Russia plans new missile systems to counter U.S. by 2021
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will race to develop two new land-based missile launch systems before 2021 to respond to Washington’s planned exit from a landmark nuclear arms control pact, it said on Tuesday. President Vladimir Putin said at the weekend that Russia had suspended the Cold War-era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which bans both nations from stationing short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe. Moscow and Washington accuse each other of violating the treaty and Putin said Russia had acted after the United States announced it was withdrawing from the pact. Washington had made clear it planned to start research, development and design work on new missile systems and Moscow would do the same, Putin said. The Russian military should start work on creating land-based launch systems for an existing ship-launched cruise missile, the Kalibr, and for longer-range hypersonic missiles which travel at least five times the speed of sound, he said. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday ordered work to begin on developing the new systems. Shoigu, a close Putin ally, said he wanted the work completed by the end of next year so the new systems were ready by 2021. “From Feb. 2, the United States suspended its obligations under the INF treaty,” Shoigu told a meeting of defense chiefs. “At the same time they are actively working to create a land-based missile with a range of more than 500 km which is outside the treaty’s limits. President Putin has given the defense ministry the task of taking symmetrical measures.” Moscow denies flouting the 1987 pact. It says Washington is the one violating it and has accused the United States of inventing a false pretext to exit a treaty it wanted to leave anyway in order to develop new missiles. Washington denies that.
British journalist John Cantlie believed to be alive, still held by ISIS
London (CNN)John Cantlie, a British journalist who was taken hostage in Syria in 2012 and appeared in a number of ISIS propaganda videos during his time in captivity, is believed to be alive, UK Security Minister Ben Wallace said Tuesday. Wallace told a briefing in London for international reporters, attended by CNN, that the British government believes Cantlie is still being held by ISIS. Cantlie, an experienced war photographer, was covering the Syrian conflict when he was abducted alongside American journalist James Foley, who was later beheaded by ISIS. Asked generally about British hostages around the world, Wallace said the UK does not pay ransom and discourages other countries from doing so. Wallace named Cantlie as the most public and prominent British hostage, and when asked directly if the belief is Cantlie is still alive, he said yes. Wallace would not elaborate or say whether Cantlie is thought to be in the rapidly-diminishing area still held by ISIS. Since his capture, Cantlie has appeared in ISIS videos dressed as a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit, and filmed in the style of roving foreign correspondent reporting from the streets of the so-called caliphate. Cantlie was last seen in a propaganda video released by ISIS in mid-December 2016, purportedly on the "frontline" of the fight for Mosul. In it, he says: "We're in the center of Mosul a little way east, and behind me it looks like a scene out of a Steven Spielberg film, except this is for real."
Germany's Merkel drops hint of a 'creative' Brexit compromise
TOKYO (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday offered a way to break the deadlock over the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, calling for a “creative” compromise to allay concerns over the future of Irish border arrangements. The United Kingdom is due under British and European law to leave the EU in just 53 days yet Prime Minister Theresa May wants last-minute changes to a divorce deal agreed with the EU last November to win over members of parliament in the British parliament. May is seeking legally binding changes to the deal to replace the Northern Irish backstop, an insurance policy that aims to prevent the reintroduction of a hard border between EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland. While Merkel said she did not want the so-called Withdrawal Agreement renegotiated, she added that difficult questions could be resolved with creativity, the strongest hint to date that the EU’s most powerful leader could be prepared to compromise. “There are definitely options for preserving the integrity of the single market even when Northern Ireland isn’t part of it because it is part of Britain while at the same time meeting the desire to have, if possible, no border controls,” Merkel said. “To solve this point you have to be creative and listen to each other, and such discussions can and must be conducted,” Merkel said at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. Merkel said the Irish backstop issue could be solved as part of a discussion over a separate agreement on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, offering May a potential way out of the deadlock. Merkel’s stance on Brexit is driven by an eagerness to preserve the integrity of the EU and its internal market, which are crucial to Germany’s post-war identity and prosperity, while also keeping Britain close to the bloc even after it leaves. Keen to avoid the economic disruption a no-deal Brexit would bring to Germany’s economy, which
Paris fire: Ten dead and many injured at apartment block
Ten people including a baby have died in a fire at an eight-storey building in south-western Paris, fire service officials say. More than 30 people - including six firefighters - were injured. One person is in a serious condition. Fifty people were evacuated by ladders from the blaze in the upmarket 16th arrondissement. The Paris prosecutor says it may have been deliberately started. Police have detained a female suspect. French President Emmanuel Macron said that the country "had woken up to tragedy", and praised the fire services for their courage. Rue Erlanger is a residential street close to the Parc des Princes soccer stadium.
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