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New Sanctions to Further Poison Iran-US Ties: FM Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted the new anti-Tehran sanctions announced by the
Trump administration and said the new US president should stop sending hostile signals to Iran.

The new sanctions introduced by the US administration are poisoning the already strained relations
between the two countries, Zarif said in an interview with the CBS News.

“It [new US sanctions] violates the spirit of the [nuclear] deal. We will look at it and see whether it
violates the letter of the deal, and we will act accordingly,” he noted.

Zarif pointed to the US president’s remarks about how bad the nuclear deal between Tehran and world
powers is, and said, “It isn’t [a bad deal]. Well, no deal is completely acceptable to everybody.”

“This is a multilateral deal, approved by the Security Council, and it’s not a bilateral deal to be withdrawn
from or to be renegotiated,” he said, rejecting the idea of renegotiating the JCPOA.

While the White House accuses Iran of supporting terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Zarif disputed the claim
and placed blame on US allies like Saudi Arabia.

“These are the countries that are producing terrorists for you. And the United States is going after Iran. I
don’t know why,” Zarif said.

“What the United States has done against the Iranian people over the past several months has been really
repugnant,” he noted.

“I certainly think it is up to the US government to stop sending all these hostile signals,” he said.
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Erdogan threatens to 'chop off traitors' heads' on anniversary of failed coup

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to "chop off the heads" of traitors in a speech
marking the first anniversary of the failed coup bid that aimed to oust him from power.

"First of all we will chop off the heads of those traitors," Mr Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul, prompting
cries from the crowds that capital punishment should be restored in Turkey.

Reaffirming previous comments, Mr Erdogan vowed to sign any bill passed by parliament to restore
capital punishment in Turkey, a move that would effectively end Ankara's European Union membership
ambitions.

"We are a state governed by rule of law. If it comes to me after parliament, I will sign it," he said.

More than 240 people died before the July 2016 coup was put down, a show of popular defiance that
has likely ended decades of military interference in Turkish politics.

But along with a groundswell of nationalism, the coup's greatest legacy has been the far-reaching
crackdown.

Some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the civil service and private sector
and more than 50,000 detained for alleged links to the coup.

Yesterday, the government said it had dismissed another 7,000 police, civil servants and academics for
suspected links to the Muslim cleric it blames for the putsch.
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Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif rejects graft report as 'slander'

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday for the first time explicitly dismissed a report from a
corruption investigation that raised questions about the source of his family's wealth, rejecting it as
slander.

Sharif, 67, serving his third term as prime minister, faces opposition calls to step down but he was
defiant in his condemnation of the report that alleges his family's income from business was not large
enough to explain its wealth.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT), set up by the Supreme Court to investigate corruption allegations that
surfaced following the Panama Papers leak, also accused his children, including heir apparent Maryam
Sharif, of signing falsified documents about ownership of off-shore companies.

"The JIT report about our family businesses is the sum of hypotheses, accusations and slander," Sharif
said in a statement after meeting his cabinet. "Accusations amounting to billions are being made here but
no wrongdoing has been proven."

The investigation team, which included officials from a military intelligence agency, presented its report
to the Supreme Court on Monday.

Copies of it were then leaked to the media, prompting a chorus of demands from political parties that he
resign from office.

"Nawaz's authority is completely eroded," Shah Mehmood Qureshi, vice chairman of the opposition PTI
party, told Reuters. "There is no legal, moral or political justification for him to continue."

Pakistan has for decades been plagued by pervasive graft, and by rivalry between the military and civilian
politicians.

WORRIES HIT STOCKS

Sharif's term expires in June 2018 and elections are expected two months later. If he were forced to step
down, his ruling PML-N party could appoint a new leader as prime minister until the polls.

Nevertheless, worries generated by the 254-page report has sent stocks tumbling amid fears of chaos
after several years of relative stability and accelerating economic growth.

The economy expanded by 5.3 per cent last fiscal year - its fastest in a decade. Big infrastructure
investment by China has boosted growth while confidence has been buoyed by a decline in militant
attacks.

After years of electricity shortages and cuts, power outages have also been reduced but not eradicated.

Sharif said the economic progress made since his election in 2013 showed the government was on the
right track and any disruption would only hurt progress.

"We will not let darkness once again prevail in our towns and factories," he said.

Sharif, the son of an industrialist, will have his fate decided by the Supreme Court, which could
disqualify him or order a trial.

Sharif was originally nurtured by the military as a civilian politician who would protect their interests, and
he served as prime minister twice in the 1990s.

But he later fell out with an army chief and was ousted in a 1999 coup leading to a decade of exile.

"Our family has gained nothing from the politics, in fact it has lost a lot," Sharif said.
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Pakistan wants solution to all issues with India, including Kashmir: Sartaj Aziz

Pakistan is seeking a dialogue with India and wants to resolve all outstanding matters, including the
Kashmir issue, through talks, a senior Pakistani leader has said.

Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif's advisor Sartaj Aziz on Sunday said Islamabad wanted to restore
peace in the South Asian region and would continue extending "political, moral and diplomatic support to
Kashmiris until they achieve freedom from India".

According to The News International, Aziz said, "India will have to give freedom to Kashmiris".

He said that Indian atrocities in the Kashmir Valley had reached the peak after Hizbul commander Burhan
Wani's death last year during clashes with Indian security forces.

Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had on Monday denied that India was rejecting medical
visa applications of Pakistanis and asked Aziz to respond to her letter seeking travel permission for the
mother of alleged Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav who is on a death row in that country.

In a series of tweets, the minister said Aziz should not hesitate to write a recommendation for Pakistanis
seeking medical treatment in India.

The remarks come amid media reports in Pakistan that the Indian Embassy in Islamabad had rejected the
medical visa application of a 25-year-old Pakistani tumour patient who was to travel to India for
treatment.
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