US to participate in Iranian probe of Ukrainian plane crash

Agencies
January 10,2020

New York, Jan 10: The US's National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that it has accepted an invitation from Tehran to participate in its investigation into the crash of a Ukrainian plane amid speculations that an Iranian missile might have brought down the plane.

The federal agency said in a statement on Thursday that the Iran Civil Aviation Organization has notified them that they could take part in the investigation of the plane crash that occurred shortly after taking off from Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board, reports the Efe news.

"The NTSB has designated an accredited representative to the investigation of the crash," said the independent US government agency tasked with investigating transport accidents.

Since the aircraft was a US-made Boeing 737-800, international regulations allow Washington to be a part of the accident investigation.

However, it remains unclear to what extent the NTSB representative will be able to play an active role in the probe, as US sanctions complicate cooperation with Iran, and the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

The NTSB announcement came hours after US intelligence sources told several media outlets that the Kiev-bound Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) flight 752 could have been accidentally shot down by an Iranian missile.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later confirmed that his government had "evidence" indicating that the aircraft "was shot down by an Iranian surface to air missile", although he added it may have been unintentional.

The accident occurred on the same day after Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two US military bases in Iraq, in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani in an American drone attack in Baghdad on January 3.

However, the Iranian authorities have denied that they had accidentally shot down the plane and claimed the accusations were a part of a psychological warfare campaign against Tehran.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said they welcomed the presence of experts from countries whose citizens have died in the tragic accident, and requested Trudeau and any other government to provide any information they had regarding the crash.

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American Flag Lowered At US Consulate In Chengdu: Report

News Network
July 27,2020

Chengdu, China, Jul 27: The American flag was lowered at the United States consulate in Chengdu on Monday, days after Beijing ordered it to close in retaliation for the shuttering of the Chinese consulate in Houston.

Footage on state broadcaster CCTV from outside the consulate showed the flag being slowly lowered early Monday morning, after diplomatic tensions soared between the two powers with both alleging the other had endangered national security.

Relations deteriorated in recent weeks in a Cold War-style standoff, with the Chengdu mission Friday ordered to shut in retaliation for the forced closure of Beijing's consulate in Houston, Texas.

The deadline for the Americans to exit Chengdu has been unclear, but the Chinese consulate in Houston was given 72 hours to close after the original order was made.

On Saturday news agency reporters saw workers removing the US insignia from the front of the consulate.

Over the weekend, removals trucks entered the US consulate and cleaners were seen carting large black rubbish bags from the building.

Beijing says closing the Chengdu consulate was a "legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable measures by the United States", and has alleged that staff at the diplomatic mission endangered China's security and interests.

Washington officials, meanwhile, said there had been unacceptable efforts by the Chinese consulate in Houston to steal US corporate secrets.

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Trump abruptly escorted from briefing after shooting near White House

News Network
August 11,2020

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Washington, Aug 11: President Donald Trump was abruptly escorted by a U.S. Secret Service agent out of the White House briefing room as he was beginning a coronavirus briefing Monday afternoon. He returned minutes later, saying there was a “shooting” outside the White House that was “under control.”

“There was an actual shooting and somebody’s been taken to the hospital,” Trump said. The president said the shots were fired by law enforcement, saying he believed the individual who was shot was armed. “It was the suspect who was shot,” Trump said.

Trump said he was escorted to the Oval Office by the agent. The White House was placed on lockdown following the incident.

The shooting took place near 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue just blocks from the White House, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly about it. Law enforcement officials were still trying to determine the suspect's motive.

The suspect was transferred to a local hospital, and the District of Columbia fire department said the man suffered serious or possibly critical injuries. Authorities were investigating whether the individual has a history of mental illness.

Trump praised the work of Secret Service personnel for their work in keeping him safe. Asked if he was shaken by the incident, Trump asked reporters: “I don’t know. Do I seem rattled?”

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United States' coronavirus testing programme biggest in world: President Donald Trump

News Network
July 14,2020

Washington, Jul 14: The United States has the biggest Covid-19 testing programme in the world, better than big countries like Russia, China, India and Brazil, President Donald Trump said on Monday, asserting that America has "just about the lowest mortality rate" due to the disease in the world.

"We have one of the lowest mortality rates anywhere," Trump said at a White House roundtable. More than 34 lakh Americans have tested positive for Covid-19 so far and over 1,37,000 have died due to the disease, both of which are the largest numbers among all the countries.

The huge number of positive cases, the president said, is due to the massive testing efforts undertaken by his administration, more extensive than any other country.

"We test more than anybody by far. And when you test, you create cases. So we have created cases. I can tell you that some countries, they test when somebody walks into a hospital sick or walks into maybe a doctor's office, but usually a hospital. That is the testing they do, so they do not have cases, whereas we have all these cases. So, it is a double-edged sword," he said.

At the same time, the United States has the lowest mortality rate or just about the lowest mortality rate due to the disease in the world, Trump added. "We are doing a great job. We are doing very well with vaccines and we are doing very, very well with therapeutics. I think we are going to have some very good information coming out soon," he said in response to a question.

"But we have the best and certainly, by far, the biggest testing programme anywhere in the world. If you tested China or Russia or any of the larger countries, if you just tested India, as an example, the way we test, you would see numbers that would be very surprising. Brazil too. You know, Brazil is going through a big problem, but they do not do testing like we do," Trump said.

"So we do the testing and by doing the testing, we have tremendous numbers of cases. As an example, we have done 45 million tests. If we did half that number, you would have half the cases probably -- around that number. If we did another half of that, you would have half the numbers. Everyone would be saying, 'Oh, we are doing so well on cases'," he added.

Responding to a question, Trump said what China did to the world should not be forgotten.

"I think what China has done to the world with what took place -- the China plague -- you can call it the China virus, you can call it whatever you want to call it. It has about 20 different names. What they did to the world should not be forgotten," he said.

The trade deal with China that was signed early this year remains intact, the president said. "It is intact, they (China) are buying. Whether they buy or not, that is up to them. They are buying," he said.

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