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APEC summit sees China and US at odds over trade war

The Asia-Pacific summit has become the latest stage for the trade dispute between the US and China. Beijing called for consultations as Washington threatened more tariffs. The main protagonists in the US-China trade war set out their positions at the start of an Asia-Pacific summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday. Ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping was first to speak and said there would be no winners from a trade war or a new Cold War. Protectionist actions were shortsighted and doomed to fail, Xi said. "We should say no to protectionism and unilateralism," Xi said, in evident reference to President Donald Trump's "America First" policies. "Attempts to erect barriers and cut close economic ties work against the laws of economics and the trends of history," Xi said. "This is a shortsighted approach and it is doomed to failure." The Chinese leader said the world should "uphold the WTO-centered multilateral trading system, make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all." Xi's comments follow months of a trade dispute between the US and China, with each imposing tariffs on the other's goods. "History has shown that confrontation — whether in the form of a cold war, hot war or trade war — will produce no winners," he said. He also called for a resolution to the dispute through consultation, in a spirit of equality and mutual understanding. US VP Mike Pence defiant But when US Vice President Mike Pence addressed the assembly, he said Washington would not back down in its trade dispute with China and could double its tariffs unless Beijing agreed to its demands. "We have taken decisive action to address our imbalance with China," Pence declared. "We put tariffs on $250 billion (€218 billion) in Chinese goods, and we could more than double that number." "The United States, though, will not change course until China changes its ways," Pence stated. Pence also attacked China's global infrastructure "Belt and Road" initiative, calling many of the projects low quality and saying it left developing countries with debt they were unable to afford. Xi had defended the initiative: "It is not designed to serve any hidden geopolitical agenda, it is not targeted against anyone and it does not exclude anyone ... nor is it a trap as some people have labeled it," he said. "Mankind has once again reached a crossroads," Xi remarked. "Which direction should we choose? Cooperation or confrontation? Openness or closing doors. Win-win progress or a zero-sum game?" The assembled leaders were from Pacific Rim countries, which account for 60 percent of the world's economy.

The Asia-Pacific summit has become the latest stage for the trade dispute between the US and China. Beijing called for consultations as Washington threatened more tariffs. The main protagonists in the US-China trade war set out their positions at the start of an Asia-Pacific summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday. Ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit ... Read More »

