Netherlands joins Germany in halting Iraq mission due to security threat

The Netherlands has followed Germany in suspending its mission in Iraq amid heightening tensions between the US and Iraq’s neighbor, Iran.

The Netherlands decided to halt the mission which provided assistance to the Iraqi authorities because of a security threat, the Dutch ANP news agency said.

The Dutch Defense Ministry confirmed the suspension of the mission to the media. The ministry’s spokesperson told ANP that withdrawal of Dutch forces from the area is “currently not discussed.”

Also on Germany suspends training Iraqi troops amid US-Iran tensions in the Gulf...

Around 50 Dutch soldiers train Kurdish forces in Iraq’s northern city of Erbil, others are stationed in Baghdad. According to some reports, the decision to suspend the training mission was taken by the commander of the international coalition which currently operates in Iraq.

The report gave no details about the alleged danger. The Dutch military take part in a training mission, alongside other foreign nations, including Germany.

The German Defense Ministry has earlier announced that it halted its mission aimed at training the Iraqi soldiers, citing increasing tensions on the ground. The developments came after Washington ordered all the non-essential personnel of the American embassy in Bagdad and a consulate in Erbil to leave Iraq as soon as possible.

Also on US war with Iran would be a disaster with ripple effects that ‘could last decades’...

The US evacuation alarmed some EU politicians, who expressed concern that Washington might go to war against Tehran and called on Europe to prevent such an outcome.

The US is poised for war with Iran,” a leader of the Left Party’s faction in the German parliament, Sahra Wagenknecht, warned. She called on those, “who want to save the international peace and the Iranian nuclear deal,” to “make it clear that they are against these war plans, arbitrary US sanctions and the use of the US military bases in Europe [in a potential war with Iran].”

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Cuba Gets Beaten for 5th Consecutive Time

Haarlem, The Netherlands, Jul 19 (Prensa Latina) Cuba suffered its fifth defeat in this baseball week after losing 2-12 to Taipei of China, knockout in seven innings, and will bid farewell to the tournament with the worst performance in the history of the contest.

The Cuban players only hit seven hits against two Asian pitchers, including a double by first baseman Sergio Barthelemy.

The Asian team connected 13 hits, including a homer of the designated Yi-Teng, four dobles and a triple.

The victory went to reliever Chih Jung Cheng, who in six chapters allowed two runs, gave three strikeouts and no tickets to four pitchers.

For Cuba, starter Dachel Duquesne charged with the defeat by earning equal amount of runs and three hits in two thirds of an inning.

The Caribbeans already lost in the fair against the Germans 4-5, Japanese (1-7), Italians (3-7) and Dutch (4-6) and will now play fifth place tomorrow with the loser of the game between Germans and Italians.

  • Published in Sports

'We protest against Nazi comparisons’: Berlin could ban Turkish politicians from Germany

Germany could ban Turkish politicians from entering the country, Angela Merkel’s chief of staff Peter Altmaier has warned, adding that an entry ban would be a “last resort” measure.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's image during protests in Rotterdam, Netherlands March 11, 2017. © YDylan Martinez

“We protest strongly against the Nazi comparisons and the grotesque accusations being made,” the head of the Federal Chancellery said in an interview with German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost, published on Wednesday. 

“Turkey is always keen to ensure that its honor is not violated. Germany also has honor!” the CDU politician noted.

“An entry ban would be the last resort. We reserve [this] right,” Altmaier said.

On Tuesday, Altmaier’s home state of Saarland introduced a ban on election campaigns on its soil by foreign officials. The southwestern state has become the first to introduce a ban on foreign officials holding political rallies on its territory.

“Turkey’s Internal conflicts have no place in Germany,” Saarland’s state premier, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer of the Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), said, as quoted by Die Welt.

"Electoral campaigns which endanger peace in our country should be banned,” she added.

The row between Berlin and Ankara erupted earlier this month after German local authorities cancelled several campaign events by Turkish ministers in support of the upcoming April referendum on expanding presidential powers in Turkey.

© Osman Orsal

While two of the communities cited “security concerns,” another said that the agreement between the demonstration organizers and the town hall excluded any political events.

There are around 1.5 million Turkish citizens with voting rights living in Germany. In an effort to whip up support among Turkish citizens living in Europe, Ankara is sponsoring a series of rallies of Turkish citizens, campaigning for their votes in the plebiscite. 

Berlin denied any political involvement in the cancellations, saying decisions were taken exclusively by local officials. Turkish officials did not, however, accept the explanation, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comparing the cancellations to “Nazi practices.”

