in finding a pathway to deescalate tensions," said Ayham Kamel, the head of the Eurasia Group's Mideast and North African practice. "Riyadh will have to provide some explanation of the journalist's disappearance, but in a manner that distances the leadership from any claim that a decision was made at senior levels to assassinate the prominent journalist."
CNN reported that the Saudis were going to admit the killing had occurred but deny the king or crown prince had ordered it — which does not match what analysts and experts know about the kingdom's inner workings.
The New York Times reported that the Saudi royal court would suggest that an official within the kingdom's intelligence services — a friend of Prince Mohammed — had carried out the killing. According to that reported claim, the crown prince had approved an interrogation or rendition of Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, but the intelligence official was tragically incompetent as he eagerly sought to prove himself. Both reports cited anonymous people said to be familiar with the Saudi plans.
Saudi officials have not answered repeated requests for comment over recent days from The Associated Press.
What evidence Turkish officials could gather at the consulate remained unknown. Saudi officials have been in and out of the building since Khashoggi's disappearance Oct. 2 without being stopped. Under the Vienna Convention, diplomatic posts are technically foreign soil that must be protected and respected by host countries.
Forensics tests like spraying luminol, a chemical mixture, can expose blood left behind, said Mechthild Prinz, an associate professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice who previously worked at the New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
"It depends on how well they cleaned it up," Prinz told the AP. "Obviously, you don't want anybody to have a chance to clean it up, but very often people do miss blood."
Told that a cleaning crew walked into the consulate before the team arrived, she said: "You saw that? Wow. That's going to be a problem."
Turkey has wanted to search the consulate for days. Permission apparently came after a late Sunday night call between King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In statements after the call, both praised the creation of a joint Saudi-Turkish probe.
The Turkish inspection team included a prosecutor, a deputy prosecutor, anti-terror police and forensic experts, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Certain areas of the consulate were to remain off-limits, although officials would be able to inspect surveillance cameras, Turkish media reported.
Khashoggi has written extensively for the Post about Saudi Arabia, criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a driving ban for women. Those policies are all seen as initiatives of Prince Mohammed, the son of King Salman, who is next in line to the throne.
Prince Mohammed has aggressively pitched the kingdom as a destination for foreign investment. But Khashoggi's disappearance has led several business leaders and media outlets to back out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh, called the Future Investment Initiative.
They include the CEO of Uber, a company in which Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars; billionaire Richard Branson; JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon; and Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford.
Trump previously warned of "severe punishment" for the kingdom if it was found to be involved in Khashoggi's disappearance, which has spooked investors in Saudi Arabia and SoftBank, a Japanese firm that manages tens of billions of dollars for the kingdom.
Trump's warning drew an angry response Sunday from Saudi Arabia and its state-linked media, including a suggestion that Riyadh could wield its oil production as a weapon. The U.S. president has been after King Salman and OPEC to boost production for weeks to drive down high crude oil prices, caused in part by the coming re-imposition of oil sanctions on Iran after the U.S. withdrawal from that's country's nuclear deal with world powers.
Canberra, Oct 16 (AP/UNB) -Australia's prime minister said Tuesday that he was open to shifting the Australian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in line with President Donald Trump's decision to recognize the contested holy city as Israel's capital.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the idea was suggested to him by a former ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, who is a candidate for Morrison's conservative Liberal Party in a crucial by-election Saturday in a Sydney electorate with a large Jewish population.
Morrison said Australia remained committed to finding a two-state solution to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.
"When sensible suggestions are put forward that are consistent with your policy positioning and in this case pursuing a two-state solution, Australia should be open-minded to this and I am open-minded to this and our government is open-minded to this," Morrison told reporters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had recently spoken to Morrison and welcomed the Australian policy shift.
Morrison "informed me that he is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem. I'm very thankful to him for this," Netanyahu tweeted. "We will continue to strengthen ties" between Israel and Australia.
Morrison also announced that Australia would vote against a United Nations resolution this week to recognize the Palestinian Authority as the chair of the Group of 77 developing countries and would review the three-year-old Iran nuclear deal.
The opposition center-left Labor Party said the announcement was a desperate attempt to win the by-election in the Wentworth electorate.
When the government forced former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from office in August, he quit Parliament. If Sharma is not elected as the new lawmaker for Wentworth, the government will lose its single-seat majority in the House of Representatives.
"Foreign policy, and Australia's national interest are far too important to be played with in this fashion," Labor lawmaker Penny Wong said.
"The people of Wentworth, and all Australians, deserve a leader who puts the national interest ahead of his self-interest, and governs in the best long-term interest of the nation," she added.
The Trump administration turned its back on decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv in May.
George Browning, president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, accused the government of "aligning itself with the most erratic, reactionary and bullish U.S. foreign policy ever."
"This is an irresponsible policy that compromises the future of millions of people in the Middle East for a handful of votes in Wentworth," Browning said in a statement.
Morrison denied that the United States or the by-election had influenced his announcement.
"I have made this decision without any reference to the United States. It has not come up in any discussion I have had with the president or with officials," Morrison said.
"There has been no request, and there has been no discussion with the United States. Australia makes its decisions about its foreign policy independently. We do so in our own national interests consistent with our own beliefs and our own values," he added.
Dhaka, Oct 15 (UNB) - The minister filed the legal suit through his advocates Karanjawala and Co. a day after he released his first official statement over the alleged charges of sexual harassment on him.
