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Puerto Rico asks Congress for help with delayed disaster relief loan

NEW YORK ( ) – The U.S. Treasury has delayed a $4.7 billion post-hurricane loan to Puerto Rico and reduced the amount by more than half, and the resulting financial strain threatens to disrupt essential services, the island’s governor said in a letter asking U.S. congressional leaders to intervene.

Congress approved the comm上海夜生活网unity disaster loan in October as part of a larger relief package after hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria devastated the island, which was already dealing with the largest government bankruptcy in U.S. history.

But four months later, the U.S. territory still has not received the loan. Last week, the Treasury said it wanted to shrink the amount to $2.065 billion and impose special terms and conditions, according to Governor Ricardo Rossello’s letter, dated Feb. 26.

The Puerto Rico government “may be forced to cut deeply into its liquidity reserves and make the untenable choice of which essential services to cut so that it can m,上海夜玩网论坛Sabia,aintain other essential services,” Rossello wrote.

The risk of interruption to the island’s electric, water, sewer or other utilities is a direct result of Treasury’s “misguided delay and policy decisions,” he said.

Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s worst natural disaster in nine decades, hit as the island was trudging through an unprecedented economic crisis.

The island declared a form of bankruptcy last May, shouldering some $120 billion in combined bond and pension debt.

Community disaster loans – which are usually forgiven – are just one form of disaster relief. The island’s latest fiscal recovery plan assumes $49.1 billion of federal disaster ai,上海夜网千花Cadence,d altogether.

The Treasury “intimated that the loans will not be forgiven under,上海足浴夜网联系方式Barbara, any circumstance” and focused more on repayment than on relief for the island’s residents, Rossello’s letter said.

The delayed federal loan has also forced the island’s government “to rely on its own limited liquidity to fund an emergency loan to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority,” or PREPA, Rossello’s letter said.

The strained electric utility will need yet another cash infusion in the next 30 to 45 days, he said.

Officials from the Treasury Department and other agencies met on Monday with the Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board to discuss terms under which the U.S. government will offer community disaster loans to Puerto Rico, Treasury said in a statement.

It said the conditions would include “important steps that will be taken to protect federal taxpayer investments while ensuring funding is available quickly when needed.”

The Treasury Department said Puerto Rico could use the money to make loans to PREPA and other public corporations.

Mexico environment minister quits, second top official to exit this…

MEXICO CITY ( ) – Mexico’s environment minister resigned on Saturday after causing a commercial flight to be delayed, making her the second top official ,上海夜生活去哪玩Talon,to depart from the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in less than a week.

The president’s office announced that Josefa Gonzalez Blanco Ortiz Mena, minister of the environment and natural resources, had tendered her resignation, and Lopez Obrador said during a speech on Saturday afternoon he had accepted it.

In her resignation letter, which was published by the president’s office, Gonzalez Blanco said that at the start of a work trip on Friday, she had caused a delay to passengers who were traveling on the plane and its crew.

“There is no justification. The true transformation of Mexico requires total alignment with the values of equity and justice,” Gonzalez Blanco said. “Nobody should have privileges, and the benefits of one, even in carrying out one’s duties, cannot be above the well-being of the majority.”

In his afternoon remarks, the president said he had spoken with Gonzalez Blanco that morning, telling her to attend to the matter of the flight delay, adding that she apologized.

“She very honestly told me what had happened and placed her resignation at my disposal and I a上海夜网ccepted it,” Lopez Obrador said.

Her exit follows Tuesday’s resignation of German Martinez, head of Mexico’s social security institute (IMSS), who complained budget cuts and lay-offs ordered by Lopez Obrador’s finance minister were harmi,上海高端夜生活在那里Barrett,ng health services for the poor.

Since Lopez Obrador took office in December, the veteran leftist has taken commercial flights after making a campaign pledge to sell his predecessor’s luxury presidential plane.

Lopez Obrador has taken an implacable stand against public sector excess and his first budget slashed sp,上海夜网后花园Gabriel,ending for several major government departments, including the health service.

His austerity drive has caused problems in hospitals, leading to anger over surgery delays, reductions in testing and staffing shortages, hospital directors say.

Trump arrives in Japan for ceremonial visit as trade tensions loom

TOKYO ( ) – U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, landed in Japan on Saturday on a largely ceremonial visit meant to showcase strong ties with Tokyo even as trade tensions loom.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will treat Trump to an imperial banquet and front row seats at a sumo tournament during the trip, which lasts through Tuesday.

The two men share a warm relationship, which the Japanese leader aims to emphasize as Washington mulls tariffs on Japanese auto exports that the Trump administration views as a potential national security threat.

The United States is in the middle of an expensive trade war with China in protest against Beijing’s treatment of U.S. companies, and tensions with Japan and the European Union over trade are simmering.

Trump and Abe are expected to discuss trade during talks on Monday, but officials have played down the possibility of a deal during the visit.

Trump will become the first foreign leader to be received by new Japa,上海夜生活怎么玩Ebba,nese Emperor Naruhito since he inherited the throne earlier this month.

He made clear during an impromptu news conference on Thursday that he was flattered by the invitation.

“Prime Minister Abe said to me, very specifically, ‘You are the guest of honor.’ There’s only one guest of honor … I’m the guest of honor at the biggest event that they’ve had in over 200 years,” Trump said.

“So it’s a great thing. And we get along very well with Japan. I get along very well with the Prime Minister.”

After his arrival, Trump was due to meet with business leaders before retiring.

On Sunday, Trump ,上海夜网千花Ida,and Abe are expected to play golf and attend a sumo match. On Monday, they will discuss North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs in addition to trade.

A medium-strength earthquake hit eastern Japan, causi上海夜生活论坛ng buildings to shake in Tokyo, hour,上海会所夜网Hadleigh,s before Trump’s arrival.

