Dhaka, Sept 16 (UNB) - The UK is not prepared to postpone Brexit beyond the current 31 October deadline, Boris Johnson is to tell European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at talks on Monday, reports BBC.
The lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg will be the first time the pair have met since the PM took office in July.
A Downing Street source says Mr Johnson will stress he wants to secure a deal by 18 October, after a key EU summit.
But if not possible he will "reject any delay offered" and leave with no deal.
The source said Mr Johnson "would make clear that he would not countenance any more delays".
They added: "Any further extension would be a huge mistake. It is not just a question of the extra dither and delay - it is also the additional long months of rancour and division, and all at huge expense."
The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will also attend the meeting in Luxembourg, while Mr Johnson will be accompanied by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and Downing Street's Brexit representative David Frost.
Interviewed on Sky News on Sunday, Mr Barclay said a "landing zone" for an agreement was in sight and a "huge amount has been happening behind the scenes". And Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC the "entire machinery of government" was focused on getting a deal.
The prime minister has also said he is "cautiously optimistic" a Brexit deal can be reached, although Mr Barnier said last week there were no "reasons to be optimistic".
MPs have passed a law that would force the prime minister to ask the EU for an extension to the 31 October deadline if a deal was not agreed by 19 October.
Writing in Monday's Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said a large number of MPs were "simply trying to crush Brexit". He said he believes he can strike a deal with the EU within weeks and was working "flat out to achieve one".
"If we can make enough progress in the next few days, I intend to go to that crucial summit... and finalise an agreement that will protect the interests of business and citizens on both sides of the channel, and on both sides of the border in Ireland," Mr Johnson said.
The prime minister had told the Mail on Sunday that the UK would break out of its "manacles" like cartoon character The Incredible Hulk, in order to leave the EU on 31 October, even without a deal.
But he told the paper a deal was possible, adding: "We will get there... I will be talking to Jean-Claude about how we're going to do it. I'm very confident."
Reports suggest Mr Johnson and his team are considering a plan to keep Northern Ireland more closely aligned to the EU after Brexit, which they hoped would remove the need for the Irish backstop - the policy in the existing withdrawal agreement to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland.
This is despite the Democratic Unionist Party - which supports the Conservatives in Parliament - having rejected any plan that would see Northern Ireland treated differently to the rest of the UK.
Mr Johnson, who recently held talks with the leaders of Germany, France and Ireland, told the Mail on Sunday "there's a very, very good conversation going on about how to address the issues of the Northern Irish border".
"When I got this job everybody was saying there can be absolutely no change to the withdrawal agreement... They have already moved off that."
However, Mr Juncker told German radio on Sunday that he was not sure there was an alternative to the backstop.
He said that no "patriotic" British person would wish for a no-deal Brexit because it would leave the country in a "mess" and warned that time was running out.
And, in an update to the European Parliament last week, Mr Barnier said that while "the UK has shown a desire to intensify contacts... we will see in the coming weeks if the UK are able to give us concrete proposals in writing, which are legally operable".
New York, Sept 16 (UNB) - An attack on Saudi Arabia's largest oil processing plant pushed crude prices sharply higher Monday, though its longer-term impact depends on how long production is disrupted and the attack's future implications.
U.S. crude oil jumped $5.61 per barrel, or 10.2%, to $60.46 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, surged $7.84 per barrel, or 13%, to $68.06 per barrel.
Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack on the Saudi Aramco facility. It halted production of 5.7 million barrels of crude a day, more than half of Saudi Arabia's global daily exports and more than 5% of the world's daily crude oil production. Most output goes to Asia.
"To take Saudi oil production down 50%, that's shocking," said Jonathan Aronson, a research analyst at Cornerstone Macro.
The attack may add to anxiety about the stability of the world's oil reserves. "Saudi Arabia has been a very reliable supplier of oil in the world," said Jim Burkhard, who heads crude oil research for IHS Markit. This attack is "adding a geopolitical premium back into the price of oil." That means oil prices would rise because of worries about more unrest hurting supply. Higher oil prices tend to hurt the economy as consumer costs rise.
Work is under way to restore production at the Abquaiq plant. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Saudi officials said a third of crude output will be restored Monday, but bringing the entire plant back online may take weeks. Officials said they would use other facilities and existing stocks to supplant the plant's production.
The world's richest countries have oil reserves of more than 2 billion barrels, but releasing those to alleviate supply concerns could potentially backfire and result in higher prices on the market as traders worry that there is a problem with tight supply, he said.
While the U.S. has a cushion because it and Canada both produce plenty, leaving the U.S. less reliant on oil from the Middle East, it's still a global market. "If you take oil anywhere out of system it affects everybody," said Burkhard.
Still, the situation is better today than it would have been a decade ago, prior to the U.S. energy boom.
