Hunter Biden, the son of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, on Sunday defended his work in Ukraine and China after calls by President Donald Trump that the two countries investigate his business dealings, pleas that have engulfed Trump in an impeachment inquiry.
The younger Biden, whose father is one of the leading Democratic candidates seeking to face Trump in the 2020 presidential election, said in a statement issued by his lawyer that despite Trump’s accusations of improprieties while he was a board member of the Burisma energy company in Ukraine for five years, no foreign or domestic law enforcement agency has accused him of any wrongdoing.
Hunter Biden left the Burisma board last April and said, without giving an explanation, that he would leave the board of China’s BHR (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company at the end of October.
Published accounts say that he was paid as much as $50,000 a month to serve on the Burisma board, although his Sunday statement did not mention the salary he received. The younger Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, said the position with the Chinese investment firm was unpaid, but that Hunter Biden two years ago invested $420,000 for a 10% equity stake in the firm, which he still holds, although has not received any return on his investment.
“Hunter undertook these business activities independently,” Mesires said. “He did not believe it appropriate to discuss them with his father, nor did he.”
But Trump in a late July call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked for “a favor,” that Ukraine investigate the younger Biden’s business activities there and Joe Biden’s efforts while he was President Barack Obama’s second in command to get a Ukrainian prosecutor dismissed, a demand that by numerous accounts did not relate to Burisma’s activities and at the time was supported by other Western countries. Trump subsequently publicly asked China to investigate the younger Biden.
With disclosure of Trump’s demands by an U.S. intelligence community whistleblower, and the White House’s subsequent release of a rough account of the Trump-Zelenskiy call confirming the U.S. leader’s call for a Ukrainian investigation, Democrats in the House of Representatives opened an impeachment inquiry against Trump. The elder Biden says Trump “has convicted himself,” and “should be impeached.”
Mesires said that when Hunter Biden “engaged in his business pursuits, he believed that he was acting appropriately and in good faith. He never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the president of the United States.”
The lawyer said that if Joe Biden is elected president, Hunter Biden “will readily comply” with any White House strictures on “purported conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts,” along with refraining from serving on any boards of foreign companies or working for them.
Until Sunday, the younger Biden had remained silent as Trump called him “a loser” with few business skills and assailed him at a political rally last week for being kicked out of the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2013 for cocaine use.
“Hunter, you know nothing about energy,” Trump said. “You know nothing about China. You know nothing about anything, frankly. Hunter, you’re a loser.”
On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Where’s Hunter? He has totally disappeared! Now looks like he has raided and scammed even more countries!”
Where’s Hunter? He has totally disappeared! Now looks like he has raided and scammed even more countries! Media is AWOL.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2019
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Seven people were wounded after a mortar attack by al-Shabab militants hit the area around Mogadishu airport on Sunday, Somali witnesses and officials say
The mortars landed on the heavily-guarded Halane area of the airport that houses the African Union and United Nations Mission in Somalia.
Witnesses told VOA Somali that six mortars were fired at the vicinity just after 1pm local time.
The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Somalia, James Swan, confirmed that the mortars landed inside the U.N. and AMISOM facilities.
“I am appalled by this blatant act of terrorism against our personnel, who work together with the Somali people on humanitarian, peace building, and development issues,” Swan said in a statement. “There is no justification for such despicable acts of violence, and the United Nations remains determined to support Somalia on its path to peace, stability and development.”
Al-Shabab uses mobile vehicles that transport mortars from one location to another. The mortars are then dissembled immediately after being fired and hidden in the bush or in a car, according to security sources.
Al-Shabab attacked the same facility with mortars earlier this year injuring two United Nations staff members and a contractor.
The attack on Sunday comes a day before Somalia marks the deadliest terrorist attack in Somalia and in Africa.
October 14 is the second anniversary of the truck bomb in Mogadishu that killed 587 people and injured hundreds of others.your ad here
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan held talks Sunday with leaders in Iran to formally begin a diplomatic offensive he said was aimed at defusing the neighboring country’s escalating tensions with Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Khan told a joint news conference after his “wide-ranging consultations” with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that his country’s close ties with both Tehran and Riyadh go a long way back and Islamabad will do its utmost to prevent a conflict between the two Islamic countries.
“We recognize that it’s a complex issue. But we feel that this can be resolved through dialogue,” Khan stressed and announced he plans to travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to further his peace mission.
