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RAMALLAH, West Bank, September 9, 2018 (News Wires) — The director of an East Jerusalem hospital says a US decision to cut funding to hospitals serving the Palestinians will have a "severe effect."

Bassem Abu Libdeh, of the Makassed hospital, said on Sunday that the US covers 40 per cent of costs in six East Jerusalem hospitals that provide care for Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Trump administration announced the $25 million funding cut on Saturday, saying it would redirect the money towards "high-priority projects elsewhere."

The US has also cut funding to UNWRA, which serves Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants across the region.

The moves have added to Palestinian mistrust of the US as it prepares to unveil a peace plan.

WASHINGTON, Sept 8, 2018 (News Wires) - US President Donald Trump called Saturday for Apple to make its products in the US instead of China to avoid suffering the consequences of his trade war with Beijing.

Trump has repeatedly called for companies to move production to the United States, or to keep it there, while pushing aggressive trade actions aimed at narrowing the US trade deficit, which he equates with theft from Americans.

"Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China - but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive," Trump tweeted.

"Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now. Exciting!"

But the higher cost of wages in the United States could offset the benefits Apple might gain by avoiding tariffs affecting its products manufactured in China.

The Trump administration has placed punitive tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods and threatened to tax all Chinese imports to the United States.

US businesses have become increasingly concerned about the tariffs, which are raising prices for manufacturers and could hurt the economy.

But Trump has been unapologetic, insisting that his tough tactics will work.

 

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland, Sept 8, 2018 (News Wires) - Kate Courtney is the first American to win the mountain bike world championships in nearly two decades, holding off Danish rider Annika Langvad to win the rainbow jersey.

Langvad took an early lead and Courtney spent much of the day decreasing a 20-second gap. The 22-year-old from California caught Langvad, the 2016 world champion, with a few laps left.

She eventually opened a 48-second advantage. That turned out to be the winning margin, with Emily Batty of Canada finishing third.

The US once dominated mountain biking, but the growth of the discipline in the late 1990s largely left the Americans behind. Alison Dunlap was the last to win a world championship in 2001.

BANGKOK, September 8, 2018 (News Wires) - The United States, despite withdrawing from a landmark accord aimed at curbing climate change, is stonewalling vital UN talks over how to fund poorer nations as they battle against global warming, multiple sources told AFP Saturday.

US President Donald Trump caused global outrage by announcing the US would withdraw from the Paris Accord, but the decision cannot formally take effect until least 2020 and Washington has vowed to take part in climate negotiations to protect its interests.

The issue of how funds are made available to developing nations has emerged as a key sticking point at the talks, which have made little headway since they opened on Tuesday.

The Paris deal -- hailed as a game-changer when struck in 2015 -- promised $100 billion annually from 2020 to poor nations already coping with floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels exacerbated by climate change.

But it left room for debate over how that money should be provided, as well as how donor nations would source and report their contributions.

Washington has tabled a proposal with support from Japan and Australia that seeks to remove rules on how countries account for their climate action funding, sources close to the negotiations told AFP.

This would mean that developed economies -- responsible for the lion's share of planet-warming-feeding carbon emissions -- could still count commercial loans and pre-existing state funding as part of their finance obligations.

Observers in Bangkok said the US and some other developed economies were also refusing point blank to discuss the contentious issue of how rich nations inform other states of their future funding plans.

A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

The US position is starkly at odds with that of the developing nations, which insist that transparent and predictable finance is needed to effectively plan investment in new technologies and carbon reduction.

A senior climate negotiator told AFP that the US delegation in Bangkok was "poisoning" discussions aimed at creating a clear roadmap to implementing what nations agreed in the Paris deal.

"The US is no longer playing the game but it's still setting the rules," said the negotiator, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another head negotiator accused the US and other developed nations of seeking to move the goalposts agreed in Paris.

"It is clear to us that there is no goodwill and willingness to advance on matters of upmost importance to developing countries," said Majid Shafie-Pour, head of a developing country bloc that includes mass polluter China.

- Talks in danger? -

Activists rounded on the US, accusing Washington of endangering hard-earned gains on a global initiative to stop runaway global warming.

"The role of the US negotiators at the talks is actively hindering progress at this critical stage," Harjeet Singh, the global lead on climate change for pressure group ActionAid, told AFP.

He also accused other negotiating blocs, including the European Union, of "standing on the sidewalk" by failing to stand up for developing countries.

The Paris agreement, struck in December 2015, aims to limit global temperature rises to "well below" two degrees Celsius by 2100, shooting for no more than a 1.5C increase if at all possible.

Talks in Bangkok, which wrap up Sunday, aim to narrow down options to present to ministers and heads of state at the COP 24 climate summit in Poland in December.

Experts warn that the world is running out of time to prevent catastrophic temperature rises.

Protests were planned Saturday in cities across the world to call on leaders to accelerate efforts to tackle climate change.

In Bangkok, dozens of labourers and fisherman from the Gulf of Thailand whose livelihoods are threatened by rising sea levels joined demonstrators outside the UN.

While many observers assumed that the US would take a back seat in climate talks under the Trump administration, pressure groups said America was instead undermining the Paris process.

"In leading the charge to block practically every discussion on finance for the Paris guidelines, the US administration is threatening the future of the agreement and multilateralism itself," said Jesse Bragg, from the watchdog Corporate Accountability.

CAIRO, Sept 8, 2018 (MENA) - President Abdel Fattah El Sisi confirmed on Saturday the importance of strategic relations with the US.

The remark was made at a meeting with Chairman of the US Central Command Joseph Votel. Attending also was Minister of Defense Colonel General Mohamed Zaki, said Presidential Spokesman Ambassador Bassam Radi.

The president also welcomed Bright Star 2018 joint military drills that are held on September 8-20, the spokesman pointed out, noting that the president also reviewed efforts for fighting terrorism.

The US commander lauded military relations with Egypt and underlined his country's keenness to upgrade its relations with Egypt in all domains, the spokesman indicated.

He also praised efforts exerted by Egypt for fighting terrorism and its role in supporting security and stability in the region, added the spokesman.

 

GENEVA, Sept 8, 2018 (News Wires) - The United States constantly sends messages to Iran to begin negotiations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday in a speech broadcast on state television.

Tensions ramped up between Iran and the United States after President Donald Trump pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic last month.

Trump has said he would meet Iran's leaders.

“From one side they try to pressure the people of Iran, on another side they send us messages every day through various methods that we should come and negotiate together,” Rouhani said.

He added, “[They say] we should negotiate here, we should negotiate there. We want to resolve the issues... should we see your message?.. or should we see your brutish actions?”

Washington aims to force Tehran to end its nuclear programme and its support of militant groups in Syria and Iraq.

US sanctions targeting Iran's oil sector are scheduled to be reimposed in November.

Iran is facing an “economic, psychological and propaganda war,” Rouhani said Saturday, pointing to America and Israel as the Islamic Republic's main enemies.

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