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U.S. President Trump arrives aboard Air Force One during a refueling stop on his way to Japan at Joint Base Elmendorf, Alaska
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One during a refueling stop on his way to Japan at Joint Base Elmendorf, Alaska, U.S. May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

May 25, 2019

By Jeff Mason

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, landed in Japan on Saturday on a largely ceremonial visit meant to showcase strong ties with Tokyo even as trade tensions loom.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will treat Trump to an imperial banquet and front row seats at a sumo tournament during the trip, which lasts through Tuesday.

The two men share a warm relationship, which the Japanese leader aims to emphasize as Washington mulls tariffs on Japanese auto exports that the Trump administration views as a potential national security threat.

The United States is in the middle of an expensive trade war with China in protest against Beijing’s treatment of U.S. companies, and tensions with Japan and the European Union over trade are simmering.

Trump and Abe are expected to discuss trade during talks on Monday, but officials have played down the possibility of a deal during the visit.

Trump will become the first foreign leader to be received by new Japanese Emperor Naruhito since he inherited the throne earlier this month.

He made clear during an impromptu news conference on Thursday that he was flattered by the invitation.

“Prime Minister Abe said to me, very specifically, ‘You are the guest of honor.’ There’s only one guest of honor … I’m the guest of honor at the biggest event that they’ve had in over 200 years,” Trump said.

“So it’s a great thing. And we get along very well with Japan. I get along very well with the Prime Minister.”

After his arrival, Trump was due to meet with business leaders before retiring.

On Sunday, Trump and Abe are expected to play golf and attend a sumo match. On Monday, they will discuss North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs in addition to trade.

A medium-strength earthquake hit eastern Japan, causing buildings to shake in Tokyo, hours before Trump’s arrival.

The epicenter was southern Chiba, southeast of the capital, the prefecture where Trump is due to play golf on Sunday.

No tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Nick Macfie)

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U.S. President Trump arrives aboard Air Force One during a refueling stop on his way to Japan at Joint Base Elmendorf, Alaska
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One during a refueling stop on his way to Japan at Joint Base Elmendorf, Alaska, U.S. May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

May 25, 2019

By Jeff Mason

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, landed in Japan on Saturday on a largely ceremonial visit meant to showcase strong ties with Tokyo even as trade tensions loom.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will treat Trump to an imperial banquet and front row seats at a sumo tournament during the trip, which lasts through Tuesday.

The two men share a warm relationship, which the Japanese leader aims to emphasize as Washington mulls tariffs on Japanese auto exports that the Trump administration views as a potential national security threat.

The United States is in the middle of an expensive trade war with China in protest against Beijing’s treatment of U.S. companies, and tensions with Japan and the European Union over trade are simmering.

Trump and Abe are expected to discuss trade during talks on Monday, but officials have played down the possibility of a deal during the visit.

Trump will become the first foreign leader to be received by new Japanese Emperor Naruhito since he inherited the throne earlier this month.

He made clear during an impromptu news conference on Thursday that he was flattered by the invitation.

“Prime Minister Abe said to me, very specifically, ‘You are the guest of honor.’ There’s only one guest of honor … I’m the guest of honor at the biggest event that they’ve had in over 200 years,” Trump said.

“So it’s a great thing. And we get along very well with Japan. I get along very well with the Prime Minister.”

After his arrival, Trump was due to meet with business leaders before retiring.

On Sunday, Trump and Abe are expected to play golf and attend a sumo match. On Monday, they will discuss North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs in addition to trade.

A medium-strength earthquake hit eastern Japan, causing buildings to shake in Tokyo, hours before Trump’s arrival.

The epicenter was southern Chiba, southeast of the capital, the prefecture where Trump is due to play golf on Sunday.

No tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Nick Macfie)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock is seen outside Downing Street in London
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock is seen outside Downing Street, as uncertainty over Brexit continues, in London, Britain April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

May 25, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – British health minister Matt Hancock said on Saturday he would enter the contest to be the next leader of the Conservative Party, the fifth candidate to say they would run to replace Theresa May as prime minister.

Hancock follows former foreign minister Boris Johnson, who is seen as the favorite, current foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and former work and pensions minister Esther McVey in joining the contest.

