United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued his European tour in the Austrian capital Vienna on Friday.
He met with Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel to discuss 5G network expansion and the US’ wish to exclude the Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Austria has said it does not see a need to exclude the Chinese firm.
The top United States diplomat is also scheduled to meet President Alexander van der Bellen, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and in the evening Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
A meeting with Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is also planned.
Report says the agency plays a central role in supervising the Iran nuclear deal, which the United States left in 2018.
During his four-country European tour, Pompeo has so far visited Slovenia and the Czech Republic, with his last stop planned in Poland on Saturday.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)https://nnn.ng/pompeo-discusses-5g-on-austrian-leg-of-europe-tour/
Reed grabs halfway lead, as Tiger misses cut at United States Open
Former Masters champion Patrick Reed put his sterling short game on display to grab the United States Open halfway lead on Friday.
Tiger Woods finished well outside the cut in windy conditions which humbled many of the game’s top golfers.
Reed only hit five fairways on a tough scoring day at Winged Foot but made a slew of stunning recoveries.
He then needed only 25 putts en route to an even-par 70 that left him at four under on the week and one shot clear of Bryson DeChambeau (68).
“I feel like the game is where it needs to be. I feel good,” said world number 10 Reed. “I just need to tighten a few things up here or there, but the short game is sharp, and when I play around a place like this, that’s what you need.”
Reed, who started the day one shot back of overnight leader Justin Thomas, grabbed the outright lead with a birdie on his final hole, the par-five ninth.
That was where his shot from a greenside bunker settled five feet from the cup.
Unlike the first round when 21 players finished under par in soft conditions, Winged Foot proved a much sterner test on Friday.
DeChambeau, Bubba Watson (69) and Hideki Matsuyama (69) were the only players from a 144-player field to break par.
DeChambeau, who has turned heads this year with his new physique and prodigious length off the tee, went out in the morning wave.
He muscled his way around a scorecard-shredding Winged Foot course like few others can.
The world number nine finished his round with a monstrous eagle at the par-five ninth hole where, after a 380-yard drive, he stuffed a pitching wedge to six feet.
“Confidence is at an all-time high right now, driving it well, iron play is fantastic, wedging is getting better each and every day, and I’m putting it like I know I can,” said DeChambeau, whose best major finish was a share of fourth place at this year’s PGA Championship.
Thomas (73), Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello (70) and Harris English (70) were all two shots off the pace heading into the weekend.
This was a tournament that was originally scheduled for mid-June but postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Masters champion Woods (77) missed the cut for the eighth time in his last 15 majors after a round during which he made five bogeys and two double-bogeys over a miserable 11-hole run.
“Physically it was frustrating that I didn’t drive the ball as well as I needed to,” said Woods.
“Iron play was pretty much the way it has been. It’s been good, and I finally putted well. But on this golf course it’s imperative that you hit fairways, and I did not do that.”
Phil Mickelson’s latest bid to complete the career Grand Slam of golf’s four majors fell apart as the six-times runner-up carded a 74
He missed the cut after posting one of the worst 36-hole scores of his major career.
Among the others to miss the cut were defending champion Gary Woodland, PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa, and top-20 players Tyrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Visa Ban: FG says sanctioning electoral offenders disrespectful to Nigeria’s sovereignty
The Nigerian government has said it considers it disrespectful to the Sovereignty of the country for any outside country to apply punitive measures such as visas restriction on its citizens.
The Nigerian government made this known in a statement issued by Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that this comes as a response to the recent announcement of the United States and the United Kingdom to impose visa restrictions on those who undermine electoral processes.
The Nigerian Government said it was committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial and security support to the electoral process.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to state that the Nigerian government has taken note of the concerns of some of our partners, especially the United States and UK governments regarding the elections in Edo and Ondo States.
“They have also expressed their intentions to take punitive measures against those who decide to, in what they termed as, undermine democracy.
“It is important to highlight that the responsibility for the conduct of elections in Nigeria solely resides with the Independent National Electoral Commission and State Independent Electoral Commissions.
“The Federal Government, and especially the President, is committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial and security support to the electoral process.
“The President has continually urged all parties and contestants to peacefully conduct themselves before, during and after the elections, and supported patriotic non-governmental initiatives such as the Abdusalami Abubakar-led Peace Committee.
“Furthermore, it should be noted that there are ample provisions in our laws to sanction violators and perpetrators of electoral violence and fraud.
