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Head of retail powerhouse Lotte indicted in South Korea corruption scandal

The chairman of retail giant Lotte has been charged over the graft scandal that brought down the country's leader. Ousted President Park Geun-hye has also been formally indicted. Shin Dong-bin, the head of South Korea's retail powerhouse Lotte, was charged with bribery on Monday after he allegedly offered 7 billion won (5.79 million euros, $6.15 million) to a sports foundation linked to a close aide of former President Park Geun-hye. Sixty-two-year-old Shin was indicted in Seoul without being detained by prosecutors. Scandal widens The retail giant denied allegations that it made improper deals with Park, or those linked to her, for favors. Lotte, which owns hotels, stores and food products, becomes the second conglomerate mired in the political scandal after Jay Y. Lee, the chief of Samsung Group, was arrested in February. Former President Park was also charged on Monday with taking bribes worth about 29.8 billion won from Samsung in exchange for supporting Lee's succession, according to a statement from prosecutors. "We have formally charged Park ... with multiple offences including abuse of power, coercion, bribery and leaking state secrets." they said. Park still in jail Park has been behind bars at a detention center in the outskirts of Seoul since her arrest last month. She was impeached by parliament in December after months of public protests. The decision was upheld by the country's Supreme Court last month. The sixty-five-year-old has been accused of colluding with her confidante Choi Soon-sil to receive bribes from Lotte and Samsung. Choi, who is currently on trial over the scandal, now faces an additional charge of bribery involving Shin. She allegedly used her links to the president to force local firms to "donate" nearly 66 million euros to organizations, and allegedly used the cash for personal gain.

The chairman of retail giant Lotte has been charged over the graft scandal that brought down the country’s leader. Ousted President Park Geun-hye has also been formally indicted. Shin Dong-bin, the head of South Korea’s retail powerhouse Lotte, was charged with bribery on Monday after he allegedly offered 7 billion won (5.79 million euros, $6.15 million) to a sports foundation ... Read More »

Champions League preview: Lewandowski to return for Bayern as Real’s Bale is ruled out

We look ahead to the second part of the heavyweight contest between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, who will be boosted by the return of star striker Robert Lewandowski from injury as they look to overturn a 2-1 deficit. Bayern Munich's hopes of overturning a 2-1 deficit from the quarterfinal first leg against Real Madrid rest on whether Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng will be fit. Lewandowksi, whose absence was felt when Bayern slumped to defeat by Real, is back in training after suffering a shoulder injury against Borussia Dortmund last week. The Pole was suspended for Saturday's Bundesliga stalemate at Leverkusen. "We know how good a player Lewandowski is, he is a true No.9," said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. That is a plus for Bayern [that he should return].” Lewandowski has scored 38 goals in 40 appearances this season but Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro says they are wary of Bayern's whole team, not just their center forward. "Lewandowski is a quality player but it's