TPM World News

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Monday slammed the Trump administration for considering tariffs on auto imports, saying they could lead to global retaliation against some $300 billion in U.S. goods amid signs of a brewing trade war.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the U.S. investigation into the possibility of auto tariffs “lacks legitimacy, factual basis and violates international trade rules,” just like last month’s U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The EU sent comments to the U.S. for consideration in the Department of Commerce investigation into whether auto imports pose enough of a threat to U.S. national security to justify tariffs and estimating the economic impact.

President Donald Trump cited national security concerns for the previous tariffs. The EU, which described the move as “pure protectionism,” introduced duties on U.S. products in return, as did Mexico, Canada, Turkey and India.

“European cars do not threaten or impair the health of the U.S. industry and economy,” Schinas said. He noted that European carmakers create over half a million jobs in the U.S.

In its submission, the EU argues that trade restrictions would likely to lead to higher costs for U.S.-based producers, and in effect become a tax on American consumers. This would only be aggravated by the likely counter-measures the 28-nation bloc and other trading partners might take.

The EU responded to the steel and aluminum tariffs with “rebalancing measures” that hit around 2.8 billion euros ($3.25 billion) worth of American-made products.

The EU said the U.S. auto industry is in good health, but any restrictive duties could undermine that trend.

The impact of retaliatory measures by Washington’s trading partners could total around $294 billion — or around 19 percent of total U.S. exports in 2017, the EU estimates.

Last week, European Council President Donald Tusk warned that Trump’s policies are harming trans-Atlantic relations and that “we must be ready to prepare our Union for worst-case scenarios.”

Tusk thinks Trump’s action on tariffs, pulling out of the global climate agreement and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal — an agreement the Europeans say is vital to their security — is part of a pattern rather than isolated incidents. Any tariffs on EU cars would hit Germany hard.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said that while the EU does have higher tariffs on cars than the U.S. — around 10 percent versus 2 percent — the tariffs only apply to a fraction of the car market, around 15 percent. The U.S. has higher tariffs on trucks and other products, she said.

Malmstrom said the EU cannot lift its car tariffs for the United States or it would have to do so for the rest of the world, and “there’s no way” EU member countries would agree to that.

Despite questioning the probe’s legitimacy, the EU has requested to take part in a Commerce public hearing on July 19-20.

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BRUSSELS (AP) — Authorities have arrested a Belgian married couple of Iranian heritage and charged them with preparing an extremist attack in France against the Iranian opposition there.

The federal prosecutor’s office said Monday that the two, both in their thirties, are suspected of planning a bomb attack Saturday against an Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin, in the French town of Villepinte, which is close to Paris.

The office said the couple was detained while in their Mercedes, which contained about half a kilogram of TATP explosives and a detonator. After their detention, police raided five more homes over the weekend but did not elaborate on the results.

Prosecutors said a suspected accomplice was detained in France. An Iranian diplomat in Vienna was also detained in Germany.

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Angry and frustrated over corruption and violence, Mexican voters delivered a tidal wave presidential election victory to leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, giving him a broad mandate to upend the political establishment and govern for the poor.

An official quick count from electoral authorities late Sunday forecast that Lopez Obrador would win with between 53 percent and 53.8 percent of the votes, a remarkable margin not seen in the country for many years. Early Monday, with about 20 percent of the votes counted, Lopez Obrador’s advantage was close to the quick count’s statistical sample.

A prominent exit poll predicted his party allies were poised to score big victories in congressional races, possibly winning absolute majorities in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.

Lopez Obrador, who campaigned on vows to transform Mexico and oust the “mafia of power” ruling the country, rode widespread voter anger and discontent with the governing Institutional Revolution Party, or PRI, of President Enrique Pena Nieto and had led opinion polls since the beginning of the campaign.

The PRI, which dominated Mexican politics for nearly the entire 20th century and recaptured the presidency in 2012, was set to suffer heavy losses not just for the presidency but in other races as well.

