Sat, Jul 28, 2018 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

Agencies

GREECE

Wildfire blame game begins

Grief and shock over the nation’s deadliest wildfires were clouded yesterday by a bitter debate over who was to blame, as the opposition rejected the government’s suggestion that the blazes were started deliberately. Alternate Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection Nikos Toskas on Thursday said there were “serious” signs that the worst of the fires, which killed scores this week east of Athens, were the result of arson. Forensics experts pressed ahead with the difficult task of identifying the bodies of the 82 people known to have perished in the catastrophe.Amid public anger over the government’s handling of the aftermath, Toskas told reporters that “a serious piece of information has led to us opening an investigation” into possible “criminal acts.” Officials citing information from satellite maps have said that 13 fires broke out at the same time on Monday across the region of Attica, which includes Athens. Experts have said that poor urban planning contributed to what were Europe’s worst wildfires this century.

FRANCE

Air China makes bomb error

An Air China flight to Beijing on Thursday returned to Paris after an airline employee misunderstood a passenger who was calling on the phone and thought he was reporting a bomb on the plane, Paris airport police said. Xinhua news agency initially reported that the plane turned back because of “suspected terrorist information.” Not so, said an official with the airport police prefecture, the state body that oversees security at the city’s airports. The passenger, speaking in English, called Air China to say he was stuck behind police lines that were set up at Charles de Gaulle Airport’s Terminal 1 while officers investigated an abandoned package. “The company thought it was a bomb alert” for the plane, the official said. “It was an error of comprehension.” The official did not identify the passenger or the airline employee. He was not authorized to speak publicly. Flight CA876 returned to Charles de Gaulle and was separated from other aircraft for an inspection. It was scheduled to take off again at 9pm, the official said. The plane had been in the air nearly 40 minutes before heading back, the local airport authority said.

UNITED STATES

NAFTA could be back on

The US, Canada and Mexico could conclude talks to remake the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as soon as next month, the lead US trade negotiator said on Thursday. The remarks follow Wednesday’s joint declaration of a pause in trade hostilities between the country and the EU, raising the possibility of closing two fronts in President Donald Trump’s global trade offensive. The three North American trading partners could reach “some kind of conclusion during the course of August,” Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a Senate committee. He said “that’s not an unreasonable time frame if everybody wants to get it done,” and would allow Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to sign the new deal before he leaves office on Dec. 1. “That’s what our hope is,” Lighthizer said. Lighthizer suggested he still favored a so-called sunset clause in US trade agreements, requiring parties to renew them every five years. US insistence on the sunset provision helped derail the NAFTA talks earlier this year after both Canadian and Mexican officials rejected it outright.

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