Agreement

A man walks past the logo of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries at their plant in Jerusalem
A man walks past the logo of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries at their plant in Jerusalem December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

May 26, 2019

(Reuters) – Oklahoma has reached a $85 million settlement agreement with Israeli-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd ahead of the start of a trial in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit over the opioid epidemic, the state’s attorney general said on Sunday.

While the terms of the agreement may take up to two weeks to finalize, the money will go to the state and be used to abate the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement.

An announcement of the specific terms of the agreement will be made at a later date, Hunter’s statement said.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to chair the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to chair the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem May 26, 2019. Jim Hollander/Pool via REUTERS

May 26, 2019

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked on Sunday on what he termed a “final effort” to break a deadlock on forming a governing coalition ahead of a Wednesday deadline for a deal.

In power for the past decade, Netanyahu has unexpectedly struggled to seal an agreement with a clutch of right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties that would align with his Likud party and ensure him a fifth term following Israel’s April 9 election.

Divisions between former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party and United Torah Judaism over a military conscription bill governing exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students have plunged the coalition talks into stalemate.

Lieberman has long said ultra-Orthodox men must share other Israeli Jews’ burden of mandatory service. Ultra-Orthodox parties say seminary students should be largely exempt from conscription as they have been since Israel was founded in 1948.

A 42-day deadline mandated by law to announce a new government expires on Wednesday, and President Reuven Rivlin can then assign the task to another legislator after consultations with the leaders of political parties.

That could open the way for former military chief Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party, to try. But he would need the backing of some of Likud’s allies to persuade Rivlin he could put together a ruling majority in parliament.

Likud and Blue and White each won 35 of the Knesset’s 120 seats seats in the April ballot, but Netanyahu was seen as having clinched victory because of the right-wing majority that emerged.

In a video published on Twitter on Sunday, Netanyahu said he had invited all of his negotiating partners to meet him in “a final attempt to form a right-wing government” and avoid “an unnecessary election”.

A Likud source said the sessions would be held later in the day and on Monday.

Parallel to the negotiations, Likud announced preparations for a possible national ballot, with November already touted by political analysts as a likely date.

Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar released a draft of a dissolution bill that he said he was submitting to parliament, but no date for a vote in the legislature was announced. Likud said its secretariat would meet on Tuesday “to prepare for an election”.

Some political commentators saw those moves as an attempt to pressure Likud’s negotiating partners into a deal, given the possibility of a voter backlash against another national ballot so soon after the previous one and the uncertainty of the election’s outcome in a country riven by divisions.

The scheduling of an election – and Likud could face an uphill battle for the necessary 61 votes in parliament to pass a dissolution resolution – would pre-empt a coalition-building assignment from Rivlin and ensure Netanyahu remains as interim prime minister until a new government is formed.

Already locked in a legal battle over his potential indictment in three corruption cases, Netanyahu has vowed to remain in office even if he is charged. He denies any wrongdoing and is scheduled to argue against indictment at a pre-trial hearing in October.

(Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to deliver a statement in London
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to deliver a statement in London, Britain, May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

May 26, 2019

By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) – The prospect of a “no deal” Brexit was fast becoming the central battle of the race to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday, as environment minister Michael Gove became the latest candidate to declare.

May said on Friday she was quitting over her failure to deliver Brexit, potentially opening the way for a new leader who could seek a more divisive split with the European Union and lead to confrontation with the bloc or a possible parliamentary election.

Setting out their pitch to the Conservative Party’s largely pro-Brexit membership who will decide the outcome of the contest, four of the leadership hopefuls have said Britain must leave the EU on Oct. 31 even if this means a no-deal Brexit.

“I will fight for a fairer deal in Brussels … if not I will be clear we will leave on WTO terms in October,” former Brexit minister Dominic Raab, who bookmakers rank as the second favorite to win, told BBC TV.

“If you’re not willing to walk away from a negotiation, it doesn’t focus the mind of the other side … I will not ask for an extension.”

Fellow contenders Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom both made similar comments on Sunday, while former foreign minister Boris Johnson, the favorite to replace May, said on Friday: “We will leave the EU on October 31, deal or no deal.”

