London, Oct 12 (AP/UNB) — British and European Union negotiators plan to work through the weekend to see if they can agree a Brexit deal in time for next week's summit of EU leaders.
The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, approved an intensification of the discussions after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar, said they could see a "pathway" forward following talks on Thursday.
European Council President Donald Tusk said Friday he could see the talks in Brussels going through the weekend, ahead of the EU summit, which starts Thursday.
The main stumbling block remains the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, the United Kingdom's only land border with the EU. It has dominated talks ever since U.K. voters chose in 2016 to leave the EU.
Kyiv, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — Russian President Vladimir Putin lamented Friday the inability of his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to ensure a pullback of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine as the first step toward peace settlement.
Putin's remarks on Friday came a week after Ukraine, along with Russia and separatists in eastern Ukraine, signed an accord to pull back heavy weaponry and to hold an election in the area at a later date.
The pullback has not occurred because of shelling from both sides and threats from Ukrainian hardliners to hamper the disengagement, prompting Zelenskiy to argue that there won't be one so long as there are those who "don't want the disengagement" and "do random shooting."
Russia has said the pullback needs to take place before a summit scheduled for this month between Putin, Zelenskiy, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Russia has vehemently denied its role in funding, arming and training the rebels, insisting that Kyiv faces a civil war.
Several opposition parties and far-right groups have opposed Zelenskiy's commitment to pull back weaponry in two locations near the separatist-held areas as well as his promise to support a local election, saying he's giving away too much.
Putin said that Russia is supportive of the initiatives to bring peace to the separatist-held eastern Ukraine where 13,000 people have died since 2014 but said it is up to Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian establishment to see through the accords.
"We've agreed on the pullback of the forces but the current president still can't ensure the pullback," Putin said at a meeting in Turkmenistan. "He just can't."
Zelenskiy scored a major political victory last month when he successfully negotiated with Putin a major prisoner exchange, which saw 70 people — some of whom were imprisoned for several years — return home in Ukraine and Russia, respectively.
Zelenskiy, who was a successful comedian and entertainment producer before he won the election by a landslide in April, made it his top priority to bring an end to the war in Ukraine's industrial heartland.
Far-right groups are planning to stage a major rally in the capital Kyiv on Monday against Zelenskiy's peace plan.
Speaking at a military awards ceremony in Odessa on Friday, Zelenskiy said he works "24 hours a day" to bring about peace but insisted that he stands firm on Ukraine's commitment to hold a local election in eastern Ukraine as long as the vote is held under the Ukrainian law and in the presence of international observers.
Kyiv's Joint Forces' Operation in the east said Friday that their positions have come under repeated shelling in the past 24 hours.
In Donetsk, separatist commander Ruslan Yakubov told the DAN News website that the rebel forces were ready for the pullback but did not go ahead because Kyiv did not indicate its readiness.
London, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — Police in northwestern England say a man held in connection with a series of stabbings at a shopping center has been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of an act of terrorism.
Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said authorities do not know the motive for Friday's attack, but "it appears random, is certainly brutal and of course, extremely frightening for anyone who witnessed it."
Jackson said several people were injured.
Police say the man entered the Arndale shopping center in Manchester at 11:15 a.m. armed with a large knife. Two unarmed police officers confronted him, and he chased the officers as they called for urgent assistance.
Counterterror police are leading an investigation into a stabbing incident that injured four people at a shopping center in northwestern England.
Greater Manchester Police said a man in his 40s was been arrested on suspicion of serious assault. No deaths were reported from the incident at the center in central Manchester on Friday.
The police force said investigators "are keeping an open mind about the motivation of this terrible incident and the circumstances as we know them."
It added: "Given the location of the incident and its nature, officers from Counter Terrorism Police North West are leading the investigation as we determine the circumstances."
Police initially reported five people injured but later reduced the number. Two women and a man were hospitalized. Paramedics assessed the fourth person, who wasn't stabbed and didn't go to the hospital.
Authorities in Manchester say they have arrested one man over a stabbing incident at a shopping center that left four people injured.
Police say no fatalities have been reported from the attack in the northwestern English city,
Greater Manchester Police say a man in his 40s has been arrested on suspicion of serious assault. He had been taken into custody.
The North West Ambulance Service says that it treated four people in a stabbing after being called to the Arndale shopping center at 11.17 a.m. Friday.
Moscow, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — Alexei Leonov, the legendary Soviet cosmonaut who became the first human to walk in space 54 years ago — and nearly didn't make it back into his capsule — has died in Moscow. He was 85.
Russian space agency Roscosmos made the announcement on its website on Friday, without providing a cause for his death. Russian media earlier reported that Leonov had had health issues for several years.
NASA broke into its live televised coverage of a spacewalk by two Americans outside the International Space Station to report Leonov's death.
"A tribute to Leonov as today is a spacewalk," Mission Control in Houston said.
Leonov was born in 1934 in a large peasant family in western Siberia. Like countless Soviet peasants, his father was arrested and shipped off to Gulag prison camps under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin but he managed to survive and reunite with his family
The future cosmonaut had a strong artistic bent and even thought about going to art school before he enrolled in a pilot training course and, later, an aviation college. Leonov did not give up sketching even when he flew into space, and took colored pencils with him on the Apollo-Soyuz flight in 1975 to draw.
That mission was the first one between the Soviet Union and the United States and was carried out at the height of the Cold War. Apollo-Soyuz 19 was a prelude to the international cooperation seen aboard the current space station.