May announced on Friday she would step down as Conservative leader on June 7 after admitting defeat in her bid to get parliament to pass a divorce deal she agreed with the European Union.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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Firefighters douse a fire that broke out in a four-story commercial building in Surat
FILE PHOTO: Firefighters douse a fire that broke out in a four-story commercial building in Surat, in the western state of Gujarat, India, May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

May 25, 2019

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian police said on Saturday they had filed a culpable homicide case against three people as the death toll from a building fire in India’s Gujarat state rose to 20, with students attending coaching classes accounting for all those killed.

Satish Sharma, Commissioner of Police in the city of Surat, told reporters that one of the three men named in the police report ran the classes and has been arrested, though no charges have been brought yet.

The Gujarat government has ordered an inquiry into the incident, as well as a fire safety audit of schools, colleges, coaching centers and commercial buildings in Surat, where the fire occurred.

Some eyewitnesses and families of the victims have alleged fire officials were slow to arrive, according to Reuters partner ANI. Paresh Patel, whose daughter was inside the commercial complex when the fire broke out, said the fire brigade took 45 minutes to arrive. “Even though my daughter got saved, she is still in trauma,” he told ANI.

Initial investigations showed the fire, which broke out in the stairway of the multi-story Takshashila Arcade building, was caused by a short circuit, according to local media reports. Police were not immediately available to comment on Saturday.

A government official said at least 50 students were in the complex when the fire broke out. Injured victims were rushed to hospitals and the toll could rise further.

Television footage showed students desperately trying to escape by jumping off the building as smoke billowed from the top floor.

“To avoid such tragic incidents, I have asked officials to conduct fire safety audit of all buildings,” Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Friday.

There was no safety equipment installed in the building and no escape routes for the students, a fire official separately said.

Police said the building owner was among the three people named in the report but did not provide further details on their identities.

(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in NEW DELHI; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks during a graduation ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London
FILE PHOTO: U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks during a graduation ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, U.S., May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin

May 25, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said on Saturday there was “no doubt” North Korea’s recent test missile launches violated United Nations resolutions.

“The U.N. resolution prohibits the launch of any ballistic missiles,” Bolton said at a press roundtable in Tokyo ahead of a four-day state visit to Japan by Trump.

Earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the first flight of a previously untested weapon – a relatively small, fast missile experts believe will be easier to hide, launch, and maneuver in flight.

Bolton added Washington would not change its position from the one outlined at the last summit between the United States and North Korea in Hanoi but that “Trump has held the door open for Kim”.

Trump is expected to discuss topics ranging from North Korea’s nuclear missiles to China and two-way trade when he meets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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FILE PHOTO: Former Honduran president Porfirio Lobo holds a news conference at his house following accusations by the National Anti-corruption Council of embezzlement during his government, in Tegucigalpa
FILE PHOTO: Former Honduran president Porfirio Lobo holds a news conference at his house following accusations by the National Anti-corruption Council of embezzlement during his government, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Feb. 4, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera/File Photo

May 24, 2019

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – An international anti-corruption mission in Honduras said on Friday it is investigating former president Porfirio Lobo on suspicion of involvement in laundering illegal drug money as part of a wider probe into his 2010-14 administration.

The anti-graft unit of the Organization of American States (OAS) said the probe into Lobo began after Devis Leonel Rivera, a leader of the “Los Cachiros” drug cartel, testified in a U.S. court that he had given money to Lobo’s 2010 election campaign.

Rivera said Lobo “suggested to him that in exchange for donations to his political campaign, they would create companies that would be given contracts once he had won the presidential election,” Luiz Guimaraes, spokesman for the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), told reporters.

A lawyer for Lobo, who has repeatedly denied any involvement in or links to drug traffickers, declined to comment.

The revelation came as MACCIH said it was investigating 12 people, including a former cabinet minister, Lobo’s son Fabio and Rivera on suspicion of laundering drug money in a case that has been nicknamed “Narcopolitica” by the mission.

Lobo was not among the 12, but was being investigated as part of the wider probe, said Guimaraes, a Brazilian.