not all about him," said Casemiro. "They've got a brilliant squad. We'll need to be at our best and not just focused on one man." The striker should be joined by first choice defensive pair Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, but both face a race against time to be fit. Hummels has an ankle injury that kept him out of the first leg and Boateng missed the Leverkusen game with an adductor injury. "There'll be a test on Monday night," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said before the team departed for Madrid on Monday. "Everything went well on Sunday in training with Hummels and Boateng. Lewandowski was even training with the team. We have to wait. At the end of the day, we're not so pessimistic." And with Javi Martinez suspended after his red card in the first leg, Carlo Ancelotti will be desperate for both players to be fit. If Hummels or Boateng don't make it, and emergency defensive pairing of Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba could be required. Bale absence will hamper Real Real Madrid go into the second leg as clear favorites to progress, knowing that even a 1-0 defeat in the Spanish capital will see them through. But Zidane's side have been dealt a blow with the news that Gareth Bale will miss the return leg at the Bernabeu. The Welshman has a muscle injury in his right leg and Zidane, while wanting to bring him back, says he will not rush the star forward back to action. Zidane's thinking is clearly influenced by El Clasico against Barcelona, on Sunday. "He will not play because we don't want to take any risks," Zidane said on Monday. "He wants to come back, he has been working hard. Hopefully he will be back for the Clasico but it's not certain yet. We will see how he progresses day by day." Spain attacking midfielder Isco, who scored twice, including a last minute winner, in Madrid's 3-2 win over Sporting Gijon on Saturday, is likely to replace Bale – but Zidane was keep his cards close to his chest. "That Isco has not played much time in the Champions League is just coincidence, there is nothing else," Zidane said. "It looks tough for him, just 77 minutes, it's not much. But we have many games, many competitions, and we will see tomorrow what will happen.” Overcoming the odds Only twice in Champions League history has a team overhauled a first-leg home defeat to win the tie. The second of those occasions was against Bayern, who let a first leg lead slip against Internazionale in 2010/11. The odds are clearly against Bayern, but there is hope for them. An early goal would give Bayern the perfect platform to take the game to Real, who are unbeaten in Europe's elite club competition this season. In fact, they've failed to win only once in their last 10 Champions League games – 2-2 at Borussia Dortmund in the group stage. But Bayern midfielder Xabi Alonso, who will be playing his last ever Champions League game if Bayern go out, is confident that the Bundesliga leaders can turn it around against his former club. "We are Bayern, we know how to do it," Alonso told El Pais when he was asked his thoughts on a comeback. "We know how competitive Real Madrid are going to be and I also know the Bernabeu in these qualifiers, and the atmosphere will be a great night." "With Madrid you can't think too much about them because there is so much talent and they can score from anywhere. In addition to playing well, you have to be lucky and hope they don't have their day." Bayern will be hoping luck is on their side on Tuesday evening.

