President lauds Slovakian Ambassador’s contributions

NDO/VNA – State President Tran Dai Quang hailed Austria’s outgoing Ambassador to Vietnam Thomas Loidl for his efforts to step up bilateral ties and introduce many Austrian businesses to Vietnam during his reception for the diplomat in Hanoi on August 29. He congratulated the diplomat on his very successful working term in Vietnam and wished that in any future positions, he would always be a close friend and work to foster the cooperation between Austria and Vietnam. The President was delighted at positive cooperation between the two countries across politics, diplomacy, trade-investment, development cooperation, education-training, healthcare and education. He cited the 2016 two-way trade value of US$2.8 billion, which is 10 percent more than 2015’s figure. Austria is the sixth largest European exporter of Vietnam. It is running 28 projects with a total registered capital of US$138 million in Vietnam, ranking 39th among 116 countries and territories investing in the country. He took the occasion to thank the Austrian Government for providing Official Development Assistance (ODA) in the fields of railways, healthcare and vocational training. Austria-funded programmes and projects have been productively contributing to Vietnam’s socio-economic development and international integration efforts. He suggested the two sides boosting visit exchanges, especially high-level ones, together with cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and coordinating in celebrations of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties to further the bilateral ties. He asked the diplomat to convey his invitation to visit Vietnam to President Alexander Van der Bellen.…... [read more]

President Tran Dai Quang (L) receives outgoing Ambassador Herminio Lopez Diaz on August 28 (Photo: VNA) Hanoi (VNA) – President Tran Dai Quang congratulated outgoing Ambassador Herminio Lopez Diaz on the latter’s successful term in Vietnam while receiving the Cuban diplomat in Hanoi on August 28. He said in the four-year tenure in Vietnam, Ambassador Diaz became a trustworthy bridge linking the two countries’ Party and State leaders and is also a close friend and effective partner of ministries, sectors, socio-political organisations and localities in Vietnam.  Vietnam-Cuba relations are special and exemplary ties set up by late Presidents Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro and nurtured by generations of leaders and people of the two countries. The Vietnamese Party, State and people always keep in mind Fidel Castro’s contributions to bilateral relations, President Quang said. “Cuba is always deep in the heart of each Vietnamese people,” he stressed. He expressed his delight at the thriving solidarity, comprehensive cooperation and mutual trust between the Vietnamese and Cuba Parties, States and people, congratulating the Latin American country on its socio-economic and diplomatic achievements over the past years, particularly in the update of its economic model. The President affirmed the Vietnamese Party, State and people’s consistent support to Cuba in all spheres, adding that they are ready to share all experience in the three decades of reforms with Cuba. [NA leader lauds ambassador’s efforts to tighten Vietnam-Cuba links] On this occasion, he also asked…... [read more]

When Alexander Vinnik was arrested on money-laundering charges at a Greek hotel in late July, the status of his Jabber secure online messaging account was set to “away”. FILE PHOTO: Alexander Vinnik, a 38 year old Russian man (L) suspected of running a money laundering operation, is escorted by a plain-clothes police officer to a court in Thessaloniki, Greece July 26, 2017. “He often takes some time to reply, so at first I didn’t think anything of it,” said one person who knew the Russian as an administrator of a digital currency exchange which U.S. prosecutors say was used to launder criminal funds. “Then when I saw his picture on the news, I knew he would be ’away’ for a long time,” said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The U.S. Justice Department says Vinnik facilitated crimes including computer hacking, fraud and drug trafficking by laundering at least $4 billion through BTC-e -- an exchange used to trade bitcoin and other digital currencies -- since 2011. The 37-year-old faces up to 55 years in prison if extradited to the United States. He denies the allegations against him, according to Greek media reports, and BTC-e has said he never worked for the exchange. Reuters was unable to reach BTC-e or a lawyer representing Vinnik for comment. Vinnik is now one of seven Russians arrested or indicted on U.S. cyber crime charges this year. On average, just two Russian cyber criminals were extradited to the United States each year between…... [read more]