In Yemen’s war, locals struggle to stay neutral

Ever more Yemenis are siding with the Saudi coalition or Houthis to safeguard a salary and a semblance of protection. But some are determined to stay neutral, despite the obstacles they face. Mat Nashed reports. On the morning of October 6, Rahab* was hauled away from a student demonstration in the heart of Yemen's capital, Sanaa. Like her peers, she was fed up with soaring food prices and a lack of basic services, so she joined the protests against the Houthis who control the capital. The violent militia, which belongs to the Shiite offshoot Zaidi Islam, crushed the demonstration within minutes. "When the [Houthis] took me, I thought I was never coming back [home]," said Rahab, a 20-year-old activist. "Most of the protesters with me were women. The [Houthis] released us at night, but only after we signed a pledge not to protest again." Civilians in Sanaa are trapped between the repressive rule of the Houthis and the indiscriminate offensive of the Saudi-led coalition. The latter seeks to dislodge the former and reinstate the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. But Saudi Arabia's war has caused millions of Yemenis to starve by restricting imports and suspending salaries of more than a million civil servants in Houthi-held areas. The Houthis are reportedly exacerbating the crisis by kidnapping people for ransom. To survive, more people are picking sides in the war to earn a living or secure an exit from the country. But Rahab and others refuse to do so, leaving them with few advantages and little protection. "There are many other women who escaped [from Sanaa] to the city of Marib and I think many of them will be part of the Saudi alliance soon. But I'm also against Saudi Arabia's aggression," Rahab told DW. Fighting to survive The war has brought Sanaa to its knees and Yemenis are divided over who to blame. Residents say the city barely has electricity, pushing most people to burn coal or rely on solar energy for power. Fuel is also in short supply, but food and water are scarcer. Rami*, 29, said that the Houthis and the Saudi-coalition are equally responsible for ruining the city. "I hate them all. There are hardly any jobs in Sanaa unless you have personal connections with a political faction," he told DW. "Civilians are starving, and I hear that many people are stealing to feed their families now." Fighting appears to be the only source of reliable income, giving Saudi Arabia an advantage. Several people told DW that the Saudis lure fighters away from the Houthis by paying in their own currency, which is much stronger than the Yemeni rial. But Rami says that he would smuggle himself into Saudi Arabia before picking up arms. For now, he survives by selling plastic bags to shops that sell khat, which is an amphetamine-like stimulant that many Yemenis chew. "I hardly make money, but I will never fight. People have to allow themselves to be brainwashed to fight, but neither my friends nor I can do that," said Rami. Adam Baron, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London, adds that people who are politically active have little space in Yemen to remain neutral. He says that false allegations can land people in jail and that the Houthis often detain perceived opponents. "People are putting each other in a box, so more people are thinking that they should just choose a side to get some benefits," Baron told DW. Neither the Saudi coalition nor the Houthis have attempted to safeguard civilians. As the former starves the country, the latter profiteers from the dire humanitarian crisis. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reported that the Houthis are holding opponents and perceived opponents hostage in secret prisons, where many are beaten with iron rods, whips and assault rifles. Many of the hostages are journalists and activists who have little to no affiliation with factions in the war. "In almost all cases the families of victims were asked to pay a ransom to secure the release of their loved ones, but many of these people are already very poor," Kristine Beckerle, the Yemen researcher for HRW, told DW. "It's awful because the Houthi leadership knows that [hostage-taking] is happening and they can stop it if they want." Rahab, the activist from the demonstration, considers herself lucky that she was released so soon. But since she's been warned, the consequences could be more severe if she protests again. For now, she focuses on aiding her people, and says that her community trusts her because she doesn't belong to any political or religious faction. With winter coming, her main priority is organizing an online group of volunteers to donate and distribute clothes to poorer Yemenis. Despite her best efforts, she remains pessimistic about the future. "Children, women and the elderly are dying daily, and all sides are accountable for the bloodshed," she said. "The war is also taking a psychological and emotional toll on me. It's not easy to watch an entire society die."

Ever more Yemenis are siding with the Saudi coalition or Houthis to safeguard a salary and a semblance of protection. But some are determined to stay neutral, despite the obstacles they face. Mat Nashed reports. On the morning of October 6, Rahab* was hauled away from a student demonstration in the heart of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. Like her peers, she ... Read More »

AfD’s Jörg Meuthen aims to bring together populists in European Parliament

The co-leader of Germany's far-right AfD says his party will use European elections to unite populists across the continent. Jörg Meuthen told DW the party's key concern will be getting "migration chaos under control." Members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) selected Jörg Meuthen to lead their party's charge in European elections In an interview with DW, Meuthen explained what he hopes to achieve ahead of and after the May poll. DW: What use does the Alternative for Germany party have for the European Union at all? Jörg Meuthen: For supranational tasks. When we talk about wanting sensible border protection then it makes sense to protect the external borders of the bloc. There are supranational tasks concerning environmental policy and international trade. Take the internal market — it is an achievement because it is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Unlike what's often said about us, we do not damn the entire European Union lock, stock and barrel. There are also achievements. You want to create a parliamentary group in the European Parliament. Many say that will be a difficult task. How will you bring together different parties from different countries? What is the common denominator? Patience, lots of meetings and building trust. We have to be in contact with parties from several nations. That has been going on for some time and there have been many good talks and we will talk to other countries soon. What everyone is asking, of course, is how we will bring everyone together. Building trust is what has to be done and that happens at the personal level. And you have to be willing to compromise. US President Donald Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon has been touring Europe with a similar goal of bringing together populist parties. But he has avoided Germany. How are the AfD's ties to Bannon? I don't know if Mr. Bannon is avoiding Germany. As far as I know, he has spoken to [AfD politicians] Alice Weidel and Beatrix von Storch. It's not that long ago that he called me. But I do not think that Mr. Bannon will play a significant role in creating a parliamentary group or bringing together parties that others would call right-wing populists. We Europeans can do that fine on our own. If he starts a foundation that runs like a think tank, then that could be of interest to us as a place to stay in touch. But Mr. Bannon certainly will not play a role in the European elections. What three issues do you want to address in the European election? Getting this migration chaos under control is absolutely the most important issue. Second: introducing more democracy. We are the only party to advocate for direct democracy. That means a real policy of decentralization and subsidiarity — and in a serious way, not just as a catchword in speeches. That means taking away the unnecessary things from Brussels. Eliminating the EU's remoteness from citizens by putting things where they belong. We call it Swissification. As for the third issue, there will likely be a chance to bring attention to the problems of a common currency, which is why the AfD was started. An economic boom is coming to an end. I assume that in six months, or a year at the latest, there will be a clear trend toward negative development. And then the drawbacks will be much clearer, as they already are for the experts. We have to do something about that. Jörg Meuthen is co-leader of the Alternative for Germany party. He was elected the far-right party's lead candidate for the European elections to be held in May 2019.

