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Iran, Russia, Turkey leaders to discuss Syria war in Tehran

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(Last Updated On: July 18, 2022)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to travel to Tehran on Tuesday for talks with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts on the Syria conflict.

Russia, Turkey and Iran have in recent years met to discuss Syria as part of the so-called “Astana peace process” to end more than 11 years of conflict in the Arab country.

All three are involved in Syria, with Russia and Iran supporting the Damascus regime against its opponents, and Turkey backing rebels.

Tuesday’s summit comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to launch a new offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish militants.

Iran, whose President Ebrahim Raisi is hosting the meeting, has already warned that any Turkish military action in Syria could “destabilise the region”.

The Tehran summit will also enable Erdogan to hold his first meeting with Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

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Republicans reject own funding bill, US government shutdown imminent

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2023)

Hardline Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday rejected a bill proposed by their leader to temporarily fund the government, making it all but certain that federal agencies will partially shut down beginning on Sunday.

In a 232-198 vote, the House defeated a measure that would extend government funding by 30 days and avert a shutdown. That bill would have slashed spending and restricted immigration, Republican priorities that had little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, Reuters reported.

The defeat left Republicans – who control the chamber by 221-212 – without a clear strategy to avert a shutdown that would close national parks, disrupt pay for up to 4 million federal workers and hobble everything from financial oversight to scientific research if funding is not extended past 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday.

After the vote, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the chamber might still pass a funding extension without the conservative policies that had alienated Democrats. But he declined to say what would happen next. The chamber is expected to hold more votes on Saturday.

“It’s only a failure if you quit,” he told reporters.

It was not clear whether the Senate would act in time, either. The chamber was due on Saturday afternoon to take up a bipartisan bill that would fund the government through Nov. 17, but procedural hurdles could delay a final vote until Tuesday.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday that a government shutdown would “undermine” U.S. economic progress by idling programs for small businesses and children and could delay major infrastructure improvements.

The shutdown would be the fourth in a decade and just four months after a similar standoff brought the federal government within days of defaulting on its $31 trillion debt. The repeated brinkmanship has raised worries on Wall Street, where the Moody’s ratings agency has warned it could damage U.S. creditworthiness.

Biden warned that a shutdown could take a heavy toll on the armed forces.

“We can’t be playing politics while our troops stand in the breach. It’s an absolute dereliction of duty,” Biden, a Democrat, said at a retirement ceremony for Mark Milley, a senior general.

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Senior US, China diplomats meet in Washington in latest effort to maintain dialogue

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(Last Updated On: September 29, 2023)

Two senior U.S. and Chinese diplomats met in Washington and held what the U.S. side described as “candid, in-depth, and constructive consultation,” the latest in a series of recent talks to keep lines of communication open between the world’s two largest economies, Reuters reported.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister for Asia Sun Weidong, the State Department said in a statement on Thursday.

According to Reuters the meeting followed other high-level engagements between the two countries in recent months that have seen visits from high profile U.S. officials to China like Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in July and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in August.

More recently, Blinken met Chinese Vice President Han Zheng in New York and U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malta.

“The two sides held a candid, in-depth, and constructive consultation on regional issues as part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication,” the State Department said.

Kritenbrink “reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the State Department said on Thursday, adding the two sides also discussed other regional issues, including Myanmar, North Korea, and maritime matters.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have been strained in recent years due to a number of issues including Taiwan, the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, allegations of spying and trade tariffs, among others.

High-level talks between the two sides could help set the stage for a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year, read the report.

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More than 100 dead, 150 injured in Iraq wedding inferno

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(Last Updated On: September 27, 2023)

More than 100 people were killed and 150 injured in a fire at a wedding party in Hamdaniya district in Iraq’s Nineveh province that left civil defence searching the charred skeleton of a building for survivors into the early hours of Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Nineveh Deputy Governor Hassan al-Allaq told Reuters that 113 people had been confirmed dead, with state media putting the death toll at at least 100, with 150 people injured.

The fire ripped through a large events hall in the north-eastern region after fireworks were lit during the celebration, local civil defence said, according to state media.

“We saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall. Those who managed got out and those who didn’t got stuck. Even those who made their way out were broken,” said Imad Yohana, a 34-year-old who escaped the inferno.

Video from a Reuters correspondent at the site showed firefighters clambering over the charred wreckage of the building, shining lights over smouldering ruins.

Preliminary information indicated that the building was made of highly flammable construction materials, contributing to its rapid collapse, state media said.

Ambulances and medical crews were dispatched to the site by federal Iraqi authorities and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, according to official statements.

Eyewitnesses at the site said the building caught fire at around 10:45 p.m. local time (1945 GMT) and that hundreds of people were in attendance at the time of the incident.

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