In brief remarks at a hotel in central Mexico City, Lopez Obrador called for reconciliation after a polarizing campaign and promised profound change but with respect for the law and constitutional order.

“I confess that I have a legitimate ambition: I want to go down in history as a good president of Mexico,” said Lopez Obrador, who won after losses in the previous two elections. “I desire with all my soul to raise the greatness of our country on high.”

The president-in-waiting, whose term will begin Dec. 1, devoted much of his speech to appealing to citizens of all stripes and seeking to reassure those who have eyed his candidacy nervously.

“This new national project will seek to establish an authentic democracy and we do not intend to establish a dictatorship,” Lopez Obrador said. “The changes will be profound, but in accordance with established order.”

Conservative Ricardo Anaya of a right-left coalition and the PRI’s Jose Antonio Meade acknowledged defeat shortly after polls closed nationwide. The quick count had them around 22 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Lopez Obrador’s supporters began wild celebrations in Mexico City, cruising up and down the central Paseo de la Reforma boulevard honking horns to the tune of “Viva Mexico!” and waving Mexican flags from car windows and moon roofs.

Thousands poured into the sprawling main square known as the Zocalo, where the 64-year-old former mayor of the capital had called on his backers to rally. Many danced to the trills of mariachi music.

Retired teacher Susana Zuniga beamed and said the country was experiencing a moment similar to the Mexican Revolution a century ago.

“The people are fed up. That is what brought us to this,” she said.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted congratulations: “I look very much forward to working with him. There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!”

Lopez Obrador said individual and property rights would be guaranteed, promised respect for the autonomy of the Bank of Mexico and said his government will maintain financial and fiscal discipline.

He said contracts obtained under energy reforms passed under President Enrique Pena Nieto will be scrutinized for any corruption or illegality, but otherwise contracts will be honored.

“There will be no confiscation or expropriation of assets. … Eradicating corruption will be the principal mission,” he said.

Lopez Obrador also spoke of support for migrants and said the most forgotten and humble people of Mexico will be given preference in his government. He said he will seek a relationship of “friendship and respect” with the United States. And rather than the use of force to fight spiraling violence, he will look to fix root causes such as inequality and poverty.

“Peace and tranquility are the fruits of justice,” Lopez Obrador said.

Exit polling by Consulta Mitofsky for the Televisa network forecast gubernatorial wins for allies of Lopez Obrador’s Morena party in at least four of eight state races on the ballot plus for the head of government in Mexico City. The central state of Guanajuato was expected to go to a candidate of the conservative National Action Party.

Mitofsky predicted Morena allies would take between 56 and 70 seats in the 128-member Senate and between 256 and 291 spots in the 500-seat lower house.

“The anger that the average Mexican feels toward the way things are being governed has favored Lopez Obrador,” said Shannon O’Neil, senior fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “He’s been able to capture the mantle of the person who’s on the outside who wants change.”

In a speech to the huge crowd in the Zocalo, he struck a moderate tone, stressing a need to act respectfully, to maintain economic and financial stability.

He also pledged to increase support payments for the elderly and to give scholarships or paid apprenticeships to young people.

“Now that he has won, he cannot fail this new generation that believes in him,” said Mariano Bartolini, a 29-year-old lawyer who voted for Lopez Obrador in the northwestern city of Rosarito, near Tijuana. “It is thanks to us young people who are supporting him that he was able to get more votes than he did in past elections.”

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KAZAN, Russia (AP) — What Lionel Messi has never done, 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe did twice.

The quick-footed French teenager scored two goals in a five-minute span of the second half to help his team rally for a 4-3 victory over Argentina. Saturday’s victory gave France a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals.

Messi, who turned 31 during his fourth and possibly final World Cup, set up a pair of goals but again failed to score in a knockout match at the biggest event in soccer.

Mbappe got his two in his first attempt.

“Of course, as I’ve already and always said, in the World Cup you have all the top level players so it is an opportunity to show what you can do and what your abilities are,” said Mbappe, who now has three goals in Russia. “There is no better place than a World Cup.”

