US, Cuba 'much closer' to opening embassies

Washington : The US and Cuba ended on Friday their fourth round of negotiations to restore diplomatic relations, with the message that the opening of embassies is now "much closer" and that the last obstacles will be overcome in the coming weeks, though not necessarily with another high-profile gathering.

The meeting that began on Thursday in Washington could be the last encounter of the respective chief negotiators before the reestablishment of diplomatic ties broken off more than half a century ago, judging by the words of US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson.


Pentagon: Iraqi forces break through IS siege at oil refinery

Washington : The Pentagon announced on Friday that Iraqi forces had broken through months-long siege of the Beiji oil refinery by the extremist group Islamic State (IS) and started resupplying previously beleaguered Iraqi forces within the facility.


Obama signs bill allowing Congress to review Iran n-deal

Washington : US President Barack Obama on Friday signed into law a bill that gives Congress the right to review a potential deal on Iran's nuclear programme.

The legislation would give Congress the power to review a nuclear deal with Iran for 30 days and bar Obama from lifting any Congressional sanctions against Iran during that period, Xinhua reported.

If lawmakers disapprove of the deal, and then override a likely veto from Obama, his administration would lose the current power to waive certain economic sanctions Congress has imposed on Iran.


Obama repeats commitment to Israel

Washington : US President Barack Obama repeated on Friday that his commitment to the security of Israel "is and always will be unshakeable", and that he will not accept a "bad deal" with Iran concerning its nuclear programme.

"No administration has done more to ensure that Israel can protect itself than this one," Obama said in a speech to an audience of almost 1,200 people in the synagogue of the Adas Israel congregation, one of the largest in Washington.

Hillary Clinton's 296 emails published

Washington : The US State Department has published online 296 emails from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's account.

The emails were sent and received in the aftermath of the September 2012 attacks on an American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans, including an ambassador.

"The emails we release today do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during, or after the attacks," the department tweeted after the emails publishing announcement, Xinhua reported.


Civilian toll rises amid Yemen's worsening humanitarian situation

Geneva : At least 1,037 civilians have been killed between March 26 and May 20 in Yemen as a result of widespread and protracted violence affecting the country, a UN agency said on Friday.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) revealed that 2,453 civilians had been injured, including 130 women and 234 children, Xinhua news agency reported.

The total toll for the country has now reached more than 1,850.


Italian government 'worried' about IS

Rome : Italy's Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Friday said the government is concerned about the recent advances made by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in Iraq and in Syria, where a monitoring group says it now controls half the country.

"The Italian government is not just worried about Syria, but also about the possibly even more threatening situation in Iraq," Gentiloni said.


28 places in quake-hit Kathmandu declared no-go zones

By Anil Giri,

Kathmandu : With life limping back to normalcy and traffic resuming on the streets following the devastating April 25 earthquake and its aftermath, Nepal Police have declared several road stretches in the Kathmandu Valley no-go zones to prevent any untoward incidents, keeping in mind the vulnerability of roadside houses and other structures.

These include some important heritage sites, risk-bearing areas where cracked and damaged buildings pose a threat and places where cracked buildings were in the process of being demolished.


Communist Party targets religious members in 'China's Jerusalem'

Shanghai : Known as “China's Jerusalem” for its prominent Christian population, Wenzhou city's chapter of the Communist Party of China (CCP), will expel any party member who practices religion, the official newspaper Global Times reported on Friday.

The decision came during an especially difficult moment for Christian communities in the eastern province of Zhejiang, as churches have been demolished, crosses removed and dozens of temples affected by an official campaign that started in 2014.


They survived Nepal's quake but lost livelihood

By Vishal Gulati,

Ramkot (Nepal) : When 23-year-old Shalendar Lama of this village located in the western valley of Kathmandu found his way out of debris after the April 25 earthquake, little did he realize that his only source of livelihood had perished.

Much to his horror, the young dairy farmer lost all his four cows. Sitting on a pile of debris outside his house some 20 km from Kathmandu, another villager, Barkha Joshi, says it's now virtually impossible for him to raise her family with all her farm animals gone.