British officials arrive in Brussels on Monday to push the EU towards talks about their post-Brexit ties, which the bloc refuses to do without an agreement first on London's exit bill and other divorce issues. Chief Brexit negotiators, the EU's Michel Barnier and Britain's David Davis, will meet at 1500 GMT before more talks on Tuesday and Wednesday convene on technical level on expatriate rights, divorce bill and "other separation issues". Senior officials will also tackle the conundrum of the future border between EU state Ireland and the United Kingdom's Northern Ireland, and a news conference is due on Thursday, according to a schedule published by Brussels. Britain will present in detail its several papers released last week on issues ranging from customs arrangements to data sharing. They have often ventured out into the future relationship between London and what will become a 27-state EU. Britain will be urging the bloc to show "imagination" and focus discussion on these future ties rather than just on the divorce settlement. On Sunday, the opposition Labour Party said it would keep Britain in the European single market and customs union for a transitional period after Brexit, offering a clear alternative to the policies of Prime Minister Theresa May. The bloc wants to settle chief separation aspects first and has already signalled the slow progress so far means jumpstarting talks about a new accord with Britain is now less likely in October, as had been expected. "Both the UK and the EU have…... [read more]

MTV's glitzy awards show took a political turn Sunday at a tense time in the United States, with the music world's top stars taking aim at white supremacists and President Donald Trump. The Video Music Awards, generally watched more for pop culture moments than for news of the winners, also gave Taylor Swift a platform to show off a new, darker image as she premiered her new video. Pop superstar Katy Perry, the host of the gala, floated onto the stage in Los Angeles in a spacesuit reminiscent of the awards' "Moonman" statuette -- rechristened "Moon Person" as part of a gender-neutral drive this year. MTV merged its male and female categories for the awards and invited a number of transgender US servicepeople to watch the show -- two days after Trump ordered a ban on new transgender recruits in the military. Perry, one of the most vocal celebrity campaigners for defeated candidate Hillary Clinton, took aim at Trump as she urged fans to choose a winner in a category that remained open to online voting. "This is one election where the popular vote actually matters," Perry quipped. "But hurry up before some random Russian pop star wins." Paris Jackson, a model and the daughter of the late "King of Pop" Michael Jackson, took aim at the white supremacists who marched on August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia. "We must show these Nazis," she said, "that we have zero tolerance for their violence and hatred." The mother of Heather Heyer,…... [read more]

Two million Muslims from across the globe are converging on Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the hajj pilgrimage, a religious duty and for some pilgrims the journey of a lifetime. This year sees the return of pilgrims from Shiite Iran, regional rival to Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia, and comes with the Gulf mired in political crisis and Islamic State group jihadists squeezed in Iraq and Syria. "I'm so excited because many people dream of coming to this place," said 47-year-old Eni from Indonesia, her face framed in a sand-coloured veil trimmed with lace. "We feel more religious when we leave this place," she said. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, and it also provides the largest number of pilgrims for the hajj. Eni's compatriots throng Jeddah airport 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of Mecca, as tens of thousands of pilgrims pass through the gateway to the hajj every day. But Eni is almost oblivious to the hubbub that surrounds her as she studies her Koran in the oppressive heat, pearls of sweat beading her face. "After my first pilgrimage I felt I wanted to come back to feel myself close to him," she said of the Prophet Mohammed before returning her attention to Islam's holy book. The hajj is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, which every Muslim is required to complete at least once in a lifetime if he or she has the means to do so. "This year we expect around two…... [read more]

Passengers' baggage is collected by robots, they relax in a luxurious waiting area complete with an indoor garden before getting a face scan and swiftly passing through security and immigration -- this could be the airport of the future. It's a vision that planners hope will become reality as new technology is rolled out, transforming the exhausting experience of getting stuck in lengthy queues in ageing, overcrowded terminals into something far more pleasant. The Asia-Pacific has been leading the way but faces fierce competition from the Middle East as major hubs compete to attract the growing number of long-haul travellers who can choose how to route their journey. The regions "are the two leading pockets of technology growth because they are really competing to be the global hubs for air transportation," Seth Young, director of the Center for Aviation Studies at Ohio State University, told AFP. "If I'm going to fly from New York to Bangalore, do I transfer through Abu Dhabi or Dubai or do I transfer through Hong Kong? That's a huge, huge market." But the changes also represent major challenges that could upend decades-old business models at major airports, with analysts warning operators may face a hit to their revenues to the tune of billions of dollars. Facial scanning in particular is generating a lot of buzz. Changi in the affluent city-state of Singapore, regarded as among the world's best airports, is set to roll out this biometric technology at a new terminal to open later…... [read more]

