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US Congress Passes Funding Bill To Reopen Government After Hours-long Shutdown

New Delhi: The US Congress has passed a crucial federal spending bill after hours of delay, sending the measure for President Donald Trump's signature to end the nation's second government shutdown in three weeks.

The House voted 240 to 186 in support of a bipartisan package that extends funding until March 23, and which will reopen government hours after a conservative senator forced Congress to miss a midnight deadline, sparking the shutdown.

Trump supports the measure and is expected to sign it into law on Friday, ending a serious and embarrassing drama on Capitol Hill over federal spending.

118

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Shuns European Diplomats

New Delhi: Maldives President Abdulla Yameen refused on Thursday to meet senior European diplomats who were the first foreign dignitaries to visit the troubled nation since his crackdown on the islands' judiciary.

Envoys from the European Union, Germany and Britain arrived in the capital after top judges and several other dissidents were arrested this week, as Yameen appeared to gain the upper hand in a bitter power struggle.

The tiny island nation has been grappling with a political crisis after the president refused to obey a Supreme Court order to release nine political prisoners and declared a state of emergency.

98

China Opposes External Intervention In Maldives With India In Mind

New Delhi: China has strongly disapproved any external intervention in the political turmoil in the Maldives. 

The statement is apparently aimed at India because Maldives opposition leaders have been seeking Indian military intervention to preserve democracy in the island nation.

"The international community should play a constructive role on the basis of respecting the sovereignty of the Maldives rather than take actions that may further complicate the situation," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said without mentioning India.

76

Iran President Hassan Rouhani Says Firm No To Negotiations Over Missiles

New Delhi: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has said that negotiations on the country's missiles programme were out of the question.

"We will negotiate with no one on our weapons," said Rouhani in a press conference in Tehran.

"Iranian-made missiles have never been offensive and never will be. They are defensive and are not designed to carry weapons of mass destruction, since we don't have any," he said.

He reiterated that the nuclear deal signed in 2015 with six world powers could not be renegotiated, despite threats from US President Donald Trump to re-impose sanctions unless fresh curbs were put on Iran's missiles and regional behaviour.

75

Jadhav Faces Trial Again On Terrorism And Sabotage Charges In Pak

New Delhi: KulbhushanJadhav, who was convicted and sentenced to death last year by a Pakistani military court over alleged espionage charges, is now undergoing trial on terrorism and sabotage charges, according to a leading Pakistani newspaper.  

Quoting an official, the report said that Jadhav has multiple cases filed against him, in which he had been indicted on charges related to terrorism and subversive activities. "The cases are progressing and only one relating to spying had so far concluded," the official said.

According to the Pakistan government, it had sought access to 13 Indian officials to ascertain information in the Jadhav case but New Delhi has remained "uncooperative".