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Top US officials to visit Mexico today for border talks

Author: 
AFP, Reuters
Wed, 2017-02-22
ID: 
1487708847060294800

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will meet this week in Mexico with President Enrique Pena Nieto, to discuss issues including border security amid frayed relations under new US President Donald Trump.
In brief statement, the State Department said on Tuesday they will discuss “border security, law enforcement cooperation, and trade, among other issues” during talks on Wednesday and Thursday.
Tillerson and Kelly will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and other top Mexican officials during the two-day visit on Wednesday and Thursday, it said.
The Wednesday-Thursday visit comes amid tensions between the US and Mexico since Trump took office on Jan. 20.
Trump has vowed to build a wall on the US southern border, slap a hefty tax on Mexican-made goods entering the country and pull out of a trade deal with Mexico if he cannot renegotiate it to benefit the US.
Pena Nieto canceled a planned January meeting of the two leaders in Washington after Trump said his counterpart should not attend if he was unwilling to pay for the wall.
Despite the tensions, senior Mexican and American military and interior officials spoke this month in a sign that communication remained open between the two countries.
Besides Pena Nieto, the two American secretaries will meet with Mexico’s ministers of the interior, foreign affairs, finance, defense and the navy, the State Department said.
Mexico, which announced the visit last week, said it was aimed at building “a respectful, close and constructive relationship between the two countries.”
Relations between the neighbors have been rocked by Trump’s vow to build a huge border wall, his disparagement of Mexican immigrants during the US presidential campaign and attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Pena Nieto canceled a White House meeting with Trump last month after the president tweeted it would be better not to have it if Mexico refused to pay for the border wall.
Trump has also vowed to renegotiate or scrap NAFTA, arguing that it was a bad deal that has led to the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico.
The trip to Mexico would be Tillerson’s second foreign foray since taking office in early February.
He traveled last week to Europe to meet with foreign ministers at the G20 gathering in Bonn.

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Mugabe praises Trump’s ‘America First’ policy

Author: 
FARAI MUTSAKA | AP
Wed, 2017-02-22
ID: 
1487708498820215300

HARARE, Zimbabwe: US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy has an admirer in Zimbabwe’s longtime president, who says the policy resonates with his own thinking.
President Robert Mugabe, who turned 93 on Tuesday and is the world’s oldest head of state, spoke in a birthday interview with state-run media.
“When it comes to Donald Trump, on the one hand talking of American nationalism, well, America for America, America for Americans — on that we agree. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans,” he said.
Mugabe has previously defended Trump, even saying he didn’t want Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to win last year’s election. He also said he hoped Trump’s administration would remove sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe more than a decade ago over alleged human rights abuses and electoral irregularities.
But Mugabe questioned Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexican border. “It appears quite nasty. I don’t know how the Mexicans will take it. I thought the Americans once loved Mexico,” he said. “I don’t know. Give him time. He might come up with better policies.”
A large birthday celebration is scheduled for Saturday in tribute to Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from white minority rule in 1980 and vows to stand again in elections next year.
In the interview with state media, Mugabe also described his wife Grace, an increasingly political figure, as “fireworks” because of her feisty remarks in his defense.
The 51-year-old first lady has hotly defended her husband against critics who say it is time for him to step down, declaring last week that the ruling party should field him as a corpse if he dies before the election.
“Fireworks, isn’t it?” the president said of her remarks, laughing.
Grace Mugabe’s political rise has been a source of consternation for opposition figures as well as some officials within the ruling ZANU-PF party who suspect she is positioning herself for a more powerful role in the government.
The president described her as “very much accepted by the people” and said the women’s wing of the ruling party had chosen his wife as its head because of her political ambitions.
He described her as “well-seasoned” and “a very strong character.”
Mugabe also repeated his pledge to stand in 2018 elections despite calls from some Zimbabweans for him to quit amid economic turmoil in the once-prosperous country. The president said he was still popular and nobody is qualified to replace him.
“The volume of wishes for the president to stand, the number of people who will be disappointed is galore and I don’t want to disappoint them,” he said.
During the interview, Mugabe often gestured to emphasize points. He spoke slowly and was slumped into a leather armchair most of the time.