The epicenter was southern Chiba, southeast of the capital, the prefecture where Trump is due to play golf on Sunday.

No tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage.

Pope names women to key Vatican department for first time

VATICAN CITY ( ) – Pope Francis appointed women on Friday to a key Vatican department for the first time since it was founded more than 50 years ago, a move welcomed by Catholic women’s groups as a significant advance.

Three nuns and one lay woman were appointed councillors in the office of synods, which prepares major meetings of world bishops held every few years on a different topic.

Pope Paul VI founded the Synod of Bishops in 1965 as a body to advise popes. A Vatican spokesman said they were the first women members in its history.

Two of the four are Italian – Sister Alessandra Smerilli, an economics professor, and Cecilia C上海夜生活osta, a sociology professor. The others are Sister Maria Luisa Berzosa Gonzalez of Spain and Sister Nathalie Becquart of France.

“It is great news because until now there were no structures for women to have an influence on synods while they are being prepared,” said Zuzanna Fliosowska, general manager of Voices of Faith, an international advocacy group that promotes a greater role for women in the Church.

More than half of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics are women and the membership of female religious orders is about three times larger than that of male orders.

Women’s rights was a recurring theme at a month-l,上海夜网后花园Paige,ong synod of bishops at the Vatican last October on the topic of young Christians.

As in all synods so far, only “synod fathers”, including bishops and specially appointed or elected male representatives, could vote on final documents sent to the pope.

Two “brothers” – lay men who are not ordained – voted in their capacity as superiors general of their religious orders but an American nun with the same rank,上海仙霞路夜生活Paige, could no,夜上海419龙凤论坛Radley,t.

More than 10,000 people signed a petition demanding that women get the vote at future synods.

“We hope this is a first step toward women delegates getting the vote in the next synod,” Fliosowska told .

The International Union of Superiors General (UISG), an umbrella group of Catholic nuns whose leaders have been pushing for women’s vote, also welcomed the surprise appointments.

“With these positions, they will be able to help make decisions and not just be invited observers at meetings,” USIG spokeswoman Patrizia Morgante said.

The next synod, scheduled for Oct. 6-27, will discuss the needs of the Church in the vast Amazon region, including how to deal with an extreme shortage of priests.

UK immigration falls to five-year low as influx of EU workers slows

LONDON ( ) – Long-term immigration to Britain dropped to a five-year low last year as the net inflow of European Union migrants fell to its lowest in almost a decade, extending a decline seen since Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016.

The number of people moving to Britain for more than a year, minus those leaving, sank to 258,000 in 2018 from 285,000 in 2017, official data showed on Friday.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who announced her resignation on Friday after failing to get her Brexit de,上海会所夜网Nala,al through parliament , had long wanted to limit annual immigration to under 100,000.

Net migration by EU citizens dropped to 74,000, its lowest for any year since 2009 and less than half its level in the 12 months before Britons voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

“Since 2016, the pattern of migration to the UK for work has been changing. Long-term immigration to the UK for work has fallen, mainly driven by the decline in EU arrivals,” Jay Lindop, a statistician at the Office for National Statistics, said.

More than three million foreigners have moved to Britain and stayed since the start of 2009, just over a third of them from the EU, and concern about the pace of immigration was a major reason why voters backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

Migration Watch UK, a group which argues for lower immigration, said the latest figures were “unacceptably high”.

EU immigrants were drawn to Britain by lower un,上海仙霞路夜生活Cadence,employment, as well as significantly higher wages than in eastern Europe.

However, some migrants say Britain has become less welcoming since 2016. The fall in the value of sterling and an improved job market in most of the rest of Europe has also reduced the 上海夜生活论坛incentive to work in Britain.

Almost all economists say immigration has boosted Britain’s economy overall and have found little or no evidence that it has been a significant factor behind the weak wage growth of recent years.

Recruitment agencies said lower EU immigration would make it harder to fill vacancies in the technology, health and hospitality sectors.

Britain’s government wants to restrict EU immigration,上海021夜网Queena, after it leaves the bloc in most cases to workers earning at least the average full-time salary of 30,000 pounds ($38,000) a year, a level employers say is too much for some hard-to-fill job roles.

($1 = 0.7877 pounds)

China angered with U.S.-Taiwan travel bill, adding to tensions

BEIJING/WASHINGTON ( ) – China expressed anger on Thursday after the U.S. Senate passed a bill promoting closer U.S. ties with Taiwan, but the step drew praise from the self-ruled island which pledged to deepen cooperation.

The move adds to tensions between China and the United States, already at loggerheads over trade, with President Xi Jinping’s close economic advisor Liu He in Washington this week to try and avert a trade war.

Several top U.S. steel and aluminum executives have been invited to the White House later on Thursday for what could be a major trade announcement, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to take steps to crack down on imports of steel and aluminum and has been considering imposing hefty tariffs on imports of the metals from China and other countries.

Beijing considers democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province and integral part of “one China”, ineligible for state-to-state relations, and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said though the bill was not legally binding and seriously violates the “one China” principle.

“China is strongly dissatisfied with this and resolutely opposes it, and has already lodged stern representations with the U.S. side,” she told a daily news briefing.

The “one China” principle is the foundation for China-U.S. ties, Hua added.

China urges the United States to cease official exchanges with Taiwan and “prudently and appropriately handle issues related to Taiwan to avoid seriously interfering with and damaging China-U.S. relations”, she said.

The Senate passed the Taiwan Travel Act by unanimous consent. It passed the House of Representatives in January, also without opposition. The legislation only needs Trump’s signature to become law.

The bill says it should be U.S. policy to allow officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the United States “under respectful conditions” and meet with U.S. officials, and encourage Taiwanese economic and cultural representatives to conduct business in the United States.

