US to merge Jerusalem consulate in to new embassy

Updated 19 October 2018
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US to merge Jerusalem consulate in to new embassy

WASHINGTON: The United States will merge the US Consulate General, which serves Palestinians, with its new embassy into a single diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday.
“This decision is driven by our global efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations,” Pompeo said in a statement. “It does not signal a change of US policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip.”
The consulate-general in Jerusalem is the top mission for Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem for their capital.
“We will continue to conduct a full range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem through a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside US Embassy Jerusalem,” Pompeo said.
He said the Trump administration was committed to a peace effort between Israel and the Palestinians.
US President Donald Trump outraged the Arab world and stoked international concern by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest disputes between Israel and the Palestinians and Palestinian leaders accused Trump of sowing instability by overturning decades of US policy.
Palestinians, with broad international backing, seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they want to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed, as its “eternal and indivisible capital,” but that is not recognized internationally. The Trump administration has avoided that description, and noted that the city’s final borders should be decided by the parties.


Turkey keeps main interest rate unchanged

Updated 9 min 12 sec ago
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Turkey keeps main interest rate unchanged

  • The Turkish lira, which has been trading at more than 5.5 against the dollar, gained over one percent to 5.3 after the announcement that the main interest rate would remain unchanged
  • Turkey’s central bank said its policy committee ‘decided to maintain the tight monetary policy stance until the inflation outlook displays a significant improvement’

ANKARA: Turkey kept its main interest rate unchanged for a third time since a dramatic hike in September, in line with market expectations and helping the lira rally against the dollar.

The central bank said in a statement on its website that the one-week repo rate would remain at 24 percent. Inflation in Turkey remains in double-digits.

The Turkish lira, which has been trading at more than 5.5 against the dollar in the past couple of weeks, gained over one percent to 5.3 after the announcement.

The consensus had been for the rate to stay at 24 percent amid fears a cut would cause further weakness in the lira.

The bank said its policy committee “decided to maintain the tight monetary policy stance until the inflation outlook displays a significant improvement.”

It added that “if needed, further monetary tightening will be delivered.”

Consumer price inflation hit 25.24 percent in October, the highest level since 2003, before falling to 20.3 percent in December.

Turkey suffered a currency crisis in August during a diplomatic spat with the United States over the detention of an American pastor, later released, as well as concerns over domestic monetary policy under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has railed against high interest rates, describing them as the “mother and father of all evil.”

At one point during the US-Turkey row, the lira traded to lows around seven against the dollar.

But after the lira’s dramatic fall in the summer, the bank made an aggressive rate hike in September of 625 basis points (6.25 percentage points) to 24 percent.

Economists including Inan Demir of Nomura expected the central bank to keep the rate constant but London-based Capital Economics had warned of a potential 50 bps cut.

Demir said before the announcement the case for a cut had been “weakened” by fresh US-Turkey tensions over a Washington-backed Syrian Kurdish militia Ankara views as terrorists.

Although the dispute has since eased, US President Donald Trump on Sunday warned Washington would “devastate Turkey economically” if Ankara attacked the Kurdish People’s Protection Units militia (YPG) in Syria.