US sanctions on Venezuela may worsen crisis: UN

By Bayram Altug

GENEVA (AA) – The UN human rights chief warned Wednesday that the U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan oil companies could aggravate the country's economic crisis.

Michelle Bachelet said that the recent U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan oil firms may worsen Venezuela's economic situation and "contribute to aggravating the economic crisis".

Speaking to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Bachelet stated that the recent power outage in Venezuela hurt people's access to food, water and medical care.

Venezuela is in the throes of a humanitarian and political crisis.

National Assembly President Juan Guaido declared himself the country's interim president in January, insisting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro step down.

The U.S. and dozens of other nations have recognized Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader as Maduro insists he is the target of a U.S.-orchestrated coup.

The political stalemate comes as Venezuela grapples with a worsening economic crisis that has led to widespread shortages of goods throughout the country and seen Venezuela's national power grid collapse for a week.

Venezuela's economy has been in precipitous decline following a global downturn in the price of crude oil, the country's main export.

Turkey, Russia, Iran, Cuba, China and Bolivia have maintained their support for Maduro.

Washington has led an international campaign to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Maduro, including sanctioning the country's state-owned oil company and blacklisting Venezuelan officials who have remained loyal to him.

*Writing by Can Erozden

UPDATE – Trump says intent on giving Brazil NATO upgrade

            ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT, CHANGES HEADLINE

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is intent on designating Brazil as a "major non-NATO ally," a status upgrade the Latin American nation has been seeking for some time.

Trump further teased during a joint press conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the White House that he is also looking into Brazil's inclusion as a full NATO member country.

In earlier remarks Trump said the United States is looking "very strongly" at granting Brazil some NATO privileges, saying his administration is "very inclined to do that."

"We are going to look at that very, very strongly in terms of whether it’s NATO or something having to do with alliance," he said.

Should Brazil clear the lengthy process of ascension it would become the first Latin American nation to join NATO. All of the 29 NATO allies are in North America and Europe.

Trump has long been a critic of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, calling on other member states to shoulder more of its defense burden by increasing military spending.

The president further said he is supporting Brazil's bid to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a multinational organization geared towards bolstering economic development.

US pledges $500,000 in security assistance to Libya

                <p>By Walid Abdullah</p>    <p>TRIPOLI (AA) - The U.S. on Tuesday pledged $500,000 in security assistance to Libya's UN-backed National Accord Government.</p>    <p>U.S. Ambassador to Tripoli Peter Bodde and AFRICOM Commander Gen. Thomas Waldhauser met Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in the capital Tripoli.</p>    <p>The U.S. officials &quot;affirmed Washington's support for Libya as a unified, secure, and prosperous state under a government that can serve the Libyan people,&quot; the U.S. Embassy in Libya said in a statement.</p>    <p>The financial aid comes &quot;in rapid-response non-lethal assistance in support of Ministry of Interior efforts to strengthen the capacity of the Tripoli Security Directorate,&quot; the statement said. </p>    <p>&quot;This new assistance complements the United States’ $30 million in ongoing security assistance in support of Government of National Accord priorities,&quot; it added.</p>    <p>Libya has remained beset by violence turmoil since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in power.</p>    <p>Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power -- one in Al-Bayda (with which Haftar is affiliated) and another in Tripoli -- along with a host of heavily-armed militia groups. </p> 

Trump says looking at giving Brazil NATO privileges

            By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - The United States is looking &quot;very strongly&quot; at granting Brazil some NATO privileges, President Donald Trump said Tuesday.</p>  <p>&quot;We're very inclined to do that,&quot; Trump told reporters at the White House, where he was meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. &quot;We are going to look at that very, very strongly in terms of whether it’s NATO or something having to do with alliance.&quot;</p>  <p>The president did not elaborate on which privileges he is weighing, and his comments appear to leave open the option that whatever is under consideration could be a bilateral benefit separate from the transatlantic alliance. </p>  <p>Trump has long been a critic of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, calling on other member states to shoulder more of its defense burden by increasing military spending.</p>  <p>Brazil, however, has been seeking an upgrade within the alliance to the status of &quot;major non-NATO ally&quot;.</p>  <p>The president further said he is supporting Brazil's bid to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a multinational organization geared towards bolstering economic advancement. </p>  <p>Trump and Bolsonaro are expected to discuss trade, the situation in Venezuela and other matters during their meeting. The leaders are also slated to address the media later Tuesday during a joint press conference.

