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Rajapakse concedes defeat

Gorkha Post




The incumbent president of Sri Lanka has conceded defeat in the country’s election to opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, official say.

#Mahinda Rajapaksa has left his official residence and will ensure a smooth handover of power, presidential press secretary Vijayananda Herath said.

Mr Herath said the president met with #Ranil Wickremesinghe, who will be PM under the new president, to concede defeat and asked him “facilitate a smooth transition”.

Celebratory firecrackers could be heard blasting in the capital, Colombo, after the announcement.

There was no sign of protests or a major mobilisation of security forces.

The Department of Elections said that of 3.26 million votes counted so far, Mr Sirisena had taken 51.3 per cent and Rajapaksa was trailing on 46.9 per cent.

Other candidates accounted for the remainder of the votes cast on Thursday by an electorate of around 15 million.

Mr Sirisena, a former government minister, is expected to be sworn in later on Friday.


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Britain, France and Germany propose new sanctions on Iran

Gorkha Post



BRUSSELS — Britain, France and Germany have proposed fresh EU sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles and its role in Syria’s war, according to a confidential document, in a bid to persuade Washington to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran,according to a document seen by the Reuters news agency.

On March 16, Reuters reported the move would be aimed at satisfying demands made by US President Donald Trump and keeping him ‘committed’ to the 2015 nuclear pact that Tehran signed with world powers and from which Trump has threatened to withdraw.

All 28 members must agree to any such sanctions,according to EU rules.

The document, citing specifically Iran’s ballistic-missile tests and its role in supporting Syria’s government in the seven-year-old civil war against Western-backed rebels, said, “We will…be circulating in the coming days a list of persons and entities that we believe should be targeted in view of their publicly demonstrated roles”.

The proposal is part of an EU strategy to save the accord signed by world powers that curbs Tehran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, namely by showing US.President Donald Trump that there are other ways to counter Iranian power abroad.

Trump delivered an ultimatum to the European signatories on Jan. 12. It said they must agree to ‘fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal’ which was sealed under his predecessor Barack Obama or he would refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran. US sanctions will resume unless Trump issues fresh ‘waivers’ to suspend them on May 12.

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The steps would go beyond what a U.S. State Department cable seen by Reuters last month outlined as a path to satisfy Trump: simply committing to improving the nuclear deal.

European Union foreign ministers will discuss the proposal at a closed-door meeting on Monday in Brussels, diplomats said.

Analysts say the nuclear agreement, touted at the time as a breakthrough reducing the risk of a devastating wider war in the Middle East, could collapse if Washington pulls out.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif struck a defiant note towards Washington on Friday.

“If the United States makes the mistake of pulling out of the JCPOA, it will definitely be a painful mistake for the Americans,” Iranian state television quoted Zarif as saying. The JCPOA is the formal name of the nuclear deal.

Zarif did not refer to the possibility of new EU sanctions.

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