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Venezuela government, opposition to resume talks in Barbados

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Venezuela government, opposition to resume talks in Barbados

Norway’s Foreign Ministry says negotiations aimed at resolving Venezuela’s political deadlock are to resume on the Caribbean island of Barbados in the coming week.

The Scandinavian nation is acting as a mediator in the talks and it said on July 7 that representatives of Venezuela’s government and opposition have agreed to meet in Barbados to seek a “constitutional” solution to the country’s political crisis.

Juan Guaido, head of the opposition-controlled congress, has stepped efforts trying to force President Nicolas Maduro out of office. Guaido is supported by the U.S. and about four dozen other nations.
Guaido confirmed the resumption of negotiations, saying his ultimate goal is to secure new elections.

Venezuela , Guaido , Maduro, U.S.

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Iran increased its uranium enrichment, adding pressure on Europe

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Iran steps further from nuke deal, adding pressure on Europe

Iran increased its uranium enrichment on July 7 beyond the limit allowed by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, inching its program closer toward weapons-grade levels while calling for a diplomatic solution to a crisis heightening tensions with the U.S.

Iran’s move, coupled with earlier abandoning the deal’s limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile, intensifies pressure on Europe to find any effective way around U.S. sanctions that block Tehran’s oil sales abroad.

But the future of the accord that President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the U.S. from a year ago remains in question. While Iran’s recent measures could be easily reversed, Europe has struggled to respond, even after getting a 60-day warning that the increase was coming.

Meanwhile, experts fear a miscalculation in the crisis could explode into open conflict, as Trump already has nearly bombed Iran over Tehran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone.

Trump warned Tehran on July 7 that “Iran better be careful.” He didn’t elaborate on what actions the U.S. might consider, but Trump told reporters: “Iran’s doing a lot of bad things.”

International reaction to Iran’s decision came swiftly, with Britain warning Iran to “immediately stop and reverse all activities” violating the deal, Germany saying it is “extremely concerned,” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a longtime critic of the accord, urging world powers to impose so-called “snapback sanctions” on Tehran.

The European Union said parties to the deal are discussing a possible emergency meeting after Iran’s announcement, with EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic saying the bloc is “extremely concerned” about the move.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “Iran’s latest expansion of its nuclear program will lead to further isolation and sanctions. Nations should restore the longstanding standard of no enrichment for Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s regime, armed with nuclear weapons, would pose an even greater danger to the world.”

At a news conference, Iranian officials said the new level of uranium enrichment would be reached later in the day, but did not provide the percentage they planned to hit. Under the nuclear deal, the cap for enrichment was set at 3.67%, a percentage closely monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog.

“Within hours, the technical tasks will be done and enrichment above 3.67% will begin,” Iran nuclear agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said. “We predict that the IAEA measurements early tomorrow morning will show that we have gone beyond 3.67%.”

The IAEA said it was aware of Iran’s comments and “inspectors in Iran will report to our headquarters as soon as they verify the announced development.”

Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made remarks in a video Saturday about Iran’s need for 5% enrichment. Bushehr, Iran’s only nuclear power plant, is now running on imported fuel from Russia that’s enriched to around 5%.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini outlining the steps it had taken, said Abbas Araghchi, a deputy foreign minister. Discussions with European powers are continuing and ministerial-level talks are planned later this month, he said.

“We will give another 60-day period, and then we will resume the reduction of our commitments,” Araghchi said, without elaborating.

On July 6, French President Emmanuel Macron told his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in a phone call that he is trying to find a way by July 15 to resume the dialogue between Iran and Western partners. It wasn’t clear if July 15 carried any importance. The U.S. has called for a special IAEA meeting for July 10 to discuss Iran.

Kamalvandi stressed that Iran will continue to use only slower, first-generation IR-1 centrifuges to increase enrichment, as well as keep the number of centrifuges in use under the 5,060-limit set by the nuclear deal. Iran has the technical ability to build and operate advanced centrifuges that work faster but is barred from doing so under the deal.

“For the enrichment we are using the same machines with some more pressure and some special technical work,” he said. “So we don’t have an increase in the number of centrifuges for this purpose.”

But Kamalvandi stressed that Iran is able to continue enrichment “at any speed, any amount and any level.”

Enriched uranium at the 3.67% level is enough for peaceful pursuits but is far below weapons-grade levels of 90%.