The co-leader of Germany’s far-right AfD says his party will use European elections to unite populists across the continent. Jörg Meuthen told DW the party’s key concern will be getting “migration chaos under control.” Members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) selected Jörg Meuthen to lead their party’s charge in European elections In an interview with DW, Meuthen explained ... Read More »

Trump administration must return press pass to CNN reporter Jim Acosta

A judge has ordered the Trump administration to immediately return White House press credentials to CNN's Jim Acosta. The journalist's press pass was revoked after a contentious press conference with President Trump. A US District Court on Friday ordered the White House to temporarily restore the press credentials of CNN journalist Jim Acosta. The journalist, who is CNN's chief White House correspondent, was barred from the White House after a contentious press conference with President Donald Trump. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Acosta of "placing his hands" on an intern as she sought to take the microphone from him after the president indicated he would not answer a question from Acosta. The White House agreed to temporarily reinstate Acosta's press pass after the order. Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, ordered the administration to restore Acosta's press pass while the case is pending. Kelly said there should be a due process in place for limiting a journalist's access to the White House. Describing the White House's reasons for revoking Acosta's credentials, Kelly said the "belated efforts were hardly sufficient to satisfy due process." Sanders had spelled out the reasons in a series of tweets only after CNN filed its lawsuit. 'Let's go back to work' The judge also found that Acosta suffered "irreparable harm," as he dismissed the Trump administration's argument that CNN could just send other reporters to report on the White House in Acosta's place. "Let's go back to work," Acosta told reporters after the hearing. CNN said in a statement it "looked forward to a full resolution in the coming days" and thanked "all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press." Trump has made no secret of his dislike for the US broadcaster, often describing the network as "fake news." But in court, US government lawyers said Acosta was penalized for acting rudely at the conference and not for his criticisms of the president.

A judge has ordered the Trump administration to immediately return White House press credentials to CNN’s Jim Acosta. The journalist’s press pass was revoked after a contentious press conference with President Trump. A US District Court on Friday ordered the White House to temporarily restore the press credentials of CNN journalist Jim Acosta. The journalist, who is CNN’s chief White ... Read More »