But where Leonov staked his place in space history was on March 18, 1965, when he exited his Voskhod 2 capsule secured by a tether.
Spacewalking always carries a high risk but Leonov's pioneering venture was particularly nerve-wracking, according to details of the exploit that only became public decades later.
His spacesuit had inflated so much in the vacuum of space that he could not get back into the spacecraft. He had to open a valve to vent oxygen from his suit to be able to fit through the hatch.
Leonov's 12-minute spacewalk preceded the first U.S. spacewalk, by Ed White, by less than three months.
On his second trip to space ten years later, Leonov commanded the Soviet half of Apollo-Soyuz 19.
The cosmonaut was well known for his humor. Once the U.S. Apollo and Soviet Soyuz capsules docked in orbit around Earth in July, 17, 1975, Leonov and his Russian crewmate, Valeri Kubasov, welcomed the three U.S. astronauts — their Cold War rivals — with canned borscht disguised as Stolichnaya vodka.
"When we sat at the table, they said: 'why, that's not possible'," Leonov recalled in 2005. "We insisted, saying that according to our tradition we must drink before work. That worked, they opened it and drank (the borscht) and were caught by surprise."
The cosmonaut turned 85 in May. Several days before that, two Russian crewmembers on the International Space Station ventured into open space on a planned spacewalk, carrying Leonov's picture with them to pay tribute to the space legend. They said "Happy birthday!" to Leonov before opening the hatch and venturing out.
Leonov's modern-day successor, Oleg Kononenko, who was one of the two Russians on that spacewalk, told Rossiya-24 television on Friday that Leonov tuned in to hear their congratulations from space.
"We were going to stop by Alexei Arkhipovich (Leonov) after our return and give him our space souvenirs, but you see it wasn't meant to be," Kononenko said. His crew returned to earth at the end of June when Leonov was already unwell.
Kononenko spoke fondly of the Soviet space pioneer, saying that he was a frequent guest at send-off ceremonies for space crews in Star City and at the cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
"We had this tradition that he would give cosmonauts pep talks before they board the spacecraft," Kononenko said. "We all looked forward to that, always thought about it and always wanted Leonov to be the one to send us off into space."
Leonov — described by the Russian Space Agency as Cosmonaut No. 11 — was an icon both in his country as well as in the U.S. He was such a legend that the late science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke named a Soviet spaceship after him in his "2010" sequel to "2001: A Space Odyssey."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday relayed the Russian president's condolences for Leonov's family saying that Vladimir Putin and the cosmonaut knew each other well and often saw each other.
"Putin always admired Leonov's courage and thought he was an extraordinary man," Peskov told Russian news agencies.
Messages of condolences poured from around the globe.
NASA on Friday offered sympathy to Leonov's family, saying it was saddened by his death.
"His venture into the vacuum of space began the history of extravehicular activity that makes today's Space Station maintenance possible," NASA said on Twitter.
Leonov, who will be buried on Tuesday at a military memorial cemetery outside Moscow, is survived by his wife, a daughter and two grandchildren.
Brussels, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — The pound has surged to its highest level in nearly a month as hopes rise of a Brexit deal between Britain and the European Union.
By mid-morning on Friday, the currency was up 0.8% on the day to $1.2537. The advance follow's one of the sharpest one-day rises this year on Thursday after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar, indicated there was a "pathway" to a Brexit deal.
Johnson has insisted that Britain will leave the EU at the end of the month on the scheduled Brexit date of Oct. 31 regardless of whether there is a deal or not. Fears that the country would crash out of the EU without a deal has weighed heavily on the pound in recent weeks.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, urged caution, saying the rally "looks very exposed to any negative — that is, realistic — news on Brexit in the next few days."
European Union Council chief Donald Tusk says that he has "received promising signals" from Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar that a Brexit deal is still possible and he has extended a deadline to continue talks with the United Kingdom.
Tusk, speaking in Nicosia, said "for the first time" Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw a pathway toward a divorce deal for Britain's departure from the European Union. He said that "even the slightest chance must be used" to get a deal.
Originally, Tusk said he was planning to pull the plug on talks Friday, but because of the breakthrough he can now see talks going through the weekend. The EU has a two-day summit starting next Thursday.
Tusk said "there is no guarantee of success and the time is practically up" but insisted both sides should use every opportunity available ahead of Britain's scheduled Oct. 31 departure date.
France says a chaotic no-deal Brexit remains the most likely outcome despite the positive vibes emanating from a meeting Thursday of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar.
France's European affairs minister, Amelie de Montchalin, said early Friday that a no-deal Brexit "is probable, at this stage."
De Montchalin said in an interview with France Inter radio that even Britain's scheduled departure date of Oct. 31 remains realistic since she does not see an obvious reason to grant a further extension to the U.K.
"I have a fundamental question: why give more time. If it is time for the sake of time? It has taken one year, even three years, and we don't really get it," she said.
The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier is currently meeting with Britain's Brexit minister Stephen Barclay in Brussels.
The European Union and the United Kingdom are entering into fresh talks after a meeting between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar raised hopes a Brexit breakthrough might be looming.
Johnson's Brexit envoy, Stephen Barclay, drove into EU headquarters for a Friday breakfast meeting with Michel Barnier at which he is expected to brief the EU negotiator on what, if any, fundamental breakthrough has been made.
Johnson said that there was a "pathway" to a belated deal to stave off a chaotic and costly no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31, while Varadkar said the meeting was "very positive."
The main stumbling block remains how the U.K.'s only land border, between Britain and Ireland, is dealt with.