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Trump calls off tariffs as US and Mexico reach deal on immigration

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The US and Mexico have reached an agreement to stave off import tariffs on Mexican goods, officials confirmed on Friday evening.

President Trump had threatened to impose 5% import tariffs on all Mexican goods if the country did not agree to new measures to stem migration across the US-Mexico border. The tariffs were set to go in effect on Monday, but the president tweeted late on Friday that both governments had reached a deal and the tariffs had been “indefinitely suspended”.

“Thanks to the support of all Mexicans, the imposition of tariffs on Mexican products exported to the USA has been avoided,” the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, tweeted.

In a joint declaration both countries said Mexico agreed to immediately expand along the entire border a program that sends migrants seeking asylum in the United States to Mexico while they await adjudication of their cases.

The country also agreed to increase enforcement to contain the flow of migrants headed to the US, including by deploying national guard troops to its southern border and cracking down on human smuggling organizations, the declaration said.

Friday’s agreement did not include the Trump administration’s proposal to return asylum seekers from Guatemala to Mexico, and Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers to Guatemala, Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said.

“I think it’s a fair balance they had more drastic measures and proposals at the start and we reached some middle point,” he said, adding the the national guard deployment would start on Monday.

Ebrard also highlighted US support in the agreement for a Mexican proposal to jointly address underlying causes of migration from Central America.

The asylum program to be expanded is commonly known as Remain in Mexico, and currently operates in the border cities of Tijuana, Mexicali and Ciudad Juarez.

Under the new deal, returned asylum seekers will spend long periods in Mexican cities such as Reynosa on the Texas border, where drug cartels frequently kidnap migrants.

The program was challenged in court earlier this year by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other rights groups which say it puts asylum seekers in danger and violates US and international law.

While a federal judge ruled to halt the policy, a US appeals court overturned the decision, allowing the policy to continue as the legal challenge is ongoing. Between January and 5 June, 10,393 mostly Central Americans have been sent back to Mexico under the program.

Mexico and US officials had been negotiating for three days in Washington DC, and businesses were bracing for the Monday deadline. A tax on all Mexican goods, which would increase every month up to 25% under Trump’s plan, would have had enormous economic implications for both countries. Americans bought $378bn worth of Mexican imports last year, led by cars and auto parts.

Earlier on Friday, companies were racing to ship as many goods as possible out of Mexico in anticipation of the tariffs, including cars, construction materials and appliances.

Mexican-made tiles were piling up on the street next to a warehouse in New Mexico, and hundreds of semi-trailers carrying medical devices, televisions and cars idled in line at a truck crossing in Tijuana.

The two countries will continue discussions, to be completed in 90 days, on further steps, according to the declaration.

Trump has embraced tariffs as a political tool to force countries to comply with his demands, in this case on his signature issue of immigration. But he had faced bipartisan opposition toward his tariff plan in the US earlier in the week, including from Republican senators. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, had said the tariffs would be “punishing” for both the US and Mexico.

The president had kept up the threats while visiting Ireland earlier in the week, saying there had not been “nearly enough” progress during negotiations.

The president has repeatedly warned of an “invasion” and criminal threats at the border, with escalating rhetoric as he braces for the 2020 re-election campaign.

Agents made 132,887 arrests in May, the first time that detentions have increased past 100,000 since April 2007, and the highest monthly total since Trump took office. Of those detained, 11,507 were unaccompanied children.

 

Guardian UK

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’

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The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin

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Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel

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A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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