EU calls on Turkey to release 13 people arrested for links to Gezi Park protests

The 13 people arrested were reportedly accused of trying to create "chaos and mayhem" and overthrow the government. More than 50,000 people have been arrested in Turkey since a failed coup attempt in 2016. The European Union has called for the immediate release of 13 people arrested by Turkish police for alleged links to the businessman and activist, Osman Kavala, during early morning raids on Friday. "Repeated detentions of critical voices and the continued widespread pressure on civil society representatives run counter to the Turkish government's declared commitment to human rights," the EU statement said. Police had issued arrest warrants for 20 people associated with Kavala's Anatolia Culture Association prior to the raids, according to Turkey's DHA news agency. They are suspected of "creating chaos and mayhem" and "seeking to overthrow the government," state-owned Anadolu Agency reported. The Cumhuriyet newspaper said they were also accused of trying to bring in foreign "activists" to support anti-government protests. The dean of the law school at Istanbul Bilgi University and mathematics professor Betul Tanbay, who also serves as the vice president of the European Mathematical Society, were among those arrested. 'Brutal assault on Turkish civil society' Kavala, Anatolia Culture Association's chairman, was arrested more than a year ago but has not yet been charged with any crime. He is accused of working with foreigners in a 2016 failed coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and supporting anti-government protesters who rallied in Gezi Park in 2013. The European Parliament's Turkey rapporteur, Kati Piri, also denounced Friday's arrests, writing in a tweet that they were "another brutal assault on Turkish civil society." Opposition lawmaker Sezgin Tanrikulu wrote in a tweet that "those who expect normalization from this regime should continue to dream." Gulen connection Separate raids in the capital Istanbul ended with the arrest of 14 people accused of financing "terrorism" in connection with Fethullah Gulen, according to DHA. Erdogan accuses the exiled Islamic cleric of orchestrating the 2016 coup. Other anti-Gulen operations on Friday saw police arrest 17 people in the city of Izmir and another 86 people, most of them military personnel, across the country, Anadolu and DHA reported. Turkish authorities have arrested more than 50,000 people working in academia, journalism, the military, the civil service and human rights organizations as part of a broad crackdown following the 2016 coup.

The 13 people arrested were reportedly accused of trying to create “chaos and mayhem” and overthrow the government. More than 50,000 people have been arrested in Turkey since a failed coup attempt in 2016. The European Union has called for the immediate release of 13 people arrested by Turkish police for alleged links to the businessman and activist, Osman Kavala, ... Read More »

Khashoggi killing: Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty for five suspects

Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of the suspects charged in the murder case of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. However, he denied Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's involvement. Saud al-Mojeb, the kingdom's top prosecutor, announced on Thursday that he was recommending the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects who have been charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. He did not name the suspects. In total, 21 people have been arrested in connection with the case. Crown Prince bin Salman exonerated Khashoggi, a regular contributor to US newspaper The Washington Post, was a staunch critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. His murder caused international outrage, and many believe it could not have been carried out without bin Salman's knowledge. The prosecutor, however, claimed the crown prince was not involved in the killing. He said the highest-ranking member of the Saudi leadership implicated in the operation was former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri, who has since been fired for ordering Khashoggi's forced return. A spokesman for the prosecution told reporters that plans to assassinate Khashoggi were set in motion on September 29. "The crime included a fight and injecting the citizen Khashoggi with a drug overdose that led to his death," the official said. The body was dismembered and handed over to a local collaborator, he added. He did not give any details on the location of the body. Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancée raised the alarm when he did not return. After weeks of denials and under growing international pressure, Riyadh finally admittedthat Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in a "rogue" operation. US issues sanctions On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the US was placing harsh economic sanctions on 17 Saudis for their alleged involvement in the Khashoggi murder. In a statement, Mnuchin said: "The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi. These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions." Three of the individuals targeted in Thursday's sanctions were Saud Al-Qahtani and Maher Mutreb, both of whom are top aides to Salman, and Mohammed Alotaibi, consul general at the Istanbul consulate at the time Khashoggi was murdered. The US treasury secretary said Qahtani "was part of the planning and execution of the operation" to kill Khashoggi. The secretary stopped short of accusing the crown prince of involvement. The sanctions fall under the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and were issued as part of the US Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Such sanctions freeze targets' assets if they fall under US jurisdiction. The sanctions also forbid Americans and US companies from conducting business with them. Mnuchin's statement also said: "The Government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists." Trouble with the Turks The case has caused a row between the kingdom and Turkey, whose government insists the suspects should be tried in Turkey. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the Saudi prosecutor's statement "positive but insufficient," insisting that Khashoggi's murder was "premeditated." Cavusoglu said the Thursday announcement by Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor fell short of his own country's expectations: "I want to say that we did not find some of his explanations to be satisfactory" and that "those who gave the order, the real perpetrators, need to be revealed. This process cannot be closed down in this way." Cavusoglu also questioned why Saudi Arabia had only indicted 11 of the 18 suspects detained. He pointed out that the Saudi prosecutor made no mention of where Khashoggi's remains were taken: "There is a question that has not been answered yet. Where is Khashoggi's body? Where was he disposed of, where was he buried, where was he burned? There is still not an answer on this issue."

