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Imran Khan has accused the US of “pushing Pakistan away” despite the country’s help to bring the Afghan Taliban to peace talks.

Reflecting on the two nations’ changing relationship, the Pakistani prime minister said his country would no longer want to be “treated like a hired gun”, referring to the war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and the ongoing US “war on terror”.

Mr Khan and Donald Trump were involved in a Twitter spat last month after the American president suggested Pakistan had harboured Osama bin Laden despite receiving billions in US aid.

Mr Khan told The Washington Post: “I would never want to have a relationship where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun – given money to fight someone else’s war.

“We should never put ourselves in this position again. It not only cost us human lives, devastation of our tribal areas, but it also cost us our dignity. We would like a proper relationship with the US.”

He added: “For instance, our relationship with China is not one-dimensional. It’s a trade relationship between two countries. We want a similar relationship with the US.”

When asked if Pakistan was trying to hedge its bets using China, Mr Khan replied: “The US has basically pushed Pakistan away.”

Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks and the head of al Qaeda, was killed in 2011 during a raid by US special forces on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The raid strained relationship between America and long-time ally in the region.

On Twitter last month following the bin Laden accusations, Mr Khan said Mr Trump needed to be “informed about historical facts”, adding that Pakistan had “suffered enough fighting US’s war [on terror]”.

The former cricketer told the newspaper he was merely “setting the record straight” with Mr Trump “saying Pakistan was the reason for these sanctuaries [for Taliban leaders]”. The Pakistani leader insisted there “are no sanctuaries in Pakistan”.










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US will strip 300m aid from Pakistan

He said: “The exchange was about being blamed for deeply flawed US policies – the military approach to Afghanistan.”

The comments come as Pakistan’s army backed US efforts for a political settlement with the Afghan Taliban to end 17 years of fighting. Major General Asif Ghafoor urged the US to leave Kabul as a “friend of the region” rather than a “failure”.

Mr Khan said peace in Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s interest and vowed to put pressure on the Afghan Taliban but said it was “easier said than done” with “about 40% of Afghanistan now out of the government’s hands”.

On Wednesday, he met with a US peace envoy in Islamabad and pledged to help find a political solution to the long-running war.

During last month’s exchange with Mr Trump, the Pakistani leader said his country had suffered 75,000 casualties and lost $123bn (£95.7bn) during America’s so-called war on terror despite no one from his country being involved in the 9/11 attacks.

He said the US provided a “minuscule” $20bn (£15.6bn) in aid.

In his latest interview, Mr Khan spoke also about his plans to tackle poverty in Pakistan and said he was inspired by the UK’s welfare state.

“I went as an 18-year-old to play cricket in England. It was the first time I saw a welfare state,” he said. “It cared for the underprivileged, for the people who can’t compete in the race.”



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At least 56 die in Bangladesh plastics warehouse fire | World News

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At least 56 people have died and dozens more have been injured in a warehouse fire in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka.

It is feared the number of dead could climb further as firefighters continue to search through the wreckage for more victims.

The blaze broke out in the four-storey building on Wednesday night in the Chawkbazar area of Old Dhaka and quickly spread to neighbouring properties.

The  fire broke out in the Chawkbazar area of Old Dhaka
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The fire broke out in the Chawkbazar area of Old Dhaka

“So far, 56 bodies have been recovered. The number could rise further as searching is still continuing,” Julfikar Rahman, a director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, told Reuters.

He added that at least 50 people had been taken to hospital, some in a critical condition.

At least 50 people have been taken to hospital
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At least 50 people have been taken to hospital

It is reported that the warehouse was full of highly flammable material being stored there and firefighters struggled to access adequate water supplies to fight the blaze.

It is not yet clear what caused the fire.

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Brit jailed in Dubai pleads to come home ahead of court appearance | World News

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A decorated former soldier has called on Britain to help save him from jail in Dubai where he has spent the past four-and-a-half months despite not being charged with a crime.

Andrew Neal, 44, who is accused of selling drugs but denies the allegation, made the appeal in an audio recording from prison that Sky News obtained through an intermediary.

He said he thought a decision on his case could be made by the Dubai authorities today.

“I have been detained for the last 140 days … without charge,” he said.

“I would have thought that the Dubai prosecutors would have released me after all allegations of being involved in this case were removed and statements to that effect were signed…. I just want to go home to the United Kingdom to be with family and friends.

“I want to thank everybody who is helping me and my family during this horrible time.

“I hope that the government in the UK can intervene and get me back to loved ones as soon as possible. Please.”

The ex-soldier is said to have been forced in to signing a confession. Pic: Detained in Dubai
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The ex-soldier is said to have been forced in to signing a confession. Pic: Detained in Dubai

His parents, Maurice and Sue, said they were heartbroken at what has happened to their son, who lived in Dubai with his wife and their two young children.

“We want him back,” the 69-year-old father said, speaking to Sky News at their home just outside Nottingham. “He is a family man. He is missing his wife and his kids terribly.”

