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Greek conservatives oust Tsipras in election landslide

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras admitted defeat Sunday in a general election won handily by the conservative New Democracy party after over four years in opposition, his office said.The result cuts short Tsipras’s bid to lead Greece on into the post-bailout era after presiding over its fraught rescue by international creditors at the height…

Greek conservatives oust Tsipras in election landslide

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras admitted defeat Sunday in a general election won handily by the conservative New Democracy party after over four years in opposition, his office said.The result cuts short Tsipras’s bid to lead Greece on into the post-bailout era after presiding over its fraught rescue by international creditors at the height of the European debt crisis.Leftist Tsipras called New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to congratulate him, a source in the prime minister’s office told AFP.Early results from 40 percent of polling stations showed New Democracy scoring a crushing victory by nearly 40 percent to over 31 percent for Tsipras’s leftist Syriza party.“The result has been determined… but we’ll be back,” outgoing finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos told state TV ERT.If the results are confirmed, the 51-year-old Harvard graduate and former McKinsey consultant Mitsotakis will have a majority of 158 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament. Tsipras’s party will have 86 seats.The final number will depend on how smaller parties fare. They need at least 3.0 percent of the vote to enter parliament.The contents of at least one ballot box will likely be unaccounted for, after it was stolen by suspected anarchists in Athens, police said.New arrivals fighting to secure representation are Greek Solution, a nationalist party formed by TV salesman Kyriakos Velopoulos, and MeRA25, an anti-austerity party formed by maverick economist and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.According to the exit polls, Varoufakis’s party could elect nine lawmakers.Greek Solution could end up with 10 deputies, while neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn looks likely to be shut out of parliament for the first time since 2012.Golden Dawn, until recently Greece’s third-ranking party, is in steep decline amid an ongoing trial for the 2013 murder of an anti-fascist rapper, allegedly carried out with the knowledge of senior Golden Dawn members.New Democracy was last in power in 2014, in coalition with the Greek socialists.Mitsotakis is a scion of one of Greece’s top political families.He is the son of former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, one of the country’s longest-serving parliamentarians.His sister is former minister Dora Bakoyannis, Athens’s first female mayor. And new Athens mayor Costas Bakoyannis, elected in May, is his nephew.Sunday’s election is Greece’s third in as many months, and the first held in midsummer since 1928.In May, New Democracy beat Syriza by nearly 9.5 points in European parliament elections. A week later, it completed a near-sweep of Greek regions in local elections.After that, Tsipras was forced to call an early election. His term was scheduled to end in the autumn.Greece’s youngest premier in more than a century, Tsipras had trailed in the polls for months amid widespread dissatisfaction over high taxes.In parts of the country, there was also a backlash against a controversial agreement with North Macedonia that ended a bitter 27-year dispute over the country’s name.“Greece is exiting 10 years of crisis and the new government will have the heavy task to give a chance to the country to recover completely or to sink,” 36-year-old Aphrodite told AFP, as she cast her vote in the bohemian downtown neighborhood of Exarcheia.“I hope that from tomorrow we will be able to breathe with relief. To take a deep breath, if Mitsotakis does what he promises,” added Athinodoros, a 48-year-old self-employed worker.Tsipras has accused Mitsotakis — who was part of a 2012-2014 crisis government — of “disastrous” mismanagement that brought hundreds of thousands of job losses and business failures.Mitsotakis has now pledged to create “better” jobs through growth, foreign investment and tax cuts and to “steamroll” obstacles to business.Tsipras — who reduced unemployment and raised the minimum wage for the first time since 2012 — was criticized for campaigning as an anti-austerity crusader before eventually accepting a third EU bailout and the economic cutbacks that entailed.The election was held a few weeks before the first anniversary of the Mati fire, Greece’s deadliest wildfire that killed 102 people near Athens.

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Britain’s Hunt: Iran one year away from nuclear bomb

BRUSSELS: The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal do not see Tehran’s breaches as significant and do not intend for now to trigger the pact’s dispute mechanism, preferring more diplomacy to ease the crisis, the EU foreign policy chief said on Monday.She spoke at the end of an European Union foreign ministers meeting after…

