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Philippines foreign minister tells Beijing to ‘get the f*** out’ of South China Sea

Philippines foreign minister tells Beijing to ‘get the f*** out’ of South China Sea
Philippines foreign minister tells Beijing to ‘get the f*** out’ of South China Sea


The Philippines foreign minister has warned Beijing to ‘get the f*** out’ of a disputed area of the South China Sea amid an escalating war of words between the countries.

Teddy Locsin Jr sent the expletive message on Monday as the Philippines foreign ministry complained that Chinese coast guard vessels have been harassing their own ships near a disputed island in the sea.

‘China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… GET THE FUCK OUT,’ Locsin said in a tweet from his personal account.  

‘What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re trying. You. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province…’, Locsin said.

Philippines foreign minister tells Beijing to ‘get the f*** out’ of South China Sea

Teddy Locsin Jr, the foreign minister of the Philippines, has told China to ‘GET THE F*** OUT’ of the South China Sea in an angry tweet

Locsin sent the message amid reports that Chinese coast guard had been harassing Filipino vessels near a dispute island called Scarborough Shoal

Locsin sent the message amid reports that Chinese coast guard had been harassing Filipino vessels near a dispute island called Scarborough Shoal

Asked about his use of language, Locsin said later that ‘usual suave diplomatic speak gets nothing done.’

His department has lodged dozens of protests in recent weeks prompted by what it calls repeated and illegal incursions by Chinese vessels into Philippine waters.

The latest row was sparked by confrontations between rival coast guards around the Scarborough Shoal – an uninhabited island claimed by both nations.

In the latest incident, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it ‘has protested the shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver and radio challenges by the Chinese coast guard of Philippine coast guard vessels conducting legitimate maritime patrols and training exercises’ from April 24 to 25 near Scarborough Shoal.

The island is surrounded by rich fishing waters which were effectively seized by China in 2012 after a standoff between Chinese and Philippine fishing boats.

The department said it also protested ‘the incessant, illegal, prolonged and increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones’ in the disputed waters. 

It said hundreds of Chinese vessels have been spotted by Philippine law enforcement agencies from January to March this year in areas around Scarborough Shoal and Philippine-occupied Thitu Island, which Filipinos call Pagasa.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has asked the Philippines to respect what it calls Chinese sovereignty in the disputed waters and ‘stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes.’ 

China claims virtually all of the South China Sea, a vast area of ocean bordered by Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and China, through which $3 trillion of ship-borne trade passes each year.

China and the Philippines both claim the Scarborough Shoal and the rich fishing waters which surround it (pictured, fishing vessels of both countries in a standoff in 2017)

China and the Philippines both claim the Scarborough Shoal and the rich fishing waters which surround it (pictured, fishing vessels of both countries in a standoff in 2017)

In 2016, an arbitration tribunal in The Hague ruled China’s, which Beijing bases on its old maps, was inconsistent with international law.  

The escalating feud between Manila and Beijing started after more than 200 Chinese vessels suspected by Philippine authorities to be operated by militias were spotted in early March at Whitsun Reef. 

The Philippine government demanded the vessels leave, then deployed coast guard vessels to the area. 

China said it owns the reef and the Chinese vessels were sheltering from rough seas.

Many of the Chinese vessels have left Whitsun, about 175 nautical miles (325 kilometers) west of the Philippine province of Palawan, but several have remained moored in the area, part of a shallow atoll partly occupied by China and Vietnam. 

The Philippine government says the reef is within an internationally recognized offshore zone where Manila has exclusive rights to exploit fisheries, oil, gas and other resources. 

On Sunday, the Philippines vowed to continue maritime exercises in its EEZ in the South China Sea in response to a China demand that it stop actions it said could escalate disputes.

As of April 26, the Philippines had filed 78 diplomatic protests to China since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, foreign ministry data shows.

‘Our statements are stronger because of the more brazen nature of the activities, the number, frequency and proximity of intrusions,’ Marie Yvette Banzon-Abalos, executive director for strategic communications at the foreign ministry, said.

Duterte for the most part has pursued warmer ties with China in exchange for Beijing’s promises of billions of dollars in investment, aid and loans.

While the Philippine leader still considers China ‘a good friend’, he said last week: ‘There are things that are not really subject to a compromise.’ 



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The farmers burning their own crops to fight a mouse plague

The farmers burning their own crops to fight a mouse plague
The farmers burning their own crops to fight a mouse plague



Colin Tink, 63, has been farming all his life and has never experienced a mouse plague like the one ravaging Australia‘s eastern grain belt. Nor a drought like the one that preceded it, which turned fertile crop areas into dust bowls.

