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Exclusive: U.S. aid agency under scrutiny for loans in Chile

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May 29, 2017 By Gram Slattery SANTIAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. government is auditing a foreign aid program that loaned almost $1 billion to renewable energy projects in Chile – including solar farms in such deep financial trouble that the loans may never be fully repaid, according to people familiar with the matter. The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID OIG) is examining approximately $890 million of loans approved by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), it confirmed in an emailed statement after inquiries by Reuters. The audit, which began in 2016 and has [...]

‘Convinced Atlanticist’ Merkel being honest with U.S., spokesman says

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May 29, 2017 BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel believes firmly in strong German – U.S. relations and is simply being honest with the United States when she flags up policy differences with Washington, her spokesman said on Monday. Merkel sent shockwaves through Washington and London by saying on Sunday that Europe must take its fate into its own hands, implying that the United States under President Donald Trump and Britain after its Brexit vote were no longer reliable partners. She made the comments after Trump criticised major NATO allies over their military spending and refused to endorse a global [...]

MI5 to review its handling of intelligence on Manchester bomber

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May 29, 2017 By Costas Pitas LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s MI5 has begun an internal review of how it handled intelligence on Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi, who was known to the authorities but not under active investigation, a source told Reuters on Monday. Interior minister Amber Rudd said the review was the “right first step” for the intelligence agency to take in the wake of the May 22 bombing that killed 22 people at a pop concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande. MI5 is subject to scrutiny by a committee of parliament, and it is highly unusual for British [...]

Civilians lack food, water, medicine as Mosul battle mounts: U.N.

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May 29, 2017 By Maher Chmaytelli BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of civilians in parts of Mosul held by Islamic State are struggling to get food, water and medicine, the United Nations said, days into a new push by U.S.-backed Iraqi government troops to take the northern city. Up to 200,000 people still live behind Islamic State lines in Mosul’s Old City and three other districts, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande told Reuters late on Sunday. She spoke a day after Iraq’s army said it had launched a new offensive to take the militant zones on the western side [...]

UK police arrest 16th person in connection with Manchester attack

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May 29, 2017 (Reuters) – British police said on Monday they had arrested a 16th person in connection with the Manchester suicide bombing last week. The 23-year-old man was arrested in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, “on suspicion on offences contrary to the terrorism act”, Greater Manchester Police said on Twitter. A total of 16 people have been arrested in connection with the attack, in which 22 people died. Two were released without charge, while 14 men remained in custody for questioning, the police said. (Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier) Source: Top News

President Macron’s party seen on top in French parliament election: poll

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May 29, 2017 PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron’s party is expected to emerge with the most seats in June’s parliamentary election, a poll showed on Monday, with Macron also scoring well in terms of general popularity. The Odoxa poll for France Inter radio and L’Express magazine said Macron’s start-up “Republic On The Move” party would come top with 29 percent of votes in the June legislative election, which takes place in two rounds on June 11 and June 18. The far-right National Front (FN) was seen in second place with 17 percent of votes, with the conservatives Republicans [...]

Philippines puts city on lockdown over fears of militant infiltration

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May 29, 2017 By Tom Allard MARAWI, Philippines (Reuters) – The Philippine city of Iligan was overflowing with evacuees and on lockdown on Monday over fears Islamist militants had sneaked out of nearby Marawi, where troops were battling to drive out gunmen holed up in buildings for a seventh day. The fighting in the city of Marawi with pro-Islamic State militants of the Maute group is the biggest security challenges of Rodrigo Duterte’s 11-month presidency, with gunmen still holding parts of the city and fending off helicopter air strikes and ground attacks by commandos. Most of Marawi’s 200,000 people have [...]

As Fed raises rates, aim is not to roil markets, Williams says

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May 29, 2017 (Reuters) – The U.S. economy is at or near the Federal Reserve’s goals of full employment and stable prices, San Francisco Fed President John Williams said, adding that the U.S. central bank wants to make sure markets stay calm as it slowly returns interest-rate policy to normal. “If you remember nothing else I’ve shared with you today, I hope you’ll remember this: The last thing we want to do is to fuel unnecessary or avoidable volatility or disruption – whether we’re talking about domestic markets or international markets,” Williams said in remarks prepared for delivery Monday to [...]

Christians caught up in Philippines’ urban battle with Islamists

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May 29, 2017 By Tom Allard ILIGAN CITY, Philippines (Reuters) – Bishop Edwin Dela Pena was sipping coffee after dinner in a southern Philippines coastal town last Tuesday when he received a phone call: it was from one of his diocese priests, who sounded panicky and distressed. Father Teresito “Chito” Sugarno, the vicar general of Marawi City, had been taken hostage by Islamist militants along with about a dozen of his parishioners. “He was only given a few lines to deliver, and it was simply echoing the demands of the kidnappers – for the troops to withdraw,” said Dela Pena. [...]

North Korea fires unidentified projectile from eastern region: South Korea

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May 28, 2017 SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired an unidentified projectile on Monday from the region of Wonsan on its east coast in an easterly direction, South Korea’s military said, coming after a series of test-launches of missiles in recent weeks. The launch was immediately reported to President Moon Jae-in, who called a meeting of the National Security Council at 7:30 a.m. (2230 GMT Sunday), the South Korean office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. The projectile was likely a ballistic missile, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said citing an unidentified source. The projectile is [...]