Ammon News, World

King congratulates Indian PM on victory in elections

[5/26/2019 7:12:57 AM]

AMMONNEWS - His Majesty King Abdullah II Sunday congratulated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of his party's victory in the legislative elections. In a cable, the King stressed the "deep-rooted" relations between Jordan and India and keenness to further develop mutual cooperation in various fields. His Majesty also wished the premier the friendly Indian people continued progress and prosperity.

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Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister to visit Qatar, Oman and Kuwait for talks

[5/25/2019 7:57:48 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi will begin on Sunday a tour of Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait, Fars news agency reported. Aragchi’s visit to the Gulf coincides with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s two-day visit to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad after finishing a tour of several Asian countries, including India, China, and Japan. Last week, the deputy Iranian foreign minister told a German envoy seeking to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran’s patience was over and urged the treaty’s remaining signatories to fulfill their commitments after the United States pulled out. Tensions have soared between Iran and the United States since Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers, and Patriot missiles, in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region. On Wednesday, US officials said the Defense Department was considering a US military request to send about 5,000 additional troops to the Middle East. *Al Arabiya

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Trump dodges Congress in arms sale to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan

[5/25/2019 6:22:45 AM]

AMMONNEWS - US President Donald Trump bypassed Congress to approve the sale of $8.1 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan. The deal would “deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defense capacity” of US allies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Friday, reported Efe news. “These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added, referring to heightened tensions with Tehran. The Secretary of state notified Congress of his decision to use an emergency loophole in the law regulating the export of arms to sell surveillance equipment, precision munitions and other supplies to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan. “Delaying this shipment could cause degraded systems and a lack of necessary parts and maintenance that could create severe airworthiness and interoperability concerns for our key partners, during a time of increasing regional volatility,” Mr. Pompeo said. The instance is to be a “one-time event,” he said. Congressional opposition to the US’ military support to Saudi Arabia has been on the rise in recent months and lawmakers have managed to block arms sales for more than a year and a half. Legislators are concerned about civilian casualties in the military operation led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen and outrage over the assassination of US resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October by suspected Saudi agents. It also comes as the US is to send 1,500 troops as well as weaponry to the Middle East to counter an unclarified threat posed by Iran. In April, Mr. Trump vetoed a resolution passed by Congress to end US military support to the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The measure won the support of most legislators following Khashoggi’s assassination on October 2, 2018. Mr. Trump, however, has defended US ties with the kingdom despite the murder. *The Hindu

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Trump says he will send 1,500 troops to Middle East

[5/25/2019 6:19:25 AM]

AMMONNEWS - US President Donald Trump said on Friday he will send about 1,500 American troops to the Middle East, mostly as a protective measure, amid heightened tensions with Iran. “We want to have protection in the Middle East. We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective,” Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. “Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we’ll see what happens,” he said. The Pentagon said only about 900 of the 1,500 troops will be newly deploying and that 600 are already in the region and will be extended. It said they include Patriot missile battery personnel, manning for surveillance aircraft and engineers. The forces would help strengthen US defenses in the region, two sources told Reuters earlier on condition of anonymity. The US military deployed a carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East earlier this month in response to what Washington said were troubling indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran. “Right now, I don't think Iran wants to fight. And I certainly don't think they want to fight with us,” Trump said. “But they cannot have nuclear weapons,” he continued. “They can’t have nuclear weapons. And they understand that.” “This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran,” said Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. Pentagon officials said the 1,500 additional troops were in response to recent incidents in the region that US intelligence had tied to Iran’s leadership. Those have included a rocket attack on the Green Zone in Baghdad, explosive devices that damaged four tankers in Fujairah at the entrance to the Gulf, and a Houthi drone attack against a Saudi oil installation. “We view this as a campaign,” said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff. Gilday stressed that the expanded US military presence in the region, including an aircraft carrier task force, B-52 bombers, and an amphibious attack vessel deployed earlier this month, are defensive and meant to address an alleged ongoing threat from Iran. “We think that through a combination of a very measured deployment of assets as well as public messaging, we are again trying to underscore that we are not seeking hostilities with Iran.” Rhetoric between Tehran and Washington has escalated in recent weeks as the United States tightened sanctions with what it said was the goal of pushing Iran to make concessions beyond the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal. Trump warned on Monday that Iran would be met with “great force” if it attacked US interests in the Middle East. Earlier, a US official told Al Arabiya correspondent in Washingtonon Friday that President Trump agreed to send more troops to the Middle East. The Trump administration at that time had not disclosed a specific number for the additional troops buildup to be sent to the region, in a move to beef up defenses against potential Iranian threats. On Thursday, President Trump said that he was willing to consider sending more US troops to the Middle East to counter Iran, as he prepared to meet Pentagon officials to discuss it later in the day. For his part, acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan confirmed on Thursday that the Pentagon was considering sending additional US troops to the Middle East. *Agencies