When the rains finally came last year, Mr Tink thought his fortunes were changing.

The rain led to bumper crops through the spring and summer months (September to March in the Southern Hemisphere). Silos are overflowing with grain. And barns are piled high with hay. Mr Tink grew enough hay to feed his cattle for two years.

Then the mice arrived. Thousands of them.

The vermin burrow deep into his hay. What they don’t eat is ruined anyway as their urine trickles down through the bales. The smell is acrid. It sticks in your nose and lingers on your clothes.

“It breaks your heart a bit,” Mr Tink said. “We’re back to square one.”



When I wake up in the morning I am talking about mice and then when I go to bed I am still talking about mice

Not one to give up, Mr Tink recently fashioned a giant mouse trap out of a shipping container he uses to roll out grain for his cattle. He lures mice into the container by scattering grain on the floor.

Then, Mr Tink, or his five-year-old grandson, Jock, sweep the mice with a broom toward a pool of water positioned at the open end of the container. The rodents hurtle into the water. Trapped by a thin layer of dishwashing liquid, they quickly drown.

On the first evening, they caught 7,000 mice. The next night it was 3,000. Now, they’re averaging about 1,000 a night.

“We won’t beat ’em but we might slow them down a bit,” Mr Tink said.

Australia suffers a mouse plague every decade or so. Some older farmers recall an infestation during the 1970s in which the ground felt as if it was moving, it was so thick with mice.

Approximately 7000 mice, caught using a homemade water trap by Colin Tink, lie in a field near Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia on 24 May 2021

(Matthew Abbott)

One contributing factor is changing farming practices. To maintain moisture in Australia’s arid soil, farmers are sowing new crops directly onto the old stalks that were left in the ground.

That means mice have more places to shelter – and have more food.

The New South Wales government has secured 5,000 litres (1,320 gallons) of a deadly bait called bromadiolone. Scientists worry the poison may inadvertently kill other species – wedge-tailed eagles, owls, snakes and goannas (large lizards) that are feeding on the abundant mouse prey.

The mice also carry viruses that are potentially deadly to humans. Health authorities in Queensland state say the number of cases of leptospirosis – a flu-like illness that can lead to meningitis, kidney failure, bleeding and respiratory complications – have almost doubled in 2021 compared with this time last year.

Dead and drowning mice float in a homemade trap near Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia on 26 May 2021

(Matthew Abbott)

With a shortage of traps, farmers have had to come up with their own systems to catch mice.

They’re crafting makeshift traps out of barrels and buckets. They’re laying down treats to tempt the mice to scuttle to their doom.

Some farmers have enlisted the help of experts like Henry, a government scientist who roams the country advising people on how to deal with the rodents.

In Coonamble, west of Sydney, last month, Henry inspected a 3,000 bale haystack – worth roughly $93,000 (£67,000) at current prices – that had been destroyed by mice. In a drought, the straw would fetch twice that, he said.

Mark Iles, publican at the Royal Hotel, holds a dead mouse in Yoeval, New South Wales, Australia on 28 May 2021

(Matthew Abbott)

“When I wake up in the morning I am talking about mice and then when I go to bed I am still talking about mice,” he said.

At the Royal Hotel in Yeoval, about 200 miles west of Sydney, the publican, Mark Iles, said he was catching mice in his bare hands a few weeks ago as they scampered across his bar.

Greg Younghusband is a 40-year-old farmer near Gilgandra, about 270 miles west of Sydney. In dealing with the infestation, he has had to burn his own crops and set up scores of traps.

One Saturday about a month ago, things got so bad that Mr Younghusband had to send his wife and daughters away to a nearby town for the weekend. The mouse invasion was too much to bear.

Colin Tink, inside his giant homemade mouse trap, pushes mice into a bath to drown the mice near Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia 26 May 2021

(Matthew Abbott)

They were in his shed. They were in the house. They destroyed his washing machine, dryer and two refrigerators. They chewed through his couch, his coffee machine and his daughter’s bed sheets. They were under the oven.

He could hear them in the walls. He also smelled them. The smell of death. Everywhere.

“You can’t get rid of the smell because they die in the walls. They die under the stove,” Mr Younghusband said. “It’s the worst smell you’ve ever smelt. It’s unbelievable.”

He armed himself with 40 traps and between 2pm and 2am he caught 450 mice, before giving up and going to bed. “I’d unload a trap and bait it again and as soon as I turned away it would go off again.”