We look ahead to the second part of the heavyweight contest between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, who will be boosted by the return of star striker Robert Lewandowski from injury as they look to overturn a 2-1 deficit. Bayern Munich’s hopes of overturning a 2-1 deficit from the quarterfinal first leg against Real Madrid rest on whether Robert Lewandowski, ... Read More »

Pence visits DMZ border zone day after North Korea missile test

The US vice president has made a trip to an American base in South Korea close to the heavily fortified border with North Korea. He said the US "era of strategic patience" with Pyongyang was over. US Vice President Mike Pence continued his 10-day trip to Pacific nations Monday by visiting an American military base in South Korea just a few hundred meters south of the tense border with North Korea (DMZ). This is Pence's first trip to the Korean Peninsula since assuming office in January. Pence said it was "particularly humbling" to be at Camp Bonifas, a US-led UN command post, mentioning his father's military service during the Korean War. Pence emphasized the relationship between the US and South Korea. "The alliance between the United States Forces Korea and the forces of the Republic of Korea is historic," said Pence. "It is a testament to the unshakable bond between our people." "All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the stability of the people of this country," Pence remarked. In regard to North Korea, Pence said: "There was a period of strategic patience but the era of strategic patience is over." Pence's visit comes amid high tension between the US and North Korea. Pence called North Korea's failed ballistic missile test a "provocation" before gathered US military personnel. The missile test occurred following a parade that celebrated the 105th birthday of the late first Korean President Kim Il Sung. "This morning's provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world," said Pence. Pence is scheduled to visit the gateway to the DMZ and acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn on Monday. After South Korea, Pence is scheduled to travel to Japan, Indonesia and Australia during his 10-day trip. Trump, US allies on North Korea North Korea has launched short- and mid-range missiles in recent months. The country has also conducted five nuclear tests, including two in the previous year. North Korea's conducting nuclear tests is in defiance of UN resolutions on the country. US President Donald Trump has previously stated that if allies surrounding North Korea do not act to end North Korea's military program, the US will do it alone. China, North Korea's northern neighbor and sole political ally, previously spoke out against the missile tests. China banned the import of North Korean coal, Pyongyang's most important export, on February 26. Trump's national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, said China recognizes the severity of the situation, telling US media outlet ABC on Sunday "this situation just can't continue." Shinzo Abe, prime minister of fellow US ally Japan, demanded North Korea comply with UN resolutions and abandon developing nuclear missiles. "Japan will closely cooperate with the US and South Korea over North Korea and will call for China to take a bigger role," Abe told parliament.

