• China plans to investigate firms sanctioned by US over N. Korea

    Beijing said on Friday it will look into charges against two Chinese firms sanctioned by the US because they are suspected of helping North Korea evade sanctions. China upholds all UN Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. He said China will deal with any verified transgressors and “launch an investigation according to our domestic laws,” AP reports. Geng added, however, that Beijing opposes unilateral sanctions on Chinese firms such as those imposed by the US separate from those of the UN.

  • Main suspect confessed to Utrecht tram shooting, Dutch prosecutors say

    The main suspect in a deadly shooting on a tram in Utrecht, the Netherlands, has confessed to the attack, which left three people dead and three more seriously wounded, and said he acted alone, prosecutors said on Friday. The shooting is being investigated as a possible extremist attack. However, prosecutors did not say if the suspect, Gokmen Tanis, has said anything about his motive, AP reports. “The 37-year-old suspect this morning confessed the criminal acts he is charged with” at a hearing before an investigating judge, the public prosecutor’s office said. Prosecutors have said the suspect did not know any of those who were shot on the tram. The nature of the shooting and a note found in a getaway car led to strong suspicions of an extremist motive.

  • EU holds line on Golan Heights despite Trump’s move – Tusk

    European Council President Donald Tusk has said the EU is holding its position on the Golan Heights despite US President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory seized in war. “The EU’s position is well know and has not changed,” Tusk said on Friday. The European Union does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area. France’s Foreign Ministry said that Paris does not recognize the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights and its recognition – as called for by Trump – “is contrary to international law,” Reuters reported.

  • US imposes new sanctions on Iran’s 17 entities, 14 people over weapons programs

    The US said on Friday it was imposing sanctions on 14 people and 17 entities connected to Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND). Washington says the body has played a central role in Iran’s past nuclear weapons effort, Reuters reported. Among those designated for sanctions was the Shahid Karimi group, which works on missile and explosives-related projects for the SPND, and four associated individuals, according to the US Treasury Department. The US government “is taking decisive action against actors at all levels” in connection with SPND who have supported Iran’s defense sector, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin noted. The steps targeted current SPND subordinate groups, supporters, front companies, and associated officials. The move freezes any US assets of those targeted and bans US dealings with them.

  • ‘Hundreds of thousands’ of protesters demand Algerian President Bouteflika leave office – reports

    Hundreds of thousands of protesters packed downtown Algiers on Friday to demand President Abdelaziz Bouteflika leave office after 20 years in power, Reuters reports. Bouteflika bowed to the protesters last week by reversing plans to stand for a fifth term. However, the president has stopped short of stepping down and said he would stay in office until a new constitution is adopted, effectively extending his present term. Algeria’s army chief said earlier the public had expressed “noble aims” during protests against Bouteflika and the ruling FLN party withdrew its support for him.

  • EU leaders discuss more assertive response to China’s economic power

    EU leaders said on Friday the bloc must recognize that China is as much a competitor as a partner, after calls for a more assertive policy towards Beijing. The EU has sought to avoid taking sides in trade war between Washington and Beijing. However, Brussels has become increasingly frustrated by subsidies and state involvement in the Chinese economy, Reuters said. “China is a partner, but it is at the same time a competitor,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, adding that the debate was long overdue. “It’s crucial that there be fair trade conditions.”