White House officials did not immediately respond when asked if Trump planned to sign the legislation. It would be unusual for a president to veto a measure that passed unanimously.

TAIWAN PRAISES “JOINT VALUES”

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry thanked the United States for the unanimous support for the bill and for the U.S. government’s increasingly friendly and open attitude toward Taiwan.

“The Foreign Ministry will keep developing an even more substantive cooperative relationship with the United States, to promote both sides’ joint values and mutually-beneficial interests,” it said.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office said the United States was its most important international ally, and that it would discuss the matter with the United States and further strengthen relat上海夜网ions.

The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is the island’s main source of arms. China regularly says Taiwa,上海夜网推油Sabia,n,上海夜网Jacob, is the most sensitive issue in its ties with Washington.

China’s hostility toward Taiwan has risen since the election as president of Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2016.

China suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing, though she has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.

On Wednesday, two former Taiwan presidents, Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, b,上海足浴夜网联系方式Jackson,acked a bid for a referendum on Taiwan independence next year, though Taiwan’s government has not supported the plan.

Were such a vote to happen, China could feel it has to activate its Anti-Secession Law, which allows it to use force on Taiwan if deemed necessary to prevent the island from seceding.

Former Trump campaign aide pleads guilty in Russia probe

WASHINGTON ( ) – A former senior official in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiracy against the United States and lying to investigators, and he is cooperating with a federal probe into Russia’s role in the election.

Gates, who was a deputy campaign manager for Trump, is being investigated by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whi,上海夜哪里艳遇Pablo,ch is probing alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

Gates had been potentially facing decades in prison on much more serious charges, including bank fraud and conspiracy to launder money. Under the charges he pleaded guilty to, he faces a maximum sentence of nearly six years.

Prosecutors said they could ask the judge for a reduction in Gates’ sentence based on the extent of his cooperation with Mueller’s probe.

The plea increases pressure on Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager for five months in 2016, to also seek a plea deal. However, Manafort said in a statement issued after Gates’ plea deal that he maintained his innocence.

Cooperation by Gates, and potentially by Manafort at a later stage, could provide a rich vein of information for Mueller, whose Russia probe includes looking into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow to interfere in the election.

Gates’ plea deal appeared to be partially motivated by his concern over legal costs and the strain on his family.

Prosecutors allege that Manafort, with Gates’ assistance, laundered more than $30 million and duped banks into lending money. It says the pair used funds from secret offshore accounts to enjoy a life of luxury.

None of the charges to date against Gates or Manafort have made reference to any connection with Russian meddling in the 2016 election or possible collusion. Russia has denied the accusations of interference. Trump has said there was no collusion, and has also denied any attempt to obstruct Mueller’s probe.

Mueller, appointed by the Department of Justice last year, has a broad brief that allows him to look into any wrongdoing uncovered in the course of his investigation.

CAMPAIGN ROLE

While it was not clear what Gates might be able to reveal to investigators, he was on Trump’s campaign team when his then-boss Manafort attended a meeting in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York between senior campaign aides and a Russian lawyer.

Mueller, according to sources familiar with the investigation, has taken a keen interest in whether Democrats’ emails allegedly hacked by Russian intelligence and made public six days after that meeting were discussed then.

Gates helped run the campaign’s day-to-day operations, played a key role at the Republican National Convention where Trump was chosen as the party’s nominee and accompanied Trump on campaign flights.

He stayed on in the campaign even after Manafort resigned in August 2016 amid a controversy over cash payments from Ukraine. After Trump’s election win, Gates was on Trump’s presidential transition team and his inaugural committee.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow sought to meddle in the campaign to tilt the vote in favor of Trump, including by hacking the emails of leading Democrats and distributing disinformation and propaganda online.

Gates and Manafort were first charged in October. On Thursday, Mueller piled up more pressure on the pair – filing a 32-count indictment against them that includes charges of bank fraud and lying on tax returns.

As part of the conspiracy charge, prosecutors say that Gates and M上海夜生活论坛anafort lied to the Justice Department in September 2016, when they were asked whether they had acted as foreign agents in 2013 on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Russian government.

THE “HAPSBURG GROUP”

A superseding indictment returned on Friday against Manafort from a Washington, D.C., grand jury contained additional details about their political work in Ukraine, including allegations that Manafort secretly retained a group of former European politicians known as the “Hapsburg group” to lobby for the government.

The indictment did not name the former politicians, but said that in 2012 and 2013 Manafort paid them 2 million euros through offshore accounts. The group was managed by a former European chancellor, which the indictment identifies as “Foreign Politician A,” in coordination with Manafort.

The majority of the charges in the new indictment are the same as the ones filed against Manafort in October.

In the plea deal, Gates agreed that he lied to the investigators on Mueller’s team on Feb. 1, about a 2013 meeting between Manafort, a senior lobbyist and an unnamed member of Congress who sits on a congressional subcommittee with jurisdiction over Ukraine.

Gates’ plea may push Manafort to try to reach his own plea deal and cooperate with the probe, despite his protestations to the contrary, said Michael Padula, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice.

“His ability to negotiate a deal that is favorable to him at this point given that his codefendant has already made a deal with the government will depend on what he can potentially offer the special counsel regarding their investigation into Russia collusion,” Padula said.

The White House said on Friday that the latest charges against Manafort and Gates were unrelated to Trump.

“This indictment has nothing to do with the White House or the president. As you know, we have been cooperative with the special counsel and as we continue to see, there’s no evidence of collusion, no evidence of wrongdoing,” Mercedes Schlapp, the White House strategic communications director, told Fox News Channel.

A court filing on Friday charged that between 2008 and 2017, Gates and Manafort devised a scheme to defraud the United States to obtain money and property by making false representations ,上海夜网千花Quaid,to banks and other financial institutions. Toward the end of that period they worked for Trump’s campaign.