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Russia Signs 100,000 bpd Oil Contract With Iran

Russia has agreed to purchase 100,000 barrels of oil a day from Iran in exchange for cash and goods and services, according to a new report by the Iranian Students News Agency. The setup is set to begin within the next 15 days, the ISNA said. The two countries also have a standing contract to build a 1.4 gigawatt thermal power plant in the southern city of Bandar Abbas. Sputnik News reported that construction at the site began on Monday during an opening ceremony with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in attendance. The project is led by…


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Saudi Arabia Considers Selling Cheap Aramco Shares To Locals

Oil giant Saudi Aramco is reportedly considering offering shares to citizens of Saudi Arabia as it prepares for an initial public offering that could be the biggest the world has ever seen. Quoting sources ‘familiar with the matter’, Bloomberg reported that Aramco has been talking about how to structure the IPO so that Saudi retail investors could get in on the deal cheaper than through international exchanges. No details on the local shares structure have been released, nor has Aramco commented on the plan officially. Bloomberg…


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Oversupply Fears Grow As U.S. Oil Exports Hit Record High

U.S. oil producers contributed a record 7 million barrels of crude oil to international markets during the Week of February 5th, 2017, approximately one million barrels per day. This is on the tail of OPEC strategically limiting their global contributions. These OPEC supply constraints are a continuation of policy agreed upon in January by OPEC nations and other suppliers to support higher prices. Some analysts speculate that this is a harbinger of continuously increasing American activity in the global oil market. However, it remains unclear if…


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OPEC Unfazed As Russia Cuts Production But Boosts Exports

OPEC is not taking issue with Russia’s increased oil exports for the month of January, according to the bloc’s Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo, who expressed confidence in Moscow’s commitment to the oil-price end game. “I am in regular contact with Russia and I remain confident that at the end of the day we will see full and timely implementation of the obligation [to cut oil production],” he said, answering a question regarding the issue at a press conference. “Russia is a leading producer, a leading participant…


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This Is Where Oil Majors Expects The Next Big Efficiency Jump

The race for using high-performance computing in oil and gas reservoir simulation, management and development is on. Oil and gas supermajors are continuously pushing for higher efficiency and lower costs, all the more so since the oil price crash in 2014 caused them to cut exploration and production investments. The industry is increasingly relying on advanced technology in appraising oil and gas fields that would minimize downtime and maximize profits. Last week, ExxonMobil boasted that it had set a record in high-performance oil and gas reservoir…


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1.4 million African children face ‘imminent death’ amid famine: UNICEF

Author: 
Associated Press
Wed, 2017-02-22
ID: 
1487706216089976700

JOHANNESBURG: The United Nations children’s agency is warning that almost 1.4 million children are at “imminent risk of death” as famine threatens parts of South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.
The UNICEF announcement comes a day after famine was declared in parts of Unity state in South Sudan, where civil war has raged since late 2013 and where severe inflation has made food unaffordable for many.
UNICEF for months has warned about severe malnutrition in northeastern Nigeria, especially in areas that have been largely inaccessible because of the Boko Haram insurgency. The agency says nearly 500,000 children are expected to face severe malnutrition this year in Borno, Yobi and Adamawa states.
The agency says Somalia also faces drought and in Yemen’s conflict, nearly half a million children have “severe acute malnutrition.”
UNICEF warned that 462,000 children were suffering from acute malnutrition in Yemen.
Last month, the UNICEF chief Stephen O’Brien said the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country was sliding deeper into humanitarian crisis and could face famine this year.
O’Brien said that without “immediate action,” famine was “a possible scenario for 2017.”
In South Sudan, President Salva Kiir said Tuesday his government will ensure “unimpeded access” for all aid organizations.
The United Nations and others have long accused the government of blocking or restricting aid delivery in the East African nation.
Kiir’s remarks to the transitional national assembly came after the famine was declared in parts of oil-rich Unity state. More than 100,000 people are affected, according to South Sudan’s government and UN agencies. They say another 1 million people are on the brink of starvation.
South Sudan has repeatedly promised to allow full humanitarian access across the country, but with little effect. Some in Kiir’s government have expressed hostility toward the international community, accusing it of meddling in the country’s affairs.
Human Rights Watch researcher Jonathan Pedneault wrote Tuesday that the famine is a man-made result of “conflict, warring parties blocking access for aid workers and large-scale human rights violations.”
Also Tuesday, the European Commission announced an 82 million euro ($87 million) emergency aid package for South Sudan, saying this is the first famine declared in the country since it gained independence from Sudan in 2011.
“The humanitarian tragedy in South Sudan is entirely man-made,” EU Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner Christos Stylianides said in a statement. Crucially what matters is that all parties allow humanitarian organizations to have immediate and full access to do their job and deliver aid.”
Tens of thousands have died in the civil war that began in December 2013 and has continued despite a peace agreement in 2015. More than 1.5 million people have fled the country.
South Sudan also is experiencing severe inflation, which has made food unaffordable for many families.

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Brotherhood hails Turkish president’s defence of group

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood group has praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his refusal to blacklist the movement as a “terrorist” organisation. In an interview last week with the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television channel during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Erdogan said he did not consider the Brotherhood a terrorist group. “This honest and fair position by Erdogan was not strange from a man who has always adopted strong and unbiased positions,” Brotherhood deputy leader Ibrahim Munir said in a statement on Monday. “This was not an unusual move by Turkey, a country that has always striven to help the oppressed for the sake of freedom and an honourable life,” he added. The Muslim Brotherhood has been the target of […]