The US vice president has made a trip to an American base in South Korea close to the heavily fortified border with North Korea. He said the US “era of strategic patience” with Pyongyang was over. US Vice President Mike Pence continued his 10-day trip to Pacific nations Monday by visiting an American military base in South Korea just a ... Read More »

Erdogan claims victory in Turkish referendum; opposition plans challenge

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in a referendum that will grant him broad new powers. The knife-edge result has left the country divided, with the opposition planning to challenge the results. With unofficial results placing the "yes" camp narrowly ahead, Turkey's electoral commission declared a victory for the introduction of a presidential system late on Sunday - ushering in an overhaul of modern Turkish politics. According to results from Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, the "yes" vote won by 51.4 percent compared to 48.6 percent for the "no" camp with 100 percent of the votes tallied. Final results will be released in 11 to 12 days, said electoral commission chief Sadi Guven. The preliminary result is being strongly contested by the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) who vowed to challenge it. Much of their concern stemmd from the electoral commission's decision to allow ballots which had not been stamped with an official seal to still be counted as valid. Guven, however, defended the decision and denied any of the ballots in question were fakes. He said the decision had been made so voters mistakenly given unstamped ballots wouldn't be "victimized." Read - OSCE: Turkey referendum 'contested on an unlevel playing field' Reactions in Germany A majority of Turkish voters living in Germany cast their ballots in favor of the constitutional reforms, with 63.1 percent voting "yes," reported Anadolu. In Austria, 73.5 percent supported the amendments. Turks living abroad could cast their ballots at diplomatic missions during a two-week voting period ahead of the referendum. On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Erdogan to engage in a "respectful dialogue" with different factions in the Turkish society: "The (German) government expects that the Turkish government will now seek respectful dialogue with all political and social forces in the country, after this tough election campaign," Merkel said in a statement issued jointly with Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Gabriel meanwhile also addressed the issue of Turkey's status as a candidate country for the European Union, saying that the question remained in Turkey's hand. However, he also said that joining now "would not be possible in any case," and that reintroducing the death penalty would be "equal to the end of the dream of [being part of] Europe." Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said he would start talks on reintroducing the death penalty and hold another referendum on that topic should the opposition fail to support it. Some other German parliamentarians meanwhile took a more hardline stance on Turkey's future prospects within the EU. Roderich Kiesewetter, the foreign policy spokesman of the CDU, Chancellor Angela Merkel's political party, said that Turkey's accession talks were practically "obsolete" at this point. Green Party spokesman on foreign affairs Omid Nouripour said that with the implementation of the constitutional changes tabled in the referendum, Turkey would cease to fulfil the "most basic criteria of EU accession, such as the seperation of powers. Erdogan's victory President Erdogan praised the Turkish people for making a "historic decision" by supporting the constitutional amendments that will see his powers as president expanded. "The people have freely spoken their will. We will now work together to make the most important changes in the history of the constitution of our dear country," Erdogan said in a celebratory speech, citing unofficial results. On Monday Erdogan was to chair a cabinet and security meeting that could extend the nine-month state of emergency brought in after the July 15 failed coup, Turkish media said. Supporters celebrate narrow win Sunday's provisional results are still short of the decisive victory that Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had campaigned for, but thousands of supporters still rallied to celebrate the results in Ankara and Istanbul. "This is a decision made by the people. In our democracy's history, a new page has opened," Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told jubilant supporters from the balcony of the AKP headquarters in Ankara. The office of prime minister is set to disappear under the constitutional amendments. Supporters of the "no" camp protested the results in anti-Erdogan districts of Istanbul by bashing pots and pans with kitchen utensils. Hundreds of "no" supporters took to the streets in the areas of Besiktas and Kadikoy. Opposition to contest results Despite initial results, critics and opposition parties have cried foul over the vote tallies after reporting irregularities at the polls. The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said it would challenge two-thirds of the votes, saying: "There is an indication of a 3-4 percentage point manipulation of the vote." Similarly, the main opposition People's Republican Party (CHP) has said they could appeal up to 60 percent of the vote. CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said the party will not accept a "yes" camp victory. "This referendum brought a truth to light - at least 50 percent of the people said 'no'," Kilicdaroglu said. The referendum was carried out under a state of emergency that has seen around 47,000 people arrested in a crackdown following last July's failed military coup against Erdogan. On Monday, many will be closely watching the initial assessment of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had an observer mission in Turkey. Europe cautious Shortly after the vote, Erdogan repeated his intention to reinstate capital punishment in Turkey. He said that if the opposition failed to support such a bill, he could hold another referendum on reinstating the death penalty. Such a step would almost certainly spell the end of Turkey's bid for membership in the European Union. Western countries reacted cautiously to the referendum results, with the EU urging the Turkish government to seek the broadest agreement after the "yes" camp's narrow victory. "In view of the close referendum result and the far-reaching implications of the constitutional amendments, we also call on the Turkish authorities to seek the broadest possible national consensus in their implementation," the European Commission said in a statement. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel says that people should remain calm regardless of the outcome of the vote, adding that "it's good that the bitter campaign, which also took place in Germany, is now over." Relations between Europe and Turkey hit a new low during the referendum campaign after Germany and the Netherlands barred Turkish ministers from holding rallies in support of the constitutional amendments. Erdogan called the moves "Nazi acts" and said Turkey could reconsider its ties with the EU after years of seeking membership.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in a referendum that will grant him broad new powers. The knife-edge result has left the country divided, with the opposition planning to challenge the results. With unofficial results placing the “yes” camp narrowly ahead, Turkey’s electoral commission declared a victory for the introduction of a presidential system late on Sunday – ... Read More »