In March 2016, Manafort fraudulently obtained a loan for over $3 million on a Manhattan condominium, prosecutors say.

In a letter to relatives and close friends that was obtained by ABC News, Gates expressed concern that a long trial would take a heavy toll.

“The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circus-like atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much. I will better serve my fam,上海夜网推油Dakota,ily moving forward by exiting this process,” he wrote.

Gates, who has a young family and who has been under house arrest, has been peppering the court since last year with requests to travel, coach his children’s sports teams and attend school functions.

Trump says not disturbed that North Korea has ‘fired off some small…

TOKYO ( ) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday dismissed concerns about recent missile launches from North Korea and said he was confident that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, would keep promises that he had made.

“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me,” he said on Twitter.

Trump is currently in Japan on a state visit.

The president, who left his second summit with Kim earlier this year in Vietnam without a peace deal, has put enormous value in their personal relationship, despite actions by North Korea that others consider provocative.

Trump is expected to discuss concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his stay in Tokyo.

In his tweet, the president, who is runn,上海夜生活群Jack,ing for re-election in 2020, kn,上海021夜网Cade,ocked his potential Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, misspelling his name and taki,夜上海419龙凤论坛Jackson,ng pleasure in the North Korean leader’s sharp rhetoric about a fellow American.

Trump said in the tweet that he smiled when Kim “called Swampman Joe Bidan a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?”

Trump regularly uses derisive nicknames to target his political opponents.

Trump’s remarks came after U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Saturday that North Korea’s recent missile launches violated a U.N. Security Council resolution.

Earlier this month Kim oversaw the first flight of a 上海夜网previously untested weapon – a relatively small, fast missile experts believe will be easier to hide, launch and maneuver in flight.

Russia, eyeing Arctic future, launches nuclear icebreaker

ST PETERSBURG, Russia ( ) – Russia launched a nuclear-powered icebreaker on Saturday, part of an ambitious program to renew and expand its fleet of the vessels in order to improve its ability to tap the Arctic’s commercial potential.

The ship, dubbed the Ural and which was floated out from a dockyard in St Petersburg, is one of a trio that when completed will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world.

Russia is building new infrastructure and overhauling its ports as,上海021夜网Rachel,, amid warmer climate cycles, it readies for more traffic via what it calls the Northern Sea Route (NSR) which it envisages being navigable year-round.

The Ural is due to be handed over to Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in 2022 after the two o,上海夜生活乌托邦Rachel,ther icebreakers in the same series, Arktika (Arctic) and Sibir (Siberia), enter service. 上海夜生活

“The Ural together with its sisters are central to our strategic project of opening the NSR to all-year activity,” Alexey Likhachev, Rosatom’s chief executive, was quoted saying.

President Vladimir Putin said in April Russia was stepping up construction of icebreakers with the aim of significantly boosting freight traffic along its Arctic coast.

The drive is part of a push to strengthen Moscow’s hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United S,上海夜生活Rae,tates and Norway, as well as newcomer China.

By 2035, Putin said Russia’s Arctic fleet would operate at least 13 heavy-duty icebreakers, nine of which would be powered by nuclear reactors.

The Arctic holds oil and gas reserves equivalent to 412 billion barrels of oil, about 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates.

Moscow hopes the route which runs from Murmansk to the Bering Strait near Alaska could take off as it cuts sea transport times from Asia to Europe.

Designed to be crewed by 75 people, the Ural will be able to slice through ice up to around 3 meters thick.

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Iran will defend itself against any aggression, says foreign minister

BAGHDAD ( ) – Iran will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed.

Speaking at a Baghdad news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim, Zarif said Iran wanted to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them.

“We will defend against any war efforts against Iran, whether it be an econom上海夜网ic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said.

Strains have increased between Iran and the United States after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region. Washington, a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, has blamed the attacks on Iran.

Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the United States has sent an aircraft carrier and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concern over the risk of conflict in a volatile region.

Iraq stands with Iran and is willing to act as an intermediary between its neighbor and the United States, Hakim said. Baghdad does not believe an “economic blockade” is fruitful, he added in a reference to U.S. sanctions.

“We are saying very clearly and honestly that we oppose the unilateral actions taken by the United States. We stand with the Islamic Republic of Iran in its position,” Hakim said.

The United States and Iran are Iraq’s two main allies.

Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi arrived in Oman and discussed “regional developments” with Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, Oman News Agency reported.

“Araqchi stressed the importance of peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and warned against the destructive policies of the United States and some of its regional allies,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on its website. “He rejected any direct or indirect talks with America.”

Bin Alawi last week said that his country is trying “with other parties” to calm Iran-U.S. tensions.

NUCLEAR REFERENDUM?

Washington has been seeking to tighten sanctions against Iran as relations worsen under U.S. President Donald Trump, who last year pulled out of a nuclear agreement that predecessor Barack Obama had signed with Iran and other world powers in 2015.

In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani floated the idea of holding a referend,上海夜生活网交流Quaid,um over Iran’s nuclear program, Iranian media reported.

A referendum on the program could give Iran’s leaders space to maneuver and a chance to resolve the stand-off with the United States.

Top Iranian leaders have said they are not seeking war with the United States and officials speaking to from Tehran last week said that despite the sharpened rhetoric with Washington, authorities are trying to avoid open conflict.

“Article 59 of the Constitution (referendum ),上海021夜网Mabel, is a deadlock breaker … and could be a problem-solver at any junction,” the semi-official news agency ILNA quoted Rouhani as saying late on Saturday.

Rouhani said that, when he was a top nuclear negotiator in 2004, he had proposed holding a referendum on the nuclear issue to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran has held only three referendums since its 1979 Islamic revolution — to approve the setting up of an Islamic Republic and then to approve and amend the constitution.