Mbappe was a constant threat to Argentina’s creaking defense with his speed and skill and was at the heart of France’s often-breathtaking display, particularly in the middle of the second half.

He became the second teenager to score multiple goals in a knockout match at the World Cup. Pele was the other, doing it twice at 17 at the 1958 tournament in Sweden.

“It is flattering to be the second one after Pele but let’s put things in context. Pele is another category,” Mbappe said. “But it’s good to be among the players to score in knockout matches.”

With the score 2-2, Mbappe got his first goal with a cool finish from a tight angle in the 64th minute, his low shot going under Argentina goalkeeper Franco Armani. Four minutes later, he slotted past Armani again after he was put through on goal by a deft pass from Oliver Giroud.

Mbappe also helped France to its first goal. Following a sustained period of early pressure, he won a penalty after a 40-meter burst of speed that ended with him being brought down by Marcos Rojo. Antoine Griezmann then scored from the spot in the 13th minute, sending Armani the wrong way.

“Our team is much younger, but we are there. We answered the call,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “It was not easy because we were leading and then there was an equalizer. Then they led 2-1, but we kept fighting. There is an excellent mentality in this group and we did everything to go further. We couldn’t miss it and we did win it.”

Mbappe was born a few months after France won the 1998 World Cup at home, its only title at the tournament. Deschamps was the captain of that team and Zinedine Zidane scored two goals in the final.

“People remember more the World Cup victory than the year I was born,” Mbappe said. “It is normal (because) it was the time we were World Cup winners, so that is obviously what they remember.”

France will next face Uruguay in the quarterfinals on Friday in Nizhny Novgorod. Blaise Matuidi will miss the match after receiving a second yellow card of the tournament.

Argentina briefly took the lead in the 48th minute at Kazan Arena, but France defender Benjamin Pavard equalized nine minutes later with a superb strike from outside the area.

“It is too soon to analyze concrete mistakes we might have made,” Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said. “I am sure there might have been mistakes.”

Argentina got its goals from Angel Di Maria, Gabriel Mercado and late substitute Sergio Aguero. Messi set up the latter two, first sending a shot on goal that Mercado deflected into the net in the 48th.

With time winding down, Messi gave Argentina a bit of hope with a cross to the left that Aguero headed into goal in stoppage time.

Di Maria’s goal was one of the best of the tournament. Following a throw-in, he hit a hard shot from 30 yards that curled into the top right corner, beyond the dive of France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

“We played against a team that was very, very fast in transitions,” Sampaoli said. “We were able to turn around the match but after a very short time during a very strange play, we lost our advantage.”

For Argentina, it was the first time the team has scored three goals in a competitive match and lost.

For Messi, it means he still has never won a major international title with Argentina.

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More AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/WorldCup
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This story has been corrected to delete incorrect reference to France reaching consecutive quarterfinals for the first time.

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ABOARD THE OPEN ARMS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA (AP) — A Spanish rescue boat plucked 60 migrants Saturday from a rubber dinghy held together with duct tape in the Mediterranean Sea near Libya, igniting another political row between Italy and Malta over who should let the aid boat dock.

The vessel, Open Arms, run by Spanish aid group Proactiva Open Arms, said it rescued the migrants — including five women, a nine-year-old child and three teenagers — after it spotted the rubber boat just floating in the sea. Later in the day, Spanish authorities reporting saving 63 other people trying to reach its southern coast.

While European politicians bickered about where the migrants should go, those rescued by the Open Arms were jubilant, jumping, chanting and hugging their rescuers.

Bitcha Honoree said he knew the risk he was taking when he boarded the dinghy with 59 others in the middle of the night with only the full moon illuminating the dark water. Some of his friends had survived past crossings from Libya and made it to Europe but others had drowned.

But after having been sold as a slave, kidnapped and tortured in Libya while awaiting his chance to get aboard a smuggler’s boat, the 39-year-old Honoree, from Cameroon, decided he needed to try.