If the plant goes back online and there is no fundamental change to the world's supply of oil, prices may move higher and stay higher because traders would build in a "security premium," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research.
There would be worries that the global oil supply is more insecure and that more attacks may be coming. And in a world already concerned about supply, the impact of another attack could mean a sharp effect on prices, said Kevin Book, managing director of Clearview Energy Partners. "It's almost like an open season for a big attack."
The attack on its oil infrastructure could lead Saudi Arabia to launch a military strike on Iran in retaliation, Book said. Countries attacking each other's oil facilities and fields is a "prescription for a high oil price." He argues that the attack on Saudi Arabia will help world markets finally recognize the repercussions of the unraveling of the Iran nuclear deal, from which President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. in 2018, imposing harsh sanctions on Iran, including its oil industry.
Dubai, Sep 15 (AP/UNB) — A weekend drone attack on Saudi Arabia that cut into global energy supplies and halved the kingdom's oil production threatened Sunday to fuel a regional crisis, as Iran denied U.S. allegations it launched the assault and tensions remained high over Tehran's collapsing nuclear deal. Satellite photos examined by The Associated Press suggested damage at the heart of the kingdom's crucial oil processing facility.
Iran called the U.S. claims "maximum lies," while a commander in its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard reiterated its forces could strike U.S. military bases across the Mideast with their arsenal of ballistic missiles. A prominent U.S. senator suggested striking Iranian oil refineries in response to the assault, claimed by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, on Saudi Arabia's largest oil processing facility.
"Because of the tension and sensitive situation, our region is like a powder keg," warned Guard Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh. "When these contacts come too close, when forces come into contact with one another, it is possible a conflict happens because of a misunderstanding."
Actions on any side could break into the open a twilight war that's been raging just below the surface of the wider Persian Gulf in recent months. Already, there have been mysterious attacks on oil tankers that America blames on Tehran, at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shiite forces in Iraq, and Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone.
The attack Saturday on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq plant and its Khurais oil field led to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels of the kingdom's crude oil production per day, equivalent to more than 5% of the world's daily supply. It remains unclear how King Salman and his assertive son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will respond to an attack targeting the heart of the Saudi oil industry.
There was no immediate impact on global oil prices from the attacks as markets were closed for the weekend, but analysts anticipate a spike in oil prices when markets reopen Monday. Saudi Arabia has promised to fill in the cut in production with its reserves, but has not said how long it will take to repair the damage.
Images from the European Commission's Sentinel-2 satellite examined by the AP showed black char marks at the heart of the Abqaiq plant on Sunday, marks not seen over the prior month. The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in August identified the area with the char marks as the plant's stabilization area. The center said the area includes "storage tanks and processing and compressor trains — which greatly increases the likelihood of a strike successfully disrupting or destroying its operations."
The state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco, which the kingdom hopes to offer a sliver of in a public stock offering, did not respond to a request for comment.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly blamed Iran for the Saudi attack on Twitter, without offering evidence to support his claim.
"Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply," Pompeo wrote late Saturday. "There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen."
The U.S., Western nations, their Gulf Arab allies and U.N. experts say Iran supplies the Houthis with weapons and drones — a charge that Tehran denies.
U.S. officials previously alleged at least one recent drone attack on Saudi Arabia came from Iraq, where Iran backs Shiite militias. Those militias in recent weeks have been targeted themselves by mysterious airstrikes, with at least one believed to have been carried out by Israel.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Sunday dismissed Pompeo's remarks as "blind and futile comments."
"The Americans adopted the 'maximum pressure' policy against Iran, which, due to its failure, is leaning toward 'maximum lies,'" Mousavi said in a statement.
Separately, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi's office issued a statement on Sunday denying the drone attack came from there. Iraq "abides by its constitution that prevents the use of its lands to launch aggressions against neighboring countries," the statement said.
Oil-rich Kuwait also said it would increase security around the country's "vital sites" over the attacks.
Houthi leader Muhammad al-Bukhaiti reiterated his group's claim of responsibility, telling The Associated Press on Sunday it exploited "vulnerabilities" in Saudi air defenses to strike the targets. He did not elaborate.
Iran, meanwhile, kept up its own threats.
Hajizadeh, the Guard brigadier general who leads the country's aerospace program, gave an interview published across Iranian media on Sunday that discussed Iran's downing of a U.S. drone in July. He said Guard forces were ready for a counterattack if America responded, naming the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar and Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates as immediate targets, as well as U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.
"Wherever they are, it only takes one spark and we hit their vessels, their air bases, their troops," he said in a video published online with English subtitles.
It wasn't just Iran making threats. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican close to President Donald Trump, suggested retaliatory strikes targeting Iran.
"Iran will not stop their misbehavior until the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime's back," Graham wrote on Twitter.
