Abbas denies Palestinians refused peace talks with Israel

Abbas’ denial came after talks in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron Friday. Abbas asked Macron to pass the message onto US President Donald Trump. (Reuters)
Updated 21 September 2018
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Abbas denies Palestinians refused peace talks with Israel

PARIS: Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has denied US claims the Palestinians have refused to enter peace talks with Israel.
Abbas’ denial came after talks in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron Friday. Abbas asked Macron to pass the message onto US President Donald Trump.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton said earlier this month that the Palestinian de facto embassy in Washington was being shut because the PLO hadn’t taken steps toward negotiations.
Abbas said “we didn’t reject negotiations as the Israelis claim,” adding that the Palestinian side is “ready for any confidential or public talks.”
Abbas also said “the Europeans are working seriously to substitute and fill the American (funding) gap” after the Trump administration canceled over $200 million in aid for Palestinian projects.


Iranians use tanker seizure to drive wedge between US, UK

Updated 49 min 33 sec ago
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Iranians use tanker seizure to drive wedge between US, UK

  • Saudi minister Al-Jubeir condemns ‘violation of international law’ as Britain considers sanctions

JEDDAH: Iran tried on Sunday to drive a diplomatic wedge between the US and the UK amid escalating tension after Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces seized a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf and forced it into an Iranian port.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused US National Security Adviser John Bolton of trying to enlist British support for the US campaign against Iran. “Having failed to lure Donald Trump into the War of the Century, he is turning his venom against the UK in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire,” Zarif said.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said any attack on the freedom of navigation was a violation of international law. “Iran must realize that its acts of intercepting ships, including most recently the British ship, are completely unacceptable. The world community must take action to deter such behavior,” he said.

Iran must realize that its acts of intercepting ships, including most recently the British ship, are completely unacceptable.

Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

British ministers said they were considering their options in response to the seizure on Friday of the tanker Stena Impero with 23 crew on board. A statement to Parliament is expected on Monday.

“We are going to be looking at a series of options,” junior Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood said. “We will be speaking with our colleagues, our international allies, to see what can actually be done.”

Analysts said a military response was unlikely, but possible diplomatic and economic measures include freezing Iranian assets. Britain may also push for UN and EU sanctions to be reimposed on Iran, as the US has already done.

However, British defense expert Tim Ripley said the UK had few good options. 

“We rant and rave and we shout at the ambassador and we hope it all goes away,” he said.

“If the Americans are going to continue to enforce their embargo, there’s no incentive for the Iranians not to take more tankers. What have they got to lose?” 

Meanwhile, Iran thanked Saudi Arabia on Sunday for the return of an Iranian ship docked at Jeddah port since May because of technical problems.

“Iran appreciates efforts by the authorities of Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Oman to secure the safe return of the Happiness 1 oil tanker,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.