Gove, a leading campaigner for Brexit during the 2016 referendum campaign and a candidate in the Conservative leadership contest that May ultimately won, told reporters on Sunday that he planned to run again.

“I am ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist Party, ready to deliver Brexit and ready to lead this great country,” he said, without giving any detail on his plans for Brexit.

“A DANGEROUS STRATEGY”

The EU has said it will not reopen negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement, which has been rejected by parliament three times, while British lawmakers have also repeatedly voted against the prospect of a no-deal exit.

Highlighting the deep splits within the governing party over the way forward on Brexit, several senior Conservatives, including leadership candidate Rory Stewart, on Sunday warned against pursuing the policy of leaving without a deal.

Finance minister Philip Hammond said parliament would be “vehemently opposed” to a no-deal strategy and a prime minister who ignored parliament “cannot expect to survive very long”.

“I will urge all of my colleagues who are standing in this contest to embrace the concept of compromise … going to parliament with a hard line absolutist view and daring parliament to accept it is quite a dangerous strategy,” he told BBC TV.

Hammond said he could not support a no-deal strategy but declined to say what he would do if there was a vote of confidence in a government which adopted that policy.

“In 22 years in parliament I have never voted against the Conservatives … and I don’t want to have to start now contemplating such a course of action,” he said.

The opposition Labour Party said it was seeking to work with other parties to try and block May’s successor from taking Britain out of the EU without a deal.

“There is real threat now of an extremist Brexiteer becoming the leader of the Conservative Party and taking us over the cliff edge of a no deal,” Labour’s finance spokesman John McDonnell told Sky News. “We have got to move to block a no deal.”

The deadlock over Brexit is expected to have hit both main parties when the results of the European Parliament elections are declared from 2100 GMT on Sunday, with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which backs a no-deal exit, predicted to come out on top.

(Additional reporting by David Milliken. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Source: OANN

In an apparent contradiction of his national security adviser, President Donald Trump on Sunday downplayed recent North Korean missile tests, tweeting from Tokyo that they’re not a concern for him in comments sure to unnerve Japanese leaders.

Trump also said North Korea’s Kim Jong Un’s criticism of one of his Democratic rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, had made him smile.

The remarks were the latest example of Trump’s willingness to publicly undermine senior advisers, flout democratic norms and side with totalitarian leaders, even on the world stage. He did so this time during a four-day state visit to Japan where he’ll become the first leader to meet with the country’s new emperor.

“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me,” Trump tweeted in one of a flurry of early morning messages that suggested he’d spent little time sleeping after the lengthy flight to Asia.

“Some” of his “people” appear to include national security adviser John Bolton, who told reporters at a briefing Saturday ahead of Trump’s arrival that a series of short-range missile tests by North Korea earlier this month were a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

“In terms of violating U.N. Security Council resolutions, there is no doubt about that,” said Bolton, responding to the May 4 and 9 tests that ended a pause in launches that began in late 2017. Trump ignored a shouted question Sunday about whether he agreed with Bolton’s assessment.

Trump and other administration officials have sought to downplay the significance of the tests, insisting they do not violate an agreement Trump reached with Kim for a moratorium on launches.

“The moratorium was focused, very focused, on intercontinental missile systems, the ones that threaten the United States,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a recent television interview. That raised alarm bells in Japan, where short-range missiles pose a serious threat because of the country’s proximity to North Korea.

Unlike several other leaders in the region, Abe has yet to meet with Kim, leaving Japan to rely on the U.S. as an intermediary and advocate with North Korea. Abe recently offered to meet Kim without preconditions in an effort to restore diplomatic ties.

Trump in his tweet said he had “confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me,” while at the same time embracing Kim’s recent attacks on Biden, whose name he misspelled

Trump said he “smiled” when Kim “called Swampman Joe Bidan a low IQ individual, & worse.”

“Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?” Trump asked.

Trump later offered a new tweet with the correct “Biden” spelling.

North Korea this week labeled Biden a “fool of low IQ” and an “imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being” after the U.S. presidential hopeful accused Trump of cozying up to “dictators and tyrants” like Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin during his campaign launch speech.