Deadly plane crash outside Portugal supermarket

Five people have died after an airplane crashed into the car park of a supermarket near the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, according to local media. Reports said that the aircraft exploded in the air, shortly after takeoff. The light aircraft reportedly landed on a delivery truck next to a supermarket in the town of Tires shortly after noon local time on Monday. Rescue workers reported five fatalities, including the Swiss pilot and three French passengers. A truck driver, who was delivering goods to the cargo bay of the Lidl supermarket, was also killed. The plane - which was headed for the French city of Marseille - took off from a the Cascais Aerodrome just outside Tires, which lies some 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) west of Lisbon. It was only said to have flown about 2 kilometers (a little over a mile) when it hit the ground. At least one witness said the plane had exploded in midair. Several vehicles caught fire, with a large plume of smoke sent rising into the air. The plane is believed to have been registered in Switzerland. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited to the site, which was also attended by more than 50 rescue workers.

Five people have died after an airplane crashed into the car park of a supermarket near the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, according to local media. Reports said that the aircraft exploded in the air, shortly after takeoff. The light aircraft reportedly landed on a delivery truck next to a supermarket in the town of Tires shortly after noon local time on ... Read More »

US-Russian honeymoon turns sour over Syria

Where to now for US/Russian relations in the wake of Trump's actions against Syria? Fiona Clark looks at the convoluted relations between the two players. So, the honeymoon might be over, but does US President Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally bomb a Syrian airfield really mean divorce is imminent? Despite a barrage of baseless conspiracy theories bantering about the bombing being a cunning way to divert attention away from Trump's alleged ties to the Kremlin, the view from Russia certainly appears to be one of abject disappointment. Cries of foul play resounded with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accusing Trump of breaking international law and describing the airstrikes as "an act of aggression with an invented pretext," which, he hoped, would not lead to irreparable damage to US-Russian relations. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev went further. He said trust was gone and that relations were "completely ruined" by an action that put them "on the verge of a military clash." Read: Gabriel: Russia backs Syrian chemicals attack probe And it seems the disappointment may only get worse. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, has indicated that the US is adding the ousting of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to its list of priorities alongside the defeat of IS in the region. She also raised the prospect of further sanctions against Russia over its support of the Assad regime. Tillerson's task The statement is going to make US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's job in Moscow this week all the more difficult. He maintains Washington's first priority is the defeat of the "Islamic State" (IS) group, and that the United States is still hopeful it can help bring all parties to the table to begin the process of hammering out a political solution. "If we can achieve ceasefires in zones of stabilization in Syria, then we hope we will have the conditions to begin a useful political process," Tillerson told CBS's Face the Nation. A long-time friend of Moscow, Tillerson may have a shot at smoothing the troubled waters, but the underlying problem will remain. Trump's actions, which many see as justified as drawing a belated line in the sand against the use of chemical weapons, was, it appears, sparked by an emotional response. There appears to be no long-term strategy or plan and the risk is, if challenged again by another chemical weapons strike, he will have to take further action and end up embroiled in a regional battle he hadn't really bargained for and that brings him into direct conflict with Russia. Read: Putin and Rouhani condemn US missiles against Syria Predictability, reliability and foreign policy Russia's support for Assad isn't because they love the man or what he stands for - it's about regional influence and oil. If they can find a suitable replacement for Assad who would ensure Russia's interests in the region, they'd probably jump at it. But if the US steps in any further and rocks its boat, extending its influence beyond the Saudi-backed states further south, the Kremlin will not be happy. So how can you have a political dialogue when you don't know whether the people you're negotiating with are going to uphold their end of the bargain? As Lavrov pointed out: "An attack on a country whose government fights terrorism only plays into the hands of extremists, creates additional threats to regional and global security." And if Trump had considered the consequences, then he certainly didn't care about them. Irrespective of whether the decision was right or wrong, Russia will see this as an example of US arrogance and imperialism. Read: Syria, Russia to dominate G7 meeting amid questions over US strategy Not only that, but it highlights the central problem with Trump - his unpredictability. The Kremlin may be duplicitous and opportunistic, but it's rarely random, and it will find it very hard to deal with impulsive behavior and wavering foreign policy. Tillerson will have his work cut out for him in trying to convince the Kremlin that Trump can be trusted. There's only about one certainty in all of this - as US warships steam ahead toward North Korea, President Putin may well be ruing the Kremlin's alleged involvement in getting Trump elected. The monster it supposedly helped created may pose more problems for it than it ever envisaged.

Where to now for US/Russian relations in the wake of Trump’s actions against Syria? Fiona Clark looks at the convoluted relations between the two players. So, the honeymoon might be over, but does US President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally bomb a Syrian airfield really mean divorce is imminent? Despite a barrage of baseless conspiracy theories bantering about the bombing ... Read More »