“It’s better to die than to continue being treated this bad,” he told The Associated Press just moments after being rescued some 30 nautical miles off the coast of Libya.

Krisley Dokouada, a 9-year-old boy from Central African Republic, was rescued along with his parents. His eyes sparkled when the crew let him sit in the captain’s seat on the bridge for a few minutes.

Others rescued Saturday included six Libyans and people from Mali, Eritrea, Egypt, Bangladesh, South Sudan, Guinea and other countries.

But Italy’s right-wing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini quickly declared that the Spanish rescue boat “can forget about arriving in an Italian port” and claimed it should go to Malta, the nearest port.

Malta swiftly pushed back, with its interior minister contending that the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, south of Sicily, was closer to the boat.

“Quit spreading incorrect news, dragging Malta into it for no reason,” Maltese Interior Minister Michael Farrugia tweeted, attaching a map that he said indicated the rescue occurred in waters between Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa.

To the west, Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service says it picked up 63 others Saturday trying to reach country’s southern Mediterranean coast while authorities looked for another missing boat. It said 58 migrants were found in the Strait of Gibraltar while five more were rescued further east. A rescue vessel and a helicopter were looking for another reported boat in the area.

The Open Arms is the third humanitarian rescue ship to come into the crosshairs of Salvini’s crackdown in the last three weeks.

Even though the number of migrants arriving in Europe is sharply down this year from 2017, migration issues have deepened political divisions in the European Union, fueled in part by the demands of anti-migrant nationalist parties.

Salvini has vowed that no more humanitarian groups’ rescue boats will dock in Italy, but cracks have started showing between in Italy’s new populist coalition government over his hard-line approach.

Roberto Fico, a leading figure in the 5-Star Movement, the ruling coalition’s senior partner, told reporters Saturday after inspecting a migrant reception center in a Sicilian town that “I wouldn’t close the ports.”

Fico admitted that Libya now “isn’t a place with security” and said its coast guard “needs the support of the Italian navy and coast guard” and humanitarian aid ships. He urged more solidarity with the migrants, who he said have “dramatic stories that touch the heart.”

Rights groups have voiced strong concerns that migrants rescued by the Libyan coast guard and brought back there will face more inhumane treatment.

Salvini contended Saturday on Twitter that the Open Arms had taken on the migrants before a Libyan boat in Libya’s search-and-rescue zone could intervene.

But the Open Arms’ captain, Marco Martinez, said he told the Rome-based Maritime Rescue Coordination Center about the migrants and was instructed to call Libyan maritime authorities, who didn’t answer. The captain said officials in Rome then told him it was up to him to decide whether to carry out the rescue.

“I took the decision to save these human beings,” Martinez told an Associated Press journalist who accompanied the rescue from a dinghy belonging to its sister ship Astral.

The AP journalist saw a Libyan coast guard vessel approached the Open Arms and the Astral as the rescue was being concluded, but it made a U-turn and left, ordering both boats to return to Spain.

Saturday’s rescue was witnessed by four European Parliament lawmakers. One of them, Javi Lopez of Spain, said authorities in Spain were studying the possibility of taking in the migrants since Italy and Malta would not.

Proactiva Open Arms spokeswoman Laura Lanuza said the boats were heading north while negotiations with different countries were ongoing.

A day earlier, the Open Arms crew said that it was warned off from rescuing a boat in trouble by Italy’s coordination center, which said the Libyan coast guard would handle it. The Libyan coast guard rescued 16 people, but another 100 migrants were reported missing and feared dead at sea after the boat capsized.

Even before those deaths Friday, the U.N. refugee agency said 1,137 migrants are estimated to have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year.

Earlier in June, Spain took in 630 migrants from another rescue group’s vessel, the Aquarius, after they spent nearly a week stuck in the Mediterranean after both Malta and Italy refused to let the boat dock.

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D’Emilio reported from Rome. Stephen Calleja in Malta and Aritz Parra in Madrid contributed.