All this comes before the United Nations General Assembly, which will draw world leaders to New York in a little over a week. There's been speculation of a potential meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the summit's sidelines, possibly in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions the American leader imposed on Tehran after unilaterally withdrawing from the nuclear accord over a year ago.
If Iran had a hand in Saturday's attack, it could be to bolster their position ahead of any talks, analysts say.
"The main point for Iran, in my opinion, is not necessarily to derail a meeting between Trump and Rouhani but to increase its leverage ahead of it," said Michael Horowitz, the head of intelligence at the Bahrain-based risk management firm Le Beck International. "By carrying out such a major attack, Iran wants to send the message that the only way to decrease tensions is to comply with its demands regarding sanctions relief."
However, he warned there could be a danger of Iran "overplaying" its hand.
"There will be no political benefit for Trump in a meeting with Rouhani if this meeting sends the message that the U.S. simply surrendered to Iranian demands," he said.
Before Saturdays, attack, benchmark Brent crude had been trading at just above $60 a barrel, but analysts anticipated a spike in oil prices when markets reopen Monday.
Hong Kong, Sep 15 (AP/UNB) — Police fired chemical-laced blue water and tear gas at protesters who lobbed Molotov cocktails outside the Hong Kong government office complex Sunday, as violence flared anew after thousands of pro-democracy supporters marched through downtown in defiance of a police ban.
A mixed crowd of hardcore protesters in black and wearing masks, along with families with children, spilled into the roads of the Causeway Bay shopping belt and marched for over 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) to the central business district. Some waved U.S. and British flags, while others carried posters reiterating their calls for democratic reforms.
Police had turned down a request by the Civil Human Rights Front to hold the march, but the demonstrators were undeterred, as they've been all summer.
"I feel this is our duty. The government wants to block us with the ban, but I want to say that the people will not be afraid," said one protester, Winnie Leung, 50.
The march disrupted traffic, and many shops, including the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay, one of Hong Kong's largest department stores, closed their doors.
Protesters burned Chinese flags and tore down banners congratulating China's ruling Communist Party, which will celebrate its 70th year in power on Oct. 1. In familiar scenes, some protesters smashed glass windows and surveillance cameras at a subway station exit.
Hundreds of protesters later targeted the government office complex, throwing bricks and gasoline bombs through police barriers. Police responded by firing volleys of tear gas and using water cannon trucks to spray chemical-laced water as well as blue liquid that helped them identify offenders, in a repeat of confrontational scenes from the last several weeks of the protests.
Protesters retreated but regrouped in the nearby Wan Chai neighborhood, setting fires outside a subway station exit and on the streets. They fled again after riot police advanced and the cat-and-mouse battles went on for a few hours before calm returned.
Police fired tear gas again later in the nearby North Point area after protesters obstructed traffic after brawling there earlier with pro-government supporters.
Hospital authorities said eight people were injured throughout the day, including three in serious condition.
The protests were triggered in June by an extradition bill that many saw as an example of China's increasing intrusion and at chipping away at Hong Kong residents' freedoms and rights, many of which are not accorded to people in mainland China.
Hong Kong's government promised this month to withdraw the bill, which would have allowed some criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial, but protesters have widened their demands to include direct elections for the city's leaders and police accountability.
More than 1,300 people have been arrested amid increasing clashes between protesters and police, who demonstrators have accused of abuses.
The unrest has battered Hong Kong's economy, which was already reeling from the U.S.-China trade war. It is also seen as an embarrassment to Beijing, which has accused foreign powers of fomenting the unrest.
Earlier Sunday, hundreds of protesters waved British flags, sang "God Save the Queen" and chanted "UK save Hong Kong" outside the British Consulate as they stepped up calls for international support for their campaign.
With banners declaring "one country, two systems is dead," they repeated calls for Hong Kong's former colonial ruler to ensure the city's autonomy is upheld under agreements made when Britain ceded power to China in 1997.
Demonstrators held similar rallies Sept. 1 at the British Consulate and last weekend at the U.S. Consulate.
On Saturday, pro-democracy protesters and supporters of the central government in Beijing clashed at a Hong Kong shopping mall and several public places. Police arrested more than a dozen people and hospital authorities said 25 were injured.
The clashes amid the mid-autumn festival holiday came after several nights of peaceful rallies that featured protesters belting out a new protest song in mass singing at shopping malls. Thousands of people also carried lanterns with pro-democracy messages in public areas and formed illuminated human chains on two of the city's peaks on Friday night to mark the major Chinese festival.
Des Moines, Sep 15 (AP/UNB) — Pete Buttigieg would like to turn the fight for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination into a contest about generational change. But there's one looming problem: He has yet to win over his own.
His lack of any ample base of support, even among his fellow millennials, is a central challenge of the 37-year-old's long shot bid to rise from mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to the nation's highest office. He plays well across a broad spectrum of Democratic voters, but in small fragments that have left him an intriguing candidate stuck in single digits in national polls.
