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No sign yet Iran will take steps needed to lift sanctions: Blinken

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(Last Updated On: May 24, 2021)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said the United States has not seen yet whether Iran will move to comply with its nuclear commitments in order to have sanctions removed even as ongoing talks have shown progress.

Iran’s president last week said the United States was ready to lift trade sanctions, although a senior Iranian official contradicted him and European diplomats said difficult issues remained.

Indirect talks have been underway in Vienna as the Biden administration seeks a path forward with Iran, including how Tehran can resume compliance with its 2105 nuclear deal with world powers.

“Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side, and what we haven’t yet seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision to do what it has to do. That’s the test and we don’t yet have an answer,” Blinken told ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” program.

With a fifth round of talks in coming days, Blinken said the discussions have clarified what both sides needed to do, telling CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program: “We’ve actually made progress.”

The United States abandoned the international pact in 2018 under former Republican U.S. President Donald Trump, who reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil, banking and shipping sectors.

Democratic President Joe Biden, who succeeded Trump in January, has said he believes Iran is seriously engaging in talks but that it remained unclear what steps Tehran would actually take to comply with the deal, which was cemented when Biden was vice president under former President Barack Obama.

If both sides can return to the original deal, Blinken told CNN on Sunday, “then we can use that as a foundation both to look at how to make the deal itself potentially longer and stronger – and also engage on these other issues, whether it’s Iran’s support for terrorism … its destabilizing support for different proxies throughout the Middle East.”

But, he said on ABC: “The first thing that we need to do is put the nuclear problem back in the box.”

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Author Salman Rushdie on ventilator after stabbing in New York

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born British author of a controversial book titled “The Satanic Verses” was stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in New York on Friday.

Police said Rushdie was stabbed “at least once in the neck, and at least once in the abdomen” after an assailant rushed to the stage and lunged at the 75-year-old writer just as he was being introduced to the audience.

Rushdie was airlifted to hospital where he spent hours in surgery. On Friday evening, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak.

“The news is not good,” Andrew Wylie, his book agent, wrote in an email to Reuters news agency. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Police identified the suspect as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey.

Stacey Schlosser, who witnessed the attack, told The Associated Press that Rushdie was stabbed six to eight times before the attacker was restrained.

“Nobody knew what to do. Nobody knew how to react. I mean, there were tons of people that rushed the stage,” Schlosser said.

Rushdie’s book, The Satanic Verses, has been banned in several countries, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous.

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Justice Department seeks to unseal search warrants of Trump’s home

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

US federal agents were looking for documents relating to nuclear weapons when they raided former President Donald Trump’s home in Florida this week, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

It was not clear if such documents were recovered at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, the Post said. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Justice Department asked a judge on Thursday to make public the warrant that authorized the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, after Trump, a Republican, portrayed it as political retribution.

The request means the public could soon learn more about what investigators were looking for during the unprecedented search of a former president’s home.

The search was part of an investigation into whether Trump illegally removed records from the White House as he left office in January 2021, some of which the Justice Department believes are classified.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, the top law enforcement officer and an appointee of Democratic President Joe Biden, told a news conference that he had personally approved the search. The Justice Department also seeks to make public a redacted receipt of the items seized.

“The department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken,” Garland said.

His decision to publicly confirm the search was highly unusual. U.S. law enforcement officials typically do not discuss ongoing investigations in order to protect people’s rights. In this case, Trump himself announced the search in a Monday night statement.

Garland said the Justice Department made the request to make public the warrant “in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter.”

A source familiar with the matter said the FBI retrieved about 10 boxes from Trump’s property during the search.

Trump was not in Florida at the time of the search.

Late on Thursday, Trump called for the immediate release of documents related to the search.

“Not only will I not oppose the release of documents related to the unAmerican, unwarranted, and unnecessary raid and break-in of my home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents, even though they have been drawn up by radical left Democrats and possible future political opponents, who have a strong and powerful vested interest in attacking me, much as they have done for the last 6 years,” he said on his Truth Social platform.

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Saudi Arabia, US prepare for bilateral Native Fury 22 drill in Yanbu, Al-Kharj 

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

Saudi and US marine corps arrived in Yanbu on Tuesday ahead of the planned bilateral Native Fury 22 drill maneuvers, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

The exercises are set to take place this week in Yanbu and Al-Kharj and will last for several days, according to SPA. 

The drills are aimed at enhancing the partnership between Saudi forces and their US counterparts when carrying out bilateral plans, SPA said. 

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