Basketball: Turkey to face US in 2019 FIBA World Cup

By Can Erozden

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey men's basketball team will meet Czech Republic, the U.S. and Japan in the 2019 FIBA World Cup group stage.

The 2019 FIBA World Cup draws were held in China's Shenzhen on Saturday.

Turkey is in the same group a world famous basketball powerhouse Team USA.

The tournament will be held in China from Aug. 31 and Sept. 15.

Turkey will play in Group E in Shanghai.

Group leaders and runners-up will qualify for the World Cup's second round.

  • 2019 FIBA World Cup groups:

Group A: Ivory Coast, Poland, Venezuela, China

Group B: Russia, Argentina, South Korea, Nigeria

Group C: Spain, Iran, Puerto Rico, Tunisia

Group D: Angola, Philippines, Italy, Serbia

Group E: Turkey, Czech Republic, USA, Japan

Group F: Greece, New Zealand, Brazil, Montenegro

Group G: Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Jordan

Group H: Canada, Senegal, Lithuania, Australia

Turkish, US defense ministers discuss Syria

                             By Sarp Ozer</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - In a phone call Thursday, Turkey’s defense minister spoke with his U.S. counterpart, according to an official Turkish statement.</p>  <p>The conversation between Turkey’s Hulusi Akar and Patrick Shanahan, the acting U.S. defense secretary, addressed recent developments in Syria.</p>  <p>The call also touched on defense ties between the two countries, said a Turkish Defense Ministry statement.

In recent months Turkey and the U.S. have been discussing coordination over the pullout of U.S. military forces from Syria.

Turkey's purchase of U.S. F-35 fighter planes has also been up for discussion, with U.S. officials suggesting Turkey's acquisition of Russian S-400 missile defense might endanger the deal.

Turkish officials have said they will not tolerate any interference in what weapons it buys for the nation's defense.

  • Writing by Beyza Binnur Donmez

F-35 jets to be delivered to Turkey in November

By Sarp Ozer

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Thursday F-35 fighter jets from the U.S. are expected to be delivered in November.

"Despite some statements, the process of procuring F-35 jets is working fine. Our pilots and maintenance team continue training in the U.S.," Akar told reporters.

"We expect delivery of F-35s in November to [Turkey's eastern] Malatya province. Infrastructure preparations in Malatya have been completed," Akar added.

Ankara is planning to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets from the U.S. pending congressional approval, and its pilots are currently training on the weapons platform at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

Turkish firms also supply the F-35 program with key components, including airframe structures and assemblies, and the center fuselages.

  • Writing by Vakkas Dogantekin

UN stresses equal rights on International Women's Day

             By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres kicked off International Women's Day on Friday by saying that there has been progress on women's rights, but obstacles remain from an &quot;entrenched patriarchy.&quot;</p>  <p>He highlighted the need for an increased number of women decision-makers, and mentioned the UN has placed more women in senior management positions than ever before.</p>  <p>&quot;We live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture,” Guterres said in a statement, “Only when we see women’s rights as our common objective, a route to change that benefits everyone, will we begin to shift the balance.”</p>  <p>The United States also stressed the importance of the fight for women's rights, and highlighted different initiatives taken to help.</p>  <p>U.S. President Donald Trump's administration said the introduction of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, which is structured to help &quot;at least 50 million women in developing countries fully and freely participate in their local economies by 2025.</p>  <p>&quot;Women’s participation in the workforce, free of discrimination and injustice, results in safer, stronger, and freer nations,&quot; the White House said in a statement.</p>  <p>Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged barriers to women's equality still existed throughout the world, and said the U.S. strives for a world in which women are able to &quot;realize their full potential.&quot;</p>  <p>Only six economies in the world offer equal rights for both men and women in work-related matters, according to the World Bank. The UN estimates it would take 170 years to close the economic gender gap.</p>  <p>One in three women are likely to face violence in their lifetimes, Guterres said. And public infrastructure systems are rarely planned with women’s safety and mobility in mind, according to research by UN Women.</p>  <p>An estimated 740 million women have limited access to social protection, public services and infrastructure that could increase their productivity and income security. </p>  <p>On top of that, the UN says that in areas where the homicide rates are decreasing overall, the femicide rates are increasing.