Friday 20 April 2018

China hits back over Trump sanctions

Chinese vice-premier Liu He yesterday said the US has flouted trade rules with an inquiry into intellectual property, and threatened that China will defend its interests.

He made the comments in a phone call with US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, which was made as the world's financial markets are gripped by fear an escalating trade rift between the US and China could inflict far-reaching pain.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost almost a combined 1,150 points last Thursday and Friday after US president Donald Trump set his administration on a path to restrict Chinese investment in the US and impose tariffs on up to $60bn of Chinese products.

The sanctions Trump unveiled are meant to punish Beijing for pilfering technology from American companies or for forcing them to hand over technology in exchange for access to China's market.

Egyptian election car bomb deaths

A bomb under a car in Egypt's second city Alexandria yesterday killed two people, including a policeman, two days before the country's presidential election.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing. Islamic State released a video last month in which it warned Egyptians against taking part in the vote and urged Islamists to attack security forces and leaders.

Syrian retaking of Douma nears endgame

The Syrian army paused its bombardment of Douma, the last rebel bastion near Damascus, a war monitor said yesterday, as insurgents prepared to leave the rest of their former enclave of eastern Ghouta.

Thousands of fighters and their families departed neighbouring Harasta by bus last Friday after a deal with the government to surrender the town. Insurgents in several other towns have agreed to leave on similar terms.

Exiled Catalan leader goes to ground

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont faces arrest in Finland after authorities there received an international warrant for his detention issued by Spain.

If he returns to Spain, Puigdemont faces up to 25 years in prison on charges of rebellion and sedition for his part in organising an illegal referendum on Catalan secession last year. Finnish authorities say they currently have no knowledge of his whereabouts.

In an escalation of action against separatists in the region, Spain's Supreme Court has ruled 25 Catalan leaders will be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobeying the state. Six Catalans, including Puigdemont, have fled the country.

Skripal 'wanted to return home to Russia'

Poisoned former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal wrote to Vladimir Putin asking to be pardoned and to be able to visit his home country, a friend has said.

The former Russian intelligence officer, who entered Britain in 2010 as part of a spy swap, regretted being a double agent and wanted to visit his family, Vladimir Timoshkov told the BBC. Mr Skripal and daughter Yulia remain in a critical condition after they were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury on March 4.

The attempted assassination sparked a diplomatic crisis between the West and Russia.

Sunday Independent

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