An agriculture supply shop has completely run out of mouse bait and traps in Wellington, New South Wales, Australia on 28 May 2021

(Matthew Abbott)

One recent evening, Mr Younghusband lit a fire under about 130 hay bales that had been destroyed by mice and stood back to watch, beer in hand, as flames lit up the night sky. He estimates he has lost about 1,500 bales so far.

Normally a mouse plague will end apocalyptically, according to Henry, as the population grows too big to support itself. Riddled with disease and running out of food, the vermin turn on each other, starting with the sickest and weakest.

He worries that if temperatures don’t drop sharply enough over the winter, many will survive the cooler months, setting up for an even more explosive outbreak next spring.

© The Washington Post



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Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave

Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave
Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave


Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave, with successful prosecution of jihadi bride who oversaw victim’s abuse

  • Clooney represented one of three victims in trial against ISIS bride in Dusseldorf
  • Her client was 1 of 7 Yazidi girls enslaved by defendant named only as Sarah O.
  • Sarah O., 23, who holds Algerian nationality, married ISIS fighter in Syria in 2013
  • She beat the Yazidi slaves and helped to ‘prepare them’ for rape by her husband










Amal Clooney has secured justice for a Yazidi woman who was raped from the age of 14 after being enslaved by ISIS in Syria.

Clooney was representing the woman as one of three victims of an ISIS bride named only as Sarah O, who was jailed for six-and-a-half years in Dusseldorf on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old, who holds Algerian nationality, travelled to Syria as a teenager in 2013 where she married a German-Turkish national named only as Ismail S., who remains at large.

From 2015, the couple started enslaving Yazidi women and girls who were kidnapped by marauding ISIS fighters and sold throughout the ‘caliphate.’

The Yazidi ethnic group, who are mostly based in Iraq, faced genocidal persecution by Islamic State which claims they are a race of ‘devil worshippers.’ 

Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave

Amal Clooney is pictured at the United Nations Security Council during a meeting about sexual violence in conflict in New York in April, 2019

Over two years, Sarah O. and Ismail S. enslaved seven Yazidi women, some of whom were sold onto others, while another, a 14-year-old girl, died in captivity.

Sarah O. beat the prisoners and helped her husband sexually abuse at least two of the victims, helping to ‘prepare them’ for rape.

She also forced the Yazidis to carry out slave labour at her house.

The couple were arrested in Turkey in February 2018. After seven months in custody, Sarah O. was deported to Germany and her trial began in October 2019.

The proceedings were closed to the public because she was a teenager when some of the events took place. In accordance with German law, her full name has not been released either.

The victim represented by Clooney, along with her German colleagues, Natalie von Wistinghausen and Sonka Mehner, was present in Dusseldorf on Wednesday when judges announced the verdict.

Following the judgment, the victim said: ‘No conviction can make up for our suffering, but I am immensely grateful to the German Federal Prosecutors and the German court for investigating and shedding light on the crimes committed against the Yazidis and I hope that many more countries will follow this good example.’ 

Sarah O. was convicted of membership in a foreign terrorist organisation, assault, deprivation of liberty, aiding and abetting rape, enslavement and religious and gender-based persecution as crimes against humanity. 

Clooney’s German colleague Sonka Mehner said: ‘Thanks to the victims, the full extent of the defendant’s criminal conduct could be established.’ 

George Clooney and his wife Amal Clooney attend the "Money Monster" premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in 2016

George Clooney and his wife Amal Clooney attend the ‘Money Monster’ premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in 2016

The other German attorney representing the Yazidi woman, Natalie von Wistinghausen, added that ‘for the first time ever, a court handed down a conviction for religious and gender-based persecution and this recognition is of utmost importance for our client and for all Yazidi women, for their religious community as a whole, as well as for other victims of gender-based violence.’

Clooney, the 43-year-old wife of Hollywood actor George, is a barrister who specialises in international criminal and human rights law.

She was called to the London Bar in 2010 after being called in New York in 2002.

Fluent in French and Arabic, she has worked in The Hague including at the International Court of Justice.

In addition to her legal work, she served as a senior adviser to Kofi Annan when he was the UN’s Envoy on Syria. 



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Carl Nassib becomes the first active NFL player to come out as gay

Carl Nassib becomes the first active NFL player to come out as gay
Carl Nassib becomes the first active NFL player to come out as gay



Carl Nassib has become the first active NFL player to come out as gay, after he made the announcement in an Instagram video.

“What’s up, people. I’m Carl Nassib. I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib, a defensive lineman, said in the video.

