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At Least 45 People Killed in Bus Accident in Bulgaria

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At least 45 people, including 12 children, have died after a bus crashed and caught fire in western Bulgaria, officials say. The incident happened on a motorway near the village of bosnek, south-west of the capital sofia.

The bus was registered in north macedonia and was carrying tourists returning from turkey. Seven people escaped from the bus and were taken to hospital with burns. A bulgarian interior ministry official said it was unclear if the bus had caught fire and then crashed or burst into flames after crashing.

Officials said the vehicle appeared to have hit a highway barrier and pictures showed a section of the road where the barrier had been shorn off.

Macedonian foreign minister bujar osmani told reporters that the coach party had been returning to the capital skopje from a weekend holiday trip to the turkish city of istanbul.

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Macedonian prime minister zoran zaev spoke to one of the survivors, who told him that passengers were sleeping when the sound of an explosion woke them.

 

 

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Iran Chief Negotiator Says Nuclear Proposals ‘Cannot Be Rejected’

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Iran Chief Negotiator Says Nuclear Proposals ‘Cannot Be Rejected’

Iran’s chief negotiator has said the draft proposals his country submitted during talks with world powers aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear deal “cannot be rejected”.

Representatives of Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom convened this week in Vienna for the seventh round of talks to restore the landmark accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The United States, which unilaterally withdrew from the pact in 2018 when it also reimposed punishing sanctions against Iran, is only participating indirectly as Iran refuses to hold direct negotiations with it.

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In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera in the Austrian capital, Ali Bagheri Kani said on Friday Iran would deliver a third proposal once the first two it submitted the previous day were accepted.

On Thursday, the lead negotiator had said the two proposals were related to “the lifting of sanctions” and “Iran’s nuclear actions”, both main issues facing the JCPOA.

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UAE Buys Record 80 French Rafale Jets in $19bn Arms Deal

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UAE Buys Record 80 French Rafale Jets in $19bn Arms Deal

The United Arab Emirates and France have signed a $19bn arms deal that will see the Gulf state acquire 80 Rafale fighter jets and 12 military helicopters.

The largest-ever overseas sale of Rafale jets was sealed on Friday as French President Emmanuel Macron began a two-day trip to the Gulf, during which he will also visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Macron’s visit comes at a time when Gulf Arab states have voiced uncertainty about the United States’s focus on the region even as they seek more weapons from their key security ally. The French leader has forged a good relationship with MBZ with investments flowing between the two countries.

The deal will directly support 7,000 jobs in France and guarantee the supply chain of the Dassault Aviation-made aircraft until the end of 2031, a French official told journalists.

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He also said the UAE contract, which follows deals in Greece, Egypt and Croatia this year, would lead to an increase of the monthly Rafale production. Shares in Dassault Aviation SA, the Rafale’s maker, rose more than 9 percent.

 

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EU Launches €300bn global plan to Challenge Chinese Influence

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EU Launches €300bn global plan to Challenge Chinese Influence

The EU has revealed details of a €300bn global investment plan, described as a “true alternative” to China’s Belt and Road strategy.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Global Gateway scheme should become a trusted brand.

China has funded rail, roads and ports but has been accused of leaving some countries saddled with debt.

The Commission chief said countries need “trusted partners” to design projects that were sustainable.

The EU is looking at how it can leverage billions of euros, drawn from member states, financial institutions and the private sector. This will largely take the form of guarantees or loans, rather than grants.

von der Leyen said the EU wanted to show that a different, democratic approach could deliver on projects that focused on tackling climate change as well as global health security and sustainable development for developing countries.

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Projects had to be of high quality, with a high level of transparency and good governance, and had to deliver tangible results for the countries involved, she explained. One EU official told the BBC that Africa would be a major focus of the scheme.

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