Washington, Sept 14 (Xinhua) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday blamed Iran for the attacks on two Aramco oil plants in the east of Saudi Arabia.
"Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply," said the top U.S. diplomat in dual tweets on Saturday afternoon.
"There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen," Pompeo added.
Pompeo's tweets came hours after Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the drone attacks.
Also on Saturday afternoon, the White House said President Donald Trump had spoken by phone with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, discussing the attacks and Saudi Arabia's self-defense.
"The United States Government is monitoring the situation," according to a statement released by the White House.
Saudi Interior Minister announced on Saturday that drone attacks caused fires at two oil facilities of Saudi petroleum company Aramco. The attacks hit the two sites in Abqaiq and Khurais areas.
London, Sept 15 (Xinhua/UNB) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson likened himself to the Incredible Hulk in an interview on Saturday ahead of talks with European leaders.
"The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets," Johnson told the Mail on Sunday newspaper. "Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be and that is the case for this country."
Johnson made the remarks ahead of talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker and European Union (EU)'s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Luxembourg on Monday.
Media reports from mainland Europe indicate that Johnson may face an uphill struggle securing the kind of deal he is seeking to bring Britain out of the bloc.
Johnson said he was "very confident" and "a huge amount of progress" was made. "We will come out on October 31, and we will get it done."
Johnson repeated that "under no circumstances" would he delay Brexit.
Hong Kong, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — Hundreds of demonstrators rallied Sunday outside the British Consulate in Hong Kong, stepping up calls for international support in their months-long campaign for democratic reforms in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Those gathered waved British flags, sang "God save the Queen" and chanted "U.K. save Hong Kong." With banners declaring "one country, two systems is dead," they repeated calls for Hong Kong's former colonial ruler to ensure the city's autonomy is upheld under agreements made when it ceded power to China in 1997. Demonstrators held similar rallies Sept.1 at the British facility and last weekend at the U.S. Consulate.
The protests were triggered in June by an extradition bill that many saw as an example of China's increasing intrusion and a chipping away at Hong Kong's freedoms and rights, many of which are not accorded to mainland China.
The government promised this month to withdraw the bill, which would have allowed some criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial, but protesters have widened their demands to include direct elections for the city's leaders and police accountability.
The summer of protest has seen clashes between protesters and Hong Kong's police, who demonstrators have accused of abuses. More than 1,300 people have been arrested since June.
The unrest has further battered Hong Kong's economy, which was already reeling from the U.S.-China trade war. It is also seen as an embarrassment to China's ruling Communist Party ahead of Oct. 1 National Day celebrations.
There were plans to converge later Sunday at the Causeway Bay shopping district in defiance of a police ban of a rally by the Civil Human Rights Front.
Police also banned the group's Aug. 31 march but protesters turned up anyway. Clashes erupted that night, with police storming a subway car and hitting passengers with batons and pepper spray.
Pro-democracy protesters and supporters of the central government in Beijing clashed Saturday at a shopping mall and several public places. Police arrested more than a dozen people and hospital authorities said 25 were injured.
The violence amid the mid-autumn festival holiday came after several nights of peaceful rallies that featured protesters belting out a new protest song in mass singing at shopping malls. Thousands of people also carried lanterns with pro-democracy messages in public areas and formed illuminated human chains on two of the city's peaks on Friday night to mark the major Chinese festival.
Cairo, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — Egypt's president on Saturday angrily dismissed corruption allegations made by a businessman-in-exile against the country's military as "sheer lies and defamation."
In viral social media videos posted over the past week, the entrepreneur alleged large-scale misuse of public funds in the building of luxurious hotels, presidential palaces and a tomb for President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's mother, who died in 2014.
"I've built presidential palaces and I will continue to do so," el-Sissi, a general-turned-president, said in televised comments. "I am building a new country. ... All of this is not mine. It's Egypt's."
El-Sissi was responding to claims by contractor Mohammed Ali, who said he had worked for the military for 15 years.
The president said his government has been building some of the biggest art and culture projects in the world in the country's $45 billion new administrative capital — el-Sissi's brainchild located in the desert east of the capital of Cairo.
He denied corruption allegations as "sheer lies and defamation," without elaborating.
He portrayed Ali's videos as an attempt to weaken Egypt and undermine the public's trust and confidence in the military and its leader.
"The military is a patriotic, honest and firm military. Its firmness stems from its honor," he said angrily.
Appearing to fight back tears, el-Sissi said he risked his life when, as defense minister, he led the military's overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.
Ali said he recorded his video statements in Spain over the past week.
Hashtags with his name have been trending for days as he addressed millions of Egyptians using his cellphone while sitting in a closed office in an unknown location in European exile.
Ali claimed he left Egypt while the military owes him 220 million Egyptian pounds, or $13 million, for services he provided. He did not provide evidence to support his claims.