“I have been very encouraged talking to you Mr. President. I feel encouraged and I go in a very positive frame of mind to Saudi Arabia and we will act as a facilitator. We would like to facilitate talks [between Tehran and Riyadh],” Khan said.
The Pakistani leader noted his country has previously hosted Saudi Arabia and Iran for talks to help them iron out mutual differences and it is ready to do it again.
For his part, Rouhani said he agreed with Khan that regional tensions must be settled through political talks, promising to assist Pakistan in its peacemaking efforts.
“I told Mr. Prime Minister that we openly welcome any goodwill gesture by Pakistan to promote regional peace and stability,” the Iranian president stressed.
Khan emphasized his peace Middle East mission is “purely a Pakistan initiative”, though he acknowledged the United States also has a role in it. He also has said previously that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has asked him to help mediate tensions with Iran.
“When we were in New York, President Trump spoke to me and he wanted us to facilitate some sort of a dialogue between Iran and the United States… I know there are difficulties but whatever we can do we will be happy to facilitate,” Khan said while referring to his last month’s meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
Rouhani said he discussions with Khan also focused on how Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers could be restored to its previous status and ultimately fully implemented.
Last year, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting the Shi’ite Muslim nation to gradually reduce its stated commitments to limit controversial uranium enrichment operations.
“We emphasized as a key point that the United States should return to the JCPOA and lift the sanctions,” Rouhani said.
Washington and Riyadh blame Tehran for being behind last month’s strikes against key Saudi crude oil processing facilities, which fuelled regional tensions. Iranian officials deny the charges.
Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen, which are fighting a Riyadh-led military coalition, took responsibility for the September 14 attacks.
Rouhani noted he also conveyed his concerns to Khan regarding Friday’s missile attack on one of Iranian oil ships near the port of Jeddah. The Iranian leader said his country has “clues” and will continue investigations to determine who the culprit is behind the attack before coming up with a “proper response.”
Khan met Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei before concluding his one-day official visit to Tehran.
Khan explained Pakistan is promoting peace because it can ill-afford another regional conflict at a time when it is already dealing with security and economic challenges stemming from the 18-year-old war in neighbouring Afghanistan. The Pakistani prime minister has lately also facilitated peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban to help bring an end to the Afghan war.
Pakistan has traditionally relied on financial assistance and import of oil on deferred payments from Saudi Arabia to support its troubled economy. Pakistani military troops are also stationed on Saudi soil to train local forces. More than 2.5 million of Pakistanis are living and working in the kingdom.
However, with its large Shi’ite minority and a nearly 900-kilometer border with Iran, Pakistan has stayed neutral in Middle East tensions. It declined a Saudi call a few years back to join the military alliance fighting the Houthi insurgents in Yemen.
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США готується якнайшвидше вивезти близько тисячі своїх військових із північної частини Сирії у зв’язку з турецьким наступом, повідомляє телеканал СBS із посиланням на голову Пентагону Марка Еспера.
Таким чином, за його словами, намагаються врятувати життя американських солдатів, які можуть опитинитися між двома арміями.
Понад 130 тисяч людей були змушені залишити свої помешкання через бої навколо міст Рас аль-Ейн і Тель-Аб’яд на північному сході Сирії, де Туреччина почала наступ на курдські сили, повідомляє ООН.
Наземному наступу Туреччини, який розпочався 9 жовтня, передували авіанальоти та артилерійський обстріл території, яку утримують курдські сили. Міністерство оборони Туреччини заявило, що з початку операції на північному сході Сирії військові завдали ударів по 181 бойовій цілі.
Курдські сили, як союзник США в регіоні у боротьбі з угрупованням «Ісламська держава», назвали виведення американських військ з північно-східної Сирії «ударом в спину».
Вашингтон заявив, що готує санкції проти Туреччини.
Президент Туреччини Реджеп Таїп Ердоган раніше заявив, що якщо ці санкції підтримає Євросоюз, він відкриє кордон і пустить до Європи близько трьох мільйонів сирійських біженців.
Українська прокуратура Криму обов’язково дасть правову оцінку візиту до Туреччини експредставників адміністрації анексованого півострова, а нині депутатів російської Держдуми Наталії Поклонської та Руслана Бальбека, повідомляється у телеграм-каналі відомства.
«Нагадаємо, що колишній так званий «прокурор Криму» Поклонська перебуває під персональними санкціями. Її оголосили в розшук за обвинуваченням у діях з метою насильницької зміни чи повалення конституційного ладу або захоплення державної влади», – мовиться у повідомленні.
