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Saturday, December 5, 2020

World briefs: Rohingyas shipped to lone island; EU, U.K. trade deal talks are ‘paused’; Saudis: End to Qatar boycott ‘in reach’; Bus goes off bridge in Brazil, killing 14

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 

COMPILED FROM NEWS SERVICES
Decenber 5,2020


Authorities in Bangladesh on Friday sent the first group of more than 1,500 Rohingya refugees to an isolated island despite protests by human rights groups.

The 1,642 refugees boarded seven Bangladeshi naval vessels in the port of Chittagong for the trip to Bhashan Char, according to an official.

After about a three-hour trip, they arrived at the island, which was once regularly submerged by monsoon rains but now has flood protection embankments, houses, hospitals and mosques built at a cost of more than $112 million by the Bangladesh navy.

Located 21 miles from the mainland, the island surfaced only 20 years ago and was never inhabited.

EU, U.K. trade deal talks are ‘paused’

The European Union and the United Kingdom said Friday that their talks for a post-Brexit trade deal are “paused” due to a stubborn impasse over key issues with only weeks left before a deadline that risks huge economic disruption.

After a week of intensive talks, both sides agreed “that the conditions for an agreement are not met” at present, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and British counterpart David Frost wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson are to speak Saturday afternoon to discuss the state of negotiations, Mr. Barnier and Mr. Frost said.

The U.K. and EU are running out of time to reach a deal that would cover terms of trade but also police and justice cooperation and social security arrangements. The U.K. left the bloc formally at the end of January but is still in the EU single market until Dec. 31.

Saudis: End to Qatar boycott ‘in reach’

Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat said Friday that an end to the yearslong boycott of Qatar by the kingdom and three other Arab nations “looks in reach” for all involved, although he offered no details on how this feud would be resolved.

The remarks by Saudi Prince Faisal bin Farhan followed comments earlier in the day from Kuwait, which has been mediating in the dispute and which said that ongoing talks over the crisis have been “fruitful.”

Resolving the dispute could restore calm among nations at the heart of American defense strategy in the Middle East, especially as tensions remain high with Iran and as President-elect Joe Biden is poised to enter the White House.

However, the three other nations boycotting Qatar — Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — did not immediately acknowledge this burst of optimism.

Bus goes off bridge in Brazil, killing 14

A bus careened off an overpass in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais on Friday, killing at least 10 people, according to the Twitter account of the federal highway police in that state.

Images aired by local media showed the smoking bus on its side atop train tracks beside the Piracicaba River after falling about 50 feet.

Radio station CBN said the death toll had reached 14, and more than 20 people were injured.

First Published December 5, 2020, 5:36am

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