Tuesday 09 March 2021
News ID: 87519
Publish Date: 12 February 2021 - 22:00
MANILA (Reuters) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday the United States must pay if it wants to keep a two-decade-old troop deployment agreement with his country that is central to U.S. strategy in Asia. Duterte, a nationalist who openly disapproves of the long-standing U.S. military alliance, unilaterally cancelled the Visiting Force Agreement last year in an angry response to an ally being denied a U.S. visa. Speaking to Philippine troops on Friday after inspecting newly acquired air assets, Duterte said: "I’d like to put on notice if there is an American agent here, from now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done? You have to pay. "It is a shared a responsibility, but your share of responsibility does not come free, after all, when the war breaks out we all pay,” Duterte said, alluding to Washington and Beijing stepping up military activities in the South China Sea. "(The United States) is free to advance their troops in our land...We do not like it because we want to remain neutral,” Duterte said.   

SEOUL (Reuters) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sacked his economy chief, who was only appointed last month, and denounced his cabinet for a lack of innovation in drafting goals for a new five-year economic plan, state media reported on Friday. The ruling Workers’ Party wrapped up its four-day plenary meeting on Thursday, where Kim also mapped out his vision for inter-Korean affairs and relations with other countries, as well as party rules and personnel issues. With the economy topping the agenda, Kim reviewed action plans for his new five-year strategy which was unveiled at last month’s party congress amid international sanctions, a prolonged border closure and reduced outside aid due to the coronavirus pandemic. He accused the cabinet of drafting plans with "no big changes” from previous ones, which he has said had "failed tremendously on almost every sector.”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The Biden administration has launched a formal review of the future of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay with the goal of closing the controversial facility in Cuba, a White House official said on Friday. Aides involved in internal discussions are considering an executive action to be signed by President Joe Biden in coming weeks or months, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters, signaling a new effort to remove what human rights advocates have called a stain on America’s global image. "We are undertaking an NSC process to assess the current state of play that the Biden administration has inherited from the previous administration, in line with our broader goal of closing Guantanamo,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne told Reuters. "The NSC will work closely with the Departments of Defense, State, and Justice to make progress toward closing the GTMO facility, and also in close consultation with Congress,” she added. Such an initiative, however, is unlikely to bring down the curtain anytime soon on the high-security facility located at the Guantanamo Naval Station.  
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A group of former Republican officials considering a new center-right political party to counter former President Donald Trump’s influence would face steep challenges in shaking up a U.S. political system that has favored two-party rule throughout its history. Reuters exclusively reported on Wednesday that more than 120 Republicans - including former elected officials, along with former administrators under Trump and former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush - met virtually on Feb. 5 to discuss forming a third party or a new center-right faction. Two of the most prominent anti-Trump Republicans in Congress - Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois - rejected the idea of a breakaway party in statements to Reuters on Thursday. Other Republican critics of Trump expressed similar skepticism - arguing a third party would accomplish little beyond splitting the votes of conservatives and helping Democrats get elected.

NAIROBI (Reuters) -- Scores of women have been raped in Ethiopia’s northerly Tigray region, authorities have confirmed, in the chaotic aftermath of an armed conflict last year that ousted the local ruling party. "We have received the report back from our Taskforce team on the ground in the Tigray region, they have unfortunately established rape has taken place conclusively and without a doubt,” Ethiopian Women’s Minister Filsan Abdullahi tweeted late on Thursday.  Though witnesses, medics and aid workers had spoken of widespread sexual abuse since fighting began in November, Filsan’s comments were the first confirmation by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. The state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said that 108 rapes had been reported in Tigray - nearly half in the regional capital Mekelle - in the last two months.

ANKARA (Reuters) -- Fifteen Turkish sailors kidnapped by pirates last month in the Gulf of Guinea have been freed in Nigeria and will head home, a shipping company executive said on Friday, two weeks after the attackers made contact to discuss a ransom. One sailor, a citizen of Azerbaijan, was killed in the raid on Jan. 23 which crew, family members and security sources described as a sophisticated and well-orchestrated attack. Those kidnapped were from Turkey. Speaking to state TV broadcaster TRT Haber, Levent Karsan from Istanbul-based Boden Shipping said the sailors were all in good health in Nigeria and would be brought to Turkey in the coming days.

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