NEWS OF THE DAY
From Around the World
➊ No talks: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday that his country will not negotiate with the United States because America would only use talks for propaganda purposes. The Trump administration has said that it is willing to talk with Iran “with no preconditions,” but that the U.S. will continue its campaign of pressure against the Islamic Republic. In a televised speech marking the Eid alAdha holiday, Khamenei said President Trump would benefit from talks, saying Trump wants to “use negotiations with us for propaganda like negotiations with North Korea.” Khamenei was referring to talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
➋ Border violence: Pakistan fired a barrage of rockets across its southwestern border, killing nine people and wounding 50 in an Afghan frontier town, Afghan officials said Friday. Pakistan said Afghan border guards fired first and blamed them for the previous night’s exchange. The shooting that led to the casualties in the town of Spinboldak was the latest crossborder exchange between the two countries.
➌ Jailed Americans: Two American oil executives jailed in Venezuela have been released and granted house arrest, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said this week. Richardson recently visited Caracas on a humanitarian mission and met with President Nicolás Maduro to press for their release. The two are among six Citgo executives detained more than two years ago while on a business trip to Caracas. The two men released to house arrest are Gustavo Cardenas and Jorge Toledo, the governor said. Venezuelan authorities accuse the men of corruption stemming from an alleged plan to refinance some $4 billion in Citgo bonds by offering a 50% stake in the company as collateral. Prosecutors accuse the men of maneuvering to personally benefit from the proposed deal. All of the six men had been released to house arrest late last year before being taken back into custody two months later. Richardson heads a center that works to free jailed U.S. citizens around the world.
➍ U.S. withdrawal: German Defense Minister Annegret KrampKarrenbauer describes the planned withdrawal of some 12,000 U.S. troops from her country as “regrettable,” while suggesting it underlines the need for Europe to do more for its own security. American defense leaders said this week that the U.S. will bring about 6,400 troops home and shift about 5,600 to other countries in Europe. The decision fulfills President Trump’s announced desire to withdraw troops from Germany, largely because of what he considers its failure to spend enough on defense. The plan would leave about 24,000 U.S. troops in Germany. Germany’s reaction so far has been restrained. Rolf Muetzenich, a senior figure in the governing coalition, suggested that “armaments cooperations will have to be evaluated in a new light.”
➎ Tainted alcohol: Indian police said Friday that at least 21 people have died in a northern state over the past three days after drinking tainted alcohol. The police chief for Punjab state, Dinkar Gupta, said the first five deaths were reported this week in two villages in Amritsar district. Over the past two days, another 16 deaths were reported in Amritsar as well as two other districts, he said. A state government statement said the deaths were due to “spurious” liquor and a crackdown on illegal alcohol manufacturing in the state was ordered. Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in India, where the poor cannot afford licensed brands from governmentrun shops. Illicit liquor is cheap and often spiked with methanol to increase potency.