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of the suspects charged in the murder case of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. However, he denied Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement. Saud al-Mojeb, the kingdom’s top prosecutor, announced on Thursday that he was recommending the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects who have been charged with ... Read More »

UK leadership challenge: How does it work?

A slew of ministerial resignations over the draft UK-EU Brexit deal has put even more pressure on embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Is a leadership challenge on the cards? British Prime Minister Theresa May battled to save her draft Brexit deal Thursday. After several high-profile resignations from her Cabinet, she could now face a fight to save her premiership if a leadership challenge is called. What needs to happen? A challenge can be triggered if 15 percent of the Conservative MPs write a letter to the chairman of the influential "1922 Committee" [the parliamentary group of all backbench Conservative lawmakers] demanding a vote of confidence in the leader. The party currently has 315 MPs, so 48 would need to submit such letters. Have any done so already? Leading euroskeptic Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg submitted his letter of no confidence on Thursday. "It is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place. Regrettably, this is not the situation," he wrote. Although lawmakers do not have to reveal their intentions, a total of 14 MPs have publicly confirmed they have sent their letter. Others may have also already done so privately. Only the chair of the committee, Graham Brady, knows the exact number. What happens during a confidence vote? Once the required number of no confidence letters is reached, Brady would announce a vote of no confidence in the prime minister. All Conservative MPs can vote, either in favor of or against the leader staying on. May would need a simple majority to win. That would currently mean 158 votes. What happens next? In the event of a victory, she remains in office and gets immunity from another formal challenge for a year. If she loses she has to resign and is barred from standing in the ensuing leadership election. Her successor would also become prime minister. A general election would not automatically be triggered.

A slew of ministerial resignations over the draft UK-EU Brexit deal has put even more pressure on embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Is a leadership challenge on the cards? British Prime Minister Theresa May battled to save her draft Brexit deal Thursday. After several high-profile resignations from her Cabinet, she could now face a fight to save her premiership ... Read More »

Marco Reus to miss Russia game as Löw continues Germany’s slow evolution

Germany face Russia in a friendly on Thursday, but will be without Dortmund forward Marco Reus. Joachim Löw is expected to field some younger players but has warned that the evolution of the team will be a slow process. Marco Reus will play no part in Germany's friendly game against Russia in Leipzig, coach Joachim Löw has confirmed. Reus suffered a bruised foot in Borussia Dortmund's victory over Bayern Munich and will sit out the game in Leipzig, but could feature in Germany's potentially crucial Nations League game against the Netherlands on Monday. "Marco Reus will not be able to play tomorrow," Löw told reporters on Wednesday. "He arrived with a foot injury from the game against Bayern. He will not train tonight and we will have to see if it works for Monday." Chance for youth Reus' absence appears to be a precaution with the more important test to come, meaning Löw could give youth a chance to shine against Russia. But even with Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry and Timo Werner all expected to start, Löw warned that the team won't evolve overnight. "Building a new team is not something that happens out of nothing. It is a process," said Löw, who has dropped Jerome Boateng for this round of fixtures. "The rebuilding phase has started and the process is ongoing." "Every successful team will have a good mix between young and more experienced players," he said, when asked about out-of-form Thomas Müller, another World Cup winner, who was part of the squad. "Young players need some players to guide them in difficult moments. We do not have too many players who have this experience." Relegation 'not end of the world' Germany could be relegated from their Nations League group if results don't go their way when France play the Netherlands followed by Germany's game against the Dutch — but that's not a scenario that overly concerns Löw. "We don't have things in our own hands anymore in order to stay in the league," admitted Löw, after Germany managed just one point from their first three games. "Perhaps we made the mistake of putting too much emphasis on the Nations League — it would not be the end of the world if we have to play in a lower division in 2020."

