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19 September, 2014

21:42

Op against ISIS ‘illegal’ unless UNSC approves – Churkin

Any international anti-terrorist operation against the Islamic State (IS) needs consent from the governments whose countries are targeted, or the UN Security Council’s approval, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said at the Security Council meeting on Friday. “All other options will be regarded as illegal and undermining international and regional stability,” Churkin said. Dictating ready-made solutions will not work in Iraq or Syria, the Russian diplomat added. The framework of the political process needs “to be agreed by the Iraqis themselves, because they are responsible for the future of their country,” he said. “We are extremely concerned over the voiced intentions to strike ISIS positions in Syria without any discussions with the national government in Damascus.” The statement comes as the US – which has been launching airstrikes to hit ISIS targets in Iraq – looks to expand its military operation to Syria, without Syrian President Bashar Assad’s consent.

18:10

Russia’s Foreign Minister accepts new US ambassador

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accepted the new American Ambassador to Russia John Tefft. The two discussed "pressing issues on international and bilateral agenda of relations between Russia and the United States in the context of Tefft's prospects on his new post", according to the statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

17:21

Germany, France set to begin joint airlift to Ebola-hit countries

Germany and France are to start joint airlifts to Ebola-affected countries. The operation is set to begin within 48 hours, according to the German defense ministry. German armed forces have agreed to send up to 100 soldiers to a joint base in Dakar. Two German military planes will drop over 100 tons of supplies to countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the spokesman.

17:02

Iran and P5+1 back to nuclear talks

Iran and the group of six world powers have come back to negotiating Tehran’s nuclear program, with two months left to reach an agreement. It’s the first meeting since July between Iran and the so-called P5+1: the UK, China, Russia, France, the US, plus Germany. The deadline for reaching a solution was put off to November 24. No major breakthroughs are expected at the negotiations, AFP reported. One US official told the agency, “It’s tough, very tough”, referring to the progress of the talks.

15:09

Egypt man to plead guilty over 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya, Tanzania

An Egyptian man, Adel Abdul Bary, said on Friday he would plead guilty in New York to charges connected with the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Reuters reported. Bary, 54, said in court he would plead guilty to making a threat to use an explosive device and conspiracy to murder Americans. The plea comes two months before he was set to face trial in a federal court alongside two co-defendants, Libyan Anas al-Liby and Saudi Khalid al-Fawwaz. The bombings killed 224 people. Bary and Fawwaz helped disseminate statements of responsibility for the group, according to an earlier criminal indictment.

14:51

Russia proposes appointing special UN chief envoy for MH17 crash probe

Russia proposes that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon looks at the possibility of appointing a UN special envoy for the MH17 crash probe. Russian Permanent Representative at the UN, Vitaly Churkin, also said on Friday at a UN Security Council meeting that a special mission should be sent to the crash site in eastern Ukraine in collaboration with the OSCE, ITAR-TASS reported. Churkin also urged Western states to publish information they have on the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

14:30

France’s Sarkozy announces return to politics

France’s former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, announced his return to politics on Friday, saying he would seek the leadership of the opposition UMP party. The move would position him for a 2017 presidential bid, Reuters said. “I am a candidate for the presidency of my political family,” he said on his Facebook page. He promised to reform it “from top to bottom so as to create, within three months, the basis of a new and broad movement.”

13:37

224 victims of MH17 crash identified – reports

Experts have identified 224 victims of the MH17 flight crash in Ukraine, RIA Novosti said, citing a Ukrainian agency UNN report. “Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Thursday that the Dutch forensic experts had identified the remains of 224 victims of the plane crash,” according to the report. Specialists are working on identifying another 74 victims, the minister said, adding that five Malaysians were among the recently identified victims. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

12:45

PM Davutoglu says Turkey opens border to thousands of Syrian Kurds

Turkey on Friday opened up its border to thousands of Syrian Kurds fleeing clashes with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) insurgents in neighboring Syria, AFP reported. “We will take in our brothers fleeing to Anatolia from Syria or any other place without any ethnic or sectarian discrimination,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Azerbaijan. Some 4,000 people have already crossed the border, he said, promising that the refugees’ needs will be met. Television footage showed mostly women and children crossing to the Turkish side of the border in the southeastern village of Dikmetas.