Germany won’t spend 2 percent on defense, says SPD candidate

In a Q&A session with foreign journalists, Social Democrat Martin Schulz said there would be no big defense spending boosts in the context of NATO. Instead, he stressed the primacy of the European Union. US President Donald Trump has called loudly and long for NATO members to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of their GDP by 2024. If Social Democratic chairman and candidate for chancellor Martin Schulz wins power in Germany's national election in September, Trump won't get anywhere near that much. "I'm not of the opinion that NATO has agreed to achieve this 2 percent goal in defense spending," Schulz told members of the foreign press in Berlin. "Twenty billion euros ($21 billion) or more in additional defense expenditures would certainly not be a goal my government would pursue." At their 2014 summit in Wales, NATO members set 2 percent as a "guideline." Trump's White House treats this as a commitment, but the SPD led by Schulz say it's no such thing. "If I interpret it correctly, all that was agreed was that we'd try to approach it," Schulz said. "It doesn't seem to me to be the highest priority to spend 20 billion euros more just to have a force armed to the teeth in the middle of Europe." In the exact, ambiguous wording of the Wales Summit Declaration, members who didn't already meet the target promised to "move towards the 2 percent guideline within a decade." Schulz's remarks came in response to a question about how his foreign policy would differ from that of the current government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the hour-long Q&A session, Schulz repeatedly stressed that the European Union would be his focus over other partnerships and narrowly defined national interests. Ja, yes and oui to Europe Chancellor Merkel is known as one of the most prominent and vigorous proponents of the EU anywhere today. But Schulz, a former president of the European parliament who spent 13 years of his career in Brussels, clearly thinks that there's room to be even more pro-Europe. "There will be no talking down Europe with me in charge," Schulz said. "There'll be no saying 'everything good is national and everything bad comes from Brussels.' I'm for strengthening and reforming the EU." Schulz said that decisions which could be made better at the local or national level should be made there. But he stressed that global economic relations, the fight against tax havens, climate policies, developmental aid, combating terrorism and security were all issues "that no one country today can handle alone." As if to underscore his cosmopolitanism, Schulz took and answered questions in English and French as well as German. He discussed Germany's relations with South America at length, rattled off the tongue-twisting names of Turkish ministers when asked about Erdogan and the upcoming constitutional referendum in Turkey, and addressed questions about countries ranging from Greece to Israel to Ukraine. And he repeatedly returned to the theme that foreign policy problems needed to be solved by the EU, and not Germany alone. "I think the Federal Republic of Germany should make its contributions within the EU," Schulz said when asked about Russia and the conflict with Ukraine over Crimea. "One conclusion that I've drawn from my experience at the European level is that a basic element of politics is the search for mutual interests." Such bromides may be short of specifics, but they seemed to go over as well with the foreign journalists as they did with the SPD rank and file, who unanimously nominated Schulz their candidate for the chancellery at a special party conference in March. But there's one question Schulz finds difficult to answer: whether he would be willing to form a coalition with the controversial Left party in order to gain power. No ja or nein to the Left Since being made party leader, Schulz has lifted the SPD from its doldrums in the polls. The lone setback was last month's defeat by Merkel's CDU in a local state election in Saarland. Many observers put that loss down to voters rejecting the idea that the SPD could govern together with the Left, the successor to the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in the communist former East Germany. The CDU has ruled out working with the Left. In Berlin on Monday, Schulz again steadfastly refused to say anything about possible coalitions other than that his aim was to attract the most votes and then invite others to talk to him. When queried whether the lack of clear positioning vis-a-vis a preferred coalition was hurting the SPD, the otherwise loquacious Schulz answered with a terse "nein." In response to a similar question, Schulz dodged the issue by blaming the SPD's poor showing in Saarland on the individual popularity of the CDU's lead candidate there, implying that the situation would be different in September's national election. Not only is the Left party tainted in many voters' eyes by its association with communism, but the party also wants to distance Germany from NATO and build closer ties with Vladimir Putin's Russia - a position that scares many people in the political mainstream. The foreign journalists weren't particularly adamant about pinning the SPD leader down on the issue. Domestic reporters won't be so forgiving. The question of whether or not he's willing to do a deal with the Left party is one that Schulz will likely have to answer at some point, if he is to have any real hope of prying Angela Merkel from the chancellor's office.

In a Q&A session with foreign journalists, Social Democrat Martin Schulz said there would be no big defense spending boosts in the context of NATO. Instead, he stressed the primacy of the European Union. US President Donald Trump has called loudly and long for NATO members to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of their GDP by 2024. If ... Read More »

Champions League: Dortmund out to ‘score as many goals as possible’ against Monaco

