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US accuses Iran of lying about oil delivery to Syria 



The US has accused Iran of delivering oil to Syria despite denials from Tehran that the Adrian Darya 1, a tanker seized by British commandos and released weeks later, had been sailing to Syrian ports to sell crude in violation of US and EU sanctions.

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, said the tanker, which had remained off the coast of Syria for several weeks, had offloaded its oil via another ship called the Jasmine.

“Oil from the #AdrianDarya1 has been offloaded in Syria, proving that Iran lied to the UK and Gibraltar,” Mr Pompeo said on Twitter. “This terrorist oil will fund Assad’s war and Iran’s sectarian violence. EU members should condemn this action, uphold the rule of law, and hold Iran accountable.”

Mr Pompeo’s tweet included satellite images that appeared to show the Adrian Darya 1 transferring oil to the Jasmine a week ago, before heading to Baniyas port in Syria. A US official said the Jasmine made physical delivery of the oil on Monday.

The UK accused Iran last month of selling the tanker’s oil to Syria, saying the Islamic republic had violated “international norms”. The sale — and now delivery — of the crude to Syria has angered and embarrassed the UK.

British commandos had seized the ship off Gibraltar in July because it was suspected of violating EU sanctions by suppling oil to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. 

Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, rejected a legal bid by the US to detain the Adrian Darya 1. It released the vessel in August after saying it had received assurances from Tehran that the crude would not be delivered to Syria.

It then headed to the eastern Mediterranean and was seen via satellite sailing off the coast of the Arab state. Iran has been one of Mr Assad’s main foreign backers in Syria’s eight-year civil war, and it has supplied the regime with oil throughout the conflict.

The US last month tried to secure control of the vessel by encouraging its captain to sail the tanker to a country that had agreed in advance to seize it on behalf of the US, and even offered the captain several million dollars as an inducement.

The seizure of the Adrian Darya 1, which was previously called the Grace 1, heightened concerns about maritime security in the oil-rich Gulf. After it was detained in Gibraltar, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized a British-flagged vessel, the Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz, a key Gulf waterway, in apparent retaliation. Iran released that vessel last month. 

The capture of the ship came amid growing international concern over maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important oil trading shipping routes. 

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter: @dimi

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Kamlesh Tiwari killing: CM Adityanath says murder an act of mischief to create terror, to meet family members today




Kamlesh Tewari murder caseHindu Samaj Party founder Kamlesh Tewari. He was killed at his office in Lucknow on Friday.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath has termed the killing of Hindu Samaj Party chief Kamlesh Tiwari an act of mischief to create terror. He said that police officials were probing the case and informed that five people have been taken into custody. He said that such incidents will not be tolerated and those involved will not be spared.

“This is an act of mischief to create terror. In this case, five people have been taken into custody. Of these, three have been taken into custody in Gujarat and two in Uttar Pradesh. A Special Investigation Team has been constituted to probe it,” he said on Saturday.

“The elements who create an atmosphere of fear and terror in the state will be strongly dealt with, and their plans crushed. This type of incident will not be tolerated, and those involved will not be spared,” the CM added.

Adityanath said that the killers were allowed to meet Kamlesh Tiwari by the security guard posted at his residence only after the leader gave him the nod. The killers sat with Tiwari and had food and tea. Subsequently, the personal aide of Tiwari and his son were sent to the market to purchase something. He said that it was during this period that Tiwari was killed by the visitors.

Kamlesh Tiwari, 45, was killed at his home in Lucknow’s Khurshed Bagh on Friday. He was earlier associated with a faction of the Hindu Mahasabha

The Chief Minister will meet the family members of Tiwari on Sunday.

According to Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police DGP OP Singh, five people have been arrested including three in Surat in connection with the murder. He said that the suspects were radicalised and appeared to have targeted Tiwari for his inflammatory remarks made in 2015. Meanwhile, the Anti-Terrorism Squad of Maharashtra police arrested a man from Mominpura locality in Nagpur in connection with the case. The sixth person has been identified as Sayed Asim Ali, 29, who runs a hardware business in Nagpur.

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Boris Johnson sends unsigned letter to EU asking for Brexit delay




Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union requesting a delay to Britain’s exit from the bloc and also said he did not want the extension after his latest Brexit setback in parliament on Saturday.

Johnson had previously said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for any extension to the Oct. 31 deadline.

But he was compelled, by a law passed last month by opponents, to send a letter to the bloc asking to push back the deadline to Jan 31 after lawmakers thwarted his attempt to pass his EU divorce deal on Saturday.

A government source said Johnson sent a total of three letters to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council: a photocopy of the text that the law, known as the Benn Act, forced him to write; a cover note from Britain’s EU envoy saying the government was simply complying with that law; and a third letter in which Johnson said he did not want an extension.

“I have made clear since becoming Prime Minister and made clear to parliament again today, my view, and the Government’s position, that a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson said in the third letter, published on Twitter by the Financial Times’ Brussels correspondent.

Johnson, for whom delivering Brexit is key to his plan to hold an early election, said he was confident that the process of getting the Brexit legislation through Britain’s parliament would be completed before Oct. 31, according to the letter.

Tusk said he had received the request from Johnson.

“I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react,” he said on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Johnson that Paris needed swift clarification on the situation after Saturday’s vote, an official at the French presidency told Reuters.

“He signalled a delay would be in no one’s interest,” the official said.

However, it was unlikely that the EU’s 27 members states would refuse Britain’s delay request.

Johnson plan tipped on head

Johnson had hoped that Saturday would see recalcitrant lawmakers finally back the divorce deal he agreed with EU leaders this week and end three years of political deadlock since the 2016 referendum vote to leave the bloc.

Instead, lawmakers voted 322 to 306 in favour of an amendment that turned Johnson’s planned finale on its head by obliging him to ask the EU for a delay, and increasing the opportunity for opponents to frustrate Brexit.

Johnson has previously promised that he would take the country out of the bloc on Oct. 31, without explaining how he would do this while also complying with the Benn Act.

“I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so,” he told parliament after lawmakers backed the amendment on Saturday.

Opposition politicians accused him of believing he was above the law.

“Johnson is a Prime Minister who is now treating Parliament and the Courts with contempt,” John McDonnell, the opposition Labour Party’s finance spokesman said.

“His juvenile refusal to even sign the letter confirms what we always suspected that Johnson with his arrogant sense of entitlement considers he is above the law and above accountability.”

Scotland’s highest court is due to consider on Monday a legal challenge that had sought to force Johnson to comply with the Benn Act. The court said earlier this month that government lawyers had given formal legal statements that he would abide by the Benn Act and it would be a serious matter if he did not.

“Boris Johnson promised #Scottish court he would comply with #BennAct & not seek to frustrate it. Looks like he’s breaking both promises,” Joanna Cherry, a Scottish National Party lawmaker involved in the case said on Twitter.


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Trump Admin Officials Line Up To Testify About Giuliani And Pals



A bevy of current and former Trump administration officials have come forward to testify against the president.
They claim President Donald Trump used Rudy Giuliani and others to gut and politicize federal agencies to suit his needs.
According to Business Insider, chief among those is the US State Department.
Testimony reveals they were used to circumvent career diplomats and carry out a shadow foreign-policy agenda with respect to Ukraine.
At least eight officials have, or are scheduled to, testify. One is Marie Yovanovitch, the US’s former ambassador to Ukraine.
Also, Fiona Hill, former WH senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs.
And Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Finally, Kurt Volker, the US’s former special representative to Ukraine is also scheduled to testify.

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