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Airbus signed a deal worth tens of billions of dollars on Monday to sell 300 aircraft to China as part of a trade package coinciding with a visit to Europe by Chinese President Xi Jinping and matching a China record held by rival Boeing.

The deal between Airbus and China’s state buying agency, China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, which regularly coordinates headline-grabbing deals during diplomatic visits, will include 290 A320-family jets and 10 A350 wide-body jets.

French officials said the deal was worth some 30 billion euros at catalogue prices. Planemakers usually grant significant discounts.

The larger-than-expected order, which matches an order for 300 Boeing planes when U.S. Donald Trump visited Beijing in 2017, follows a year-long vacuum of purchases in which China failed to place significant orders amid global trade tensions.

It also comes as the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX has left uncertainty over Boeing’s immediate hopes for a major jet order as the result of any warming of U.S.-China trade ties.

There was no evidence of any direct connection between the Airbus deal and Sino-U.S. tensions or Boeing fleet problems, but China watchers say Beijing has a history of sending diplomatic signals or playing off suppliers through state aircraft deals.

“The conclusion of a big (aviation) contract … is an important step forward and an excellent signal in the current context,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint address with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The United States and China are edging towards a possible deal to ease a months-long tariff row and a deal involving as many as 200-300 Boeing jets had until recently been expected as part of the possible rapprochement.

Long-term relationship

China was also the first to ground the newest version of Boeing’s workhorse 737 model earlier this month following a deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash, touching off a series of regulatory actions worldwide.

Asked if negotiations had accelerated as a result of the Boeing grounding or other issues, Airbus planemaking chief and designated chief executive Guillaume Faury told reporters, “This is a long-term relationship with our Chinese partners that evolves over time; it is a strong sign of confidence.”

China has become a key hunting ground for Airbus and its leading rival Boeing, thanks to surging travel demand.

But whether Airbus or Boeing is involved, analysts say diplomatic deals frequently contain a mixture of new demand, repeats of older orders and credits against future deals, meaning the immediate impact is not always clear.

The outlook has also been complicated by Beijing’s desire to grow its own industrial champions and, more recently for Boeing, the U.S.-China trade war.

French President Macron unexpectedly failed to clinch an Airbus order for 184 planes during a trip to China in early 2018 and the two sides have been working to salvage it.

Industry sources have said the year’s delay in Airbus negotiations, as well as a buying freeze during the U.S. tariff row, created latent demand for jets to feed China’s growth.

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Airbus signed a deal worth tens of billions of dollars on Monday to sell 300 aircraft to China as part of a trade package coinciding with a visit to Europe by Chinese President Xi Jinping and matching a China record held by rival Boeing.

The deal between Airbus and China’s state buying agency, China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, which regularly coordinates headline-grabbing deals during diplomatic visits, will include 290 A320-family jets and 10 A350 wide-body jets.

French officials said the deal was worth some 30 billion euros at catalogue prices. Planemakers usually grant significant discounts.

The larger-than-expected order, which matches an order for 300 Boeing planes when U.S. Donald Trump visited Beijing in 2017, follows a year-long vacuum of purchases in which China failed to place significant orders amid global trade tensions.

It also comes as the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX has left uncertainty over Boeing’s immediate hopes for a major jet order as the result of any warming of U.S.-China trade ties.

There was no evidence of any direct connection between the Airbus deal and Sino-U.S. tensions or Boeing fleet problems, but China watchers say Beijing has a history of sending diplomatic signals or playing off suppliers through state aircraft deals.

“The conclusion of a big (aviation) contract … is an important step forward and an excellent signal in the current context,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint address with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The United States and China are edging towards a possible deal to ease a months-long tariff row and a deal involving as many as 200-300 Boeing jets had until recently been expected as part of the possible rapprochement.

Long-term relationship

China was also the first to ground the newest version of Boeing’s workhorse 737 model earlier this month following a deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash, touching off a series of regulatory actions worldwide.

Asked if negotiations had accelerated as a result of the Boeing grounding or other issues, Airbus planemaking chief and designated chief executive Guillaume Faury told reporters, “This is a long-term relationship with our Chinese partners that evolves over time; it is a strong sign of confidence.”

China has become a key hunting ground for Airbus and its leading rival Boeing, thanks to surging travel demand.

But whether Airbus or Boeing is involved, analysts say diplomatic deals frequently contain a mixture of new demand, repeats of older orders and credits against future deals, meaning the immediate impact is not always clear.

The outlook has also been complicated by Beijing’s desire to grow its own industrial champions and, more recently for Boeing, the U.S.-China trade war.

French President Macron unexpectedly failed to clinch an Airbus order for 184 planes during a trip to China in early 2018 and the two sides have been working to salvage it.

Industry sources have said the year’s delay in Airbus negotiations, as well as a buying freeze during the U.S. tariff row, created latent demand for jets to feed China’s growth.