12:17

Georgia prosecutors confiscate ex-President Saakashvili’s property - reports

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has reportedly confiscated property belonging to former President Mikhail Saakashvili, his wife and some relatives. The property includes land plots, a house and cars. In August, prosecutors launched a procedure to put Saakashvili, who lives abroad, on the international wanted list. He is accused of abuse of office and embezzlement of state funds to the tune of $5 million in the period from 2009 to 2012, ITAR-TASS reported.

11:35

Islamic State militants create police force in northwest Iraq

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants have created a police force in Iraq’s northwest Nineveh province to “implement the orders of the religious judiciary,” Reuters said. Photos on a militant Islamist website showed armed men in black clothing in freshly painted police cars, while one photo showed militiamen on a river boat. The text said the force would be different from police forces in other states and would “maintain order and arrest culprits and the corrupt.”

10:53

French jets launch first airstrikes in Iraq

France said on Friday its jets had launched strikes inside Iraq for the first time since Paris promised to join military action against Islamic State insurgents, Reuters reported. “This morning at 9:40am (07:40 GMT) our Rafale jets launched a first strike against a logistics depot of the terrorists,” President Francois Hollande’s office said. The target in northeast Iraq was totally destroyed, according to the statement. It added that there would be further operations in the coming days.

09:21

Schools, govt offices shut down in Philippine capital due to flooding

Heavy rains caused widespread flooding on Friday in the Philippine capital and nearby provinces, AP reported. Schools and government offices were shut down, and thousands were evacuated early on Friday from severely inundated communities. At Manila airport, the rains and radar problems caused delays and the cancellation of at least 28 domestic flights to and from northern and central Philippines affected by Tropical Storm Fung-Wong.

08:39

China troops start withdrawing from India border as Xi Jinping ends visit

Chinese troops have begun pulling back from the disputed border with India, AFP quoted sources as saying on Friday. The withdrawal came as President Xi Jinping wrapped up a rare summit in New Delhi, which was overshadowed by the stand-off at the remote frontier. As Xi arrived in India on Wednesday, reports said 1,000 Chinese soldiers had allegedly entered a disputed area in the mountainous northern Ladakh region, sparking a tense face-off with Indian troops.

07:56

Russia won’t seek ‘invitation’ to coalition fighting Islamist terrorists – official

Russia does not intend to seek an “invitation” to the US-led coalition fighting terrorists of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), according to Ilya Rogachyov, director of the Department of New Challenges and Threats Issues at the Russian Foreign Ministry. However, he said that Moscow supports states fighting this group. Russia also endorses a draft resolution on combating foreign terrorist fighters proposed by Washington at the UN Security Council, Reuters reported. The resolution demands that countries “prevent and suppress” the recruitment and travel of foreign fighters to join extremist militant groups like the IS.

06:23

S. Korea navy fires warning shots after North patrol boat incursion

The South Korean navy fired warning shots Friday to end a brief incursion by a North Korean patrol boat across the sensitive maritime border, AFP reported. The patrol boat came around 900 meters inside the South’s side of the disputed Yellow Sea border shortly after midday (03:00 GMT), Seoul's Defense Ministry said. “One of our naval vessels gave a verbal warning by loudspeaker and then fired six warning rounds,” a spokesman said. The North Korean ship returned across the border minutes later. It was the first such boundary violation in four months, according to Seoul.

00:08

Canada quietly cancels sanctions against two Russian banks

Canada has canceled sanctions against two small Russian banks, Expobank and RosEnergoBank, the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird confirmed on Thursday. The sanctions were dropped quietly on Tuesday, at the same time that Canada rolled out new sanctions against Russia. After being asked why the sanctions were withdrawn at the House of Commons, Baird explained that the government received new information that influenced its decision. "They [the banks] are deemed to be sufficiently divorced from events in Ukraine and Russian aggression against Ukraine," he said, without elaborating why they were put on the sanctions list in the first place. The sanctions against the two banks were imposed earlier this year.

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