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India’s top court extends term of arbitrators in Ayodhya temple dispute

Four hostages freed in Burkina Faso by French special forces, two soldiers lose lives PARIS: French special forces have freed two French hostages, an American and a South Korean in northern Burkina Faso in an overnight military raid that cost the lives of two soldiers, the French presidency said Friday.The operation was ordered to free…

India’s top court extends term of arbitrators in Ayodhya temple dispute

Four hostages freed in Burkina Faso by French special forces, two soldiers lose lives

PARIS: French special forces have freed two French hostages, an American and a South Korean in northern Burkina Faso in an overnight military raid that cost the lives of two soldiers, the French presidency said Friday.The operation was ordered to free the French hostages, identified as Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, who disappeared while on holiday in the remote Pendjari National Park in Benin on May 1.The identity of the American and South Korean hostages was not immediately known, but they were both said to be women in the statement.The location of the raid confirmed that the French tourists had been kidnapped in Benin and taken over the nearby border into Burkina Faso, where terror groups have stepped up attacks in recent months.President Emmanuel Macron “wants to congratulate the French armed forces for the liberation of the hostages, and includes everyone who worked alongside them,” a statement from the presidency said.“He bows with emotion and solemnity before the sacrifice of our two soldiers, Cedric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello, who gave their lives to save those of our citizens,” the statement added.

 Laurent Lassimouillas, left, and Patrick Picque, music teachers from the Paris region, are expected to travel back to France on Sunday. (AFP)

In a separate statement, Defense Minister Florence Parly thanked authorities in Benin and Burkina Faso for their help with the “complex operation,” as well as the United States for its “precious support.”Former colonial ruler France has 4,500 troops deployed in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in a mission codenamed Barkhane to help local forces try to flush out extremist groups.American special forces and drones are also thought to operate in the violence-wracked Sahel region, which France fears could become further destabilized as extremist groups are pushed out of north Africa, Iraq and Syria.Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of extremist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Daesh in the Greater Sahara.The French tourists and their local guide went missing in the Pendjari wildlife reserve, known for its elephants and lions in usually peaceful and stable Benin, but which lies close to the porous border with Burkina Faso.The badly disfigured body of their wildlife guide was found shortly afterwards, as well as their abandoned four-wheel Toyota truck.The two men, music teachers from the Paris region, are expected to travel back to France on Sunday.South Korea’s ambassador in Paris was unable to comment on the identity of the freed Korean national.“We do not have detailed information, but we are in close contact with French authorities. I can’t say anything now,” Jongmoon Choi told AFP by telephone.The US embassy in Paris was unavailable for comment.

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UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum. “I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. “The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal…

UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum.

“I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. “The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum.”

“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal – you need a deal and therefore Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen,” May said.

May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure an orderly British departure from the bloc.

The deal that she struck with the EU has been rejected by UK lawmakers three times already.

Since then, she has tried to secure backing from lawmakers with promises to maintain high standards on workers’ rights and environmental protections — issues that are priorities for the left-of-center opposition Labour Party.

She also said UK lawmakers would get to decide how close a trade relationship to seek with the EU after Brexit, in a concession to Labour’s demands for a customs union.

May said she was “making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament.”

“I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too,” she said.

May has said that after Parliament votes on the bill she will set out a timetable for her departure as Conservative leader and prime minister. Pro-Brexit Conservatives blame May for the country’s political deadlock and want to replace her with a staunch Brexit supporter such as Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary.

(With agencies)

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Venezuelans fleeing crisis deserve refugee status: UN

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum. “I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. “The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal…

Venezuelans fleeing crisis deserve refugee status: UN

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum.

“I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. “The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum.”

“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal – you need a deal and therefore Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen,” May said.

May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure an orderly British departure from the bloc.

The deal that she struck with the EU has been rejected by UK lawmakers three times already.

Since then, she has tried to secure backing from lawmakers with promises to maintain high standards on workers’ rights and environmental protections — issues that are priorities for the left-of-center opposition Labour Party.

She also said UK lawmakers would get to decide how close a trade relationship to seek with the EU after Brexit, in a concession to Labour’s demands for a customs union.

May said she was “making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament.”

“I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too,” she said.

May has said that after Parliament votes on the bill she will set out a timetable for her departure as Conservative leader and prime minister. Pro-Brexit Conservatives blame May for the country’s political deadlock and want to replace her with a staunch Brexit supporter such as Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary.

(With agencies)

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Sweden asks for detention of WikiLeaks’ Assange

WASHINGTON: The US military said one of its warships sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea on Sunday, a move likely to anger Beijing at a time of tense ties between the world’s two biggest economies.The busy waterway is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the…

Sweden asks for detention of WikiLeaks’ Assange

WASHINGTON: The US military said one of its warships sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea on Sunday, a move likely to anger Beijing at a time of tense ties between the world’s two biggest economies.The busy waterway is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship, which also include a trade war, US sanctions and Taiwan.China struck a more aggressive tone in its trade war with the United States on Friday. The tough talk capped a week that saw Beijing unveil fresh retaliatory tariffs.The US destroyer Preble carried out the operation, a US military spokesman told Reuters.“Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Reef in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law,” said Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Seventh Fleet.It was the second such US military operation in the South China Sea in the last month. On Wednesday, the chief of the US Navy said its freedom of navigation movements in the disputed South China Sea drew more attention than they deserved.The US military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including areas claimed by allies, and they are separate from political considerations.The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lambasts the United States and its allies over naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands.Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims in the region.China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.China defends its construction as necessary for self-defense and says the United States is responsible for ratcheting up tension in the region by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims.Last month, China’s navy chief said freedom of navigation should not be used to infringe upon the rights of other nations.

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