Britain’s Hunt: Iran one year away from nuclear bomb

BRUSSELS: The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal do not see Tehran’s breaches as significant and do not intend for now to trigger the pact’s dispute mechanism, preferring more diplomacy to ease the crisis, the EU foreign policy chief said on Monday.She spoke at the end of an European Union foreign ministers meeting after Britain said there was only a “small window” of time to salvage the deal, while Iran warned it would ramp up uranium enrichment if the EU failed to do more to that end.US-Iranian tensions have escalated since US President Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.The EU ministers drew no conclusions on what action should next be taken to head off a feared US-Iranian conflict. But by suggesting that Iran’s non-compliance was not significant, it could anger the United States, which last week warned it would intensify sanctions on Iran over its breaches, and it did prompt an immediate outcry from Israel, Iran’s regional arch-enemy.“For the time being, none of the parties to the agreement has signalled their intention to invoke this article,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference in Brussels, referring to a mechanism to punish non-compliance.“(It) means that none of them for the moment, for the time being with the current data we have had in particular from the (UN nuclear watchdog) IAEA, (consider Iran’s) non-compliance…to be significant non-compliance.”IAEA inspectors last week confirmed Iran is now enriching uranium to 4.5 percent fissile purity, above the 3.67 percent limit set by its deal, the second breach in as many weeks after Tehran exceeded limits on its stock of low enriched uranium.The level at which Iran is now refining uranium is still well below the 20 percent purity of enrichment Iran reached before the deal, and the 90 percent needed to yield bomb-grade nuclear fuel. Low-enriched uranium provides fuel for civilian power plants.British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said earlier in the day that Iran remained “a good year away from developing a nuclear bomb.” He told reporters in Brussels: “There is still some closing, but small window to keep the deal alive.”Under the terms of the deal, if any party believes another is not upholding their commitments they can refer the issue to a Joint Commission comprising Iran, Russia, China, the three European powers, and the European Union.This activates a dispute mechanism that could eventually end with a restoration of global, UN sanctions against Iran. Mogherini said a joint commission meeting was possible, although when and at what level had yet to be decided.She indicated that for now the EU would focus on diplomatic efforts to save the nuclear deal, which signatories in 2015 touted as essential to ward off the risk of a wider Middle East war jeopardizing global energy supplies.“The deal is not in good health, but it’s still alive. We hope and we invite Iran to reverse these steps and go back to full compliance with the agreement,” Mogherini, adding that they were all reversible.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the EU’s response on Monday, saying it recalled failed diplomacy with Nazi Germany in the run-up to World War Two.“(It) reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.“Then, too, there were those who stuck their head in the sand and did not see the approaching danger,” said Netanyahu, who has often cast Iran’s nuclear projects as a mortal menace to Israel and the wider world. Iran denies seeking a nuclear bomb.The Brussels gathering had been called to flesh out ways of convincing Iran and the United States to reduce tensions and start a dialogue amid fears the 2015 deal is close to collapse.Fears of direct US-Iranian conflict have risen since May with several attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, Iran’s downing of a US surveillance drone, and a plan for US air strikes on Iran last month that Trump called off at the last minute.In reaction to the reimposition of tough US sanctions, which have notably targeted Iran’s vital oil revenue stream, Tehran has cut some of its nuclear commitments under the deal.That led the European parties to the pact, France, Britain and Germany, to warn Tehran not to shred the deal’s terms.Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom suggested the Europeans would leave the door open for diplomacy but that Tehran should exercise restraint.“It improves their chances of having a good discussion with the EU and other partners in the JCPOA (Iran deal),” she told reporters. “We encourage them to use all diplomatic means and create new diplomatic channels …to de-escalate the tense situation. We have to use every opportunity to keep the deal.”The Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy agency said Tehran would return to the situation before the nuclear deal unless European countries fulfilled their obligations.“These actions are not taken out of stubbornness but to give diplomacy a chance,” agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said.“And if the Europeans and America don’t want to fulfil their commitments we will create a balance in this deal by reducing commitments and return the situation to four years ago.”Iran says the European countries must do more to guarantee it the trade and investment dividends it was due to receive in return for UN-monitored limits to its nuclear capacity under the deal.

 

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Hong Kong police demand better protection ahead of more protests

BRUSSELS: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday that there was still time to save the Iran nuclear deal and that despite the United States being Britain’s closest ally it disagreed on how to handle the Iran crisis.“Iran is still a good year away from developing a nuclear bomb. There is still some closing,…

Hong Kong police demand better protection ahead of more protests

BRUSSELS: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday that there was still time to save the Iran nuclear deal and that despite the United States being Britain’s closest ally it disagreed on how to handle the Iran crisis.“Iran is still a good year away from developing a nuclear bomb. There is still some closing, but small window to keep the deal alive,” Hunt told reporters on arrival for a foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.The Brussels meeting will seek to flesh out how to convince Iran and the United States to reduce tensions and initiate a dialogue amid fears that the 2015 deal is close to collapse.US-Iranian tensions have worsened since US President Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.In reaction to the re-imposition of tough US sanctions, which have notably targeted Iran’s main oil revenue stream, Tehran has scaled back on some of its nuclear commitments under the deal, leading the European parties to the pact, France, Britain and Germany, to warn it about not fully complying with the terms.The three powers, who are party to the deal alongside Russia and China, have sought to defuse the tensions, which culminated in a plan for US air strikes on Iran last month that Trump called off at the last minute.

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Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters from Champs Elysees after Bastille Day parade

Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters from Champs Elysees after Bastille Day parade PARIS: French police fired tear gas to disperse protesters from the Champs Elysees avenue on Sunday, a few hours after President Emmanuel Macron had presided over the Bastille Day military parade alongside other European leaders.The boulevard in central Paris was reopened…

Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters from Champs Elysees after Bastille Day parade

Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters from Champs Elysees after Bastille Day parade

PARIS: French police fired tear gas to disperse protesters from the Champs Elysees avenue on Sunday, a few hours after President Emmanuel Macron had presided over the Bastille Day military parade alongside other European leaders.The boulevard in central Paris was reopened to traffic as soon as the parade finished but a few hundred protesters from the grassroots ‘yellow vests’ movement tried to occupy it.France’s BFM television showed images of police firing tear gas to disperse the protesters, some hooded, who tried to block the road with metal barricades, dustbins and other debris.Several loud bangs could be heard. Protesters hurled objects at the police, booed and set a bin on fire.Earlier, a French police source and a court source said some 152 ‘yellow vest’ protesters and their leaders had been detained near the Champs Elysees as they tried to stage a protest.

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