World Newsletter

WORLD NEWS
21 January 2020

TRUMP IMPEACHMENT: PRESIDENT'S LAWYERS DEMAND IMMEDIATE ACQUITTAL

President Donald Trump's legal team, representing him at his impeachment
trial, has demanded that he is immediately acquitted by the Senate.
In a brief submitted on Monday, they called the impeachment "a dangerous
perversion" of the constitution.
Meanwhile House impeachment managers submitted their own brief, saying Mr
Trump engaged in "corrupt conduct... to cheat in the next election".
Impeachment hearings will begin on Tuesday at 13:00 (18:00 GMT).
Mr Trump is charged with abusing his presidential power by asking Ukraine to
investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden - and of obstructing
Congress as it looked into his conduct.
During the course of the trial, Senators will hear arguments for six hours a
day, six days a week. It will be presided over by the US chief justice, John
Roberts.
The trial could, in theory, lead to Mr Trump being removed from office. But
as a two-thirds majority of 67 votes in the 100-seat Senate is required to
convict and oust Mr Trump, and there are only 47 Democrats in the Senate,
the president is widely expected to be cleared.
Mr Trump will be at the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, when his trial
opens.


IRAN TO QUIT GLOBAL NUCLEAR TREATY IF CASE GOES TO UN

Iran today said it would quit the global nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT) if European countries refer it to the UN Security Council over a
nuclear agreement, a move that would overturn diplomacy in its confrontation
with the West. The 1968 NPT has been the foundation of global nuclear arms
control since the Cold War, including a 2015 deal Iran signed with world
powers that offered it access to global trade in return for accepting curbs
to its atomic programme.
Britain, France and Germany declared Iran in violation of the 2015 pact last
week and have launched a dispute mechanism that could eventually see the
matter referred back to the Security Council and the reimposition of UN
sanctions. "If the Europeans continue their improper behaviour or send
Iran's file to the Security Council, we will withdraw from the NPT," Iranian
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, according to comments carried by IRNA and
other Iranian news agencies.
He also said Iran could take other steps before withdrawing from the NPT,
although he did not specify them. The fate of the 2015 pact has been in
doubt since US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of it and
reimposed sanctions. Iran has responded by scaling back its commitments,
although it says it wants the pact to survive.
The nuclear dispute has been at the heart of an escalation between
Washington and Tehran which blew up into military confrontation in recent
weeks. The 190-member NPT bans signatories other than the United States,
Russia, China, Britain and France from acquiring nuclear weapons, in return
for allowing them to pursue peaceful nuclear programmes for power
generation.


BORIS JOHNSON LOSES VOTE OVER POST-BREXIT CITIZENS RIGHTS

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday suffered his first parliamentary
defeat since the poll when peers voted to give EU citizens physical proof of
their right to stay after Brexit.
Members of the unelected upper House of Lords voted by 270 to 229 to amend
the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which ratifies the terms of Britain's exit
from the EU on January 31.
The Bill had passed without hindrance through the lower House of Commons.
The EU citizens must apply to stay after Brexit, and if successful are given
an electronic code to present to anyone from landlords to airline staff who
may demand proof of their status.
"In the real world, in respect of permanent residence, proof of immigration
status is in physical documentation," Jonathan Oates, a member, said.
The Lords voted to give EU citizens physical documentation, a change that
must now be approved by the House of Commons in a vote on Wednesday.


IRAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER CANCELS ATTENDANCE AT DAVOS SUMMIT

Iran's top diplomat has cancelled his trip and will not be attending the
Davos Forum, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Monday amid a crisis with
Washington and disputes with Europe over Iran's nuclear steps.
The summit in the Swiss resort also comes after Iran earlier this month shot
down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 people on board. Tensions
also remain high between Iran and the U.S. after an America drone killed
Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
Iran's top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, had been invited and plans had
been made for him to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum
in Davos, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said.
However, according to Mr. Mousavi, officials at the forum changed plans
involving Mr. Zarif, which led to the diplomat cancelling his trip, the
state-run IRNA news agency reported.