Washington says it has built up the U.S. military presence in the region, accusing Tehran of threats to U.S. troops and interests. Tehran has described U.S. moves as “psychological,上海夜哪里艳遇Tabitha, warfare” and a “political game”.

Separately, a deputy commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said the U.S. military presence in the Middle East was at its “weakest in history” despite talk of a build-up.

Spanish town to erase dictator Franco from its name

MADRID ( ) – A ,上海夜网官方网站Rachel,small Spanish town that owes its foundation to Francisco Franco will remove the former dictator from its name following a turnaround in local politics.

Home to about 2,500 people in the west of Spain, Guadiana del Caudillo’s name pays homage to the right-wing Franco, who visited in 1951 to launch its construction and whose title was “El Caudillo” (The Commander).

But after defeating the far-right Vox party in local ele,上海凤楼夜网Ida,ctions last Sunday, the Socialists’ incoming mayor told all symbols of Franco would be removed from public view.

“It is the first measure that we have to take. Change the name and remove Francoist vestiges, so that our town can receive funds,” Francisco Moreno said by telephone.

Vox’s mayor had defied a 2007 law ordering the removal of Franco symbols, leading to a cutoff of funds.

Franco’s 1939-1975 rule killed or imprisoned tens of thousands to stamp out dissent, while up to 500,000 combatants and civilians died in a war with leftist Republicans.

A plaque commemorating Franco’s visit adorns Guadiana del Caudillo’s town hall, complete with his government’s eagle symbol and protected under bullet-proof glass.

Moreno said residents would ch,上海新夜网龙凤Fabiana,oose a new name which he hoped to have approved soon after his June 15 swearing-in. “Maybe they just want to leave it as Guadiana. I don’t know,” he said.

The town lost上海夜生活 about 400,000 euros ($446,600) in funds from the regional government due to its Franco allegiance, he said.

Outgoing mayor Antonio Pozo, who joined Vox last year after leaving the conservative People’s Party, called a vote in 2012 on the town’s name. Residents voted for no change, but hundreds abstained.

($1 = 0.8957 euros)

Trump says Iran nuclear deal achievable as sanctions sting

TOKYO ( ) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday a deal with Iran on its nuclear program was possible, crediting economic sanctions for curbing activities Washington has said are behind a spate of attacks in the Middle East.

“I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen,” Trump said during a news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

“It has a chance to be a great countr上海夜生活网y with the same leadership,” Trump said. “We aren’t looking for regime change – I just want to make that clear. We are looking for no nuclear weapons.”

In Tehran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran was not seeking nuclear weapons, which its supreme leader had banned in an edict, adding on Twitter that U.S. policies were hurting the Iranian people and causing regional tensions.

“Actions—not words—will show whether or not that’s @realDonaldTrump’s intent,” Zarif said.

President Hassan Rouhani said in October the United States was seeking “regime change” in Iran, adding that the current U.S. administration was the most hostile that the Islamic Republic had faced in its four decades.

Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region.

Washington, a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, has blamed the attacks on Iran, which denies the accusations.

The United States has deployed a carrier strike group and bombers to the and announced plans to deploy 1,500 troops to the Middle East, prompting fears of a conflict.

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said on Saturday that the United States had “deep and serious” intelligence on threats posed by Iran, without providing details.

Trump, on a four-day visit to Japan, welcomed Abe’s help in dealing with Iran after broadcaster NHK said Japan’s leader is considering a trip to Tehran as early as mid-June. Iran said a visit was unlikely in the near future.

“I know for a fact that the prime minister is very close with the leadership of Iran, and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

At his,夜上海419龙凤论坛Jackson, joint news conference with Trump, Abe said Japan would do what it can on the Iran issue.

Trump last year withdrew the United States from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, and is ratcheting up sanctions seeking to end Iran’s international sales of crude oil and strangle its economy.

Japan was a major buyer of Iranian oil for decades before U.S. sanctions w,上海会所夜网Landon,hich Trump said were taking effect.

    “They were fighting in many locations,” he said of Iran. “Now they are pulling back because they have serious economic problems.”

Bolton, who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish U.S. policy on Iran, described recent bomb attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates and a pipeline pumping station in Saudi Arabia, as well as a rocket attack in Baghdad’s Green Zone, as “manifestations of concern” about I,上海夜网推油Earl,ran.

Iran has distanced itself from the bombings and on Sunday, Zarif said his country will defend itself against any military or economic aggression.

Germany’s Greens shoot into first place in poll, overtaking…

FRANKFURT ( ) – The Greens have overtaken Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives to become the most popular party in Germany, an opinion poll released on Saturday showed, while her Socialist SPD coalition partners fell to an all-time low.

The poll, asking voters which party they would back in a national election, showed the Greens at 27% support, one point ahead of Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc.

It suggests a trend which saw the Greens surge past the SPD into second place in a European election a week ago has only intensified since.

The Greens were now nine points ahead of their result in a poll conducted a week before the European vote, while the CDU was down by two points.

The SPD, one of Europe’s flagship center-left parties, was down five points to 12%, putting it just a single point ahead of the far right AfD. The pro-business FDP stood at 8 percent.

The nationwide poll was conducted from May 27-31 by Forsa on behalf of German broadcasters RTL and ntv.

Merke上海夜生活l’s conservatives won last week’s European election with 28.9% of t,上海夜生活群Eden,he vote, down seven percentage poi,上海夜生活桑拿会所Lake,nts from five years ago. The Greens with 20.5% beat the SPD into third place with just 15.8%.

“The Christian Democrats and the SPD appear to have ignored a shift observed during regiona,上海夜生活论坛Kaiden,l elections in the states of Hesse and Bavaria, which showed that voters are moving from the liberal center toward the Greens,” Forsa executive Manfred Guellner told RTL.

Both major traditional parties have emphasized the importance of the environment in the aftermath of the European elections, but this only appears to have benefited the Greens, Guellner said.