Biden’s campaign would not comment on the record Sunday, but a spokesman for his campaign, Andrew Bates said Wednesday that, “Given Vice President Biden’s record of standing up for American values and interests, it’s no surprise that North Korea would prefer that Donald Trump remain in the White House.”

The tweet came early Sunday before Trump left his hotel for a round of golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He’ll also be attending a sumo wrestling match and handing out a “President’s Cup” to the winner as part of a visit meant to showcase the close ties between the nations.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Attorneys for President Trump have reached an agreement with the House Intelligence & Financial Services Committees to halt the enforcement of subpoenas for Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, according to CNN‘s Cristina Alesci.

In exchange, Trump’s team has agreed to an expedited court schedule in front of a panel of appeals court judges.

On Wednesday, Judge Edgardo Ramos in New York refused to block the subpoenas, giving the Trump team one week to find a way to prevent the financial information from disclosure. The two congressional committees issued subpoenas last month to Deutsche Bank – the president’s primary lender over the last 20 years, and Capital One, where he keeps some of his money.

The subpoenas sought decades of personal and corporate financial records, including any documents related to possible suspicious activities detected in Mr. Trump’s personal and business accounts.

Mr. Trump, his company and his three eldest children — Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka — filed a lawsuit on April 29 to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One from complying with the subpoenas. –New York Times

On Wednesday, House Intel Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that congressional investigators want to interview a former Deutsche Bank employee, Tammy McFadden, who told the Times that she had witnessed the family of Trump’s son-in-law, the Kushners, transfer money to Russian individuals in the summer of 2016.

Meanwhile, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) issued a subpoena to accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of Trump’s financial records, which a federal judge upheld on Monday after Trump’s legal team sought to have that stayed as well.

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent the subpoena to Mazars last month as part of the panel‘s investigation into whether Trump committed financial crimes before he became president.

The panel’s focus has been on trying to corroborate claims made by Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who earlier this year gave the committee documents purporting to show Trump artificially inflated and deflated the value of his assets for his personal financial benefit. –Politico

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said of the ruling “We will be filing a timely notice of appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The rulings and the New York legislation are the most serious attempts to date to pierce the veil of Trump’s finances, and increase the odds that Congressional Democrats looking to launch impeachment proceedings would be armed with ample ammunition, according to the Times.

“Very excited,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in response to the Manhattan judge’s ruling. “Two in one week!”

Source: InfoWars

Attorneys for President Trump have reached an agreement with the House Intelligence & Financial Services Committees to halt the enforcement of subpoenas for Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, according to CNN‘s Cristina Alesci.

In exchange, Trump’s team has agreed to an expedited court schedule in front of a panel of appeals court judges.

On Wednesday, Judge Edgardo Ramos in New York refused to block the subpoenas, giving the Trump team one week to find a way to prevent the financial information from disclosure. The two congressional committees issued subpoenas last month to Deutsche Bank – the president’s primary lender over the last 20 years, and Capital One, where he keeps some of his money.

The subpoenas sought decades of personal and corporate financial records, including any documents related to possible suspicious activities detected in Mr. Trump’s personal and business accounts.

Mr. Trump, his company and his three eldest children — Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka — filed a lawsuit on April 29 to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One from complying with the subpoenas. –New York Times

On Wednesday, House Intel Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that congressional investigators want to interview a former Deutsche Bank employee, Tammy McFadden, who told the Times that she had witnessed the family of Trump’s son-in-law, the Kushners, transfer money to Russian individuals in the summer of 2016.

Meanwhile, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) issued a subpoena to accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of Trump’s financial records, which a federal judge upheld on Monday after Trump’s legal team sought to have that stayed as well.

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent the subpoena to Mazars last month as part of the panel‘s investigation into whether Trump committed financial crimes before he became president.

The panel’s focus has been on trying to corroborate claims made by Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who earlier this year gave the committee documents purporting to show Trump artificially inflated and deflated the value of his assets for his personal financial benefit. –Politico

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said of the ruling “We will be filing a timely notice of appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The rulings and the New York legislation are the most serious attempts to date to pierce the veil of Trump’s finances, and increase the odds that Congressional Democrats looking to launch impeachment proceedings would be armed with ample ammunition, according to the Times.

