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Iran says Biden can issue ‘executive order’ if serious about returning to nuclear pact

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October 31, 2021

By Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s foreign minister said on Sunday that if the United States was serious about rejoining Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, President Joe Biden could just issue an “executive order”, the state-owned Iran newspaper reported.

The accord, under which Iran curtailed nuclear work seen as a risk of developing nuclear weapons in exchange for a lifting of global sanctions, unravelled in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States, prompting Tehran to breach limits on uranium enrichment set by the pact.

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At the G20 summit in Rome on Saturday, leaders of the United States, Germany, France and Britain urged Iran to resume compliance with the deal in order to “avoid a dangerous escalation https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-g20-summit-iran/western-leaders-urge-iran-to-act-in-good-faith-on-nuclear-deal-idUKKBN2HK0B6?edition-redirect=uk”, saying they wanted a negotiated solution.

“It is enough for Biden to issue an executive order tomorrow and they (U.S.) announce they are rejoining the pact from the point where his predecessor left the deal,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told the Iran daily.

“If there is a serious will in Washington to return to the deal, there is no need for all these negotiations at all.”

Tehran has said its nuclear steps since Trump abandoned the accord, saying it was flawed to Iran’s advantage, are reversible “if Washington lifts sanctions in a verifiable process”.

Talks between Iran and world powers meant to salvage the deal, which started in April, are slated to resume at the end of November, the Islamic Republic’s top nuclear negotiator said on Wednesday. The talks have been on hold since the election of hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president in June.

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Concerned about Iran now enriching uranium close to bomb-grade level of fissile purity, Western powers have repeatedly urged Tehran to resume talks, saying the diplomatic window would not stay open forever.

“Washington wants to continue a large part of the sanctions imposed by Trump on Iran. This is unacceptable for Iran,” Amirabdollahian said.

Iran denies any intention to develop nuclear bombs.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday Washington was “absolutely in lockstep” with Britain, Germany and France on getting Iran back into the deal, but it not clear if Tehran was willing to rejoin the talks in a “meaningful way”.

Holding up progress towards restoring the deal are sharp U.S.-Iranian disagreements over which steps need to be taken and when. Key issues include what nuclear limits Tehran will accept and what sanctions Washington will remove.

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In addition to seeking the lifting of Trump-era sanctions, including those related to Iran’s record on human rights and alleged support for terrorism, Tehran has other demands such as assurances that Washington will not renege on the deal again.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Germany’s Free Democrats back coalition agreement

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December 5, 2021

BERLIN (Reuters) – Members of Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) voted on Sunday by a large majority to back a coalition agreement with the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, paving the way for the three-way alliance to form a new government next week.

The coalition, the first at federal level between the environmentalist Greens, the FDP and Olaf Scholz’s centre-left SPD, will end 16 years of conservative governments led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The SPD approved the agreement on Saturday and the Greens are due to announce the outcome of a member survey on the deal on Monday. The three parties hope the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, will vote Scholz in as chancellor on Wednesday.

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The “traffic light” alliance, named after the parties’respective colours, will usher in a new era of relations with Europe, and plans to speed up digitalisation of the continent’sbiggest economy and put a focus on fighting climate change.

(Reporting by Alexander Ratz; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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Gambian President Barrow on course for resounding election win

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December 5, 2021

By Bate Felix

BANJUL (Reuters) – Gambia’s incumbent president, Adama Barrow, was on course for a resounding election win on Sunday, partial results indicated, that could help to draw a line under recent political turmoil.

Saturday’s vote was the first in 27 years without disgraced former president Yahya Jammeh, who lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea after refusing to accept defeat to Barrow in 2016.

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Jammeh, whose 22-year rule over the tiny nation of 2.5 million people was characterised by killings and torture of political opponents, had tried to persuade supporters to vote for an opposition coalition in telephoned speeches that were relayed to campaign rallies.

But his lingering influence was not enough to dent Barrow’s showing. The president, who only needs to win more votes than the second-placed candidate, won 36 of the first 41 constituencies announced, taking 315,547 votes.

His nearest rival, political veteran Ousainou Darboe, had 133,177 votes, with four other candidates far behind.

Only 12 constituencies remained to be announced.

The election was seen as a test of Gambia’s democratic progress and its ability to leave the Jammeh era behind.

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Barrow’s first term was marked by the coronavirus pandemic, which damaged an economy that relies heavily on tourism, as well as exports of peanuts and fish.

(Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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S.Africans protest against Shell oil exploration in pristine coastal area

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December 5, 2021

By Siyabonga Sishi

PORT EDWARD, South Africa (Reuters) – South Africans took to their beaches on Sunday to protest against plans by Royal Dutch Shell to do seimsic oil exploration they say will threaten marine wildlife such as whales, dolphins, seals and penguins on a pristine coastal stretch.

A South African court on Friday struck down https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/shell-wins-court-case-start-seismic-surveys-offshore-south-africa-2021-12-03 an application brought by environmentalists to stop the oil major exploring in the eastern seaboard’s Wild Coast, rejecting as unproven their argument that it would cause “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, especially migrating hump-back whales.

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The Wild Coast is home of some of the country’s most undisturbed wildlife refuges, and it’s stunning coastal wildernesses are also a major tourist draw.

At least 1,000 demonstrators gathered on a beach near Port Edward, a Reuters TV correspondent saw.

“It’s just absolutely horrendous that they are even considering this. Look around you?” said demonstrator Kas Wilson, indicating an unspoilt stretch of beach. “It’s unacceptable and … we will stop it.”

Shell officials were not immediately available for comment, but the company said on Friday that its planned exploration has regulatory approval, and it will significantly contribute to South Africa’s energy security if resources are found.

But local people fear the seismic blasting conducted over 6,000 square kilometres will kill or scare away the fish they depend on to live.

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“I don’t want them to operate here because if they do we won’t be able to catch fish,” said 62-year-old free dive fisherwoman Toloza Mzobe, after pulling a wild lobster from the ground. “What are we going to eat?”

Environmentalists are urging Shell and other oil companies to stop prospecting for oil, arguing that the world has no chance of reaching net zero carbon by 2050 if existing oil deposits are burned, let alone if new ones are found.

Earlier this year, a Dutch court ordered Shell to reduce its planet warming carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels, a decision it plans to appeal.

South Africa’s environment ministry referred Reuters to a statement late last month that “the Minister responsible for environmental affairs is … not mandated to consider the application or to make a decision on the authorisation of the seismic survey.”

(Writing by Tim Cocks;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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