"You can put groups of candidates into corners. What corner do you put Pete Buttigieg in?" said J. Ann Selzer, longtime director of the Iowa Poll, produced by The Des Moines Register and its partners. "I think that the combination of characteristics that most define Buttigieg fit him rather uniquely. He appears to be a cluster of one."
As such, he needs to try to leverage that kind of appeal into votes against a field where candidates with clearer ideological positions, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have more natural core constituencies.
There was hope for Buttigeig in a Register poll in June that showed his overall viability footprint — measuring Iowans listing him as their first or second choice, or merely considering him — closely trailed the survey's top choices: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sanders and Warren.
Biden does better among older voters; Sanders and Warren do better among younger ones. There is no consistent deviation among age groups for Buttigieg, Selzer said.
During Thursday's presidential debate in Houston, Buttigieg tried to make a virtue of his youth while playing the adult in the room when his rivals bickered on stage.
"This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable," he said after Biden landed a verbal jab during a tense back-and-forth with Julian Castro, housing secretary under President Barack Obama. "This reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington, scoring points against each other, poking at each other."
Castro shot back: "That's called the Democratic primary election, Pete. That's called an election."
So far, there is no indication that Buttigieg's next-generation appeal has liftoff. His early summer national buzz, largely the product of his raising a stunning $25 million in the second quarter, gave him plausibility. He enters the autumn stretch to the February caucuses with as robust an Iowa campaign as almost any of his top tier rivals, with more than 100 staff, plans for 20 offices and an aggressive outreach system.
He does so with his sights squarely fixed on capturing that enduring ideal for Democratic primary voters, a next-generation prophet looking deep into the future, like virtually every winning Democratic nominee going back 60 years.
"If you look at the history of successful Democratic nominees, they tend to be younger, they tend to be from outside," David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama said, referring to Obama and Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. "The question is whether the overhang of Donald Trump creates a different environment where people are risk-averse and reaching for comfort and stability."
Buttigieg's debate moment recalled his increasingly pointed criticism of the Washington establishment during his summer blitz through Iowa.
At a town hall-style event in August, he told a 13-year-old girl who was troubled by school shootings that it is "a failure of the generation that's in charge."
It's "one of the reasons I'm not waiting my turn," the candidate said, drawing applause from the generationally mixed group.
Buttigieg came of age in the mass shooting era and serving in the country's first post-9/11 war, but there's no conclusive evidence that he is resonating more with younger voters.
At the same time, Buttigieg doesn't register the variances in support from different age groups that the older candidates do. A July poll by the Pew Research Center found that just 7% of Democratic primary voters nationally under the age of 30 supported Biden, compared with 41% of voters 65 and older. Sanders, on the other hand, drew 24% of his support from the younger group and just 4% from the older segment.
Advisers say that Buttigieg's balanced draw from all age groups in the Pew poll echoes their internal findings in early-voting states, and it manifests in Selzer's most recent poll. It reflects his attractiveness to that enduring bloc of the Democratic presidential electorate that has sought a break from the past.
Still, that polling collectively has yet to show support that would propel him into the upper tier of the 2020 pack.
That's not to say young adults with children and college students weren't drawn to the sense of urgency Buttigieg brought to talk of climate change or gun violence out during his summer swing in Iowa, or older voters to his policy understanding and mild temperament.
"It's not just that he's younger. It's his intellect and his vision at a time when the world is looking to new leadership," Elizabeth Sauer, a retired high school teacher, said at an event with Buttigieg in Cedar Rapids this month. She was referring to younger Western world leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Buttigieg, in an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week," said he thinks the perspective he brings "needs to be at the table right now at a time when around the world we're seeing more and more elected leaders from France to New Zealand to El Salvador coming from my generation."
There's been little reliable public polling in Iowa since Buttigieg broke through in July with his $25 million fundraising for the second Quarter. But evidence suggests opportunity for Buttigieg, who had risen to fourth behind the three older candidates in the Register's June poll.
Since that poll, Buttigieg reported the prodigious level of contributions, sent 100 staffers across Iowa, began spending $350,000 on digital advertising — some aimed at younger voters on the music app Spotify — and undertook an intricate peer-to-peer contact program in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Given his support across age groups, the personal outreach could yield the advantage of adding first-time caucus participants to the mix, which has proved pivotal in past competitive caucuses.
Obama won the 2008 caucuses, having trailed better known candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards throughout the months leading up, by attracting a heavy influx of first time participants.
"A candidate who attracts niches needs to attract a number of them_like the Obama coalition," Selzer said. "It was not sufficient to draw large portions of younger voters, or minority voters, or women for that matter. He had to have them all for it to turn into a win."