President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that the U.S. Congress must find a way to pay for his promised border wall, branding Mexico a hotbed of violent crime. And he warned both Mexico and Canada that if they continue to be "difficult" in trade talks, he may have to break off attempts to reform the NAFTA free trade pact. Both positions put Trump on a collision course with both skeptical U.S. lawmakers and neighboring capitals, but remain popular with his electoral base. "With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other," Trump tweeted. "We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada. Both being very difficult, may have to terminate?" Trump's positions on the wall and trade are well-known, and both were centerpieces of his campaign for the White House, but they may now run afoul of political reality. U.S. lawmakers return from their summer recess on September 5 needing to come up with a deal to fund the government and raise the federal debt ceiling. The Republican majority wants to cut taxes and pass a costly infrastructure bill, but Trump has threatened to trigger a government shutdown unless it funds his wall. During his campaign, Trump repeatedly insisted that the multi-billion-dollar cost of the wall would be borne by Mexico, an idea scornfully dismissed by Mexican officials. Now -- while this remains a centerpiece of his populist…... [read more]

NDO – President Tran Dai Quang congratulated Cuban Ambassador Herminio López Diaz on having successfully completed his working tenure in Vietnam, while hosting a reception for the diplomat in Hanoi on August 28. The State leader noted that during his four years working in Vietnam, the ambassador has been a trusted bridge between the leaders of the two Parties and States, as well as a close friend and an effective partner to Vietnam’s ministries, sectors, socio-political organisations and localities. He spoke highly of the constantly growing brotherly solidarity, comprehensive cooperation and mutual trust between the Parties, States and peoples of Vietnam and Cuba over the past few years, manifested through the regular mutual visits made by the two nations’ senior leaders, particularly through the sentiments of the Vietnamese Party, State and people offered to Cuba as their great leader Fidel Castro passed away last year. The bilateral cooperation mechanisms have been regularly implemented with practical contents across many channels, while the multilateral cooperation between the two countries has also been strengthened, with both sides coordinating and supporting each other at international organisations and multilateral forums, particularly the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement, President Quang stated. He recalled his fine impressions of Cuba during his visits there, affirming that the Vietnamese leaders and people will forever hold in their memory the huge contributions of the great leader Fidel Castro to the special and exemplary relations that exist between Vietnam and Cuba. The President congratulated the…... [read more]

Vietnam holds many advantages from the free trade agreements it has with other APEC members, according to Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and APEC 2017 SOM chairma Bui Thanh Son. AEPC representatives discussing issues on the sidelines of APEC-SOM 3. Photo: Le Toan “Joining free trade agreements (FTA) can help Vietnam access foreign markets and seek long-term and stable markets for local goods, particularly agro-forestry-fishery products, footwear, and electronics, and improve the competitiveness of Vietnamese businesses,” Son said at the Dialogue on RTAs and FTAs at the APEC-SOM 3 held on August 27 in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam has so far negotiated and signed 12 FTAs and is currently negotiating four others. Regarding the challenges faced by Vietnam when joining FTA, Deputy Minister Son underscored uncertainties of the global economy, further explaining that many economies still use both tariff and non-tariff tools to protect their domestic markets, thus hindering efforts towards trade liberalisation and market opening. “Benefits from RATs/FTAs are playing an important role in creating new motivation for economic, trade, and investment growth in the region,” Son said. For the past 30 years, RTAs/FTAs in the APEC region have flourished in number, scope of work, and sophistication. As of December 2016, 165 RTAs/FTAs signed by at least one APEC member economy have come into effect, 62 of them intra-APEC agreements. Increasingly sophisticated, next-generation regional FTAs addressing next-generation trade…... [read more]

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