“Very excited,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in response to the Manhattan judge’s ruling. “Two in one week!”

Source: InfoWars

NATO helicopters land at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan
NATO helicopters land at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

May 26, 2019

By Rupam Jain and Sabine Siebold

KABUL/BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany, a leading donor and member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talking with the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart peace talks to end 18 years of conflict, officials said.

While the Taliban have been talking with U.S. officials since October about a withdrawal of international troops, they have so far refused formal talks with the Western-backed government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.

Berlin’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel, has visited Kabul for talks with the Afghan government and met Taliban officials in Doha at least twice this month.

“The current chance for a process towards a more peaceful Afghanistan should not be missed. If the friends of Afghanistan – and Germany is one of them – together can help in this effort, then we should do it,” Potzel said.

“In the end only the Afghans themselves, including the Taliban, can decide upon the future of their country.”

The chief U.S. negotiator in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in March said that a draft agreement had been reached on a withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a commitment by the Taliban to cut ties with militant groups such as Al Qaeda.

But there has been no agreement yet on a ceasefire or a start to talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, both seen as key conditions for a settlement.

An Afghan delegation had been due to meet Taliban officials in the Qatari capital Doha last month to build the basis for possible negotiations, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute after a dispute over the number of participants.

“We realize that U.S.-Taliban talks will gain momentum only if the insurgent leaders start engaging with the Afghan representatives,” a senior German official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sohail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said that Germany was one among several countries to have offered help to seek a peaceful resolutions. The European Union and Indonesia are among those to have offered help, another Taliban official said, declining to be named.

Discussions were held with Germany about an Afghan-Taliban meeting in Germany but no decision has been made, Shaheen told Reuters.

The moves come at a time when the Taliban controls or exercises influence over more than half of Afghanistan.

At least 3,804 civilians were killed in the war last year, according to a United Nations report, plus thousands of soldiers, police and Taliban militants.

The involvement of Germany, the second-largest donor and an influential member of the 39-member NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, follows concern among several U.S. allies at being excluded from the talks.

Germany, which last year spent 23 billion euros ($25.76 billion) in integrating hundreds of thousands of refugees from countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, also has pressing domestic reasons for promoting peace. Next year, parliament will have to approve the continued presence of 1,200 German troops in Afghanistan.

“Lawmakers will ask why they should extend the mandate again if there is no progress there whatsoever,” said Conrad Schetter, an Afghanistan at the Bonn International Center for Conversion, an independent think-tank.

($1 = 0.8927 euros)

(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi and Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Editing by David Goodman)

Source: OANN

Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer appears on BBC TV's The Andrew Marr Show in London
Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer appears on BBC TV’s The Andrew Marr Show in London, Britain, May 26, 2019. Jeff Overs/BBC/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. NOT FOR USE MORE THAN 21 DAYS AFTER ISSUE.

May 26, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Sunday it would be very difficult for Prime Minister Theresa May’s successor to bypass the will of parliament and seek to take Britain out of the European Union without a deal.

Several of the candidates vying to take over from May have said Britain must leave on Oct. 31, without or without a deal. Parliament has repeatedly voted against a no-deal Brexit and Hammond said he did not believe Britain was likely to be heading towards leaving without an agreement.

Hammond said parliament would be “vehemently opposed” to a strategy of leaving without a deal.

“It would be very difficult for a prime minister who adopted no deal as a policy … to retain the confidence of the House of Commons,” Hammond told BBC TV, adding that he could not personally support a no-deal strategy.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and David Milliken; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Source: OANN

Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim in Baghdad
Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim in Baghdad, Iraq May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily

May 26, 2019

By Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iranian will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed.

Speaking in a news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim, Zarif said his country wanted to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbours and that it had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them.

“We will defend against any war efforts against Iran, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said.

Strains have increased between Iran and the United States, which is a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region that Washington has blamed on Iran.

Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the United States has sent an aircraft carrier and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concerns about the risks of conflict in a volatile region.

