Libya’s coast guard rescues 235 migrants off western coast

A handout photo released on September 24, 2018 by SOS Mediterranee shows migrants rest after being rescued by the Aquarius rescue ship run by non-governmental organizations (NGO) “SOS Mediterranee” and “Medecins Sans Frontieres” (Doctors without Borders) in the search and rescue zone off the coast of Libya, in the Mediterranean Sea, on September 24. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Libya’s coast guard rescues 235 migrants off western coast

  • Libya is the main departure point for Europe-bound migrants fleeing poverty and conflict
  • The coast guard rescued 190 migrants on board two inflatable boats off the port of Khoms

TRIPOLI: Libya’s coast guard rescued 235 migrants in three separate operations on Sunday night off its western coast, a naval forces spokesman said.
Western Libya is the main departure point for Europe-bound migrants fleeing poverty and conflict, although many drown in the attempt.
The coast guard rescued 190 migrants on board two inflatable boats off the port of Khoms, Naval forces spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters. A group of 45 others were picked up on board a wooden boat about 50 miles (80 kms) off Zuwarah.
They included 20 women and two children, the source said.
The number of crossings has sharply dropped since July 2017 when an armed group expelled human traffickers from a smuggling hub after an Italy-backed deal.
Aquarius 2, the one charity rescue vessel still operating in the central Mediterranean, has had its registration revoked by the Panama Maritime Authority in a move that means there will be no charity rescue ships off the Libyan coast in the near future unless the vessel can find a new flag to sail under.
Tripoli and western Libya are run by a UN-backed government mainly supported by armed groups, while eastern Libya is controlled by a rival administration. The country has been riven by conflict since Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in 2011.


France’s Macron sends senior diplomat to Iran to defuse US tensions

Updated 2 min 33 sec ago
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France’s Macron sends senior diplomat to Iran to defuse US tensions

  • Emmanuel Bonne held ‘high-level meetings’ Wednesday in Tehran
  • The French presidency refused to say whom the top diplomatic adviser met

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron sent his top diplomatic adviser to Iran this week as part of European efforts to defuse tensions between Tehran and Washington, the French presidency said Thursday.
The adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, held “high-level meetings” Wednesday in Tehran, “with the aim of contributing to the de-escalation of tensions in the region,” Macron’s office said.
The presidency refused to say whom Bonne met, adding only that he left Tehran on Wednesday evening.
The strains between Washington and Tehran increased Thursday with Iran’s announcement that it had shot down a US “spy drone” that violated Iranian airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.
The United States has yet to respond.
The incident marks the latest escalation in tensions following last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, which the United States blamed on Iran.
Tehran has denied any involvement.
Tensions between the longtime foes, who have had no relations since the hostage crisis that followed the 1979 Islamic revolution, have increased sharply since US President Donald Trump last year abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and re-imposed sanctions.
Macron, who is traveling to a G20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka on June 28-29, will “have contact with the main players” in the standoff, his office said.
Before that he will pay an official visit to Japan on June 26-27, during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who recently traveled to Iran to try mediate in the crisis.
Abe met with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who categorically refused to hold talks with Trump.
The EU is under pressure from Tehran to try salvage the 2015 deal, with Iran threatening to breach its nuclear enrichment limits.
On Tuesday, Macron urged Tehran to be “patient and responsible.”