Prosecutors believe the money laundered in the case went through 21 public works contracts for companies set up by Los Cachiros with the ministry for public works worth an estimated 68.3 million lempiras ($2.8 million), according to the indictment.

Most of the works were never carried out, Guimaraes noted.

The investigators believe that Fabio Lobo, who in 2017 was sentenced to 24 years in prison by a New York federal court for drug trafficking, made sure Los Cachiros won the contracts.

Lobo’s former public works minister Miguel Pastor, as well as two other officials accused by the MACCIH, turned themselves in to prosecutors on Thursday night in Tegucigalpa.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia, editing by G Crosse)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi attends a meeting with local officials during a visit to the coutry's northern province of Marib
FILE PHOTO – Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi attends a meeting with local officials during a visit to the coutry’s northern province of Marib July 10, 2016. REUTERS/ Ali Owidha

May 24, 2019

ADEN (Reuters) – Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi criticized the U.N.’s special envoy to the country in a sharply-worded letter to the U.N. chief, describing him as legitimizing Houthi rebels his Saudi-backed coalition is locked in a four-year war with.

The Iran-aligned Houthis, who ousted Hadi from power in the capital Sanaa in 2014, have stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent days in a resurgence of tactics that had largely subsided since late last year amid United Nations-led peace efforts.

The attacks come the same month that U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths appeared to have achieved a diplomatic breakthrough, getting the Iranian-aligned Houthis to agree a unilateral withdrawal of their forces from Hodeidah and two other ports.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE head a Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states that back Hadi and intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government ousted from power.

The five-page letter, addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and dated May 22, outlines a litany of grievances directed at Griffiths, criticizing “his insistence on dealing with the rebels as a de-facto government,” referring to the Houthis.

The letter states that Griffiths has failed to properly oversee an agreement struck last year in Stockholm for a ceasefire and withdrawal plan for the port city of Hodeidah, and has not dealt with issues surrounding detainees and hostages.

“It is clear the envoy has a weak understanding of the nature of Yemen’s ongoing conflict, especially the ideological, intellectual, and political elements of the Houthi militias and their fundamental rejection of the principles of democracy and the peaceful rotation of power,” stated the letter.

A UN spokesman said on Friday that Guterres reiterated his confidence in Griffiths after receiving the letter, and said the special envoy would double down on efforts to support both sides in the conflict and ensure that the Stockholm agreement is fulfilled, a U.N. statement said.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi attends a meeting with local officials during a visit to the coutry's northern province of Marib
FILE PHOTO – Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi attends a meeting with local officials during a visit to the coutry’s northern province of Marib July 10, 2016. REUTERS/ Ali Owidha

May 24, 2019

ADEN (Reuters) – Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi criticized the U.N.’s special envoy to the country in a sharply-worded letter to the U.N. chief, describing him as legitimizing Houthi rebels his Saudi-backed coalition is locked in a four-year war with.

The Iran-aligned Houthis, who ousted Hadi from power in the capital Sanaa in 2014, have stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent days in a resurgence of tactics that had largely subsided since late last year amid United Nations-led peace efforts.

The attacks come the same month that U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths appeared to have achieved a diplomatic breakthrough, getting the Iranian-aligned Houthis to agree a unilateral withdrawal of their forces from Hodeidah and two other ports.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE head a Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states that back Hadi and intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government ousted from power.

The five-page letter, addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and dated May 22, outlines a litany of grievances directed at Griffiths, criticizing “his insistence on dealing with the rebels as a de-facto government,” referring to the Houthis.

The letter states that Griffiths has failed to properly oversee an agreement struck last year in Stockholm for a ceasefire and withdrawal plan for the port city of Hodeidah, and has not dealt with issues surrounding detainees and hostages.

“It is clear the envoy has a weak understanding of the nature of Yemen’s ongoing conflict, especially the ideological, intellectual, and political elements of the Houthi militias and their fundamental rejection of the principles of democracy and the peaceful rotation of power,” stated the letter.

