Germany rejects US call to leave Iran nuclear deal

                                    By Ayhan Simsek</p>  <p>MUNICH (AA) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected U.S. calls to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and cancel a controversial gas pipeline project with Russia.</p>  <p>Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Merkel criticized Iran’s policies towards Israel, its ballistic missile program and its involvement in Syria and Yemen, but she also defended the nuclear deal with Tehran.</p>  <p>“Would canceling the only remaining agreement with Iran help our common goal to contain its negative impact?” Merkel asked, and reaffirmed that Germany will stay in the deal signed in 2015.</p>  <p>Her remarks came after the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called on European allies to leave the deal and join Washington’s diplomatic and economic pressure campaign against Iran.</p>  <p>Merkel also dismissed U.S. calls to stop the construction of Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would carry Russian gas to Germany directly across the Baltic Sea.</p>  <p>She argued that Nord Stream 2 pipeline would not make Europe dependent on Russia, as Europe has many energy terminals to receive more LNG from the U.S.</p>  <p>“As Germany will phase out coal and nuclear power, we will certainly be an interesting market for the natural gas in the next couple of years,” she said.  </p>  <p>Merkel also warned that abandoning trade deals with Russia would make other powers like China to benefit from this.

US policy on Syria 'mystery': French FM

                            Yusuf Ozcan</p>  <p>PARIS (AA) - France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday the U.S policy on Syria is a &quot;mystery&quot;. 

“How can one be very firm against Iran and at the same time abandon northeast Syria, when one knows that in the end it favors Iranian activities in the region?” Le Drian said at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

"It's a mystery to me," he added.

In December, Trump made a surprise announcement that the U.S. would be withdrawing all troops from Syria, and said Daesh had been defeated in the country.

Since then, no troops have been withdrawn, however, last month the Pentagon confirmed additional troops were being sent to protect American forces and equipment as they prepare to leave.

Suspect sought by Interpol nabbed in central Turkey

By Savas Guler

KONYA, Turkey (AA) – A suspect sought by Interpol for alleged killing four Russians in Germany was arrested in central Turkey, security sources said on Thursday.

Interpol issued a search warrant on the suspect identified as Ali Tecim as he allegedly killed four Russian citizens in Germany in 2012.

Tecim was apprehended after police conducted a raid at the location that he was hidden in the Selcuklu district of central Konya province.

He was later remanded into custody.

Turkey welcomes Germany’s actions against PKK

             BERLIN (AA) - Turkey on Thursday welcomed Germany’s recent decision to ban two major propaganda outlets controlled by the PKK terror group. </p>    <p>“This a is step in the right direction,” Turkish embassy in Berlin said in a statement, adding that Turkey expected further steps from German authorities to curb the propaganda, recruitment and fund-raising activities of the terrorist organization. </p>    <p>German Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday that the Germany-based Mesopotamia publishing house and the MIR multimedia company were banned and dissolved, as they were functioning as sub-organizations of the PKK. </p>    <p>They were spreading PKK propaganda by publishing books, preparing multimedia content, organizing music concerts and cultural events. </p>    <p>The PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993 but it is still active with nearly 14,500 followers among the immigrant population, and uses the country as a platform for their fund-raising, recruitment and propaganda activities. </p>  <p>The group waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years and has been responsible for the death of nearly 40,000 people.</p>    <p>It is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

Tottenham to host Dortmund in Champions League

             By Can Erozden</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - London-based football club Tottenham Hotspur will take on German opponents Borussia Dortmund in the round 16 matches of UEFA Champions League on Wednesday without their English aces.</p>    <p>Tottenham regulars in the offense, Dele Alli and Harry Kane are likely to miss the battle against Dortmund at Wembley Stadium in London due to injury problems.</p>    <p>Attacking midfielder Alli, 22, sustained thigh muscle strain on Jan. 20, missing seven matches since then.</p>    <p>Tottenham striker Kane, 25, was troubled by an ankle injury keeping him out for a month.</p>    <p>&quot;Harry Kane would be missed by any team because of the quality he has. It's a shame he's not able to play and help us but I think that, after qualifying, we have a lot of skill on the pitch to be able to play a great match like in the group stages without Kane,&quot; Tottenham's Brazilian forward Lucas Moura told the UEFA.com.</p>    <p>Meanwhile visitors Dortmund's German star Marco Reus, 29, won't be on the pitch today due to his groin muscle injury.</p>    <p>In addition to Reus, Spanish forward of Dortmund, Paco Alcacer is having shoulder problems. Alcacer is likely to miss the Tottenham clash.</p>    <p>The first leg between the sides will be held at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.</p>    <p>The return match will be played on March 5 in Dortmund.</p>  <p> </p>    <p>- Wednesday's first leg matches of last 16 are as follows:</p>      <p>Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund</p>    <p>Ajax v Real Madrid