Germany face Russia in a friendly on Thursday, but will be without Dortmund forward Marco Reus. Joachim Löw is expected to field some younger players but has warned that the evolution of the team will be a slow process. Marco Reus will play no part in Germany’s friendly game against Russia in Leipzig, coach Joachim Löw has confirmed. Reus suffered ... Read More »

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas calls for China transparency over Uighur Muslims

Despite warnings from China that Germany should not interfere in its internal affairs, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on Beijing to be transparent about the human rights conflict surrounding the Uighur Muslims. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas began his visit to China on Monday by calling for more transparency from the Chinese government regarding the human rights conflict surrounding reports about the mass detention of a million Uighur Muslims. UN experts have said there are credible reports that as many as a million Uighurs, ethnically Turkic Muslims which reside in western China, have been interned in camps in the last year. "We cannot accept re-education camps," Maas said after meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing, adding that more information was needed to assess the situation. On Monday, Maas said his talks with Vice Premier Liu were "free of controversy" and that all sides had an interest in matters being ransparent. When asked if human rights organizations should enter the camps, the German minister said: "At first, it is of secondary importance who ensures transparency." Bundestag condemnation Last Thursday, members of Germany's Bundestag condemned the Chinese government for its treatment of the Uighur population, accusing Beijing of violating human rights. In a motion, the Greens party called on the German government to demand that Beijing grant independent observers and journalists access to the Xinjiang region. The discussion in the Bundestag prompted a fierce response from China. The Chinese Embassy in Berlin said that Beijing was "extremely dissatisfied" and accused the Bundestag of "blatant interference in internal affairs and a gross violation of China's sovereignty." Bundestag condemnation Last Thursday, members of Germany's Bundestag condemned the Chinese government for its treatment of the Uighur population, accusing Beijing of violating human rights. In a motion, the Greens party called on the German government to demand that Beijing grant independent observers and journalists access to the Xinjiang region. The discussion in the Bundestag prompted a fierce response from China. The Chinese Embassy in Berlin said that Beijing was "extremely dissatisfied" and accused the Bundestag of "blatant interference in internal affairs and a gross violation of China's sovereignty." Xinjiang belongs to the territory of the People's Republic of China, and issues concerning Xinjiang fall within China's jurisdictions and internal affairs," a statement published last Friday by the Embassy read. China has said the camps are "training centers" to equip people with employable skill to help combat Islamist extremism in the still bloodied Xinjiang province. However, rights activists say the centers are political indoctrination camps where Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities are taught Communist propaganda and forced to renounce their religion. Two-day visit The minister also said that issues relating to arms control and disarmament should be the subject of multilateral agreements, especially in the case of new weapons systems. "We want to talk to China about this," the ministry said via Twitter: Germany wants to expand bilateral consultations between Germany and China, on cooperation at the UN among other issues. Before he left Germany, Maas had said "China is more than just our most important trading partner in Asia," and needed a strong relationship to tacle issues such as security and climate change. Maas also stressed that Berlin and Beijing had a common interest in ending trade disputes. China was Germany's most important trade partner in 2017 with a trade volume of over €186 billion ($209 billion). The minister was also to meet with economy officials and with Yang Jiechi, the director of China's foreign affairs office, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as part of his two-day visit.