Mrs Neal, 66, said she and her husband have barely slept since they first learnt of their son’s arrest in October.

“I want him home, back in this country,” she said.

“I want him with his family and that’s it. He’s my son. He is 6ft tall and I call him ‘little un’ – always have done. He’s my ‘little un’ and I want him home. I just want him home.”

The Dubai police arrested Andrew Neal on 4 October at his apartment in the city.

The campaigning and advocacy group Detained in Dubai, which is representing the Neal family, said he unwittingly signed a confession even though he denies selling drugs.

The veteran’s father accused the police of targeting his son because he is English and drives a red Jeep – the same attributes given by an accuser to officers of the person who allegedly had sold him drugs.

The soldier is due to be in court on Thursday.
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His parents say the foreign office has done nothing

This person has since had retracted his allegation, Maurice Neal said.

He and his wife accused the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of failing to communicate with them about what they were doing to help their son.

“We phoned the foreign office. I was told after a hell of a lot of time, and getting moved from department to department, that because of data protection act we can’t talk to you,” Mr Neal said.

“They were aware of Andrew’s situation but they can’t talk to us and put the phone down and that was after being on the line for nearly an hour.”

Asked how this made them feel, Mrs Neal said: “Angry. Very angry.”

Her husband said: “The phone nearly went through the window.”

They were told someone from the embassy would phone them. “I am still waiting for that call,” Mr Neal said.

The foreign office said it is providing assistance to Andrew Neal and is in touch with his family.

Mr Neal was a military dog handler and trainer during his time in the military. Pic: Detained in Dubai
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Mr Neal was a military dog handler and trainer during his time in the military. Pic: Detained in Dubai

It is understood that consular staff have visited the veteran twice in detention and spoken to him by phone. They are also understood to have been in contact with the police and public prosecution on a number of occasions to ask for updates on the case.

The parents said they would like to see Britain do more to help, all the way up to Theresa May. Mrs Neal said her sister has written to the prime minister to request assistance.

In a message to the foreign office, Mr Neal said: “Get your finger out. Do something. This is an innocent man who has served his country for 24 years, he has PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] diagnosed by the army that is coming back on while in prison right now.”

He continued: “The foreign office have done nothing. If they have done anything we don’t know about it because they haven’t contacted us.”

The couple said their son would never sell drugs.

“He would never get involved, he would cross the street to avoid seeing somebody even smoking a joint or something,” his father said.

They also described how the ordeal was impacting on the former corporal’s children – his daughter, 6 and son, 2 – who cannot understand why their father has disappeared.

The former British soldier is a married father of two. Pic: Detained in Dubai
Image:
The former British soldier is a married father of two. Pic: Detained in Dubai

His wife told their daughter that he was working away and she could talk to him via the moon – telling the moon goodnight before going to bed.

Andrew Neal knew this is what his daughter was doing, so the first time he saw the moon from a prison cell he was so moved “he collapsed,” Mrs Neal said. “He just cried.”

Mr Neal moved to Dubai in 2015 with his family to run a dog training business. He has 14 medals from his time in the army, having served on a number of campaigns including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland.

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Vietnamese hairdresser giving out Trump and Kim cuts | World News

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Two unlikely style icons have emerged in Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi, thanks to a barbershop giving out free Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un haircuts ahead of their summit next week.

About a dozen customers have opted for the politically-inspired ‘dos at the Tuan Duong Beauty Academy, choosing to emulate either the North Korean leader or the president of the United States.

It’s not caused quite the frenzy Jennifer Aniston did in the 90s when scores of fans began adopting her signature ‘Rachel’ hairstyle – but it’s clear the leaders have fans in Vietnam.

Boy is given 'Kim Jong Un' hairstyle
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The haircuts have been given to customers ahead of the leaders’ summit in Hanoi

“Many people say that I look like Kim Jong Un, especially when I have this hairstyle,” said nine-year-old To Gia Huy, who received one of the makeovers.

He said he hoped for a chance to meet the leader when he arrives in the capital for his second summit with President Trump, which follows their historic meeting in Singapore last June.

Hairdresser Le Tuan Duong – who is offering out the free haircuts – decided he needed to do something to mark the event.

Boy sports Kim Jong Un hairstyle
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Nine-year-old To Gia Huy said he wants to meet the North Korean leader

“Hanoi is a city of peace. When Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un decide to come here to talk about restoring peace, I think I should do something to show that Hanoi people welcome the summit,” said Duong.

He said Mr Kim’s hairstyle represents youth while Mr Trump’s displays power.

He also revealed that the North Korean leader’s style was more popular with customers.

Man sports 'Donald Trump' hairstyle
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Le Phuc Hai, 66, has chosen to sport the US President’s signature hairstyle

However, motorcycle taxi driver Le Phuc Hai, 66, chose to emulate Trump’s yellow locks and confessed: “I really like Donald Trump so I want to have (his) hairstyle.”

The summit will see President Trump attempt to encourage North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme and return the country to the nuclear non-proliferation agreement.

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