Borussia Dortmund are set to host Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie. BVB's Marco Reus could be set to make his return against the high-scoring French side. Borussia Dortmund welcome French league leaders Monaco to the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night for the first leg of a hotly anticipated Champions League quarterfinal. After five weeks out with a muscle tear, BVB star Marco Reus could be set to make his return as the Black and Yellows look to bounce back from Saturday's chastening 4-1 defeat to Bayern Munich. "Sometimes it's best not to dwell too long on results like that," coach Thomas Tuchel told reporters at the prematch press conference on Monday. "Bayern were on another level to us and we don't need 20 replays to show us that." Dortmund were forced to travel to Munich with a severely depleted squad after midfielders Julian Weigl and Shinji Kagawa both picked up knocks last week, but both are back in training and should return to action against Monaco. Lukas Piszceck, who remained on the bench as a precaution against Bayern, is also set to start with Dortmund likely to revert to a back four. Longer-term absentees André Schürrle, Erik Durm and Mario Götze are still out. "We're confident that Weigl, Kagawa and Piszczek will be fit," said Tuchel. "Marco [Reus] trained yesterday and will again tomorrow. Then we'll decide if he's ready or not. Given our injury situation, it could be more likely he'll be involved, or at least in the dressing room." Attack, attack, attack In Dortmund and Monaco, the draw will see two of the most exciting young teams in Europe go head to head. Dortmund overcame a 0-1 deficit by hammering Benfica 4-0 in the last round. The Monegasques, three points clear of champions PSG at the top of Ligue 1, have already scored an incredible 130 goals in all competitions this season, including 88 in the league - more than any team in Europe's top four domestic leagues. "Monaco have many top players," Tuchel said. "They have outstanding talent both individually and as a team. It's difficult to pick out one single player." "We'll practise combatting Monaco's strengths but we want to concentrate on our own strengths and score as many goals as possible with our fans behind us." Dortmund are not short of firepower themselves. Only Bayern have scored more goals in the Bundesliga this season while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembelé, Christian Pulisic and co. found the net a record 21 times in this season's Champions League group stage. Nevertheless, captain Marcel Schmelzer (29) believes that defense is what will decide this tie. "It's a 50-50 battle," Schmelzer said in comments published in Monday's edition of German football magazine "Kicker." "Both teams like to attack but we have to make sure we defend better with more intelligence and more ruthlessness. We know Monaco score a lot of goals but big victories and titles are won based on a well-functioning defense. Our defenders have more international experience - we have to use this to our advantage." French national team coach Didier Deschamps agreed, writing in the same publication that he expected an "offensive spectacle." "Both teams rely on youth, pace and attacking football and make the most of their forwards' individual qualities," he said. "But the key will be elsewhere. The team who defend best will progress." Defense will be key Left back Schmelzer had a torrid time against Bayern winger Arjen Robben on Saturday and knows he will have to up his game against one of Europe's most formidable attacks. In striker Kylian Mbappé (18), winger Thomas Lemar (21) and full back Bemjamin Mendy (22), this Monaco side features some of French football's hottest young talents. Experienced Colombian striker Radamel Falcao also returned from a four-week layoff at the weekend, scoring the only goal as Monaco beat Angers 1-0. Fortunately for Dortmund, key midfield powerhouse Tiemoué Bakayoko will miss the first leg through suspension and could be replaced by Portuguese international Joao Moutinho. Marauding right back Djibril Sidibé is also set to miss out with an appendix problem. Monaco's three away goals in their 5-3 first-leg defeat at the hands of Manchester City in the previous round ultimately proved decisive in the second leg and Leonardo Jardim will be expecting his team to take at least one away goal back to the principality this time as well. Dortmund have been guilty of wasting chances this season but they cannot afford to do so if they are to progress in the Champions League.

Borussia Dortmund are set to host Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie. BVB’s Marco Reus could be set to make his return against the high-scoring French side. Borussia Dortmund welcome French league leaders Monaco to the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night for the first leg of a hotly anticipated Champions League quarterfinal. After five ... Read More »