“Germany, you have no relation whatsoever to democracy and you should know that your current actions are no different to those of the Nazi period,” Erdogan told a crowd at an Istanbul rally.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Ankara to stop using Nazi references over the cancellation of Turkish rallies in Germany.

“These comparisons of Germany with Nazism must stop… We will not allow the victims of the Nazis to be trivialized,” the chancellor said in the lower house of parliament (Bundestag) on Thursday, noting that she was saddened by a comparison that is “so out of place as to be unworthy of serious comment.”

“It cannot be justified. Nazi comparisons only lead to misery” and are “unworthy of the close ties between Germany and Turkey and of our peoples,” she said.

  • Published in World

Cuba's Economic Potential attracts Entrepreneurs from Europe, and China

The market-oriented reforms in Cuba and its improved ties with the United States have made the Caribbean country an attractive destination for business delegations from Europe and China in the past few weeks.

Spain's minister for industry, energy and tourism Jose Manuel Soria, and Italian vice minister for economic development Carlo Calenda visited Cuba this week with business groups, following delegations from France, the Uk and the Netherlands. A delegation from China's Shenzhen city visited the island from June 30 to July 1.

Soria, who was here to boost his country's trade and investment in Cuba in various sectors, said that the economic reforms launched by Cuban president Raul Castro is "marking the correct path."

Raul Castro introduced measures to reform the national economy soon after taking office in 2008, in a bid to build Cuba into a "prosperous and sustainable socialist nation."

Cuba's Council of Ministers agreed to "extend the experiment to private sectors" at a meeting in June.

The aim of the Spanish minister's visit, together with 75 business representatives, was to support Spanish companies interested in establishing themselves in Cuba.

"A new era full of opportunities is beginning in Cuba and Spanish companies can contribute their accumulated experiences in various fields such as industry, tourism, energy, telecommunications and infrastructure," said Soria.

In June, the Spanish Company of Financing and Development (COFIDES) decided to provide Spanish companies with €40 million (US$44 million) before 2017 for them to invest in Cuba and more fund will be available in the future, said Jaime Garcia Legaz, Spain's Secretary of State for Trade, who came together with Soria.

Spain is Cuba's third largest trading partner after Venezuela and China and has around 200 enterprises mainly in the island's tourism sector.

Italy, also aspiring to explore business potential in Cuba, sent a delegation of 150 businessmen to Cuba earlier this week, led by the country's Vice Economic Minister Carlo Calenda.

It is the largest group of Italian entrepreneurs to have ever visited Cuba, Cuban news agency Prensa Latina (PL) cited Calenda as saying.

Like Europe, China also holds an optimistic view as to the potential of the Cuban economy.

For China, Cuba is not only a market full of opportunities, but also essential to a greater Latin American market given Cuban's geographical location, said Chinese Ambassador to Cuba Zhang Tuo.

A Shenzhen delegation led by Mayor Xu Qin visited Havana earlier this month to further strengthen cooperation in several key fields, including investment, biotechnology, public transportation and infrastructure.

During the visit, Shenzhen-based battery maker and electric vehicle producer BYD won its biggest order since it entered the Cuban market last year: 719 gasoline-powered cars.

The delegation also met with Carlos Manuel Gutierrez Calzado, president of BioCubaFarma, the biggest biotechnology and pharmaceutical group in Cuba, to discuss the details of further cooperation.

Preceding the Shenzhen delegation, Chinese vice premier Wang Yang visited the island late June, when he called for strengthened planning in cooperation between the two countries on infrastructure, bio-tech, agriculture and renewable energy, as well as efforts to explore industrial and investment cooperation potentials.

  • Published in Now

Cuban Foreign Minister Pays an Official Visit to Netherlands

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, today will pay an official visit to Netherlands, which closes a tour of several European nations.
According to information released, Rodriguez will meet with some key governmental authorities.

The minister of the Caribbean island began a European tour that took him to France, Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg last Monday.

During the tour, Rodriguez was received by the highest authorities of the respective countries and played an intense and fruitful agenda.

He performed 'excellent bilateral visits', declared de Cuban Foreign Minister said to the media during his stay in Brussels.

Rodriguez said that his two-day official stay in France, the first EU country visited, was 'very useful'.

  • Published in Cuba

U.N. Security Council to discuss Dutch report on MH17 downing

(Reuters) - The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over war-torn eastern Ukraine will be discussed by the U.N. Security Council on Friday after Russia requested a meeting on a Dutch finding that a large number of fragments hit the plane and tore it apart.

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