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US, allies urge Iran diplomacy as Pompeo seeks coalition

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The United States joined its Saudi, Emirati and British allies in urging a diplomatic solution to soaring tensions with Iran, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought Monday to build a coalition to step up surveillance.

Pompeo flew to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to meet their leaders days after Iran shot down a US spy drone, prompting President Donald Trump to order and then cancel a retaliatory strike.

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In a joint statement, the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates renewed concern about Iran including over alleged attacks on oil tankers but held out hope for talks.

“We call on Iran to halt any further actions which threaten regional stability, and urge diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions,” said the statement released by the United States on Monday.

Trump has said he wants negotiations with Iran, which has replied that he is insincere after walking away from an earlier denuclearization deal and slapping punishing sanctions.

Iran says the US drone violated its airspace, a charge that Washington denies. The United States has sought to end all of Iran’s oil exports, one of a series of unilateral sanctions that Tehran has described as “economic terrorism”.

US officials traveling with Pompeo cast the drone as a defensive push against Iran, which has in the past threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz, the chokepoint to the Gulf through which 20 percent of the world’s oil flows.

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“We have to build a coalition to prevent what the Iranians are doing in the Gulf, which is to inhibit or undermine the freedom of commerce and trade and freedom of navigation,” an official told reporters as Pompeo flew from the Saudi port of Jeddah to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The coalition would provide “both material and financial” support “to have eyes on all the shipping”, the official said.

Pompeo’s trip comes as Trump, who often complains of other nations freeloading on the United States, called on Asian nations in particular to do more to ensure safe passage of oil from the Gulf.

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The US official said that the coalition concept, which is in its infancy, could involve foreign militaries but that their task would be to observe, not to escort commercial ships.

“It’s not about shooting at people. It’s about shooting pictures of Iranians,” the official said.

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Pompeo met in Jeddah with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who last week was linked by a UN investigator to the killing and dismemberment of US-based dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.

The US officials said they did not know if Pompeo raised the issue with Prince Mohammed.


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‘A coward and a commander’: New Lincoln Project ad contrasts Trump with James Mattis

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On Friday, the conservative anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project released a new attack ad against President Donald Trump — this time using the criticism of his former Defense Secretary James Mattis, and comparing and contrasting their leadership ability.

"This is the story of a coward and a commander," said the ad's narrator. "The coward Trump dodged the draft. Jim Mattis led American troops for forty years. While a frightened Trump hides from protesters in a deep bunker firing off tweets, Jim Mattis does what he's always done: Leads. While Donald Trump angrily attacks, General Mattis' words deserve to be heard by every American."

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NFL Commissioner Goodell apologizes for league’s indifference to players’ protests against racism

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On Friday, CNN reported that National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell is acknowledging his organization turned a blind eye when his athletes took a knee to protest racism and police violence, and issued a formal apology.

"We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," Goodell said in a newly released Instagram video. "It has been a difficult time for our country. In particular, black people in our country. First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all the families who have endured police brutality."

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Earth Has Hottest May on Record

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"This is unquestionably an alarming sign."

The Earth just experienced its hottest May on record, scientists said Friday—just a day after it was announced that atmospheric CO2 levels hit a new high.

Scientists at Europe's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) announced the temperature record Friday. The agency said that globally, last month 0.63°C warmer than the 1981-2020 average for May. That tops the previous warmest May, which occurred in 2016, by 0.05°C.

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