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N.’s migration agency snubbed the Trump administration’s candidate to lead it on Friday, a major blow to U.S. leadership of a body addressing one of the world’s most pressing issues — and only the second time that it won’t be run by an American since 1951.

Portuguese Socialist and former European Union commissioner Antonio Vitorino won a race to be the next director-general of the International Organization for Migration, edging out both a top IOM official and U.S. candidate Ken Isaacs, the body said in a statement.

Vitorino, 61, will become the group’s second director-general not from the U.S. since the intergovernmental organization was founded. He is a former EU commissioner for Home and Justice Affairs who has been President of the “Notre Europe” think tank for the last seven years, and is considered very close to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, also a Portuguese Socialist early in his political career.

Isaacs was eliminated in early rounds of voting, and Vitorino won by acclamation over runner-up Laura Thompson of Costa Rica, currently an IOM deputy director-general who was vying to become the agency’s first woman chief.

The move marks a searing rejection of the U.S. candidate just as the Trump administration has been retreating from or rebuffing international institutions — including two others based in Geneva: Earlier this month, the United States pulled out of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, and Trump has recently criticized the World Trade Organization as “unfair” to the U.S.

“Yet another sign that US power, authority and prestige has been so dramatically diminished,” tweeted Keith Harper, who was the Obama administration’s ambassador to the rights council. The “IOM Director is seen as an ‘American seat’ and Trump was unable to place an American in it.”

The U.S. State Department congratulated Vitorino, calling the vote “a very competitive election with three highly qualified candidates.”

“IOM is an important partner for the United States around the globe, and we are committed to working with IOM to address root causes of migration and to promote safe and legal migration,” it said in a statement.

Isaacs’ candidacy had been clouded by U.S. policies like travel bans and migrant family separations — and his own comments that critics have called anti-Muslim. But few diplomats streaming out of a Geneva conference center dared to offer an explanation about how an American was stripped of a post that the U.S. has held a lock-hold on for decades.

One, Senegalese diplomat Youssoupha Ndiaye, simply spoke of the early result: “The American is out.”

Vitorino, who was selected by the dues-paying, ballot-casting members among the 172 countries in the IOM, will succeed longtime U.S. diplomat William Lacy Swing, who leaves in September.

An intergovernmental body that became a U.N.-related agency in 2016, IOM has had only one director-general who wasn’t American since its creation 67 years ago.

But Mark Hetfield, a self-described friend of Isaacs who heads the humanitarian group HIAS, which works with IOM, put the blame on policies and invective from the man in the White House — not the candidate for the U.N. migration agency job.

“This IOM election really was not about Ken Isaacs, for whom I have a lot of respect as a humanitarian,” Hetfield said. “The election was an international referendum rejecting President Trump and his xenophobic, Islamophobic and isolationist policies.”

“Let’s face it, Isaacs’ tweets were no worse than the ones coming out of the White House,” he added.

The administration is fresh off major international scorn over the separation of migrant families coming across the Mexico border. The U.S. Supreme Court has also upheld his ban on U.S. travel for citizens of a number of countries, most of them predominantly Muslim.

Trump has also yanked the United States out of the Global Compact for Migration — a fact that several diplomats, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the balloting, cited as a worrying sign about U.S. policies on an issue that has vast implications around the world.

Isaacs himself had been on the defensive over retweets and other social media comments that some critics viewed as anti-Muslim, so much so that he shut down his Twitter account. After that, he carefully stage-managed his media appearances and kept to script — with State Department handlers advising him or in tow.

Isaacs, a vice president at the evangelical Christian humanitarian group Samaritan’s Purse led by Pastor Franklin Graham, met with dozens of government officials during his months-long bid — working diligently to put to rest suspicions and pointing to his track record in the field and as a manager.

Meeting with reporters in March, he said IOM’s work was “in my wheelhouse.”