Northwest Nigeria violence drives 20,000 into Niger: UNHCR

GENEVA ( ) – Violence in northwest Nigeria has forced around 20,000 refugees to flee to neighboring Niger since April, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.

It voiced concern about deteriorating security conditions in the West African country, where military and police have been deployed to tackle cr上海夜网iminal gangs behind a spate of killings and kidnappings.

Security forces are already stretched tackling the decade-long insurgency by Islamist group Boko Haram in the northeast.

“This is not Boko Haram related in any way,” UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told a media briefing. “People are reportedly fleeing due to multiple reasons, including clashes between farmers and herders of different ethnic groups, vigilantism, as well as kidnappings for ransom,” he said.

The announcement came the day before the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the former military leader who secured a second term in February elections promising to improve security.

The Senate, the country’s upper house of parliament, last month increased the 2019 budget by 80 billion naira ($261 million) citing the need for a rise in spending on security across the country.

Baloch said refugees arriving in Niger’s southern Maradi region had report,夜上海419龙凤论坛Babette,ed machete attacks, kidnappings an,上海夜网官方网站Balthazar,d sexual violence.

Banditry has plagued the northwest for years, particularly around Zamfara state and its border with Kaduna state, though,夜上海论坛Idris, a recent spate of kidnappings and killings in the region has put it in the public eye.

Authorities suspended mining in Zamfara in April amid concerns that illegal miners were connected to a rise in violence.

Clashes between farming communities and nomadic herders over dwindling land in Nigeria last year killed more people than the Boko Haram conflict, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

($1 = 306.4500 naira)

Petition calling for impeachment of South Korea’s Moon to force a…

SEOUL ( ) – A petition calling for South Korean President Moon Jae-in to be impeached had gathered more than 217,000 signatures as of Monday, passing a threshold that will require a government response and underscoring Moon’s sagging approval ratings.

The author of the online petition has not been identified but says he or she is a citizen who took part in candlelight protests in 2017 that helped lead to the impeachment and ouster of Moon’s predecessor, Park Geun-hye.

“I think there’s no problem for proposing impeachment of a president who acts against the national psyche,” the petitioner wrote on a site for petitions that the presidential office, known as the Blue House, maintains on its web site.

The government has to respond to any petition that gathers more than 200,000 signatures.

The petitioner said Moon has condoned North Korea’s nuclear development, human right problems and illegal transhipment of North Korean coal, while “acting nonsense” such as lowering the military guard while North Korea has its nuclear weapons.

A spok,上海夜生活服务Naia,eswoman for the Blue House did not comment on the specifics of the petition, saying: “My understanding is that the Korean government or relevant official of the Blue House will answer in due course.”

Moon, a liberal human rights lawyer, won上海夜网 the presid,上海夜哪里艳遇Fabi,ency in an election in May 2017, ending nine years of conservative rule.

He has maintained wide support compared with s,上海夜生活怎么玩Jack,ome of his predecessors, but over the past year, with a stagnating economy and stalled talks with North Korea, his base of support has narrowed.

Some 44% of respondents in a Gallup Korea poll said Moon was doing a bad job, data showed on Friday, up more than four times the rate a year ago when his approval was at its highest after his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Among those respondents, 50% expressed frustration with Moon’s economic policy, while 13% criticized his focus on North Korea and his North Korea-friendly policies.

Asia’s fourth largest economy is struggling amid falling exports, low inflation, and high unemployment rates. Exports fell for a fifth month in April, while inflation has fallen below 1%. The unemployment rate rose to a three-month high in April.

The inter-Korean relationship as well as nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea have also been stalled since the breakdown of the second summit in Hanoi in February.

Philippines sends trash back to Canada after Duterte escalates row

SUBIC, Philippines ( ) – The Philippines has started returning dozens of shipping containers full of trash to Canada after a long-running row over waste exports that has tested diplomatic ties amid threats from firebrand President Rodrigo Dutert,夜上海419龙凤论坛Sabrina,e.

The 69 containers were loaded overnight onto a vessel at the po,上海足浴夜网联系方式Radcliff,rt of Subic, northwest of Manila, and left on Friday for a month-long journey to the Canadian city of Vancouver.

A Philippine court in 2016 declared the import of 2,400 tonnes of Canadian waste illegal. It had been mislabeled as plastics for recycling.

Canada said the waste, exported to the Philippines betwe上海夜网en 2013 and 2014, was a private commercial transaction done without the government’s consent.

“The government of Canada is taking all the necessary measures to ensure safe and environmentally sound transport, handling and disposal of the waste in Canada,” Mark Johnson, spokesman for Canada’s environment and climate change ministry, said in an email statement.

The Philippines had accused Canada of stalling, prompting angry rebukes from Duterte, a volatile but hugely popular president known for his tirades against Western governments.

He threatened to declare war on Canada, dump the trash in front of its embassy in Manila, or personally sail with the waste and leave it in Canadian waters.

His spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said he hoped ties with Canada would now return to normal.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said diplomats whom he had ordered to leave Canada in protest had now been told to return. Locsin posted a picture on Twitter on Friday of the ship departing Subic, with the message “Baaaaaaaaa bye”.

The Philippines is the latest Southeast Asian nation to take issue with developed nations they say use the region as a dumping grounds for ,上海仙霞路夜生活Larissa,waste.

Malaysia, the world’s main destination for plastic waste after China, said on Tuesday it would return as much as 3,000 tonnes of waste back to the countries of origin.

Environmental activists gathered in Subic as the containers were being prepared, holding banners that said “never again” and “we are not the world’s dump site.”

Some carried cardboard boxes made to look like shipping containers bearing signs that read “good riddance” and “Canada take back your trash”.

“The waste trade is a very unacceptable practice. It is a deplorable practice,” Greenpeace Philippines director Lea Guerrero told reporters.

