Official says Syria 'ready' to work with probe

Updated 16 April 2018
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Official says Syria 'ready' to work with probe

THE HAGUE: A Syrian government official says his country is "fully ready" to cooperate with the fact-finding mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that's in Syria to investigate the alleged chemical attack that triggered US-led airstrikes.
Faisal Mekdad, Syria's deputy foreign minister, said on Monday that government officials have met with the delegation, which has been in Damascus for three days, a number of times to discuss cooperation.

Russia and Syria have not yet allowed a fact-finding mission from the world's chemical weapons watchdog to enter Douma to probe allegations of a gas poison attack, the British embassy here said Monday.
The head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, had briefed emergency talks about the deployment of the team, which arrived Saturday in Damascus.
But "Russia & Syria have not yet allowed access to Douma. Unfettered access essential," the British delegation to the OPCW based in The Hague said in a tweet.
British ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson, urged Monday's meeting "to act to hold perpetrators to account", saying failure to do so "will only risk further barbaric use of chemical weapons, in Syria and beyond".
"The time has come for all members of this executive council to take a stand," Wilson said, adding "too many duck the responsibility that comes with being a member of this council".
He repeated that Britain, together with the United States and France, on Saturday had struck at a "limited set of targets".
They included "a chemical weapons storage and production facility, a key chemical weapons research centre and a military bunker involved in chemical weapons attacks".
"Hitting these targets will significantly degrade the Syrian regime's ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons," Wilson said.
Since Syria joined the OPCW in 2013, "we have sought to use diplomatic channels ... to stop chemical weapons use in Syria but our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted," Wilson said.
It was "shameful" that a lack of accountability for the April 2017 attack on Khan Sheikhun "can only have reassured the Syrian regime that the international community was not serious in its stated commitment to uphold the norm against chemical weapons use," he added.


Porsche first German carmaker to abandon diesel engines

Updated 23 September 2018
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Porsche first German carmaker to abandon diesel engines

  • The company would concentrate on its core strength, ‘powerful petrol, hybrid and, from 2019, purely electric vehicles’
  • But Porsche promised it would keep servicing diesel models on the road now

BERLIN: Sports car maker Porsche said Sunday it would become the first German auto giant to abandon the diesel engine, reacting to parent company Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal and resulting urban driving bans.
“There won’t be any Porsche diesels in the future,” CEO Oliver Blume told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
Instead, the company would concentrate on what he called its core strength, “powerful petrol, hybrid and, from 2019, purely electric vehicles.”
The Porsche chief conceded the step was a result of the three-year-old “dieselgate” scandal at auto giant Volkswagen, the group to which the luxury sports car brand belongs.
VW in 2015 admitted to US regulators to having installed so-called “defeat devices” in 11 million cars worldwide to dupe emissions tests.
It has so far paid out more than €27 billion in fines, vehicle buybacks, recalls and legal costs and remains mired in legal woes at home and abroad.
Diesel car sales have dropped sharply as several German cities have banned them to bring down air pollution — a trend that Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to discuss with car company chiefs in Berlin later Sunday.
Stuttgart-based Porsche in February stopped taking orders for diesel models, which it had sold for nearly a decade.
Blume said Porsche had “never developed and produced diesel engines,” having used Audi motors, yet the image of the brand had suffered.
“The diesel crisis has caused us a lot of trouble,” he said, months after Germany’s Federal Transport Authority ordered the recall of nearly 60,000 Porsche SUVs in Europe.
Blume promised that the company would keep servicing diesel models on the road now.
According to the paper, Porsche also faces claims of having manipulated engines to produce a more powerful sound with a technique that was deactivated during testing.
Blume acknowledged that German regulators had found irregularities in the 8-cylinder Cayenne EU5, affecting some 13,500 units.
Merkel, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer and heads of German auto companies were due to meet in Berlin later Sunday to discuss steps to avoid more city driving bans.
The German government hopes to see one million fully electric and hybrid vehicles on the road by 2022, up from fewer than 100,000 at the start of this year.