Union minister MJ Akbar on Monday filed a criminal defamation case in Delhi’s Patiala House court against journalist Priya Ramani who, along with over 10 other women, had accused him of sexual harassment, PTI reported. The minister filed the legal suit through his advocates Karanjawala and Co. a day after he released his first official statement over the alleged charges of sexual harassment against him, reports The Indian Express.
The Minister of State for External Affairs has accused Ramani of “wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defaming him and has sought the issuance of notice to Ramani under section 499 (defamation) and section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 500 of the IPC provides that an accused may be awarded two years jail term or fine or both in the event of conviction.
In line with his yesterday’s statement, the complaint mentions the accusations being circulated “in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda”. It termed the allegations made by Ramani as “scandalous” and “very tone and tenor” ex-facie defamatory. It also stated that the allegations have not only damaged the minster’s goodwill and reputation in his social circle but also affected his reputation in the community and friends, family and colleagues, causing irreparable loss and tremendous distress.
In a statement released on Sunday evening, Akbar dismissed the allegations of inappropriate behaviour, sexual harassment, and molestation against him as “false and fabricated” and “spiced up by innuendo and malice”. “Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge,” he said in the statement.
Talking about Ramani, his colleague in the Asian Age where he was a senior editor, Akbar stated an article written by her last year where she had mentioned the incident but had not named him. He said that Ramani had not named him earlier “as she knew it was an incorrect story”. He recalled that when Ramani was recently asked “why she had not named me”, she had tweeted: “Never named him because he didn’t ‘do’ anything.”
Ramani was the first woman who had alleged the charges of sexual harassment on Akbar. In a tweet on October 8, she had revealed that an article she had written last year about an editor inviting her to his hotel room for a job interview and asking her to sit on the bed with him, was Akbar. Ramani, formerly of India Today, The Indian Express, and Mint, went on to join Akbar’s team at the Asian Age. Several other women journalists who had worked with Akbar followed with similar accounts, and some of them spoke to The Indian Express about their experiences.
Quneitra, Oct 15 (AP/UNB) — A vital border crossing between Jordan and Syria reopened on Monday for the first time in three years, promising to restore trade and movement between the two countries that had halted because of the war. Another crossing, between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, also reopened for U.N. observers who had left the area four years ago because of fighting there.
The reopening of the crossings is a major boost to the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, restoring a commercial lifeline to the outside world. It also reinforces the Syrian government's message that it is slowly emerging victorious from the seven-year conflict.
"The general mutual interest that these crossings create between the people is what lasts and therefore we look at this broadly," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said of the reopenings Monday.
Al-Muallem's Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, underscored the need to boost relations between the two neighbors and said Syria must find its way back to the Arab fold. The two spoke at a joint press conference in Damascus.
"No one can marginalize Syria, and I raised the necessity of (Syria's) return to the Arab League," al-Jaafari said.
The 22-member Arab League froze Syria's membership after the civil war erupted in 2011, followed by sanctions and the severing of diplomatic ties between the League and Damascus.
Nearly 450,000 Syrians have been killed in the war, and the country has been devastated by the violence that drew the involvement of foreign militaries of regional and international powers, as well as foreign militias and militants.
With crucial military assistance from Russia and Iran, the Syrian military has clawed its way back and recaptured key territory, including major cities, from the Syrian opposition in the past two years.
On Monday, the Syrian flag was raised at the Quneitra crossing between Syria and the Israeli-held Golan at a ceremony Monday.
U.N. observers and local notables from the Druze community, the predominant population in the area, gathered near the crossing. The U.N. observers had left the Quneitra crossing in 2014 for the first time since deploying there in 1974 to monitor a cease-fire and a demilitarized zone. Israel occupied the Golan Heights in 1967.
"It is a day of victory," Youssef Jarbou, a Druze leader, told the Syrian Al-Ikhbariya TV from Quneitra.
Syrian forces recaptured the Quneitra area in July. Russian military police deployed in the area, including on the edge of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, setting up checkpoints in the area. Moscow said it planned to work closely with the U.N. force.
Meanwhile, at the Naseeb crossing between Syria and Jordan, dozens of private cars lined up to cross from Jordan. Security personnel and dogs searched the vehicles.
"Today is a feast, a feast for the whole Arab and Islamic nations and for the whole World, this crossing is vital for the whole Arab countries," said Mohammed Khalil, the first Syrian in line waiting to cross back into his country.
Naseeb's reopening would bring major financial relief to Assad's government by restoring a much-needed gateway for Syrian exports to Arab countries. The resumption of commercial trade through the crossing will also be a diplomatic victory for Assad, whose government has been isolated from its Arab neighbors since the war began in 2011.
Arab countries have boycotted the Syrian government since the early days of the war, freezing its membership in the 22-member state Arab League.
"The Naseeb crossing is a vital lifeline for trade between the two brotherly countries Jordan and Syria through them to other Arab countries," Jordan government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat said.
Syrian rebels seized the crossing in 2015, disrupting a major trade route between Syria and Jordan, Lebanon and oil-rich Gulf countries.
Syrian government troops recaptured it in July, after rebels reached an agreement with Russian mediators to end the violence in the southern province of Daraa and surrender the crossing.
The crossing is also vital for Syria's neighbor Lebanon, providing its agricultural products a route to foreign markets.
The recapture of Naseeb marked a major victory for Assad's forces, which have been on a winning streak since 2015 when Russia threw its military weight behind Damascus. The victory in southern Syria signaled the return of his forces to Daraa province where the uprising against him began seven years ago.