“I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”

Nassib, 28, told his followers that he hoped that people would not have to make similar videos in the future and announced he was donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, which aims to prevent suicide among LGBTQ+ youths.

“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important,” he said.

“I actually hope that like one day, videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary.

“But until then, I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project.”

In an online written message, Nassib said he had “agonised over this moment for the last 15 years” and decided to go public with the support of his family and friends.

Nassib signed for the Raiders in 2020 on a three-year, $25m free-agent deal, with $16.75m of his money guaranteed.

The team’s official Twitter account posted a black heart symbol and said: “Proud of you, Carl.”

Last season he had 2.5 sacks and an interception in 14 games.

He was selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL drat by the Cleveland Browns, after playing his college career at Penn State, and has also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Former New England Patriot’s receiver Julian Edelman took to Twitter to congratulate Nassib.

“Awesome moment. Spreading the love to the Trevor Project very classy move,” tweeted Edelman.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, also welcomed the announcement.

“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. Representation matters,” said Mr Goodell.

“We share his hope that someday soon statements like this will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”



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Brexit poll shows ‘limited enthusiasm’ for UK-EU trade deal

Brexit poll shows ‘limited enthusiasm’ for UK-EU trade deal
Brexit poll shows ‘limited enthusiasm’ for UK-EU trade deal


British voters have “limited enthusiasm” for the post-Brexit agreement Boris Johnson’s government negotiated with the EU last year, with only one in five describing it as a “good” deal, a survey has found.

However, ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 2016 EU referendum on Wednesday, the poll also found that years of divisive political debate had changed few minds — with four out five people who voted saying they would still vote the same way.

Sir John Curtice, politics professor at Strathclyde university, who led the research for the polling group What UK Thinks and the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), said the findings were “far from a ringing endorsement” of the Brexit trade deal.

“Five years on, it is difficult to argue that the Brexit referendum has been an unalloyed success,” Curtice wrote, noting Leavers’ limited enthusiasm for the Brexit deal. At the same time, he added, the outcome had reconciled few Remain voters to the Brexit project.

The overall tepid response to the trade deal negotiated by Lord David Frost last year found that even among Leave voters, only one in three felt it was a “good” deal, although that figure reflected the fact that some Leave voters would have preferred to have left the EU on even harder terms, with no deal at all.

Column chart of Per cent showing Enthusiasm is limited for the UK's post-Brexit deal with Brussels

The survey was conducted just weeks after the UK left the EU single market on January 1 and is the latest in a rolling series of polls that have been conducted by What UK Think and NatCen since 2016.

The UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) did not trigger the significant disruption predicted for UK ports this January, but did cause UK exports to the EU to fall sharply in some sectors such as agrifood, where exports fell by nearly 50 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to 2019 and 2020. 

Other broader impacts, particularly on professional services and travel, have to some extent been masked by Covid-19, which has sharply reduced leisure and business travel to Europe this year. 

Despite misgivings about the post-Brexit deal, the poll continued to vindicate Johnson’s decision to make good on his 2019 election promise to “get Brexit done”, with dissatisfaction with the UK government’s handling of Brexit falling from a peak of 88 per cent in autumn 2019 during the period of prolonged parliamentary stalemate, to about 50 per cent today.

“The confidence that Leave voters had in the UK government was badly shaken when it appeared that Brexit might not happen, but it has now largely been restored,” Curtice wrote. 

At the same time, the survey found that three out of four Leave voters now expect either immigration to fall or that the economy will be better off — two key metrics of Brexit — indicating that for many voters, “the detail of Brexit matters less than the principle”.

As for whether a rerun of the 2016 Referendum today would see a different result, the poll found it probably would not.

While a clear majority of those who did not vote in 2016 say they would now vote to rejoin the EU, they are likely to be cancelled out by the number of Remain voters who — even though they still wished the UK had remained a member of the EU — would not now vote because of the further upheaval of rejoining. 

“We estimate that a referendum held now on ‘rejoin’ versus ‘stay out’ could well produce a narrow majority (52%) in favour of staying out,” Curtice said.

Looking to the future, Curtice said it was not clear whether public opinion would swing if future difficulties with the UK-EU TCA emerged once Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in the coming months. 

Much would depend on whether the opposition Labour party, which has so far been reluctant to campaign on Brexit issues for fear of alienating Leave voters in target constituencies, was prepared to make an issue of Brexit in the future.

“Proof of the Brexit pudding will be in the eating, and the main course has been delayed by the pandemic,” Curtice told the FT.

“To make a difference, the government’s record will have to be criticised and that will depend on the extent to which the opposition is willing to tackle what they regard as the operational failures of Brexit.”