Раніше сьогодні Міністерство закордонних справ України направило ноту протесту Туреччині у зв’язку із зустріччю президента цієї країни Реджепа Таїпа Ердогана з депутатами Держдуми Росії, обраними на незаконно проведених в анексованому Криму виборах, і викликало посла для пояснень.
Російські депутати на чолі з головою Державної думи В’ячеславом Володіним приїхали в Стамбул 12 жовтня для участі в конференції спікерів парламентів із протидії тероризму і зміцненню регіональної взаємодії.
У складі російської делегації двоє представників анексованого Криму – Руслан Бельбек і Наталія Поклонська. Саме вона поширила в соцмережах фотографію свого рукостискання з президентом Туреччини Ердоганом і заявила про «теплий прийом».
Туреччина, як і переважна більшість країн світу, не визнає анексію півострова.
Україна і Захід також засуджують і не визнають вибори, які Росія проводить на території окупованого Криму.your ad here
Britain remains a long way from agreeing on a final Brexit deal and the next few days will be critical if it is to reach departure terms with the European Union, a Downing Street source said Saturday.
Negotiators for Britain and the EU entered intense talks over the weekend to see if they can break the Brexit impasse before a crucial summit next week and a deadline for Britain to leave the bloc Oct. 31.
News of progress in the talks sent financial markets surging Friday after Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar identified a pathway to a deal following months of acrimony.
But on Saturday the deputy leader of the Northern Irish party that holds a key role in the talks signaled his concern about the mooted proposal and the Downing Street source said Britain remained ready to leave without a deal if needed.
“We’ve always wanted a deal,” the person said, on condition of anonymity. “It is good to see progress, but we will wait to see if this is a genuine breakthrough.
“We are a long way from a final deal and the weekend and next week remain critical to leaving with a deal on Oct. 31. We remain prepared to leave without a deal on Oct. 31,” the source said.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported that Johnson, the face of Britain’s 2016 campaign to leave the EU, was now desperate to secure a deal after security chiefs warned that leaving in a disorderly manner could inflame tensions in Northern Ireland.
Ireland has proved the toughest nut to crack in the Brexit talks, specifically how to prevent the British province of Northern Ireland from becoming a backdoor into the EU’s markets without having border controls.
Ireland fears controls on the 500-km (300-mile) border with Northern Ireland would undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended three decades of sectarian and political conflict that killed more than 3,600 people.
Johnson is likely to talk to senior EU leaders Monday to reassess the situation, the source said.
Turkey’s military said it captured a key Syrian border town under heavy bombardment Saturday in its most significant gain since an offensive against Kurdish fighters began four days ago, with no sign of relenting despite mounting international criticism.
Turkish troops entered central Ras al-Ayn, according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry and a war monitor group. The ministry tweeted: “Ras al-Ayn’s residential center has been taken under control through the successful operations in the east of Euphrates” River. It marked the biggest gain made by Turkey since the invasion began Wednesday.
The continued push by Turkey into Syria comes days after President Donald Trump pulled U.S. forces out of the area, making Turkey’s air and ground offensive possible, and said he wanted to stop getting involved with “endless wars.” Trump’s decision drew swift bipartisan criticism that he was endangering regional stability and risking the lives of Syrian Kurdish allies who brought down the Islamic State group in Syria. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces was the main U.S. ally in the fight and lost 11,000 fighters in the nearly five-year battle against IS.
Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition fighters have made gains recently capturing several northern villages in fighting and bombardment that left dozens of people killed or wounded. The invasion also has forced nearly 100,000 people to flee their homes amid concerns that IS might take advantage of the chaos and try to rise again after its defeat in Syria earlier this year.
US moral responsibilities
The Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, said the United States should carry out its “moral responsibilities” and close northern Syrian airspace to Turkish warplanes, but that it didn’t want the U.S. to send its soldiers “to the front lines and put their lives in danger.”
During a meeting Saturday in Cairo, the 22-member Arab League condemned what it described as “Turkey’s aggression against Syria” and warned that Ankara will be responsible for the spread of terrorism following its invasion. The league said Arab states might take some measures against Ankara. It called on the U.N. Security Council to force Turkey to stop the offensive.
The Turkish offensive was widely criticized by Syria and some Western countries, which called on Turkey to cease its military operations.