IOM has over 10,000 staffers in offices in more than 150 countries. Its work includes providing humanitarian aid to migrants, and helping track deaths of migrants across often deadly Mediterranean waters between northern Africa. It also helps to resettle migrants accepted by foreign countries — and at times return them home.

After the voting, Isaacs said he had congratulated Vitorino after the “great race,” and said it was “an honor for me to run as a candidate for the United States and that’s all I have to say.” He did not take questions.

Playing in Isaacs’ favor, along with the legacy of U.S. leadership, was money: The United States is traditionally the single biggest donor to the IOM, followed closely by the European Union.

One diplomat said “the change is surprising,” before alluding to Trump: “Maybe he will get the message.”

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GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told the leaders of three Central American nations Thursday that they must do more to stop the flow of migrants who enter the United States illegally.

He made the comments to the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where economic struggles and violent crime have pushed many people to try to sneak into the U.S. in hopes of finding better lives.

“This exodus must end,” Pence said. “It is a threat to the security to the United States, and just as we respect your borders and your sovereignty, we insist that you respect ours.”

He said the Trump administration “will always welcome” immigrants who follow the rules in getting permission to enter the U.S.

“In the last year alone, we welcomed more than 1.1 million legal immigrants into our country and our communities, including nearly 50,000 legal immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador last year,” he said.

But, Pence added, the U.S. is determined to act strongly against those who don’t.
“Tell your people that coming to the United States illegally will only result in a hard journey and a harder life,” Pence said.

He spoke after discussing immigration issues with Presidents Jimmy Morales of Guatemala, Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador and Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras.

Referring to the U.S. policies that led to the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents, many of them from Central America, Pence noted President Donald Trump has reversed that approach.

Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador said one of his ministers had confirmed that the minors in the shelters had their basic needs covered, but he emphasized that “it’s vital for their psychological health and their emotional health to reunite them immediately with their families.”

Earlier in the day, Pence was in Ecuador, whose leader he praised for improving relations with the U.S.

He also urged President Lenin Moreno to hold a firm line against neighboring Venezuela, which has been crumbling in economic and political crisis.

“The Ecuadorean people have shown remarkable compassion,” Pence said, noting that 350,000 Venezuelans have fled to Ecuador, a country of a little more than 16 million people. “We must all take strong action to restore democracy in Venezuela.”

Moreno said a solution to the Venezuela’s crisis is ultimately up to its own people, but added that he and Pence agreed to work together in coordination with the Organization of American States to promote citizen rights and fundamental freedoms throughout Latin America.

Winning back trade privileges rejected by Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, were a central part of the talks for Moreno.

He was elected last year with Correa’s backing but has since broken with his mentor in adopting a more business- and press-friendly stance that has earned him bipartisan praise in Washington as something of a bridge builder in ideologically polarized Latin America.

Pence said relations have improved under Moreno’s leadership and noted their shared fight against international drug traffickers. He credited the new president with reversing a decade of failed policy and rooting out corruption.

During their private meeting, Pence raised the issue of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who Ecuador has granted asylum, U.S. officials said.

Assange, whose leak of classified U.S. documents infuriated U.S. government officials, has been a sticking point between the two nations. He has been living under asylum inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012.

Pence and Moreno did not mention Assange in their public comments.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Angry protesters in Iran’s capital held a third day of demonstrations on Tuesday over the country’s anemic economy as President Hassan Rouhani told the nation that it faces an “economic war” with the United States following America’s pullout from the nuclear deal.

While online videos showed demonstrators again confronting police on Tehran’s streets and alleyways, the protests looked far smaller than those on Monday, when security forces fired tear gas on crowds in front of parliament.

Earlier on Monday, demonstrators forced the temporary closure of Tehran’s Grand Bazaar and on Sunday, protests forced two major shopping centers for mobile phones and electronics to close in Tehran.

Rage persists over the plunging of the Iranian rial to 90,000 to the dollar — double the government rate of 42,000 rials to $1 — as people watch their savings dwindle and shopkeepers hold onto some goods, uncertain of their true value.

