Obama set to veto 9/11 victims’ bid to sue Saudis
President Barack Obama is poised to veto legislation exposing Saudi Arabia to court action over the 9/11 attacks, stepping in to defend legal precedent and an awkward ally, but inviting election-time opprobrium. White House officials say Obama will reject the ‘Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act’ by a Friday veto deadline, after a little over a week of deliberation. The administration is worried the bill – passed unanimously by Congress – would undermine state immunity, setting a dangerous legal precedent. — AFP, Washington

India’s navy on high alert in Mumbai
India’s navy was put on high alert Thursday in the city of Mumbai, an official said, after reports that four men dressed in black and carrying weapons were seen near a base. Security has been strengthened at several naval facilities along the coast in and around India’s financial capital, while officials investigate the reports. ‘The navy is at a high state of alert in Mumbai and adjoining areas after receiving inputs regarding suspicious activity reported by school children,’ Navy spokesman Captain DK Sharma said. Sharma did not reveal the nature of the activity, but local media reported that the children had seen gunmen, their faces covered, near a naval facility at Uran, about 50 kilometres from Mumbai. — AFP, Mumbai

Duterte invites UN chief to probe killings
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday invited the United Nations’ chief and international human rights experts to investigate allegations of widespread extrajudicial killings, but insisted they also face him in a public debate. The acid-tongued Duterte had earlier used vulgar language to dismiss criticism from the two organisations and the United States of his bloody war on crime, which has claimed over 3,000 lives since he took office on June 30. ‘I have invited the (United Nations human rights) rapporteur, (UN chief) Ban Ki-moon, the EU, their lawyers to come here and investigate me,’ Duterte said in a speech, adding the formal invitations would be sent soon. — AFP, Manila

Afghanistan set to sign peace deal with warlord
Afghanistan was set Thursday to sign a draft peace agreement with notorious warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, paving the way for his political return despite a history of war crimes and after years in hiding. Hekmatyar, who heads the now largely dormant Hezb-i-Islami militant group, is the latest in a series of controversial figures that Kabul has sought to reintegrate in the post-Taliban era. The deal with Afghanistan’s second-biggest militant group marks a symbolic victory for president Ashraf Ghani, who has struggled to revive peace talks with the more powerful Taliban.
— AFP, Kabul

Israel arrests 35 Palestinians in raids
Israeli authorities have arrested at least 35 Palestinians over the last few days in raids following a spike in violence ahead of upcoming Jewish holidays, officials said Thursday. The arrests have occurred in annexed east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank for reasons ranging from stolen property to suspicions of ‘terrorism.’ Israeli police carried out raids in Issawiya and the Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem over the last two days, arresting 23 people, they said. — AFP, Jerusalem

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