U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One as they arrive at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
April 24, 2019
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An architect of a still-secret U.S. plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took to Twitter again on Wednesday to disclose another element that it would not contain – a confederation with neighboring Jordan.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, had already tweeted “False!” on Friday to what he said were reports that the proposal would give part of Egypt’s Sinai desert to the adjacent Palestinian enclave of Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist Hamas group.
On Wednesday, Greenblatt denied that the plan envisages a confederation involving Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which administers limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank.
“@KingAbdullahII & #Jordan are strong US allies. Rumors that our peace vision includes a confederation between Jordan, Israel & the PA, or that the vision contemplates making Jordan the homeland for Palestinians, are incorrect. Please don’t spread rumors,” Greenblatt wrote.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, another main architect of the peace proposal, said on Tuesday it would be made public after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ends in June.
Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka and spoke at a Time magazine forum in Washington, did not say whether the plan called for a two-state solution, a goal of past U.S. peace efforts.
Palestinian leaders have called for the establishment of an independent state alongside Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who won a fifth term in an election two weeks ago, laid down a series of conditions for Palestinian statehood in a major policy speech in 2009.
But U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed in 2014, partly over the expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied territory Palestinians seek for their state.
In a last-minute election campaign promise that angered Palestinians, Netanyahu said he planned to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank if he was again chosen as Israel’s leader.
The U.S. proposal, which has been delayed for a variety of reasons over the last 18 months, has two major components. It has a political piece that addresses core issues such as the status of Jerusalem, and an economic part that aims to help the Palestinians strengthen their economy.
Palestinian leaders have said Trump cannot be an honest broker after he broke with long-standing U.S. policy and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and moved the American embassy to the city last May.
(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Gareth Jones)
FILE PHOTO: A Scandinavian SAS airline passenger plane flies near the air traffic control tower after taking off from Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris, August 21, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
April 24, 2019
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Scandinavian airline SAS is offering travelers concerned about a possible strike by pilots the chance to reschedule flights for the April 26-29 period to another date free of charge.
The Swedish, Danish and Norwegian pilot unions’ joint SAS branch said this month they would go on strike on April 26 if there was no agreement on wages and terms by then, after an earlier talks round of talks broke down.
SAS said on its website the offer concerned flights operated by SAS but not those operated by its partners as they would not affected by the potential strike.
SAS employs around 1,500 pilots across its home markets of Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
National mediators in the three countries have since last week tried to broker a deal between delegations of the two parties but without success so far.
(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Edmund Blair)
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he greets supporters on the tarmac at Palm Beach International Airport, as he arrives to spend Easter weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club, Florida, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Al Drago
April 24, 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he is opposed to current and former White House aides testifying to congressional committees on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report, according to the Washington Post.
In an interview with the newspaper, Trump said the White House cooperated with Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and did not need to comply with congressional committees, which are probing possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
“There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan,” Trump said, according to the Post.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways aircraft are seen parked at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India, April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
April 23, 2019
MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s Jet Airways is constantly engaging with the government and lenders for a resolution of the current debt crisis and will not leave any stone unturned to revive the airline, its chief executive officer Vinay Dube told television channel ET Now in an interview.
Once India’s largest private airline, Jet halted all flight operations indefinitely last Wednesday evening after lenders led by State Bank of India declined to extend more funds to keep the carrier going.
“We are in constant touch with the lenders on how to get it (debt resolution) done in a manner that makes sense for them and makes sense for us,” Dube told ET Now.
“But I would like to think that a flying Jet Airways makes definite sense for them (banks) because it preserves their value as well. So we are not talking about anything that does not make good economic sense for the lenders, this is not charity for the sake of it”.
The company has requested banks for 10 billion rupees ($143.29 million), Dube said.
Earlier in the day, newspaper Business Standard reported that all shortlisted bidders for the company had backed out of the bidding process that is due to complete on May 10.
Dube, however, said he was hopeful of finding a keen, healthy investor who can inject the requisite amount of equity into the company.
The government plans to form a committee to temporarily allocate takeoff and landing slots left vacant by the grounding of Jet Airways flights, a senior official said last week.
Dube, however, said the government had assured the airlines this was a temporary move and the slots will be protected for the airline once they start flying again.
“While we have a combination of aircraft that are being deregistered or early terminated, the majority of them have not left the premise,” Dube said referring to the aircraft and said they will be available to the airline when it starts flying again.
“We understand the banks’ position. This is a financial proposition for them as well and we are in constant touch with them and we will be. For us there is no stone that we will leave unturned. We believe in Jet Airways, we will do whatever we can to make other people also believe in us.”
(Reporting by Swati Bhat; Editing by Rashmi Aich)
FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after his arrival, from a visit in Israel and Jordan at Davao International airport in Davao City in southern Philippines, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr/File Photo
April 23, 2019
MANILA (Reuters) – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte berated Canada on Tuesday in a longrunning dispute over waste exported to the Southeast Asia nation, threatening to sail it back to Canada.
Manila has filed several diplomatic protests with Canada over tons of waste shipped to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014. Canada has said the shipment was a commercial transaction and was not backed by its government.
“For Canada’s garbage, I want a boat prepared,” Duterte told officials after being briefed on an earthquake that struck the Philippines on Monday.
“They better pull that thing out or I will set sail to Canada and dump their garbage there,” Duterte added.
In 2017 at the end of a summit of Asian and Western nations in Manila, Duterte berated Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for raising questions about his war on drugs. (https://reut.rs/2KXWJSK)
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; editing by Darren Schuettler)
People, including passengers of a flight from the Turkmen capital Ashgabat, gather in the baggage claim area upon their arrival at Almaty International Airport, Kazakhstan April 5, 2019. REUTERS/Mariya Gordeyeva
April 23, 2019
By Mariya Gordeyeva
ALMATY (Reuters) – Beset by economic hardship, enterprising Turkmens have found a way to supplement their incomes – smuggling towels and bed linen into neighboring Kazakhstan.