A UN spokesman said on Friday that Guterres reiterated his confidence in Griffiths after receiving the letter, and said the special envoy would double down on efforts to support both sides in the conflict and ensure that the Stockholm agreement is fulfilled, a U.N. statement said.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Susan Thomas)

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Police officers are seen near the site of a suspected bomb attack in central Lyon
Police officers are seen near the site of a suspected bomb attack in central Lyon, France May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot

May 24, 2019

LYON (Reuters) – French police were hunting a suspected suitcase bomber on Friday after an explosion in the central city of Lyon that injured 13 people, officials said.

The suspect was captured on security video leaving a bag in front of a bakery shortly before an explosion occurred at around 5:30 pm, police sources and local mayor Denis Broliquier said.

Most of those hurt were hospitalized for treatment to leg injuries that were described as light.

President Emmanuel Macron characterized the incident as an “attack” when the news broke during a live YouTube interview ahead of Sunday’s European elections. “My thoughts are with the injured,” he said.

Paris anti-terrorism prosecutors opened an investigation as police said they were treating the blast as an attempted homicide, and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner headed to the scene.

The partially masked suspect appeared in security camera footage wheeling a bicycle to the scene, before leaving a bag outside a branch of Brioche Doree, a popular bakery chain.

Police sources described the suspected attacker as a European or North African male, seen wearing beige Bermuda shorts, an army-green scarf or head wrap and dark glasses.

Soon after he left, the blast rained metal bolts on passersby in front of the premises on rue Victor Hugo, several blocks from the city’s main station, according to police.

Police forces across France have been instructed to increase security in public places and event venues, Castaner said.

(Reporting by Catherine Lagrange in Lyon, Emmanuel Jarry and Marine Pennetier in Paris; Writing by Laurence Frost; Editing by Peter Graff)

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Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gather during a protest calling for neutrality during the ongoing tensions between neighbouring Iran and the USA, in Baghdad
Supporters of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gather during a protest calling for neutrality during the ongoing tensions between neighbouring Iran and the USA, in Baghdad, Iraq May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

May 24, 2019

By Ahmed Aboulenein

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Thousands of supporters of a populist Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim cleric urged political and factional leaders on Friday to stay out of any conflict between Baghdad’s two biggest allies, Iran and the United States.

Protesters from the movement of Moqtada al-Sadr, who once led Shi’ite militiamen against U.S. forces and is also vocally critical of Iranian influence in Iraq, chanted “no to war” and “yes to Iraq” in central Baghdad and the southern city of Basra.

Iraqis worry that their country will be caught up in any escalation of U.S.-Iranian tensions, which spiked earlier this month when President Donald Trump’s administration said it had sent additional forces to the Middle East to counter alleged threats including from Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

Politicians and Shi’ite paramilitary leaders have called for calm and the Iraqi government has tried to position itself as a mediator between the two sides.

“We’ve just recovered from Islamic State. Iraq must not be used as a base to try to harm any country. America doesn’t want Iraq to be stable,” said protester Abu Ali Darraji.

There was speculation that Sadr would speak to demonstrators in Baghdad but he did not appear. The firebrand leader, whose political bloc came first in Iraq’s parliamentary election last year, is a friend of neither Washington nor Shi’ite Iran.

The United States once described Sadr as the most dangerous man in Iraq, and designated his militia at the time, the Mehdi Army, a bigger threat to its forces than al Qaeda during an insurgency against U.S. troops after their 2003 invasion.

Sadr campaigned last year on a platform of Iraqi nationalism, opposed to both U.S. and Iranian influence in the country.

Amid rising U.S.-Iran tension, a rocket was fired last week into Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone which houses government buildings and diplomatic missions, but caused no casualties. No group claimed responsibility; U.S. officials say they strongly suspect Iran’s local allies.

The attack came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraqi leaders that if they failed to keep in check powerful Iran-backed militias, Washington would respond with force.

U.S. intelligence had showed militias positioning rockets near bases housing U.S. forces, according to Iraqi security sources.

After pulling out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Trump restored U.S. sanctions on Iran last year and tightened them this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions themselves.

Iraq has said it will send delegations to Washington and Tehran to help calm tensions.

Both Iran and the United States say they do not want war, but security officials and analysts warn that a small incident could spark a new spiral of violence in the volatile region.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Writing by John Davison; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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