Despite warnings from China that Germany should not interfere in its internal affairs, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on Beijing to be transparent about the human rights conflict surrounding the Uighur Muslims. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas began his visit to China on Monday by calling for more transparency from the Chinese government regarding the human rights conflict surrounding reports ... Read More »

Lawyer says Asia Bibi ‘wants to leave for Germany’

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani-Christian woman accused of blasphemy, was released from jail on Wednesday amid violent Islamist protests against her Supreme Court acquittal. But Bibi can reportedly still not leave the country. Bibi's lawyer, Saif-ul-Mulook,told the Bild am Sonntag German newspaper that Asia Bibi "would be happy if she could leave for Germany with her family." Bibi, who was acquitted by Pakistan's Supreme Court on blasphemy charges on October 31, is reportedly still in Pakistan despite her release from jail on Wednesday. Mulook fled Pakistan to the Netherlands a day after the court's decidion. Bibi's was one of the most high-profile blasphemy cases in Pakistan, with international rights groups and Western governments demanding a fair trial in her case. In 2015, Bibi's daughter met with Pope Francis, who offered prayers for her mother at the Vatican. Bibi was arrested in June 2009, after her neighbors complained she had made derogatory remarks about Islam's Prophet Muhammad. A year later, Bibi was sentenced to death, despite strong opposition from national and international human rights groups. Despite her acquittal by the Supreme Court, Bibi remained in prison due to Islamist protests, spearheaded by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) party. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan, where 97 percent of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslims. Rights activists have demanded reforms of the controversial blasphemy laws, which were introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s. Activists say the laws have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas Several European countries are willing to take Bibi and her family in, but it is unclear when she would be allowed to leave the South Asian country. What next for Bibi? Haroon Janjua, DW's correspondent in Islamabad, said Prime Minister Imran Khan's government wants to complete all legal requirements before Bibi, who is reportedly under protective custody currently, can leave the country. A review petition against Bibi's acquittal was filed right after the Supreme Court's October 31 verdict. The country's highest court is likely to make a decision on the petition in the next few days. Experts say it is unlikely that the top court's judges, including the Supreme Court's chief justice, would accept the petition, as it would require a larger bench to hear it. After violent protests against the suspension of Bibi's death erupted across the country, Khan's government opted to make a deal with Islamists to "avoid bloodshed." The move was heavily criticized by rights groups. But Khan recently told media that his government would not compromise on legal decisions. "I want to make it clear that the government stands with the decision of the Supreme Court and there will be no compromise on it," Khan said on Saturday. "The rule of law depends on following verdicts of the Supreme Court and if you do not follow the top court's decision then law finishes in the country," he added. Earlier this week, Bibi's attorney told S. Khan, DW's Islamabad correspondent, that he does not think that PM Khan's government has taken any U-turn on the Supreme Court's decision. "I believe that religious hardliners needed a way out, and the authorities gave them that. The conditions of the government-TLP agreement do not amount to the surrender of the state. Having said that, it is a citizen's constitutional right to file a review petition in the Supreme Court." "Almos all blasphemy cases in Pakistan are fabricated. There are people who misuse blasphemy laws. Even if there is a blasphemy charge against anyone, there should be a fair trial without fear and intimidation," Mulook added. Persecution of religious minorities Pakistan's Christians and other religious minorities have often complained of legal and social discrimination in their country. In the past few years, many Christians and Hindus have been brutally murdered over unproven blasphemy allegations. In one case, a young Christian girl with Down syndrome was accused in August 2012 of burning pages upon which verses of the Koran were inscribed. Rimsha Masih was taken into police custody and only released months later, when charges were dropped. The case caused an uproar in her hometown and beyond and sparked riots and violence against Christians in the region. In 2013, she and her family relocated to Canada. In 2014, a Christian couple was beaten to death for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Koran. Their bodies were subsequently burned in a brick kiln. In September last year, a Christian man in Pakistan was sentenced to death for sharing "blasphemous" material on WhatsApp.

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani-Christian woman accused of blasphemy, was released from jail on Wednesday amid violent Islamist protests against her Supreme Court acquittal. But Bibi can reportedly still not leave the country. Bibi’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Mulook,told the Bild am Sonntag German newspaper that Asia Bibi “would be happy if she could leave for Germany with her family.” Bibi, who was acquitted ... Read More »

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