“It would be considered disrespectful of the sovereignty of Nigeria for any outside authority to sit in judgment over the conduct of our citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restriction, unilaterally.
“While we appreciate the support and encouragement of our international partners such as the EU, we urge our equally valued partners such as the UK and United States to cooperate with our relevant agencies,” the government said.
The government called on the partners to support security agencies by providing them whatever concrete evidence of observed misconduct to allow our laws and regulations to take their course.
The Nigerian government also expressed solidarity with the government and people of the United States as regards their forthcoming election, which it hoped would be free from interference and violence.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Donald Ugwu
Kidnappers free ex-US Army officer in Ekiti
After four days in captivity, a former officer of the United States army and native of Ijan Ekiti in Ekiti, Mr Jide Ijadare, has been released by his abductors.
Ijadare was kidnapped about 2.05p.m on Tuesday at his palm oil producing factory on Tuesday alongside one of his staff.
A contractor working with the factory was also shot dead by the assailants.
A family source told journalists that Ijadare regained freedom after paying the ransom demanded by the kidnappers.
The source said the abductors had called few hours after the incident and demanded for N20 million ransom.
“My brother was released this afternoon around 4.15 p.m and he has reunited with the family,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Sunday Abutu, confirmed that the victims had been freed
He, however, said that the police were not aware of any ransom being paid before the release.
“We are not aware of any ransom being paid.
” We believe he was released after the pressure the security agencies and local hunters had put on them by combing the surrounding bushes,” he said.
Edited By: Mufutau Ojo)
UN urges Belarus to grant entry to UN rights expert
Belarus should grant free access to specialised UN experts to monitor human rights issues, including prisons, the UN Human Rights Council urges in a resolution.
In addition to demanding entry for UN Belarus monitor Anais Marin, the Human Rights Council also calls on Belarus to stop using violence, torture and arrests to quash civil rights.
The resolution, which was initiated by European countries says Belarus authorities should start a dialogue with the opposition and civil society.
The resolution was adopted with 23 yes votes, two no votes from Eritrea and Venezuela, and 22 abstentions.
Similarly, Belarusian opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, appealed to the UN on Friday for an international monitoring mission to be sent to Belarus to document an ongoing violent police crackdown on her supporters.
“The scope and the brutality of the extensive force used by the regime is in clear violation of all international norms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN,” Tikhanovskaya said in an address to the UN Human Rights Council.
At least 7,000 protesters have been detained in Belarus since a disputed presidential election more than a month ago.
The UN has received 450 reports of torture and other abuse of detainees.
President Alexander Lukashenko, 66, has led Belarus, a former Soviet republic between Russia and EU member state Poland, for more than a quarter-century, tolerating little dissent.
Tikhanovskaya placed second in the Aug. 9 election, according to the disputed official tally.
She says she won and has demanded a new election. There have been protests in Belarus every day since the vote.
“We demand … an international monitoring mission to document the regime’s atrocities,” Tikhanovskaya, 38, told a special meeting of the UN council via video link.
She dismissed the Belarusian leadership’s allegations that, by seeking to intervene in Belarus’ post-election crisis, foreign powers have been meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
“It is very important to recognise that standing up for democratic principles and human rights is not interfering in internal affairs.
“It is a universal question of human dignity,” Tikhanovskaya said.
The UN Human Rights Council held the urgent debate in spite diplomats from Belarus and its close allies trying to prevent reports on violations from being presented at the meeting in Geneva.
“It is vital for the future of Belarus to break these cycles of increasing repression and violence,” Deputy UN Rights Chief Nada al-Nashif said.
“Civil society is a valuable partner, not a threat,” she added.
After al-Nashif’s speech, envoys from Belarus, Russia, Venezuela and China raised a long series of points of order to complain that the UN official had been allowed to speak, and to stop additional reports from a UN rights investigator and from Belarusian civil society representatives.
The Austrian diplomat, who presides over the Human Rights Council, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, finally issued a ruling to stop these interventions.
Belarusian Ambassador Yury Ambrazevic rejected all accusations voiced in the council, which heard video messages from the foreign ministers of Denmark, Slovakia, Poland, the Netherlands and Ukraine.
“We believe it is not acceptable to use this body here to interfere in the election in any individual country,” Ambrazevic said.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Ifeyinwa Omowole