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Europe: Massive Rise in Central American Asylum Seekers as Trump Tightens U.S. Border

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The number of Central Americans claiming asylum in the European Union has massively increased as President Donald Trump has moved to tighten America’s southern border, with Venezuelans now the second-largest demographic of arrivals after Syrians.

According to Britain’s left-wing Guardian newspaper, the European Asylum Support Office is attributing an 11 per cent rise in political asylum claims over the last year to “people fleeing economic disasters, political repression and criminal violence in Venezuela, El Salvador, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru.”

Asylum claims by nationals of Venezuela, where the state socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro admired by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is becoming increasingly repressive, reached 18,400 between January and May — roughly double the number for the same period in 2018.

Over a longer timeframe, the rise is even more striking, with asylum claims by Central Americans up an astonishing 4,000 per cent over the course of the last decade.

Spain, the former colonial power for much of Latin America, is the most popular destination for asylum seekers — a state of affairs the Socialist Party government may not be too displeased with, given its belief that Europe needs “new blood” and apparent embrace of its status as the new destination of choice for illegal migrants crossing the sea from North Africa since Italy’s Matteo Salvini began taking a firm stance against people-smugglers and migrant transport NGOs.

The Iberian country is not necessarily the easiest country for asylum seekers to have their claims approved, however, as it does not recognise claims from people claiming to be fleeing non-state actors, such as cartels and the drug gangs known as maras.

Other EU member-states, such as Belgium, are more open in what they will recognise as a legitimate asylum claim, meaning the Benelux country is now the third most popular destination for Salvadoreans behind Spain and Italy.

Susana Parraga, who works for Caritas International in Belgium, told the Guardian that such asylum seekers “receive housing, food, medical follow-up, legal assistance, help with learning one of the three official languages of the country and the right to social support”, and suggested that all EU member-states are obliged to offer such guarantees under the bloc’s reception directives.

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Court in Gibraltar Extends Iranian Tanker’s Detention for 30 Days

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A court in Gibraltar has extended the detention of an Iranian oil tanker for 30 days, AFP reported, citing Gibraltar’s attorney general. According to the agency, the order authorising the detention of the tanker can be extended for up to 90 days.

“We look forward to continuing to work constructively and positively with officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate the release of the Grace 1 pursuant to the satisfaction of all legal requirements,” Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the territory’s parliament, as quoted by AFP.

On 4 July, the supertanker Grace 1 was detained off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar on suspicions of it carrying oil to Syria for refinement.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt discussed the issue earlier this week, with Mr Zarif urging London to release the tanker. He also stressed that Tehran would continue its oil exports under any circumstances. Mr Hunt, for his part, said that the Grace 1 would be released once Iran gives guarantees about its destination.

The tanker’s four crew members were freed on bail earlier this month after being questioned.

The situation in the Gulf has remained tense since the US tightened the sanctions it reimposed on the Iranian oil sector after quitting the 2015 nuclear deal.

A series of incidents, including attacks on oil tankers, took place in the Gulf of Oman in May and June. Washington has blamed the attacks on Tehran, but the latter has denied all the accusations.

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Russia in Confidential Consultations with the Netherlands on MH17 Crash

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Russia is having confidential consultations with the Netherlands on MH17 flight that was downed over Donbass in July 2014, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Friday.

“Such consultations are underway, but we agreed that the process will have a confidential character,” the diplomat said.

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Links Between Russia and EU’s Right-Wing Parties Cause for Concern, Says Merkel

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Relations between Moscow and EU’s right-wing political parties are a cause for concern, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday during a press conference in Berlin.

“Some questions arise here,” she stated. “We have constantly monitored the very strong support that right-leaning parties have received from Russia in one way or the other.” “This is a cause for concern,” Merkel stressed.

The German chancellor also mentioned the scandal regarding the alleged financing of Italy’s Lega party by Russia, noting that the Italian side must investigate the allegations in detail.

Milan’s prosecution launched a case based on the publications on the US BuzzFeed website and in the Italian L’Espresso weekly news magazine shedding light on the alleged financing Lega was receiving from Russia, qualifying the case as international corruption.

The main suspect in the case is one of the associates of Italy’s Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, head of th-e Lombardy-Russia Association Gianluca Savoini. According to the prosecution, his voice can be heard on the BuzzFeed published audio recording of an alleged conversation with Russian entrepreneurs with ties to the Kremlin, during which a possible oil supply contract was discussed. The party could have received the deal dividends amounting to $65 mln.

Both Salvini and Savoini have denied the allegations.

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