Moving hundreds of items every trip in trademark Chinese plaid bags which at times have clogged airport luggage belts, informal traders – mostly women in their late forties and fifties – hand them over to relatives or local partners to be resold for up to five times the purchase price.
Dressed in traditional Central Asian garb such as headscarves and long skirts, these women arrive on almost every flight from Ashgabat to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city.
Textiles are among the few items manufactured domestically from local feedstock and prices for items produced by state-owned companies have remained stable for years even as the Turkmen manat lost four-fifths of its value on the black market due to Turkmenistan’s falling gas export revenue.
A deal to resume gas exports to Russia this month brought hope, but turned out to be small and short-term.
Turkmenistan, where president Kurbanguly Berdimukhamedov rules with an elaborate personality cult, is one of the world’s most closed countries.
There are no opposition parties or media critical of the government and Berdymukhamedov, often referred to as Arkadag (Protector), wields sweeping powers.
Turkmenistan rarely allows visits by foreign journalists and the textile trade offers a glimpse into the depth of its economic problems.
The trade attracted the attention of Almaty airport officials this year when luggage from Turkmenistan started clogging its belts. The planes, it turned out, were stuffed with textiles.
“My daughter trades at a bazaar (in Kazakhstan) and I bring her goods little by little… which I buy from our (Turkmen) stores,” said a Turkmen woman picking up bags from the luggage belt in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s commercial hub.
Like all other people involved in this informal textiles trading, the woman spoke on the condition of anonymity because traders like her dodge customs duties by claiming their goods are personal belongings not meant for resale.
These de facto smuggling operations reached industrial scale in early 2019, prompting the Almaty airport to lodge an official complaint with the Turkmen flag carrier.
“There were parcels weighing over 50-60 kilograms (110-130 pounds) each,” said Marina Zabara, a complaints inspector at the airport.
Oversized parcels have since disappeared but the flow of textiles continues. A Reuters reporter saw Turkmen travelers pick up parcels of textiles upon arrival in Almaty this month.
“A woman from Turkmenistan moved to our village last year and offered us to sell their textiles,” said a Kazakh trader working at a market on the outskirts of Almaty. “Her mother brings the goods as luggage, as many items as she can.”
At Almaty’s biggest market, traders display Turkmen bedding – often with traditional patterns based on deer and sheep horns or abstract human figures – from fully-packed cargo containers.
“The demand is good, with the most expensive bedding set priced at 10,000 tenge ($26),” said one trader.
Some hotels have also become wholesale buyers, Turkmens say.
The official exchange rate of the manat is 3.5 per dollar, but on the black market a dollar fetches 18.6 manat.
A Kazakh citizen who used to live in Turkmenistan told Reuters that by buying out luggage allowances from other travelers and bribing airline officials, a “shuttle trader” can move up to 200 kilograms (441 pounds) in one trip.
(Additional reporting by Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty and Marat Gurt in Ashgabat,; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov, editing by Ed Osmond)
A rescuer assists a search dog as they try to reach survivors at a collapsed four-storey building following an earthquake in Porac town,, Pampanga province, Philippines, April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
April 23, 2019
PORAC, Philippines (Reuters) – Rescue teams in the Philippines searched for signs of life beneath the rubble of a collapsed four-storey commercial building on Tuesday after a strong earthquake shook the country’s biggest island, killing at least 11 people.
Heavy lifting equipment and search dogs were used as dozens of firefighters, military and civilian rescue teams raced to shift piles of concrete in the town of Porac, about 108 km (67.1 miles) northeast of Manila, where a 6.1 magnitude earthquake destroyed several buildings on Monday.
During the night, seven people were rescued and four dead bodies were pulled out of the rubble of the commercial building, which had caved in on a ground floor supermarket, officials said.
“The rescue is ongoing, they are still hearing a sound, no one can say how many were still trapped,” Pampanga provincial governor Lilia Pineda said in a radio interview.
The quake, which struck at 5 p.m. local time on Monday, was initially reported as being of 6.3 magnitude and later revised down to 6.1 magnitude, the U.S. Geological Survey and Philippines seismology authorities said.
The Philippines is prone to natural disasters, located on the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a horse-shoe shaped band of volcanoes and fault lines that arcs round the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
The earthquake was felt strongly in key business areas of Manila, with residential and office buildings evacuated after being shaken for several minutes. Train services were halted and roads and sidewalks were clogged by the sudden exodus of workers.
The government declared Tuesday a holiday for civil servants in Metro Manila to allow for safety inspections of buildings.
The international airport in Clark, a former U.S. military base in Pampanga, remained closed for repairs, while parts of a one corner of a historic church in the province collapsed.
(Reporting by Eloisa Lopez and Peter Blaza; Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema in MANILA; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
FILE PHOTO – Customers walk past Avianca airline check-in machines at Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
April 20, 2019
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Avianca Brasil has canceled more than 1,300 flights, Brazilian media reported on Saturday, as the bankrupt airline was forced to reduce its fleet by more than two-thirds.
The cancellations, for April 19-28, are nationwide, with airports in Brasilia, Guarulhos in Sao Paulo, and Galeao in Rio de Janeiro, the hardest hit, O Estado de Sao Paulo reported.
Avianca, which filed for bankruptcy protection in December, has to return 18 leased planes after Easter, Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency said on Thursday, reducing its fleet to just eight aircraft.
Earlier this month, the airline had 35 planes.
(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Richard Chang)