Arms exports curtailed
France’s defense and foreign ministries said Saturday that the country was halting exports of any arms to Turkey that could be used in its offensive.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also announced that Germany would curtail its arms exports to Turkey. Maas told the weekly Bild am Sonntag that “against the background of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the government will not issue any new permissions for any weapons that can be used by Turkey in Syria.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Turkey won’t stop until the Syrian Kurdish forces withdraw at least 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the border.
During the capture of Ras al-Ayn’s residential center, an Associated Press journalist across the border heard sporadic clashes as Turkish howitzers struck the town and Turkish jets screeched overhead. Syrian Kurdish forces appeared to be holding out in some areas of the town.
The SDF released two videos said to be from inside Ras al-Ayn, showing fighters saying that it was Saturday and they were still there.
The fighting was ongoing as the Kurdish fighters sought to reverse the Turkish advance into the city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor.
Ras al-Ayn is one of the biggest towns along the border and is in the middle of the area where Turkey plans to set up its safe zone. The ethnically and religiously mixed town with a population of Arabs, Kurds, Armenians and Syriac Christians had been under the control of Kurdish fighters since 2013. IS members tried to enter Ras al-Ayn following their rise in Syria and Iraq in 2014 but failed.
Most of the town’s residents have fled in recent days for fear of the invasion.
Earlier Saturday, Turkish troops moved to seize control of key highways in northeastern Syria, the Turkish military and the Syrian Observatory said. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said that Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces had taken control of the M-4 highway that connects the towns of Manbij and Qamishli. The SDF said that Turkish troops and their Syrian allies reached the highway briefly before being pushed back again.
Kurdish news agencies including Hawar and Rudaw said that Hevreen Khalaf, secretary general of the Future Syria Party, was killed Saturday as she was driving on the M-4 highway. Rudaw’s correspondent blamed Turkish forces for targeting Khalaf’s car, and Hawar blamed “Turkey’s mercenaries.”
The Observatory said six people, including Khalaf, were killed by Turkey-backed opposition fighters on the road that they briefly cut before withdrawing.
The Turkish military aims to clear Syrian border towns of Kurdish fighters’ presence, saying they are a national security threat. Since Wednesday, Turkish troops and Syrian opposition fighters backed by Ankara have been advancing under the cover of airstrikes and artillery shelling.
The U.N. estimated the number of displaced at 100,000 since Wednesday, saying that markets, schools and clinics also were closed. Aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis, with nearly a half-million people at risk in northeastern Syria.
A civilian wounded in a mortar strike from Syria on Friday in the Turkish border town of Suruc died, Anadolu news agency reported Saturday, bringing the civilian death toll to 18 in Turkey. Turkey’s interior minister said hundreds of mortars, fired from Syria, have landed in Turkish border towns.
The Observatory said 74 Kurdish-led SDF fighters have been killed since Wednesday as well as 49 Syrian opposition fighters backed by Turkey. That’s in addition to 38 civilians on the Syrian side. It added that Turkish troops now control 23 villages in northeastern Syria.
Turkey’s defense ministry said it “neutralized” 459 Syrian Kurdish fighters. The number could not be independently verified. Four Turkish soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the offensive, including two who were killed in Syria’s northwest.
France’s leader warned Trump in a phone call that Turkey’s military action in northern Syria could lead to a resurgence of IS activity. President Emmanuel Macron “reiterated the need to make the Turkish offensive stop immediately,” his office said in a statement Saturday.
A Kurdish police force in northern Syria said a car bomb exploded early Saturday outside a prison where IS members are being held in the northeastern city of Hassakeh. It was not immediately clear if there were any serious injuries or deaths.
Kurdish fighters are holding about 10,000 IS fighters, including some 2,000 foreigners.your ad here
Rescue efforts for people stranded in flooded areas were in full force Sunday, after a powerful typhoon dashed heavy rainfall and winds through a widespread area of Japan, including Tokyo.
Typhoon Hagibis made landfall south of Tokyo Saturday and moved northward.
The typhoon left four people dead, 17 missing and more than 100 people injured, according to public broadcaster NHK. The numbers were growing, underlining the damage from Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language of Tagalog.
News footage showed a rescue helicopter hovering in a flooded area in Nagano Prefecture, after an embankment of the Chikuma River broke, plucking people from the second floor of a home submerged in muddy waters.
Several other rivers had also overflowed, including Tama River near Tokyo, according to NHK.
Authorities warned that the risk of mudslides remained.
