The United States will maintain its pressure campaign on Iran and continue to deter aggression in the Gulf region but does not want the conflict with Tehran to escalate, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.

"We have been engaged in many messages, even this moment right here, communicating to Iran that we are there to deter aggression," Pompeo told reporters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

He travelled to the base after the Pentagon announced the deployment of an additional 1,000 US troops to the region.

Pompeo said he made the trip to visit commanders in Florida to ensure that Washington's diplomatic and military efforts were coordinated.

"President [Donald] Trump does not want war and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region," he said. Both the US and Iran have previously said they do not seek war with each other.

"Now we need to make sure that we continue to do that so that we ultimately we get the opportunity to convince Iran that it's not in their best interest to behave in this way," Pompeo added. 

 

He said the Trump administration would "do the right thing" as it relates to Iran, which is to make clear that the US is serious. 

"We all have to remember this isn't just two and a half years or five years this is 40 years of Iranian activity that has led us to this point," Pompeo said.

Hormuz attacks

Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the US have grown since Washington blamed longtime foe Iran for last week's attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane.

Washington blamed Tehran for a similar attack on May 12 off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

Iran has vehemently denied any involvement, hinting that the US may have carried out the latest suspected attack in order to apply extra pressure on Tehran on top of the crippling sanctions it reimposed over the past year. 

Washington has tightened sanctions on Tehran and moved to cut its oil production to zero in the year since it exited a landmark multi-lateral accord between Iran and world powers. The deal offered Iran relief from global sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.

 

In an interview with Time magazine released on Tuesday, Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from having a nuclear bomb, but left open whether he would sanction the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies.

He said the suspected attacks on tankers so far had "been very minor".

Pompeo called on "every nation" to do its part to protect the shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz.

"The United States is prepared to do its part, but every nation that has a deep interest in protecting that shipping lane so that energy can move around the world and support their economies," he said.

The United Nations, European Union and several allies of the US and Iran have urged both sides to show restraint, with the UN warning that the world cannot afford a "major confrontation in the Gulf".

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Trump announced that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan had withdrawn from consideration to head the US military.

The US has said the secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, will be named as the new acting defence secretary.


 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

Secretary-General of the Kurdistan Islamic Union, on Tuesday, received a high-level delegation of the Kurdistan Islamic Group in the city of Sulaymaniyah.

Salahadin Muhammad Bahaaudin received Ali Bapeer head of the Islamic Group and his accompanying delegation in the office of the Political Council of the Kurdistan Islamic Union in the city of Sulaymaniyah.

The two sides discussed the relations between the two parties and the political developments in the Kurdistan region, Iraq and the region.

Kurdistan Islamic Union bloc in the Parliament of Kurdistan, on Tuesday, received a delegation from the Kurdistan Islamic Group.

Deputy head of the bloc Ismael Skeiri received a delegation from Kirkuk Center for the Kurdistan Islamic Group, which is visiting the Parliament of Kurdistan on behalf of 12 Kurdish parties in Kirkuk.

The Kurdistan Islamic Union bloc received from the delegation a memorandum from the Kurdish parties in Kirkuk, demanding the blocs of the Parliament of Kurdistan to visit Kirkuk to get a closer look at the process of Arabization in the province.

For his part, Ismail Skeiri expressed the readiness of the Kurdistan Islamic Union bloc to do its full duties to serve the city of Kirkuk and its people.

Secretary-General of the Kurdistan Islamic Union, on Tuesday, sent a message of condolence to the death of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Salahaddin Muhammad Bahaauddin said in a tweet on Twitter, that "the death of the legitimate president of Egypt and imprisoned unjustly, shook the hearts of all believers in the world."

"we have received the news of the death of the legitimate president of Egypt ," Secretary-General said "on this sad occasion I extend my condolences to the fimily of the martyr".

The United Nations human rights office called on Tuesday for an independent investigation into the death of Egypt’s former President Mohamed Mursi, saying it should encompass all aspects of his treatment during nearly six years in custody.

Egypt’s Islamist ex-president was buried in a small family ceremony early on Tuesday a day after he suffered a fatal heart attack in court, his sons said, as supporters posted messages of grief and anger.

“Concerns have been raised regarding the conditions of Mr. Mursi’s detention, including access to adequate medical care, as well as sufficient access to his lawyers and family, during his nearly six years in custody. He also appears to have been held in prolonged solitary confinement,” U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said in a statement.