While it's nearly impossible to verify Ali's claims without an independent investigation, his company's official website says the firm is involved in joint projects worth millions of dollars with the Egyptian army.
Ali's father Ali Abdel-Khaleq, who is a retired army commando, confirmed the close relationship between his son's companies and the army in a lengthy interview on a pro-el-Sissi TV network called Sada al-Balad.
He denied, however, that the military owes his son money and said it's the other way around. "I am shocked and devastated very much. The army is my life," he said.
El-Sissi's supporters accused Ali of conspiring against the military after being lured by the Muslim Brotherhood, the now outlawed Islamist political group treated as the state's No. 1 enemy.
Ahmed Moussa, a well-known TV presenter loyal to el-Sissi, earlier this month on his talk-show described Ali as a "fugitive" who fled the country for failing to settle debts after receiving hefty bank loans.
Egypt's Dar al-Ifta, an Islamic educational institution that is in charge of religious edicts, posted on Twitter in apparent dismissive reference to Mohammed Ali: "If you see a man who is defending the truth but is cursing, insulting, with anger, then learn that he has bad intentions because the truth isn't in need of such (actions)."
Ali said his company, Amlak for General Contracting, has carried out projects with the military's business arm, the so-called Engineering Authority.
The authority became the biggest contractor for the country's mega projects, worth billions of dollars. However, due to many limitations either in expertise or capacity, the authority subcontracted with hundreds of civilian companies in return for a margin of profit.
Over the years, critics have questioned the expanding role of the military in the business world and economic interests and the seemingly unfair competition with the country's private sector. They say the military enjoys advantages because it's exempted from taxation and proper auditing.
In recent remarks, military spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said the total number of projects carried out by the army reached 2,300 and that 5 million Egyptians are working on them.
El-Sissi, who became president in 2014, said the military has overseen road projects costing 175 billion pounds, or just over $1 billion, and that his government has carried out projects worth more than $245 billion. He said he would inaugurate 14 new cities next year.
He had said the projects, ranging from new roads and housing complexes to an $8.5 billion military-led expansion of the Suez Canal, attract investors and create jobs.
Critics say the costs of such projects like the Suez Canal expansion and the new capital would have been better spent on rebuilding the wrecked economy and improving health and education.
The launch of costly projects with little debate, at a time when Egyptians are struggling amid skyrocketing prices, is seen by critics as evidence of el-Sissi's authoritarianism.
El-Sissi often lashes out at those who question him, telling Egyptians to listen only to him and saying he's answerable to God alone.
London, Sep 14 (AP/UNB) — The British prime minister who called the 2016 Brexit referendum and then saw the public vote to leave the European Union, creating the nation's prolonged political crisis, says he is sorry for the divisions it has caused.
David Cameron said in an interview published Saturday that he thinks about the consequences of the Brexit referendum "every single day" and worries "desperately" about what will happen next.
"I deeply regret the outcome and accept that my approach failed," he said. "The decisions I took contributed to that failure. I failed."
It is the closest the 52-year-old Cameron has come to a public apology for setting in motion events that led to the abrupt end of his premiership the next month and brought Britain into an unending political crisis. He admitted that many people blame him for the Brexit divisions that have deepened since the referendum and will never forgive him, but he defended his decision to call the vote.
Cameron, who served as prime minister from 2010 to 2016, spoke to The Times newspaper to promote his soon-to-be-published memoir.
He had supported remaining in the EU and resigned the morning after the 2016 referendum, staying out of electoral politics and largely out of the public eye since then.
His successor — Theresa May — wrestled with all the issues that leaving the EU entails and was not able to win parliamentary backing for a divorce plan that she agreed upon with EU leaders. She resigned, bringing fellow Conservative Boris Johnson to power in July.
Johnson, who faces an Oct. 31 deadline for leaving the EU, has said he plans to leave on that day "do or die." He has been instructed by Parliament to seek a Brexit extension, which he says he will not do despite concerns that leaving without a deal would cause severe economic problems and possible food and medicine shortages. He is meeting with European leaders on Monday to search for some compromise.
In the interview, Cameron attacked former allies Johnson and Michael Gove, who helped spearhead the "Leave" campaign.
Cameron says they "left the truth at home" during the campaign, citing among other things the false claim that Britain could save 350 million pounds per week that was being sent to the EU and give it to the country's beloved National Health Service.
He said the Brexit referendum turned into a Conservative Party "psychodrama" and that he had been "hugely depressed" about leaving his post as prime minister.
Cameron's negative comments about Johnson came after it was revealed in court that Johnson referred to Cameron as a "girly swot" in written notes.
Cameron also turned to Twitter on Saturday to draw more attention to his book and the excerpts being published in The Times, tweeting "for 3 years I have kept relatively quiet about politics. But I think it's right former PMs write their memoirs, to explain what they did and why."
His book, "For the Record," is out Thursday.