Part of the economic uncertainty comes from President Donald Trump’s decision to pull America out of the nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Iran, even though other world powers have pledged to stand by the accord.

Similar economic protests roiled Iran and spread to some 75 cities and towns at the end of last year, becoming the largest demonstrations in the country since the months-long rallies following the 2009 disputed presidential election. The protests in late December and early January saw at least 25 people killed and nearly 5,000 arrested, but took place largely in Iran’s provinces rather than in the capital, Tehran.

These latest protests have hit Iranian commercial areas, including the sprawling, historic warrens of Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, the home of conservative merchants who backed the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It remains unclear who is leading these protests, though analysts say hard-liners wanting to challenge Rouhani likely sparked the demonstrations at the end of last year.

On Tuesday, witnesses described a noticeable presence of riot police on the capital’s streets. Official reports and comments also were slim in Iran’s state-controlled media, though Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the “main provocateurs” of Monday’s protests were arrested. He did not elaborate on the number of people detained.

The state-run IRNA news agency euphemistically referred to one incident Tuesday in which the city’s metro line was temporarily shut down near the Grand Bazaar, saying it happened “because of some people gathered there.”

On Tuesday morning, Rouhani addressed a meeting of judges that included the head of the country’s judiciary and parliament. While a relative moderate within Iran’s theocratic government, Rouhani struck a hard line himself against America.

“We are fighting against the United States, it wants to make an economic war,” the president said. “The U.S. cannot defeat our nation; our enemies are not able to force us to their knees.”

That’s a far cry from the optimism shared by Rouhani and other Iranians when the 2015 nuclear deal was enacted between Iran and six world powers, including America. Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

But that deal came under Barack Obama’s administration. Trump, who campaigned on a promise of tearing up the deal, pulled America out of the deal in May. The ensuing turmoil has seen international firms and oil companies back away from their own billion-dollar deals with Iran.

Rouhani’s own power within Iran’s government appears to be waning, with some openly calling for military officials to lead the country.

Iran also has suggested it could immediately ramp up its production of uranium in response to the U.S. pullout, potentially escalating the very situation the nuclear deal sought to avoid — having an Iran with a stockpile of highly enriched uranium that it could use to build atomic bombs.

Tehran has long denied wanting to build nuclear weapons, despite fears from the West and the United Nations.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, speaking at the same event as Rouhani, appeared to directly criticize his administration.

“The government hasn’t done enough to confront the economic problems,” the conservative politician said, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

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SHANGHAI (AP) — Three China Labor Watch activists arrested last year while investigating abuses at Chinese suppliers for Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand were released from bail Tuesday, the New York non-profit group said, but questions remain about their ability to live and work freely in China.

“Of course I am happy,” said Deng Guilian, the wife of one of the investigators. “It has been a hard year. I hope all the bitterness we had is worth it.”

Last May, the activists were arrested and detained for a month as they gathered evidence of low pay and excessive overtime, as well as physical and crude verbal abuse at a Huajian Group shoe factory in the southeastern Chinese city of Ganzhou.

Huajian has dismissed those allegations as false and said the men were conducting industrial espionage.

Police pressured the investigators into signing documents stating that their actions caused the Huajian Group a financial loss — which could give Chinese authorities ongoing leverage, according to China Labor Watch founder Li Qiang.

“This is the police plan to give them potential pressure to control them,” Li said, adding that police also warned the men not to “make trouble.”

Though the men have been out of jail for a year, under the terms of their bail they’ve been subject to travel restrictions and police surveillance — conditions that now should be lifted.

Deng’s husband, Hua Haifeng, hopes to travel to the United States in July for a four-month stint as a visiting researcher at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, according to a letter of invitation provided by China Labor Watch.

Hua declined to comment.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Donald Trump was heading to Singapore for a historic summit with North Korea’s leader, a State Department diplomatic security agent who was part of the advance team reported hearing an unusual sound he believed was similar to what was experienced by U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China who later became ill.