Some train service in the Tokyo area, much of which had halted, resumed from early morning, although others were undergoing safety checks and were expected to start later in the day.
The World Rugby Cup match between Namibia and Canada, scheduled for Sunday in Kamaishi, northern Japan, was canceled as a precautionary measure for safety reasons.
The matches for Saturday had been canceled. Stores and amusement parks had been closed.
The usually crowded train stations and streets of Tokyo were abandoned as people were advised to stay indoors. But life was quickly returning to normal under clear sunny skies.
About 17,000 police and military troops had been standing ready for rescue operations, under government orders.
Evacuation centers had been set up in coastal towns, and tens of thousands of people had evacuated, praying their homes were still there after the storm passed.
The typhoon disrupted a three-day weekend in Japan that includes Sports Day on Monday. Qualifying for a Formula One auto race in Suzuka was pushed from Saturday to Sunday.
The authorities had repeatedly warned Hagibis was on par with a typhoon that hit the Tokyo region in 1958. But the safety benefits that Japan’s modernization had brought were apparent. The typhoon six decades ago had left more than 1,200 people dead and half a million houses flooded.your ad here
Американського бізнесмена українського походження Андрія Кукушкіна заарештували в Сан-Франциско. 46-річний Кукушкін фігурує у звинуваченнях, висунутих прокурорами США проти Лева Парнаса та Ігоря Фрумана, партнерів особистого адвоката Дональда Трампа Руді Джуліані.
Кукушкін був заарештований ще 10 жовтня, повідомляє американський телеканал CBS News з посиланням на інформацію представника ФБР Вільяма Свіні.
Кукушкіна, а також Парнаса і Фрумана звинувачують у змові з метою приховати джерело походження внесків у виборчі кампанії двох кандидатів на політичні посади в американському штаті Невада. Внески по 10 тисяч доларів робилися в інтересах російського бізнесмена, який хотів отримати ліцензії на бізнес із поширення марихуани. Фінансування політичних кампаній у США в інтересах іноземних діячів заборонене, нагадує українська служба «Голосу Америки».
Кукушкіну, на відміну від Парнаса і Фрумана, не висувають звинувачень у діях в інтересах українського чиновника.
У тексті звинувачення йдеться, що в липні 2018 року всі чотири обвинувачені вступили в змову, щоб заснувати бізнес із рекреаційної марихуаною, який фінансувався іноземним громадянином і через який оплачувалися їхні лобістські зусилля. При цьому вони приховували ім’я інвестора, через, як пояснив Кукушкін, «його російське походження і параною навколо цього».
10 жовтня у федеральному суді у Вірджинії висунуті звинувачення чотирьом американським громадянам, троє з яких народилися на території колишнього Радянського Союзу. Двох із них пов’язують з особистим адвокатом президента Дональда Трампа Рудольфом Джуліані.your ad here
Міністр закордонних справ України Вадим Пристайко заявив, що наразі не бачить потреби у прямому спілкуванні зі своїм російським колегою Сергієм Лавровим.
«Не можна сказати, що я особливо поспішаю. Напевне, дипломатичні служби для того і є, так воно і насправді, щоб все ж таки підтримувати канали, але на цьому етапі ми не бачимо потреби у підтриманні, в розвитку цього каналу спілкування», – сказав Пристайко в програмі Радіо Свобода «Суботнє інтерв’ю».
Наприкінці вересня міністр закордонних справ Росії Сергій Лавров повідомив, нібито обговорив із президентом України Володимиром Зеленським на полях сесії Генасамблеї ООН в Нью-Йорку врегулювання ситуації на Донбасі.
«З обох сторін була висловлена зацікавленість вирішувати ситуацію на Донбасі відповідно до Мінських домовленостей. Головне, що президент України це сказав», – повідомив Лавров російській державній інформагенції ТАСС. Лавров зазначив, що це не були переговори, а «розмова».
В Офісі українського президента не повідомляли про таку розмову Володимира Зеленського із Сергієм Лавровим.
Збройний конфлікт на Донбасі триває від 2014 року після російської окупації Криму. Україна і Захід звинувачують Росію у збройній підтримці бойовиків. Кремль відкидає ці звинувачення і заявляє, що на Донбасі можуть перебувати хіба що російські «добровольці».
За оцінками ООН, станом на 31 грудня 2018 року, унаслідок збройного конфлікту на Донбасі загинули від 12 тисяч 800 до 13 тисяч людей.