Ethiopia PM presses plan to return displaced people after violence

NAIROBI ( ) – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister on Thursday pursued a plan to return displaced people to their homes following ethnic violence, meeting communities who recently went home, as relief workers voiced fears that the initiative could provoke fresh violence.

Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April 2018, has won international plaudits for announcing bold reform pledges, but the blossoming of political freedoms over the past year has been accompanied by a surge in ethnic violence.

Rivalries between ethnic groups — once repressed by a state with an iron fist — have exploded into the open, and the United Nations says 2.4 million Ethiopians are currently displaced due to these conflicts. More people were displaced last year in the Horn of Africa nation than in any other country, according to data published this month.

Earlier this month the government announced it was scaling up its plan to return displaced people to their homes as soon as possible, a message Abiy reinforced on Thursday when his office published photos of him speaking with people from the Gedeo and West Guji areas in southern Ethiopia who had recently returned to their homes.

“The military has been involved to the extent of supporting and securing the safe passage of the displaced back to their original locales where some still experienced a perception of fear,” a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s office wrote in an email to .

She added that the government is working to ensure that the returns are “voluntary”, in line with international sta,上海夜生活乌托邦Hallie,ndards.

The Gedeo and West Guji areas were the site of brutal violence last year — spoke in Augus,上海夜玩网论坛Sabrina,t to the family of a coffee farmer whose limbs were chopped off by a mob of young men. About 700,000 people fled ethnic violence in the area last year.

Abiy’s delegation, which included his Minister of Peace Muferiat Kamil, provided the communities with building materials to rebuild their homes — razed last year during the violence — and the prime minister planted seedlings, according to a statement from his office.

The upbeat message contrasts with the views of aid groups and experts who say many of the displaced people are terrified by the prospect of returning to their homelands now, before the causes of the violence along ethnic lines have been resolved.

“Pushing people to return to their home communities prematurely will only add to the ongoing suffering,” Refugees International said in a statement his month in response to what it called the government’s “forced returns”.

“There is a risk of further violence that stems from the very ambitious return targets,” said William Davison, senior Ethiopia analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“The problem is there may be lingering resentment and disputes over land and property if adequate work has not been done to assess the situation for returnees and ensure relations have improved,” he said.

An aid worker who spoke on condition of anonymit,上海夜生活Fabian,y due to tensions between aid groups and the government over the plan said that displaced people “don’t have a voice” in the matter — contradicting the government’s repeated assertions.

上海夜网The person said that in the past two weeks the government has deployed soldiers in the Gedeo area to dismantle camps, telling people who fled violence last year in the Guji area that they must bundle up their few belongings and head home or have them destroyed.

Flemish far right gains in Belgian ‘Super Sunday’ elections

BRUSSELS ( ) – The far-right Flemish separatist Vlaams Belang party scored major gains in Belgian elections on Sunday, an outcome likely to make forming the next national government more difficult.

Linguistically divided Belgium held a “Super Sunday” of European, national and regional elections, which resulted in a shift to the right in more prosperous Dutch-speaking Flanders and to the left in French-speaking Wallonia.

With 85% of the vote,上海夜玩网论坛Balthazar, counted, the anti,上海夜生活乌托邦Quaid,-immigrant Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) g上海夜生活论坛ained across Dutch-speaking Flanders to become the second largest party in the region behind the more moderate separatist N-VA party. N-VA suffered after being part of the last federal government.

Christian Democrat politician Miet Smet, the widow of former prime minister Wilfried Martens, described the far right’s success as terrible, marking a “jet black” day.

Vlaams Belang leader Tom Van Grieken disagreed. “This is not a black Sunday, but a Sunday full of hope. We want to assume our responsibility,” he told a cheering crowd of supporters. The party has so far been excluded from ruling coalitions at all levels of government.

In the French-speaking south of the country, the Socialists (PS) of former prime minister Elio di Rupo were set to b,上海夜网后花园Fabiana,e the biggest party, ahead of current Prime Minister Charles Michel’s liberal MR party, but with the same number of federal parliamentary seats as the Vlaams Belang.

The initial results and exit polls suggest Michel, who has been running the country of 11 million people in a caretaker capacity since December, could face many more months in that role as party leaders try to form a new coalition.

In 2010, that task took a world record 541 days until Di Rupo finally took office.

Belgium effectively runs two separate elections in the Dutch and French-speaking regions, with no national parties, after which it somehow has to weld together a federal government from both sides of the linguistic divide.

This could become harder with a greater number of Flemish separatists pushing for more powers to be devolved to Belgium’s regions, something the poorer south resists.

The process could begin in the coming week, with King Philippe expected to speak to the leaders of the main parties.

People in other European Union countries are also voting on Sunday in elections for the European Parliament, which are expected to dent traditional pro-EU parties and bolster the nationalist fringe.

In France, the far right was seen winning the most votes, although in the Netherlands, there appeared to be weak showing for eurosceptics.

Trump taps doctor, decorated diver to rescue Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON ( ) – When a Republican congressman was critically wounded in a shooting at a baseball game last summer, U.S. President Donald Trump dispatched his physician, an Iraq war veteran trained in emergency medicine, to the hospital to check on his condition.

Later on that June day, Navy Rear Ad上海夜生活网miral Ronny Jackson accompanied the Trumps to meet with Representative Steve Scalise’s family and medical team. Scalise survived and has returned to Congress.

Now Trump is counting on Jackson to take charge at Veterans Affairs, a behemoth of a bur,上海夜网邀请码Paisley,eaucracy that has vexed a slew of decorated military officers and corporate managers. He tak,上海夜生活Macey,es over for Dav,上海夜网推油Babette,id Shulkin, who came under heavy criticism in recent weeks for alleged unauthorized travel expenses.