Syria constitution body should be inclusive: Germany

                   By Ayhan Simsek</p>    <p>BERLIN (AA) - A committee tasked with drafting a new constitution for Syria should be balanced and inclusive of all Syrians, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Tuesday. </p>    <p>Speaking to reporters ahead of his meeting with UN special envoy Geir Pedersen, Maas underlined that Germany, a member of the Small Group on Syria, would continue to support efforts for the formation of Syria's constitutional committee. </p>    <p>&quot;The convening of a constitutional committee should be a door opener for further political changes in Syria. A balanced and inclusive composition of the constitutional committee is a prerequisite for its success,&quot; he stressed. </p>    <p><br>
  • 'We need to build trust'

    UN special envoy Pedersen stressed that there was an urgent need for a new beginning in Syria to achieve progress in political efforts to find a solution.

    "We need to build trust between the different communities and make sure that we move forward in parallel with the political process," he said.

    Pedersen also underlined that the beginning of the constitutional committee's work would play a key role in the process.

"Hopefully it would be a door opener for the political process for Syria," he said, but added that there were "still some issues that need to be sorted out".

Germany bans PKK’s propaganda outlets

      BERLIN (AA) - Germany has banned two major propaganda outlets controlled by the PKK terrorist organization, the country's interior ministry announced on Tuesday. </p>  <p>The Mesopotamia publishing house and the MIR multimedia company were banned and dissolved as they were functioning as sub-organizations of the PKK terrorist group, the ministry said in a statement. </p>  <p>The PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993 but it is still active with nearly 14,500 followers. </p>  <p>Officially known as the “Mezopotamien Verlag”, the Germany-based publishing house has been a major propaganda outlet of the terrorist organization. It has published books of the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan and other propaganda materials of the terrorist group. <br> </p> <p>MIR was spreading PKK’s propaganda by preparing multimedia content, organizing music concerts and cultural events. </p>  <p>Turkey has long urged German authorities to take stricter measures against the propaganda, recruitment and fundraising activities of the group. <br> </p> <p>The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years and has been responsible for the death of nearly 40,000 people.

Germany downgrades participation in Warsaw summit

                     By Ayhan Simsek </p>  <p>BERLIN (AA) - Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will not attend a controversial Middle East conference co-hosted by the U.S. and Poland in Warsaw, officials confirmed Monday. </p>  <p>“Foreign Minister Maas will not attend the Middle East conference in Warsaw,” a German diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity told Anadolu Agency. </p>  <p>He said Deputy Foreign Minister Niels Annen will attend the conference on Feb. 13 - 14 </p>  <p>The U.S. and Poland announced the international ministerial meeting would discuss peace and security in the Middle East, and critical issues such as terrorism, missile development and proliferation.</p>  <p>But recent remarks by senior U.S. and Polish officials have led to speculations about an attempt to build an anti-Iran coalition. </p>  <p>U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed the focus of the conference would be on Iran, while Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz confirmed Iranian officials were not invited. </p>  <p>Iran has denounced the meeting, with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif saying it looked like a “desperate anti-Iranian circus”. </p>  <p>Nearly 50 countries, including Israel and several Arab states, reportedly confirmed their participation in the conference, which is officially known as the “Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East”. </p>  <p>U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the conference. </p>  <p> 

Merkel: Syria top priority for German intelligence

                       By Ayhan Simsek </p>  <p>  <p>BERLIN (AA) - Syria will continue to be one of the key issues for Germany’s intelligence service BND, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday. </p>  <p>Merkel said the Daesh terror group was diminished but not yet defeated at the opening ceremonies of BND headquarters in Berlin </p>  <p>“It is rather conducting an asymmetric warfare, and remains a threat,” she stressed. </p>  <p>Merkel criticized major powers for turning Syria into a scene of proxy wars. </p>  <p>“Unfortunately we are still far away from peace in Syria nearly eight years after the outbreak of the conflict,” she said. </p>  <p>Merkel stressed her government would continue its efforts for a political solution in Syria, and would rely on information obtained by BND about major actors and the situation on the ground. </p>  <p> </p>  <p>-Hybrid war </p>  <p>The German Chancellor named “cyber threats” as another key issue for BND in the coming years. </p>  <p>“Protecting our IT structures is becoming more and more important,” Merkel said, and added countering hybrid warfare and fake news would be decisive for Germany’s security in near future. </p>  <p>BND’s new headquarters was officially opened Friday after 11 years of construction. 

The government has spent more than €1 billion for the complex which houses nearly 4,000 personnel.