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China warns US against opening Mideast ‘Pandora’s box’

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China on Tuesday warned against opening a “Pandora’s box” in the Middle East after the United States announced the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the region amid escalating tensions with Iran.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi also urged Tehran to not abandon the nuclear agreement “so easily” after Iran said it would exceed its uranium stockpile limit if world powers fail to fulfil their commitments under the agreement in 10 days.

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The United States ratcheted up pressure on Iran Monday, announcing the deployment of additional troops to the Middle East and producing new photographs it said showed Tehran was behind an attack on a tanker ship in the Gulf of Oman last week.

“We call on all parties to remain rational and restrained, not to take any actions to provoke the escalation of tension in the region, and not to open a Pandora’s box,” Wang told reporters in Beijing during a joint press conference with visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.

“In particular, the United States should change its practice of extreme pressure,” Wang said.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated ever since the US quit the nuclear deal and with Washington blacklisting Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

Wang urged Iran to “make prudent decisions” and not “so easily abandon” the deal that aims to keep Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in check.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on May 8 that Iran would stop observing restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water agreed under the deal, a move he said was in retaliation for the unilateral US withdrawal.

Tehran on Monday followed through with a 10-day countdown for world powers to fulfil their commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran has threatened to go even further in scaling down nuclear commitments by July 8 unless remaining partners to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — help it circumvent US sanctions and especially enable it to sell its oil.

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The US responded to the ultimatum by urging the international community not to give in to Iranian “nuclear extortion”, while the UN and European states called for cool heads.

“China’s determination to safeguard the comprehensive agreement has not changed,” Wang said.

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“We are willing to work with all parties to continue to make efforts for the full and effective implementation of the agreement.”

Wang said China has also “worked closely” with all parties to reconstruct the Arak heavy water reactor at a nuclear plant in the southwest of Tehran.

On Syria, Wang told his visiting counterpart that China “firmly supports Syria’s economic reconstruction” and its efforts to “combat terrorism”.

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Beijing has in the past teamed up with Moscow to veto any UN proposals to sanction the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“China has always advocated that the Syrian issue should be resolved through political means,” Wang said.


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GOP senator admits she’s hoping Trump’s Ukraine scheme successfully sinks Biden

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In a press conference with reporters on Monday, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) gave the game away by implying she hopes that President Donald Trump's scheme to dig up foreign dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden successfully sinks his candidacy and causes him to lose the Democratic caucuses in her state.

"Iowa caucuses are this next Monday evening. And I'm really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus goers. Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?"

The remarks came after White House lawyers spent hours trying to change the subject from Trump's attempts to extort the president of Ukraine with military aid, to the conspiracy theory surrounding Biden's son's work in Ukraine that he had been demanding they pursue.

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Republicans defended ‘a vile scoundrel’ who is ‘racist’ and ‘a petty tyrant’ — and it wasn’t Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump's defense attorneys were blasted for their defense of a different president on Tuesday.

"I mean, of course Trump's lawyers are defending Andrew Johnson. Of course," noted MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes.

"Johnson was a vile scoundrel and a drunk and a racist and a petty tyrant whose presidency brought blood and shame upon this nation," Hayes continued. "That's the kindest characterization I could muster."

The host linked to a 2019 piece on Johnson that he wrote for The New York Times as a book review of "The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple.

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Trump lawyer cites former GOP senator to discredit impeachment — but leaves out he supports convicting the president

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During the Senate impeachment trial on Monday, White House lawyer Robert Ray attempted to contrast the impeachment of President Donald Trump with that of President Richard Nixon, by arguing that unlike in the former case, Republicans came together with Democrats to call for removing Nixon. As part of the comparison, he brought up then-Rep. William Cohen, who went on to become a U.S. senator from Maine and Secretary of Defense for President Bill Clinton.

"Together these six Republicans made history," said Ray. "They did so with no sense of triumph and no fist bumps."

What Ray chose not to mention, however, is that Cohen has specifically weighed in on the Trump case, and said that he should be impeached and removed over the Ukraine scheme.

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