Saudi Crown Prince Lashes Out at Arch-Rival Iran over Tanker Attacks

Agencies
June 16, 2019

Riyadh, Jun 16: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused arch-rival Iran of attacks on oil tankers in a vital Gulf shipping channel, adding he "won't hesitate" to tackle any threats to the kingdom, according to an interview published on Sunday.

Two tankers were struck by explosions on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, the second attack in a month in the strategic shipping lane amid a tense US-Iran standoff, sparking fears of a regional conflagration and sending oil prices soaring.

"We do not want a war in the region... But we won't hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests," Prince Mohammed told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, in his first public comments since the attacks.

"The Iranian regime did not respect the presence of the Japanese prime minister as a guest in Tehran and responded to his (diplomatic) efforts by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese."

The prince also accused "Iran and its proxies" over May 12 attacks on four tankers anchored in the Gulf of Oman off the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah.

Thursday's attack on two tankers -- the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous that was carrying highly flammable methanol when it was rocked by explosions and the Norwegian-operated Front Altair -- came around the time Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting with Iranian leaders in Tehran.

US President Donald Trump has said the twin attacks had Iran "written all over it", rejecting Tehran's vehement denial.

Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, is a bitter regional rival of Iran.

The US military on Friday released grainy footage it said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an "unexploded limpet mine" from one of the tankers.

The UAE's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday called on world powers "to secure international navigation and access to energy", a plea echoed by regional ally Saudi Arabia after the incident sent crude prices soaring.

Iran has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the strategic Hormuz Strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any attack by the United States.

Doing so would disrupt oil tankers travelling out of the Gulf region to the Indian Ocean and global export routes.

The UAE's Sheikh Abdullah, whose country is bitterly opposed to Iranian influence in the region, called for a deescalation of tensions.

"We remain hopeful in attaining a broader framework for cooperation with Iran," he said at a summit in Bulgaria.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih called for a "swift and decisive" response to threats against energy supplies after Thursday's "terrorist acts".

Vessels Head To Port

The Japanese tanker's Tokyo-based operator Kokuka confirmed Saturday the stricken vessel was heading to port in the UAE.

"We still don't know if the tanker goes to Khor Fakkan or Fujairah as they are very close," said a spokesman, referring to two Emirati ports on the Gulf of Oman.

Maritime experts would then seek to transfer the highly flammable cargo to shore, according to an unnamed official quoted by Japanese state media.

"From a viewpoint of global energy security, it is necessary for the international community to jointly deal with the act," said Japanese trade minister Hiroshige Seko at a G20 energy and environment meeting in Japan on Saturday.

The other ship, the Front Altair, has left Iran's territorial waters, multiple sources said Saturday.

The ship is "heading toward the Fujairah-Khor Fakkan area in the United Arab Emirates", head of ports for Iran's southern province of Hormozgan told the semi-official news agency ISNA.

The tanker "has left Iran's territorial waters," he said, adding that it was being towed and sprayed with water to cool the hull.

A spokeswoman for Frontline Management, the Norwegian company which owns the ship, said "all 23 crew members of the tanker departed Iran" and flew to Dubai on Saturday.

"All crew members are well and have been well looked after while in Iran," she said.

'Allegations Against Iran'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the US had "immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence."

The United States has also accused Iran over May 12 sabotage attacks on four tankers anchored in the Gulf of Oman off Fujairah.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said London had concluded Iran was "almost certainly" responsible for Thursday's tanker attacks.

Iran's foreign ministry responded on Saturday by summoning British Ambassador Rob Macaire over Hunt's "false remarks", the official IRNA news agency reported.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation.

"It's very important to know the truth (and) that responsibilities are clarified," he told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

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Agencies
January 14,2021

Mumbai, Jan 14: A 26-year-old woman has died after her husband allegedly pushed her out of a running local train while they were standing at its door in Mumbai, a police official said on Thursday.

The incident took place on Monday afternoon between Chembur and Govandi railway stations following which the woman's husband was arrested, he said.

