French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius let slip his irritation with Britain Tuesday after London slammed its warship deal with Moscow, pointing out that the British capital was full of "Russian oligarchs." The deal, under which France is selling two warships to Russia for 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion), comes at a time when the West has strong misgivings about Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, particularly after the downing of flight MH17 suspected of being targeted by pro-Kremlin rebels. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that "in this country it would be unthinkable to fulfil an order like the one outstanding that the French have." I was led to believe that there were quite a few Russian oligarchs in London."
The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, made a surprise visit Tuesday to Saudi Arabia where he discussed developments in strife-torn Gaza with King Abdullah, state media said. The visit comes amid intensifying efforts to end 15 days of violence between the Israeli army and militants in the Gaza Strip, which is largely controlled by the Islamist movement Hamas. Relations between Doha and Riyadh remain tense after sinking to a new low in March when Saudi Arabia pulled its envoy from Qatar, along with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
A US federal appeals court delivered a potentially crippling blow to President Barack Obama's health care law Tuesday by limiting insurance subsidies, but a second court issued a contradictory ruling on the issue. The opposing verdicts, just hours apart, brought what one US senator described as "chaos and confusion" to the status of Obamacare, with likelihood growing that the Supreme Court will need to weigh in. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Obama administration can not subsidize Americans who purchased their coverage through a federal government website, and that tax credits established under the 2010 law can only be issued to residents of states that set up their own exchanges for buying insurance. The law unambiguously "limits the availability of premium tax credits to state-established exchanges," two of the panel's three judges wrote in a 72-page ruling.
Britain announced an inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko on Tuesday, the Russian former spy who accused the Kremlin from his London deathbed of poisoning him with radioactive tea. The move comes as London pushes for greater sanctions against Moscow over the downing of a passenger plane in eastern Ukraine, and is likely to anger the Kremlin and further chill relations between Britain and Russia. The inquiry will be able to look at whether the Russian state was behind the mysterious killing of Kremlin critic Litvinenko in 2006, which outraged London at the time and plunged relations with Moscow into the deep freeze. Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said there was "no link whatsoever" between the ratcheting up of international pressure on Russia over flight MH17 and the launch of the inquiry.
By David Morgan and Aruna Viswanatha WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. judicial panels on Tuesday injected new uncertainty into the future of President Barack Obama's healthcare law, with conflicting rulings over whether the federal government can subsidize health insurance for millions of Americans. The appeals court rulings, handed down by three-judge panels in Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, augured a possible rematch before the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June 2012 narrowly upheld the Democratic president's 2010 healthcare overhaul.
US Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday congratulated Joko Widodo on being declared the winner of Indonesia's closely-fought presidential elections, saying he looked forward to working with him. "The people of Indonesia united once again to show their commitment to democracy through free and fair elections," Kerry said in a statement. "As the world’s second and third largest democracies, the United States and Indonesia set an example for the world. Kerry added the US looks forward to working with Widodo "as we deepen our partnership, promote our shared objectives globally, and expand people-to-people ties between our nations."
Major US, European and Canadian airlines cancelled flights to and from Israel on Tuesday after a rocket fired from Gaza struck near its main international airport in Tel Aviv. The cancellations highlighted heightened worldwide fears of a rocket hitting a passenger jet in the wake of last week's downing of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 over rebel-held eastern Ukraine with nearly 300 on boar In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned US airlines from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport for at least 24 hours, citing the ongoing crisis in Gaza.
Israeli soldiers should be given the Nobel Peace Prize for the "unimaginable restraint" they are showing in fighting Hamas, Israel's ambassador to the US has said, backing his country's right to self-defense. Ambassador Ron Dermer made the comments at an event hosted by the Christians United for Israel group late Monday, according to a text of the speech posted on his Facebook page. Comparing Hamas rocket fire on Israel to Germany's bombardment of London during World War II, Dermer slammed those "shamelessly accusing Israel of genocide and (who) would put us in the dock for war crimes." "The truth is that the Israeli Defense Forces should be given the Nobel Peace Prize... a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint."
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday placed the onus on Hamas to end the conflict raging in Gaza as he worked with Egypt to fine-tune a ceasefire proposal. The top US diplomat was locked in negotiations in Cairo, where he met twice within 24 hours with both Egypt's foreign minister and the Palestinian Authority's intelligence chief to try to end the violence that has killed more than 600 Palestinians and 29 Israelis. Kerry said a ceasefire proposed by Egypt should serve as a "framework" to end two weeks of bloodshed. Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza and Israel, has brokered truces in past conflicts but has had less sway over Hamas after blacklisting the militant movement earlier this year.
The delivery of French Mistral-class warships to Russia would be "completely inappropriate" given the West's misgivings about Moscow's role in Ukraine, the United States said Tuesday. "We don't think anyone should be providing arms to Russia," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters, adding US officials had voiced their concern over the deal in recent days to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. In the wake of the downing of a Malaysian airliner last week, blamed by the United States on a Russian missile system which it says was given to Ukrainian pro-Moscow separatists, EU foreign ministers agreed on Tuesday to strengthen sanctions against Russia. Paris has a deal worth 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) to supply Russia with two Mistral warships.
Bulgaria's central bank governor Ivan Iskrov said on Tuesday that he was ready to tender his resignation amid a raging controversy over the fate of the country's fourth-largest bank. "If parliament reaches consensus to vote on appointing a new BNB governor before it breaks up on August 6, I am ready to table my resignation immediately," Iskrov said in a letter to lawmakers. The governor of ten years has faced pressure to leave over accusations that the central bank's poor supervision lead to the near-collapse of Corporate Commercial Bank, which was taken over by the BNB in June. Speculation was also rife in the media that the central bank has refused to hold talks on recapitalising the bank with its second-largest shareholder, Oman's sovereign wealth fund.
India under new Prime Minister Narendra Modi could take a stand Wednesday on whether it will support a key global trade pact which faces an end-of-the-month deadline for adoption, a government official said. If India does not give its backing, it could delay or derail the deal streamlining customs procedures that would mark the first big global trade reform by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in two decades. India's Bharatiya Janata Party government, elected in May, warned earlier this month it might not ratify the trade facilitation agreement or TFA reached by the 160 WTO members last year in Bali.
Israel said there was no reason to cancel flights after a rocket fired from Gaza crashed just kilometres (miles) from its main airport Tuesday, prompting some airlines to suspend services. The Federal Aviation Authority banned US airlines from flying to or from the Jewish state, which is locked in a bloody conflict with Gaza militants, and major European and Canadian carriers cancelled flights shortly after. Israeli "Transport Minister Yisrael Katz this evening called American companies to explain to them that the take-off and landing at (Tel Aviv's) Ben Gurion airport presented no security problem for the aircraft and the passengers," a Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said. The projectile was fired from the Gaza Strip, where Israel has been carrying out an offensive against Islamist movement Hamas since July 8.