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St Louis sues Missouri over new gun laws as state records deadliest year in its history

St Louis sues Missouri over new gun laws as state records deadliest year in its history
St Louis sues Missouri over new gun laws as state records deadliest year in its history



Both the city and county of St Louis filed a lawsuit against Missouri in an attempt to block the creation of an effective sanctuary state for the Second Amendment.

The injunction filed in the Cole County Circuit Court seeks to overturn the recently-signed “Second Amendment Preservation Act” that prevents local authorities from enforcing federal gun control laws.

Under the new law signed by Republican Governor Mike Parson, state and local law enforcement agencies can be fined about $50,000 per any officer who knowingly enforces federal gun law. It also “voids” any federal law, executive order, or regulation to track or remove firearms from citizens in Missouri.

Democrat mayor of St Louis, Tishaura Jones, said 2020 was the deadliest year for gun violence in the state’s history, and the deadliest in St Louis in half a century.

“And now the Missouri legislature is throwing up barriers to stop police from doing their most important job —preventing and solving violent crime,” she said in a statement to KMOV4.

“This harmful and unconstitutional law takes away tools our communities need to prevent gun violence.”

Philip Dupuis, police chief in the St Louis suburb of O’Fallon, resigned in protest over the new law, saying the poorly worded language removes sovereign immunity and allowed officers to be sued for good faith seizures of firearms in emergency circumstances.

Mr Parson, however, said the law was designed to protect “law-abiding Missourians” against government overreach and unconstitutional federal mandates.

“We will reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property,” he said in a statement.

The injunction, filed against Missouri and the state’s Attorney General, Eric Schmitt, that the law, HB 85, violates the US Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which provides that federal law preempts state law.

It says the law also violates the Missouri Constitution in several ways, including an infringement of the separation of powers of the branches of state government.

“In misguided seal to prevent imaginary threats to the right to keep and bear arms, the political branches in our state government blatantly violated the federal and state constitutions by attempting to nullify federal gun laws,” the lawsuit says.

“The consequences of HB 85 are tangible and real: they will make it easier for criminals to use guns in committing violent acts, they will give gun violence a safe haven in Missouri, local governments… may be disqualified from receiving federal grants and technical assistance through the United States Department of Justice.”

The Department of Justice, for its part, warned Missouri officials that the US Constitution’s Supremacy Claus trumped the new bill signed into law on Saturday.

Acting assistant attorney general Brian Boynton wrote in a letter to the governor that the law would disrupt the working relationship between federal and local law enforcement agencies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Kremlin says US won’t stop trying to ‘contain’ Russia as Biden administration threatens more sanctions

Kremlin says US won’t stop trying to ‘contain’ Russia as Biden administration threatens more sanctions
Kremlin says US won’t stop trying to ‘contain’ Russia as Biden administration threatens more sanctions



The Kremlin has called for “pragmatism and sobriety” after the Biden administration revealed plans for more sanctions over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was aware of the planned expansion of sanctions, which US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed on CNN on Sunday.

Mr Peskov said that despite US President Joe Biden’s “words about the constructive mood” during a summit in Geneva last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin expected the US to continue “its policy of containing Russia”.

“The president’s words about the constructive mood during the summit do not indicate that we have moved away from a sober assessment of our bilateral relations with the United States,” the Kremlin spokesperson said.

“Pragmatism and sobriety are most important in these relations,” he said. “And both suggest that the constructive, positive results of the summit absolutely do not indicate that the United States will abandon its policy of containing Russia.”

The threat of fresh sanctions come nearly a year after Mr Navalny was flown to Germany last August after being poisoned with what doctors said was the nerve agent Novichok.

Russian authorities have repeatedly denied accusations of being behind for the attack.

Mr Navalny has been held in prison for months after being accused of violating the terms of his probation by failing to show up for inspections while receiving medical care in Germany.

Last week, Mr Biden said he had warned Mr Putin during their summit that there would be consequences if Mr Navalny dies in prison.

“I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia,” Mr Biden said.

Speaking with CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union, Mr Sullivan said the US was “preparing another package of sanctions to apply” in connection with Mr Navalny’s case.

“We’ve shown all along the way that we are not going to pull our punches, whether it’s on solar winds, or election interference, or Navalny when it comes to responding to Russia’s harmful activities,” the national security adviser said.

Mr Sullivan said the sanctions would come once the US could “ensure that we are getting the right targets”.

“When we do that, we will impose further sanctions with respect to chemical weapons,” he said.



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