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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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

“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.

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

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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2020 Election

Mitch McConnell is America’s most unpopular Senator – and he just got another challenger

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, is the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senate leader ever, and now he is America's most unpopular Senator.

A Morning Consult poll released Thursday finds McConnell's approval rating is even worse than President Donald Trump's, just 36%. His disapproval rating stands at 50%. By comparison, Maine Independent Angus King is America's most popular Senator, with a 62% approval rating and a 28% disapproval rating.

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Trump’s attack on Ilhan Omar is no surprise — he’s trafficked in racism his whole life: biographer

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In a column for Bloomberg, Tim O'Brien -- the author of "TrumpWorld" -- said the racist attack that Donald Trump made on four Democratic lawmakers who also all happen to be women of color, should not surprise anyone with a passing familiarity of the president.

According to O'Brien, racism has been a centerpiece of Trump's life going back to when he was just starting out in his family's real estate business.

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New Hampshire GOP lawmaker: Owning slaves doesn’t make you a racist

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A New Hampshire state lawmaker came under fire this week after he argued that owning black people as slaves does not make someone racist.

USA Today reports that Republican state Rep. Werner Horn recently responded to a Facebook post from a former state House member named Dan Hynes, who argued that President Donald Trump couldn't possibly be the most racist president ever because he never owned slaves.

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