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Syrian army shoots down drone near Hama’s airport

[5/23/2019 6:27:33 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The Syrian army shot down a drone loaded with bombs near Hama’s airport, Syrian state TV said late on Wednesday. The drone was launched by al-Nusra Front militants, the state television added. No further details were immediately available. On Wednesday, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that militants based in Idlib had also launched a missile attack on Russia’s Hmeymim air base, but that their missiles were either shot down or did not reach their target. *Reuters

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Trump torpedoes meeting with Democrats, blasts Pelosi’s ‘cover-up’ accusation

[5/22/2019 7:11:10 PM]

AMMONNEWS - President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly cut short a White House meeting with Democratic lawmakers on infrastructure, then ripped into them over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s accusation that he is engaged in a cover-up and asserted that he could not work with them unless they dropped multiple investigations. “I don’t do cover-ups,” the Republican president, clearly agitated, told reporters at a previously unscheduled Rose Garden appearance after his brief meeting with Democratic congressional leaders that Pelosi described as “very, very, very strange.” Unleashing a familiar litany of gripes about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and the follow-up congressional inquiries that he has been stonewalling, Trump also complained that Democrats had met to discuss whether to impeach him - or, as he called it, “the I-word.” The rupture bodes ill for any possible cooperation between the president and the Democrats who control the House of Representatives on legislation on infrastructure or other matters as Trump seeks re-election in 2020, signaling deepening political gridlock in Washington. Pelosi, the top congressional Democrat, did not back down afterward and pointedly mentioned the possibility of impeachment, the US Constitution’s process for the House and Senate to remove a president from office. “The fact is, in plain sight in the public domain, this president is obstructing justice and he’s engaged in a cover-up - and that could be an impeachable offense,” Pelosi said in an event at the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington policy advocacy group. The president is stonewalling congressional investigations by ignoring subpoenas, refusing to let current and former advisers testify and not handing over documents in the aftermath of the April release of Mueller’s report that detailed Russian interference in the 2016 election to boost Trump’s candidacy. In the run-up to the infrastructure meeting, Trump was stewing over Pelosi’s cover-up remarks, according to a White House official. Pelosi, amid growing talk about impeachment, had told reporters about an hour before the scheduled meeting that Trump is engaged in a cover-up. As the meeting neared, Trump told aides he wanted to hold an event in the Rose Garden to make a statement. When Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer arrived in the Cabinet Room, Trump walked in, stood at the head of a long boardroom table, and told them he had asked them over to talk about infrastructure, but that the speaker had just accused him of a cover-up. The meeting lasted only three to five minutes, the official said. Once Trump exited, Pelosi told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others in the room that prior presidents like Theodore Roosevelt had brought people together on infrastructure but Trump had walked out, two sources familiar with the meeting said. Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway asked Pelosi, “Do you have a response to what the president actually said?” Pelosi fired back, “I’m going to engage directly with the president, not the staff.” “That’s very pro-woman of you,” Conway fired back, the sources said. Afterward, Trump strode to a podium adorned with a professionally made sign that read, “No Collusion, No Obstruction” and that also listed the cost and length of the Mueller probe. Trump said, “I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure. I want to do it more than you want to do it. I’d be really good at that - that’s what I do. But you know what? You can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with.” *Reuters

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US sees signs Syrian government may be using chemical weapons

[5/22/2019 5:36:39 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The United States sees signs the Syrian government may be using chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack on May 19 in northwest Syria, the US State Department said on Tuesday. “We are still gathering information on this incident, but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “The May 19 alleged attack in northwest Syria is part of a violent campaign by the Assad regime that violates a ceasefire that has protected several million civilians in the greater Idlib area. This renewed Syrian regime offensive has targeted the communities of that area, which include a large number of Syrians who were already displaced from violence in others parts of Syria, and has destroyed known health facilities, schools, residences, and internally displaced person camps,” Ortagus added. President Donald Trump’s administration has twice bombed Syria over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, in April 2017 and April 2018. In September, a senior US official said there was evidence showing chemical weapons were being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in the country. The State Department statement accused Russia and Assad’s forces of “a continuing disinformation campaign ... to create the false narrative that others are to blame for chemical weapons attacks.” “The facts, however, are clear,” the statement said. The Assad regime itself has conducted almost all verified chemical weapons attacks that have taken place in Syria - a conclusion the United Nations has reached over and over again.” *Al Arabiya

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