The 50-year-old Jackson became a minor celebrity earlier this year as the telegenic presenter of a report on Trump’s fitness, in which he said the president was in overall excellent health but needed to shed some weight, eat better and start exercising on a daily basis.

The Navy doctor exhausted reporters’ questions during an unusually lengthy hour-long session, at Trump’s request, and said he did not withhold any information in the interests of privacy.

The press conference was spoofed in a “Saturday Night Live” here skit, his double-breasted uniform dripping with medals.

“Their job is to make fun of the people and the situation, so I didn’t expect to come out smelling like a rose. My kids and some of my friends thought it was pretty cool,” Jackson said in an interview here with the American Council on Science and Health.

Trump is the third president Jackson has served after coming on as the presidential physician in 2006 during the George W. Bush administration. He wins plaudits from Republicans and Democrats alike for his work here

David Axelrod, a top Obama aide and strategist, tweeted after Jackson’s press conference on Trump: “I knew Dr. Ronny Jackson in the White House. In my experience, he was very good guy and straight shooter.”

The Texas native worked as an autopsy assistant to earn extra money for college. After medical school, he trained as a specialist in submarine and hyperbaric medicine and was a diving medical officer serving in Italy. He completed his residency in emergency medicine and was later assigned to Iraq with a Marine unit during Operation Iraqi Freedom as the emergency medicine physician in charge of resuscitative medicine.

Jackson will bring his real-life war, management and emergency skills to an administration of 1,700 facilities and 350,000 employees serving 9.05 million veterans each year.

U.S. hints at shift on Russia with sanctions and condemnation

WASHINGTON ( ) – By imposing new sanctions on Russia and condemning a suspected Russian chemical attack in Britain, Washington has hinted at a tougher stance toward Moscow despite President Donald Trump’s stated desire for better ties.

The U.S. Treasury slapped sanctions on 19 Russian citizens and five entities for election meddling and cyber attacks in the most significant steps the United States has taken against Russia since Trump took office amid U.S. intelligence agency allegations that Moscow tried to help him win the 2016 election.

While the Treasury put off targeting oligarchs and officials close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it said further sanctions were coming and for the first time blamed Moscow for cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid, including nuclear facilities.

After initially equivocating about a chemical attack on a former Russian double agent in Salisbury, England, the White House joined a statement by the leaders of Britain, France and Germany in which they said they “abhor the attack” and blamed it on Moscow.

Moscow has denied any involvement in the poisoning.

Thursday’s actions have caused some Russia analysts to ask whether the administration is taking a more confrontational stance despite Trump’s repeated statements in the election campaign that he wanted a better relationship with Moscow, his praise for Putin and apparent reluctance to criticize the Russian leader.

“I think we have hit an inflection point in the current administration’s approach towards Russia,” said a diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity. “There has been a shift in balance.”

The diplomat attributed the evolution partly to a clash between U.S.-backed and Russian-backed forces in the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor in February; Russia pounding Syria’s eastern Ghouta enclave of anti-government rebels with air strikes during the past month; and Putin showing a video on March 1 of a weapon appearing to hover over what looked like a map of Florida, home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

“Those three things, taken together, have caused a shift in analysis in parts … of the administration,” said the diplomat.

TRUMP EXASPERATED

While there was a sense at the White House that there has been a hardening of Trump’s view toward Russia, at ,上海夜生活服务Daisy,least for now, it was unclear whether this represented a long-term shift.

A senior administration official said there was some feeling that the goodwill that Trump extended toward Russia when he took over has not been reciprocated and that the Russians do not want to have good relations with the United States.

Related CoverageRussia to expand ‘black list’ of Americans in response to sanctions: RIAEni discussing sanctions situation in Russia with U.S. and EU authorities

This has exasperated Trump, who instructed his team to make sure the United States appeared to be in solidarity with Britain over the nerve agent attack.

Eugene Rumer, a former U.S. national intelligence officer for Russia, suggested Trump’s approach may ultimately be guided by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Russia meddled in the election campaign.

The Kremlin denies interfering. Mueller is also investigating any potential collusion between the Trump campa,上海夜生活去哪玩Paige,ign and Moscow officials, something Trump denies.

“My hypothesis is … the White House stance on Russia is going to be determined to a large extent by how much they think the investigation threatens their political position,” Rumer said.

Officials from multiple U.S. agencies discussed next steps at a meeting on Thursday, with one aim being to avoid personally attacking Putin and taking in-your-face steps that could prompt retaliation.

In announcing Thursday’s sanctions, U.S. officials made clear more would follow.

“This is just one of a series of ongoing actions that we’re taking to counter Russian aggression,” one U.S. official told reporters. “There will be more to come, and we’re going to continue to employ our resources to combat malicious Russian activity and respond to nefarious attacks.”上海夜生活论坛

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center on March 4 after being exposed to what the British authorities have identified as a military-grade, Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.

Another U.S. official attributed the sharper edge to U.S. policy to increasingly brazen behavior by Russia in cyberspace and on the ground, culminating in the Salisbury attack.

This U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also pointed to Russia’s refusal to restrain Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the role of Russian “mercenaries” in Syria, now entering its eighth year of civil war.

The official said it was unclear if Trump himself saw Russia as an adversary but suggested Putin may have “overplayed his hand” by leaving Russian fingerprints on the hacking, the chemical attack, the deployment of ground-launched cruise missiles which the U.S. says violate an arms control treaty, and a March 1 speech on “invincible” Russian weaponry.

“If the president felt like Putin was one-upping him, not to mention stealing the limelight, then it wouldn’t be surprising that he would react,” the official said.

While more sanctions are expected, it was not clear if the Trump policy toward Russia was changing, especially given Trump’s unpredictability, said a third official, who is involved in talks on next steps.

“Tomorrow,上海夜生活网419Mabel, is another day,” the official said.