Iraq stands with Iran and is willing to act as an intermediary between its neighbour and the United States, Hakim said, adding that Baghdad does not believe an “economic blockade” is fruitful, a reference to U.S. sanctions.

“We are saying very clearly and honestly that we oppose the unilateral actions taken by the United States. We stand with the Islamic Republic of Iran in its position,” said Hakim. The United States and Iran are Iraq’s two main allies.

NUCLEAR REFERENDUM?

Washington has been seeking to tighten sanctions against Iran, as relations worsen under President Donald Trump, who last year pulled out of a nuclear agreement his predecessor Barack Obama had signed with Iran alongside other world powers in 2015.

In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani floated the idea of holding a referendum over Iran’s nuclear programme, Iranian media reported.

A referendum over the controversial nuclear programme could give Iran’s leaders space to manoeuvre and a chance to resolve the standoff with the United States.

Top Iranian leaders have said they are not seeking war with the United States and officials speaking to Reuters from Tehran said last week that despite the sharpened rhetoric with Washington, authorities are trying to avoid an open conflict.

“Article 59 of the Constitution (referendum ) is a deadlock breaker … and could be a problem-solver at any junction,” the semi-official news agency ILNA quoted Rouhani as saying late on Saturday.

Rouhani said that, when he was a top nuclear negotiator in 2004, he had proposed holding a referendum on the nuclear issue to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran has only held three referendums since its 1979 Islamic revolution — to approve the setting up of an Islamic Republic and then to approve and amend the constitution.

Washington says it has built up the U.S. military presence in the region, accusing Tehran of threats to U.S. troops and interests. Tehran has described U.S. moves as “psychological warfare” and a “political game”.

Separately, a deputy commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said the U.S. military presence in the Middle East was at its “weakest in history” despite the talk of a build-up.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Dubai and Dubai newsroom ; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Keith Weir)

Source: OANN

Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim in Baghdad
Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim in Baghdad, Iraq May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily

May 26, 2019

By Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iranian will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed.

Speaking in a news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim, Zarif said his country wanted to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbours and that it had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them.

“We will defend against any war efforts against Iran, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said.

Strains have increased between Iran and the United States, which is a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region that Washington has blamed on Iran.

Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the United States has sent an aircraft carrier and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concerns about the risks of conflict in a volatile region.

Iraq stands with Iran and is willing to act as an intermediary between its neighbour and the United States, Hakim said, adding that Baghdad does not believe an “economic blockade” is fruitful, a reference to U.S. sanctions.

“We are saying very clearly and honestly that we oppose the unilateral actions taken by the United States. We stand with the Islamic Republic of Iran in its position,” said Hakim. The United States and Iran are Iraq’s two main allies.

NUCLEAR REFERENDUM?

Washington has been seeking to tighten sanctions against Iran, as relations worsen under President Donald Trump, who last year pulled out of a nuclear agreement his predecessor Barack Obama had signed with Iran alongside other world powers in 2015.

In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani floated the idea of holding a referendum over Iran’s nuclear programme, Iranian media reported.

A referendum over the controversial nuclear programme could give Iran’s leaders space to manoeuvre and a chance to resolve the standoff with the United States.

Top Iranian leaders have said they are not seeking war with the United States and officials speaking to Reuters from Tehran said last week that despite the sharpened rhetoric with Washington, authorities are trying to avoid an open conflict.

“Article 59 of the Constitution (referendum ) is a deadlock breaker … and could be a problem-solver at any junction,” the semi-official news agency ILNA quoted Rouhani as saying late on Saturday.

Rouhani said that, when he was a top nuclear negotiator in 2004, he had proposed holding a referendum on the nuclear issue to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran has only held three referendums since its 1979 Islamic revolution — to approve the setting up of an Islamic Republic and then to approve and amend the constitution.

Washington says it has built up the U.S. military presence in the region, accusing Tehran of threats to U.S. troops and interests. Tehran has described U.S. moves as “psychological warfare” and a “political game”.

Separately, a deputy commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said the U.S. military presence in the Middle East was at its “weakest in history” despite the talk of a build-up.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Dubai and Dubai newsroom ; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Keith Weir)

Source: OANN


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