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ANKARA, August 20, 2018 (News Wires) - Several gunshots were fired early this morning from a vehicle at the US Embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, causing no casualties, police and the embassy spokesperson said.

The attack coincided with a deepening row between Ankara and Washington over the trial of a US pastor in Turkey.

A police officer told Reuters at the scene the drive-by shooting occurred around 5am (02:00 GMT) and that nobody was hurt. The embassy is closed this week for a public holiday to mark the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival.

“We can confirm a security incident took place at the US Embassy early this morning. We have no reports of any injuries and we are investigating the details,” said David Gainer, the embassy spokesperson.

“We thank the Turkish National Police for their rapid response.”

Police teams were searching for the assailants, who fled in a white car after the attack, CNN Turk said. Four or five gunshots were heard, it said, one hitting a window in a security cabin but causing no casualties.

Video footage from broadcaster Haberturk showed police teams inspecting one of the entrances to the embassy and apparent damage caused by a gunshot could be seen in one window. It said empty cartridges were found at the scene.

The US Embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul have been the targets of attacks by militants and have faced numerous security threats in the past.

 

TEHRAN, August 20, 2018 (News Wires) - Iran said on Monday that Europe should accelerate its efforts to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers that US President Donald Trump abandoned in May.

“Europeans and other signatories of the deal (China and Russia) have been trying to save the deal... but the process has been slow. It should be accelerated,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told a news conference broadcast on state TV. “Iran relies mainly on its own capabilities to overcome America’s new sanctions.”

European states have been scrambling to ensure Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal since the United States withdrew from the deal, which Trump said was “deeply flawed”.

Washington imposed new sanctions on Iran in August, targeting its trade in gold and other precious metals, purchases of US dollars and its car industry.

The European Union has taken steps to counter the renewed US sanctions, including forbidding EU citizens from complying with them or related court rulings, and allowing firms to take legal action to recover potential damages from parties who withdraw from contracts due to the sanctions.

European powers, China and Russia say they will do more to encourage their businesses to remain engaged with Iran. But the prospect of US penalties appears to be enough to persuade European companies to keep out of Iran.

ABU DHABI, August 19, 2018 (News Wires) - US forces will stay in Iraq "as long as needed" to help stabilise regions previously controlled by Islamic State, a spokesman for the US-led international coalition fighting the militants said on Sunday.

"We'll keep troops there as long as we think they're needed ... The main reason, after IS(Islamic State) is defeated militarily is the stabilisation efforts and we still need to be there for that, so that's one of the reasons we'll maintain a presence," Colonel Sean Ryan told a news conference in Abu Dhabi.

LONDON, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Iran said on Saturday it would resist the pressures of US sanctions by relying on its natural and human resources, as Washington pushes allies to cut economic ties with Tehran.

"It is a critical moment for our economy, but we are not in a dead end," Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

"This country has plenty of human and natural resources that can rely on."

"The size of our oil and gas resources is number one in the world. In minerals and metals we are among the top 10 countries," Jahangiri said.

Washington has withdrawn from a deal that had lifted sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Sanctions imposed in August target Iran´s trade in gold and other precious metals, its purchases of US dollars and its car industry.

US President Donald Trump has said a new round of sanctions will be imposed in November, targeting Iranian oil sales.

Iran´s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week rejected Trump´s offer of talks.

Iran's rial currency has lost about half of its value since April, driven mainly by heavy demand for dollars among ordinary Iranians trying to protect their savings.

BEIJING, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - China on Saturday rejected what it called an "irresponsible" Pentagon report claiming Beijing's bombers are likely training for strikes against US and allied targets in the Pacific.

The Thursday report said China was leveraging its growing military, economic and diplomatic clout to rapidly establish regional dominance, while its bombers were developing capabilities to hit targets as far from the Chinese mainland as possible.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the report was "presumptuous and irresponsible", stating it was "in total disregard of facts" in a Saturday statement.

Beijing's military development was defensive in nature and intended to safeguard its territorial integrity, he added.

"We urge the US side to abandon the outdated cold-war and zero-sum mentality... (and) stop issuing such irresponsible reports year after year," he said.

China is engaged in a decades-long build-up and modernisation of its once-backward armed forces, and military leaders have set a goal of fielding a world-class force by 2050.

Last year, six Chinese H-6K bombers flew through the Miyako Strait in the southwest of the Japanese islands, and then for the first time turned north to fly east of Okinawa, where 47,000 US troops are based.

The PLA may demonstrate the "capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam," said the Pentagon report.

ISTANBUL, August 17, 2018 (News Wires) - The Turkish currency fell again on Friday, breaking a three-day quiet spell in the country currency crisis, after the United States threatened to impose new sanctions on the NATO country.

The lira dropped about 5 per cent, to about 6.11 per dollar, after US President Donald Trump posted a tweet warning the country of more punitive measures over the continued detention in Turkey of American pastor Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor who faces 35 years in prison on charges of espionage and terror-related charges.

Turkey's trade minister, Ruhsar Pekcan, said her government would respond to any new trade duties.

Dashing hopes for a quick solution to the dispute, a Turkish court on Friday rejected an appeal for the pastor's release from house detention. Upholding a lower court's decision earlier this week, it also ruled against lifting a travel ban imposed on Brunson.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on two Turkish government ministers and doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports. Turkey retaliated with some $533 million of tariffs on some US imports - including cars, tobacco and alcoholic drinks - and said it would boycott US electronic goods.

The diplomatic dispute is worsening investors' concerns about Turkey's fundamental economic problems. The country has amassed high levels of foreign debt to fuel growth in recent years and as the currency drops, that debt becomes so much more expensive to repay, leading to potential bankruptcies. Economists are worried of a recession.

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