SRI LANKA CIVIL WAR: MISSING PERSONS ARE DEAD, SAYS GOTABAYA

Thousands of persons reported missing since the time of Sri Lanka's civil
war are "actually dead", President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said.
The President made the remark in a recent meeting with the UN Resident
Coordinator, according to a statement from his office. Outlining his plans
to address the issue of missing persons, "he explained that these missing
persons are actually dead. Most of them had been taken by the LTTE or
forcibly conscripted. The families of the missing attest to it. However,
they do not know what has become of them and so claim them to be missing,"
the statement said. After the "necessary investigations", steps would be
taken to issue death certificates of the missing persons, while their
families would be supported, the official media release said.
Families of scores of disappeared persons in Sri Lanka's war-affected north
and east have been relentlessly agitating by the roadside, for nearly three
years now, demanding the whereabouts of their relatives, including many that
families say they saw surrendering to the Army.
Family members have refused to accept their relatives' disappearance as
"death", without seeing the body. Some are pursuing court action.


THREE ROCKETS HIT NEAR U.S. EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD

Three rockets hit near the U.S. embassy in the Iraqi capital's high-security
Green Zone, security sources told AFP, with no immediate reports of
casualties.
Sirens could be heard across the zone immediately after the rockets made
impact.
The United States has blamed Iran-backed paramilitary groups for a spate of
similar attacks in recent months on the Green Zone, but there has never been
a claim of responsibility.


HUNDREDS OF US-BOUND MIGRANTS CROSS RIVER TO REACH MEXICO

Hundreds of migrants have waded into a river on the southern Mexico border
as they try to reach the United States.
The migrants, mainly from Honduras, took to the water after being refused
permission to cross a bridge over the Suchiate river.
Mexico has cut off migration routes to the US under pressure from President
Donald Trump.
Mexican National Guard troops with riot shields tried to stop the migrants
from climbing the river bank.
But hundreds appear to have breached police lines and entered Mexico.
Some reports say police fired tear gas. Some of those trying to reach Mexico
threw stones at the police.
Eight representatives of the migrants were allowed into Mexico for talks
with the authorities and to pass a letter on to President Andres Manuel
Lopez Obrador.
They are urging him to let them pass and promise to respect the law.
Those crossing the river are part of a 2,000 to 3,500-strong group dubbed
"2020 Caravan", evoking previous attempts to cross Mexico en masse to reach
the US border.
For its part, Guatemala says several thousand migrants have crossed into its
territory from Honduras since Wednesday.


XI JINPING ORDERS RESOLUTE EFFORTS TO CONTAIN NEW VIRUS AS CHINA REPORTS 3rd
DEATH

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday ordered resolute efforts to curb the
spread of a new coronavirus that has infected more than 220 people and
resulted in the death of three persons in the country as an expert warned
that the virus is contagious between people.
Chinese authorities said a third person died over the weekend from
coronavirus infection in Wuhan city where the virus was first reported.
As public concerns mounted specially ahead of the Chinese New Year festival
starting from January 24 during which millions travel within and outside the
country to avail weeklong public holidays, Xi said the government and
departments at all levels should put the health and safety of the people
first.
He said it's "extremely crucial" to take every possible measure to contain
the virus, especially during a time when China is experiencing huge mobility
in the Chinese New Year which is also known as the Spring Festival.
Xi asked the health officials to take effective measures to stop the spread
of the virus, find out its origins and how it has been spreading, official
media reported.
So far, a total of 224 cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus
had been reported in China. Of them, 217 had been confirmed and seven
remained suspected, state run news agency Xinhua reported on Monday.
Reports say two cases of the virus was identified in Beijing, eight in
Shanghai and one in Shenzhen.


DOZENS OF IRAQI PROTESTERS WOUNDED AS ANTI-GOVERNMENT UNREST RESUMES

Dozens of Iraqi protesters were wounded in Baghdad and other cities on
Monday in clashes with security forces who were trying to clear blocked
roads, security and medical sources said, as anti-government unrest resumed
after a lull of several weeks.
In Baghdad's Tayaran Square overnight, protesters threw petrol bombs and
stones at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, Reuters
witnesses said.
Elsewhere in southern Iraq, hundreds of protesters burned tyres and blocked
main roads in several cities, including Nassiriya, Kerbala and Amara. They
say Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not fulfilled promises including
naming a new government acceptable to Iraqis.
"They (security forces) should stop shooting and aiming, who are they and
who we are? Both sides are Iraqis. So why are you killing your brothers?"
said one woman protester in Baghdad who declined to give her name.
Baghdad police said its forces had successfully reopened all the roads that
were closed by "violent gatherings".
Mass protests have gripped Iraq since Oct. 1, with mostly young protesters
demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt
and as keeping most Iraqis in poverty. More than 450 people have been
killed.

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