Garcia grabs US Masters in playoff

Sergio Garcia has won the US Masters at the first playoff hole in Augusta. The Spaniard has finally landed his first major title. Garcia nudged out England's Justin Rose, who also finished on nine under par at the end of the fourth round on Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. Garcia birdied the first playoff hole and Rose made bogey, after his tee shot bounced out onto pine straw near the fairway while Garcia found the fairway. "It’s been such a long time coming," Garcia said after the win. "I felt the calmest I’ve ever felt on a major Sunday today. Even after making bogey I was positive, I still believed. I hit some good shots, and I’m so happy.” The two had started on Sunday as co-leaders, before Garcia took a three-stroke lead after five holes. Rose then came back with three straight birdies starting on the sixth. Garcia bogeyed the first two holes on the back nine, but got back within one stroke with a birdie on the 14th. Rose birdied the 16th, but on the 17th he bogeyed after Garcia had missed an easy birdie putt. They both missed birdie putts on the 18th to finish 72 holes at 9-under. Garcia's win comes after 73 failed attempts to win the 81st Masters on his 37th birthday and what would have been the 60th birthday of his idol, two-time Masters champion and three-time (British) Open winner Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer in 2011 at age 54. Garcia has won over 20 international tournaments and has spent much of his career in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking, reaching a career high ranking of second in 2008. He has finished a runner-up on four occasions, twice at the (British) Open and twice at the PGA Championship, with a further six top five finishes without breaking through. This was the first major playoff for Rose while Garcia had lost his only prior major playoff to Ireland's Padraig Harrington in the 2007 Open.

Sergio Garcia has won the US Masters at the first playoff hole in Augusta. The Spaniard has finally landed his first major title. Garcia nudged out England’s Justin Rose, who also finished on nine under par at the end of the fourth round on Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. Garcia birdied the first playoff hole and Rose made bogey, after his ... Read More »

Syria, Russia to dominate G7 meeting amid questions over US strategy

Foreign Ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations have called on Russia to help end the war in Syria ahead of a meeting in Italy. The gathering comes as tensions rise in the wake of a US airstrike on Syrian forces. The meeting in the Tuscan city of Lucca on Monday will focus on simmering tensions between Russia and the West over the conflict in Syria, just days after US airstrikes on Syrian government forces raised questions about Washington's strategy. Ahead of the meeting, Western leaders condemned the suspected chemical attack on civilians in northwestern Syria last week. "We rededicate ourselves to holding account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a cermony commemorating victims of a Nazi massacre in Italy on Monday. Read: US-Russian honeymoon turns sour over Syria British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson meanwhile called for Moscow to stop its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "It's time for [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to face the truth about the tyrant he is propping up," Johnson said, according to a foreign ministry spokesperson. "He must understand that Assad is now toxic in every sense. He is poisoning the innocent people of Syria with weapons that were banned 100 years ago - and he is poisoning the reputation of Russia." Moscow condemned last week's strikes by the US, calling them "a flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression." In an interview with ABC, Tillerson called on Russia to follow through with its commitment to remove chemical weapons from Syria. "I think the real failure here has been Russia's failure to live up to its commitments under the chemical weapons agreements that were entered into in 2013," he said. Questions about US policy Though both the EU and the UK came out in support of last week's cruise missile strikes, conflicting statements from top US officials have caused confusion worldwide. President Donald Trump had spoken out in the past against attacking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, and both his secretary of state and his top envoy to the UN delivered starkly different remarks on Sunday concerning the US agenda in Syria. Opinion: US sends a warning to Assad and Russia Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said the removal of Assad was essential to securing peace in Syria. The comment was a departure for the administration, which had previously downplayed the importance of regime change in the country. Tillerson said Washington's priority remained the defeat of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group. After the group's defeat, officials in Washington would then "hope to turn our attention to ceasefire agreements between the regime and opposition forces," Tillerson said. North Korea also on the agenda The G7 ministers will also discuss recent posturing by North Korea, which used the US strikes in Syria as justification for what the G7 host Italy called its "worrisome" nuclear weapons program. Tensions have also been rising in the Asia-Pacific region following comments by Trump that Washington would act against Pyongyang with or without the help of China, North Korea's most important ally. The US Navy is headed to the Korean Peninsula after the North launched a missile in the lead-up to a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last week. Representatives from the EU will also attend the meeting with the G7, which is made up of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US. Russia was formally suspended from the group - originally referred to as the G8 - after its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014.

Foreign Ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations have called on Russia to help end the war in Syria ahead of a meeting in Italy. The gathering comes as tensions rise in the wake of a US airstrike on Syrian forces. The meeting in the Tuscan city of Lucca on Monday will focus on simmering tensions between Russia and ... Read More »

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