“The investigation should be carried out by a judicial or other competent authority that is independent of the detaining authority and mandated to conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations into the circumstances and causes of his death,” he said.

Prime Minister in charge of forming the Kurdistan Regional Government Masrour Barzani, expressed his hope to complete the formation of the new government, before the start of the parliament's parliamentary recess, on June 30.

"We came today to Sulaymaniyah and visited the Patriotic Union to discuss participation in the new government in order to identify the candidates for the ministries and submit their curricula vitae to us to present them to the parliament," Barzani told a joint news conference in Sulaymaniyah.

Prime Minister-designate visited Sulaymaniyah on Monday met with the Patriotic Union, the Change Movement and the Socialist Party and held talks on the formation of the new government.

Canada's Quebec province has passed acontroversial law banning some public sector employees from wearing religious symbols during work hours, prompting an outcry from civil liberties and Muslim groups.

The long-expected legislation, Bill 21, which was passed by 73 to 35 in the predominantly French-speaking province on Sunday, affects public workers in positions of authority, including teachers, judges and police officers, but it exempts current government employees and civil servants.

If employers do not enforce the ban, they will face unspecified "disciplinary measures". 

For school teachers, local media reported that only those hired after March 28 will not be allowed to wear religious symbols. However, if a teacher hired before March 28 wishes to be promoted, he or she would not be allowed to wear any religious symbols.  

Governments in Quebec have been trying for years to restrict civil servants from wearing overt religious symbols at work in an effort to cement a secular society. 

 

Simon Jolin-Barrette, Quebec's immigration minister, argued in a statement on Monday that "it is legitimate for the Quebec nation to decide in which form secularism applies in its territory and in its institutions".

It was not clear how the ban would be enforced.

"Will there be police officers going after people to check if they have religious signs? We don't know. It's not clear," said Sol Zanetti, a member of the National Assembly.

'Politics of fear'

The move of the province's centre-right Coalition Avenir Quebec government comes in conflict with the position of Canada's President Justin Trudeau, who promotes religious freedom. 

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Quebec introduces bill banning religious symbols

Civil liberties and Muslim groups on Monday vowed to challenge the new law, arguing it triggered the "politics of fear".

"We will be filing a challenge to the law," said Mustafa Farooq, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

"I think Bill 21 is a law that will do irreparable harm to communities in Quebec," Farooq said. 

"This creates a second-class citizenship," he said, adding that the group would seek a court injunction to block the law that he called "a recipe for the politics of fear".

The Muslim Association of Canada also denounced the law, saying Muslim women would be "unjustly targeted" and that it would give "further rise to Islamophobia".

 

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

The Political Council of the Kurdistan Islamic Union, Monday, in Erbil received a delegation from the Democratic Union Party in western Kurdistan.

In this regard, Head of the Political Council of the Kurdistan Islamic Union Khalil Ibrahim at a press conference announced that the meeting with the delegation of the Democratic Union Party was fruitful and dealt with several issues of common interest.

Ibrahim added that the meeting dealt with the events taking place in Syria in general and in the West of Kurdistan (Kurdistan of Syria) and the situation of the Kurds in Syria. The meeting also pointed to the need for active participation of the Kurds in drafting the new constitution for Syria.

He stressed that the two sides highlighted the need for national reconciliation and peace between all parties and Kurdish parties and work on the unity of the Kurdish to face external threats.

Prime Minister-designate for the formation of the new government of the Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani, Monday, announced the granting portfolio of the Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal in the new government to the Kurdistan Social Democratic Party.

Barzani said in a joint press conference held with the Head of the Kurdistan Social Democratic Party, Mohammed Haj Mahmoud today in Sulaymaniyah: "We visited the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Political Bureau of the Kurdistan Social Democratic Party to discuss the formation of the new government of the Kurdistan Region."

He added that "the Kurdistan Democratic Socialist Party will receive the post of Minister of Martyrs and Anfal and we wish success."

The Iraqi Electoral Commission, Monday, announced the agreement to determine 20th of April next date for the provincial elections.

Member of the Board of Commissioners Hazem al-Ridini said in a statement to state television that "it was agreed to determine 20th of April next date for the provincial elections."

The cabinet voted on May 21 to set the date for the provincial elections after the completion of the work of the Electoral Commission and the House of Representatives.

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