The agent immediately underwent medical screening — part of a new U.S. government protocol established to respond to such potential health incidents anywhere in the world. And while the president was flying to the Southeast Asian city state, the U.S. delegation preparing for his arrival was exchanging urgent messages with the State Department headquarters back in Washington, including the agency’s Diplomatic Security and the U.S. Secret Service.

It turned out to be a false alarm, according to four U.S. officials familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak to the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. But the rapid response underscored how seriously the Trump administration views the potential risks at far-flung diplomatic outposts. So far, Americans who have served in at least seven cities in four countries have been tested for possible exposure, with 26 Americans “medically confirmed” to have been hurt.

The incidents have become a new source of anxiety for U.S. officials working overseas and their families — one that remains shrouded in mystery because of investigators’ inability to say what or who is responsible for the unexplained incidents that started more than 18 months ago. Cuba patients have been found to have a range of symptoms and diagnoses including mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussions.

Medical officials at the State Department are now encouraging U.S. diplomats abroad to be proactive in immediately reporting suspicious sounds or unexplained symptoms, an aggressive approach that U.S. officials described as “an abundance of caution.”

In the immediate aftermath of the first Cuba incidents, there was no established procedure for how to investigate incidents or treat patients. Over many months, State Department officials working with doctors from the University of Pennsylvania, along with a Miami doctor initially dispatched to Havana, have developed a thorough, formalized protocol that involves screening prospective patients for the most rapid-onset symptoms of brain injury. Diplomats newly sent to posts including Havana are given “baseline” screenings so that if they later report an incident, their tests results can be compared to their results from before they arrived in the country.

Details of the previously unreported incident in Singapore, which ended up having no impact on the June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, are emerging as the White House moves ahead with planning for Trump’s next high-stakes, face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader outside the United States: a potential mid-July summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month in the Austrian capital of Vienna.

To be sure, there has been no determination by the U.S. that the health incidents have occurred in locations other than Cuba and China. Until late last month, the only known incidents affected U.S. officials in Havana who were struck by what the State Department called “specific attacks.”

Yet, the discovery in May of at least one case in China — affecting an American employee at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou — has added to the sense that any unusual sound or concerning physical symptom should be treated with seriousness until a suspicious incident can be ruled out, U.S. diplomats told The Associated Press.

Asked for comment about the Singapore incident, the State Department would say only that “the health, safety, and well-being of U.S. citizens and U.S. government employees and their family members are our greatest concern.”

“For privacy reasons we are not able to provide information on individual medical cases,” it added.

Similar concern prompted a USAID employee in Uzbekistan to be pulled out of the Central Asian country for medical testing late last year after reporting symptoms he suspected resulted from the same kind of “health attack” that then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had warned about in Cuba. That warning was accompanied by a new travel warning for Americans living in or visiting Cuba and a steep reduction in staffing at what was then the 1-year-old U.S. Embassy in Havana.

The State Department ultimately suggested it was a false alarm, saying that after medical testing, the worker was not diagnosed with the conditions observed in Cuba.

But once evidence that the incidents might not be confined to Cuba emerged with the Guangzhou case, U.S. officials reviewed other health complaints, including one of the child of an American couple posted to another consulate in China, according to officials. That also turned out to be negative, although a State Department medical team is still in China visiting all U.S. diplomatic missions there to conduct screenings of employees and family members who ask for them.

As of late last week, nearly 200 have taken the offer up to date, although only a handful — less than a dozen — have been evacuated to the U.S. for further review by neurological experts at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Ambassador Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, said diplomats sign up to serve knowing there are risks to their health and safety. He said the mission takes priority because the United States can’t afford to cut off relations with other countries, especially those as powerful as China.

“In some places it’s more violence, in some places its disease. Now we’ve got a new one that nobody knows what the hell it is,” said Neumann, who served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and other high-risk posts. “So you do the best to give diplomats and families options, and you soldier on, because that’s what the profession is about.”

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