The decision to ramp up uranium enrichment came less than a week after Iran acknowledged breaking the deal’s 300-kilogram (661-pound) limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile. Experts warn higher enrichment and a growing stockpile narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have enough material for an atomic bomb, something Iran denies it wants but the deal prevented.

The steps taken so far by Iran show it is more interested in applying political pressure than moving toward a nuclear weapon, said Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association. He said Iran would need at least 1,050 kilograms (2,315 pounds) of low-enriched uranium to make the core of a single nuclear bomb, then would have to enrich it to 90%.

“Iran is not racing toward the bomb as some allege but these are calibrated moves,” Kimball told The Associated Press. However, “if Iran and the United States remain on the current course, the agreement is indeed in jeopardy.”

Netanyahu urged the international community to punish Iran for its decision.

“It is a very, very dangerous step,” he said. “I’m asking you, not to provoke but out of joint knowledge of history and what happens when aggressive totalitarian regimes can cross the threshold toward things that are very dangerous to us all. Take the steps that you promised. Enact the sanctions.”

However, Kimball cautioned against that.

“Iran is clearly not going to enter negotiations for a new deal if these sanctions are in place,” he said. “This a self-made, Trump administration crisis because it has been taking drastic measures to dismantle the (deal) without a viable Plan B.”

Iran, U.S., nuclear deal, uranium, Trump

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Sports

USA beat Netherlands to win Womens World Cup

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The United States won the Women’s World Cup for a record fourth time as they eventually overpowered the Netherlands in Lyon, BBC Sport reported.

Megan Rapinoe’s penalty and Rose Lavelle’s fine run and finish gave the defending champions victory in the second half, after resilient first-half defending from the Dutch.

Veteran winger Rapinoe’s calmly-slotted opener came from a spot-kick awarded after a video assistant referee (VAR) review, at the end of a tournament in which the system has been a major talking point.

Barcelona defender Stefanie van der Gragt’s high boot caught USA striker Alex Morgan and French referee Stephanie Frappart pointed to the spot after assessing replays, and the holders did not look back after taking the lead.

The European champions, reaching the final in only their second World Cup, kept the favourites at bay in the first half as former Arsenal goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal produced four excellent saves.

But the USA, playing in their third consecutive final, continued their reign as the world’s finest side as they added to their titles of 1991, 1999 and 2015.

Rapinoe’s goal also meant she won the Golden Boot after finishing with six goals and three assists, while she also took the Golden Ball award for the tournament’s best player.

Victory for the USA saw their English-born boss Jill Ellis, from Hampshire, become the first coach to lift the trophy twice.

AzeriTiems.com

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1,500-year-old ancient Roman column being used as coffee table in Turkey’s Kahramanmaraş – Turkey News

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1,500-year-old ancient Roman column being used as coffee table in Turkey’s Kahramanmaraş

KAHRAMANMARAŞ – Demirören News Agency

1,500-year-old ancient Roman column being used as coffee table in Turkey’s Kahramanmaraş

A man in Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş has been using an ancient Roman column that he discovered while building his house as a coffee table.

Mehmet Boz, 74 and residing in the Bağlarbaşı neighborhood, within the boundaries of the ancient city of Germanicia, discovered the 1,500-year-old ancient column in 1977 while excavating for the foundation of his house. But Boz, unaware that what he found was a historical artifact, polished the upper side with concrete mortar and started to use it as a coffee table.

When the ancient city was discovered in 2007 during illegal excavations in the region, Boz began thinking this “coffee table” might actually be an ancient artifact.

But it was two years ago that Boz confirmed his idea when authorities visited him at his house, telling them that the item was 1,500 years old belonging to the late Roman era.

“I built the house in 1977. When we opened a canal to draw water, this stone [column] came out of from there. It did not have a value for us. And my wife said, ‘Let’s put cement on top of it and use it for drinking tea.’ And that is what we did,” he said.

When authorities visited him at his house two years ago, they told Boz that the ancient artifact was not “registered” on him. “They said, ‘You will not lose this stone. We are registering this on you.’ And we have this way learned of its value. I am now protecting the column in the house’s garden. When I go somewhere, I make sure that nothing happens to it,” he said.

The Roman-era city of Germanicia was unearthed by chance during an illegal excavation in the basement of a house. Steps have since been taken to completely unearth the ancient city and its mosaics.

Turkey, Roman, column, artifact

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