The 31-year-old accused and the victim, both labourers and residents of Mankhurd area, got married two months back.

On Monday, they were travelling in a local train along with the victim's seven-year-old daughter from her previous marriage, the Government Railway Police (GRP) official said.

As the woman leaned out of the moving train, her husband held her at the doorway, and then allegedly released her from his grip, following which she fell on the tracks, the official said.

Later, when the train stopped at Govandi station, a woman commuter in the coach, who had been watching the couple, got down and alerted the railway police about the incident.

The police caught the man at the station and then took him to the incident spot, where they found his wife lying injured and unconscious, the official said.

The victim was rushed to a hospital where doctors declared her dead before admission, he said.

The man was arrested and an FIR was registered against him under relevant sections.

The police are trying to verify if the accused was under the influence of sedatives at the time of the incident, the official said.

The woman's daughter was handed over to her relatives, he added.

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News Network
January 11,2021

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Bengaluru, Jun 11: An all-women cockpit crew operating Air India's inaugural San Francisco-Bengaluru flight arrived in Karnataka's capital after flying over the North Pole and covering a distance of about 16,000 kilometres.

The flight number AI176 left San Francisco on Saturday at 8.30 PM (local time) and arrived in Bengaluru at 3.45 AM on Monday, according to Air India sources.

Flying over the North Pole, this is also, arguably, the second-longest route in the world for a commercial flight. The landmark flight spanned a distance of 13,993 kms, linking two tech hubs located diametrically at opposite ends of the world with a time zone change of about 13.5 hours.

Commanded by Capt Zoya Aggarwal, the Boeing 777-200LR aircraft also had in the cockpit Capt Papagiri Thanmai, Capt Akansha Sonaware and Capt Shivani Manhas. Captain Zoya has a flying experience of over 8,000 hours and has over 10 years of experience commanding a B-777 aircraft.

A huge posse of mediapersons gathered at the Bengaluru Airport as the four pilots emerged out of the arrival terminal, welcomed with a huge round of applause. The beaming foursome showed no signs of any jetlag as they proudly proclaimed their arrival with a thumbs up.

“It has been a great experience. Today, we successfully completed one of the longest flights as an all-women team, a dream realised to connect the world’s two Silicon Valleys. We have turned a new chapter in aviation history,” remarked Capt Zoya.

Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted, "Way to go girls! Professional, qualified & confident, the all women cockpit crew takes off from San Francisco to Bengaluru on @airindiain's flight to fly over the North Pole. Our Nari Shakti achieves a historic first."

Air India too expressed its elation when it tweeted, "Imagine this : -All Women Cockpit Crew. -Longest flight into India. -Crossing the North Pole It's here & happening! Records broken. History in the making by AI176 from @flySFO to @BLRAirport. AI 176 is cruising at 30000 feet." 

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Agencies
January 12,2021

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New Delhi, Jan 12: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of three farm laws and asked the committee formed by it concerning the three farm laws to submit its report within two months.

The court said the first sitting of the committee, formed to listen to the grievances of farmers and views of the government, should be held within 10 days.

"The committee should file the report within two months before the Supreme Court. First sitting to be held within 10 days," the three-judge bench of the Apex Court, led by CJI S A Bobde said in its order today.

The court also expressed hope that the farmers' protests will be called off after it stayed the operation of the new farm laws.

It said that the MSP system as it existed before the enactment of the laws must be continued.

"No farmer must be dispossessed or deprived of his title as a result of any action taken under the laws," the bench of the Apex Court today said.

The top court said that the committee will comprise of Bhupinder Singh Mann, Pramod Kumar Joshi, Ashok Gulati, Anil Ghanwant.

The committee has been constituted for the "purpose of listening to the grievances of farmers relating to the farm laws and views of the government to make recommendations".

The court said the panel shall be provided a place in Delhi and government will bear its expenses and provide secretarial assistance.

The representatives of farmer bodies, whether they are holding a protest or not and whether they support or oppose the laws, shall participate in the deliberations of the committee and put forth their viewpoint, the court said.

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