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British lawmakers voted on Monday to wrest control of Brexit from Prime Minister Theresa May for a day in a bid to find a way through the European Union divorce impasse that a majority in parliament could support.

Lawmakers should now vote on a range of Brexit options on Wednesday, giving parliament a chance to indicate whether it can agree on a deal with closer ties to Brussels, and then try to push the government in that direction.

The move underlined to what extent May has lost her authority, although she said the government would not be bound by the results of the so-called indicative votes on Wednesday.

Monday’s vote was put forward by Oliver Letwin, a lawmaker in May’s Conservative Party, and came after the prime minister admitted that the deal she had agreed with the EU after two years of talks still did not have enough support to pass.

Lawmakers backed Letwin’s proposal by 329 votes to 302, and were almost certain to confirm their decision in the final vote of the evening on the overall “motion as amended.”

Earlier, May said the proposal would set an unwelcome precedent and could lead to support for an outcome to which the EU itself would not agree.

“No government could give a blank cheque to commit to an outcome without knowing what it is,” May said before the vote. “So I cannot commit the government to delivering the outcome of any votes held by this house.”

Last week, the EU agreed to delay Britain’s original March 29 departure date because of the deadlock. Now, it will leave the EU on May 22 if May’s deal is approved by parliament this week. If not, it will have until April 12 to outline its plans.

Monday’s vote was an attempt to find a way to come up with such a plan European Council President Donald Tusk said last week that all Brexit options were still open for Britain until April 12, including a deal, a departure with no deal, a long extension – or even revoking Article 50 and remaining in the EU.

But nearly three years after the 2016 EU membership referendum and four days before Britain was supposed to leave the bloc, it was still unclear how, when or if Brexit would take place, with parliament and the nation still bitterly divided.

May’s deal was defeated in parliament by 149 votes on March 12 and by 230 votes on Jan. 15, but she had signaled that she would bring it back a third time this week.

To get her deal passed, May must win over at least 75 MPs who voted against her on March 12 – dozens of rebels in her Conservative Party, some opposition Labour Party MPs and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government but has voted against the deal so far.

“Why would the prime minister ever expect us to give support to an agreement which is based on a lie?” DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told BBC television.

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British lawmakers voted on Monday to wrest control of Brexit from Prime Minister Theresa May for a day in a bid to find a way through the European Union divorce impasse that a majority in parliament could support.

Lawmakers should now vote on a range of Brexit options on Wednesday, giving parliament a chance to indicate whether it can agree on a deal with closer ties to Brussels, and then try to push the government in that direction.

The move underlined to what extent May has lost her authority, although she said the government would not be bound by the results of the so-called indicative votes on Wednesday.

Monday’s vote was put forward by Oliver Letwin, a lawmaker in May’s Conservative Party, and came after the prime minister admitted that the deal she had agreed with the EU after two years of talks still did not have enough support to pass.

Lawmakers backed Letwin’s proposal by 329 votes to 302, and were almost certain to confirm their decision in the final vote of the evening on the overall “motion as amended.”

Earlier, May said the proposal would set an unwelcome precedent and could lead to support for an outcome to which the EU itself would not agree.

“No government could give a blank cheque to commit to an outcome without knowing what it is,” May said before the vote. “So I cannot commit the government to delivering the outcome of any votes held by this house.”

Last week, the EU agreed to delay Britain’s original March 29 departure date because of the deadlock. Now, it will leave the EU on May 22 if May’s deal is approved by parliament this week. If not, it will have until April 12 to outline its plans.

Monday’s vote was an attempt to find a way to come up with such a plan European Council President Donald Tusk said last week that all Brexit options were still open for Britain until April 12, including a deal, a departure with no deal, a long extension – or even revoking Article 50 and remaining in the EU.

But nearly three years after the 2016 EU membership referendum and four days before Britain was supposed to leave the bloc, it was still unclear how, when or if Brexit would take place, with parliament and the nation still bitterly divided.

May’s deal was defeated in parliament by 149 votes on March 12 and by 230 votes on Jan. 15, but she had signaled that she would bring it back a third time this week.

To get her deal passed, May must win over at least 75 MPs who voted against her on March 12 – dozens of rebels in her Conservative Party, some opposition Labour Party MPs and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government but has voted against the deal so far.

“Why would the prime minister ever expect us to give support to an agreement which is based on a lie?” DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told BBC television.

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The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots warns chances of achieving a U.N. treaty banning the development, production and use of fully autonomous lethal weapons, also known as killer robots, are looking increasingly remote.  Experts from some 80 countries are attending a weeklong meeting to discuss the prospect of negotiating an international treaty. 

Representatives from about 80 countries have been meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems since 2014.  They have to decide by November to begin negotiations on a new treaty to regulate killer robots. 

Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams says Russia has been in the forefront of a group of countries, including the United States and Australia, trying to block movement in this direction.  At the opening session, she tells VOA that Russia argued for drastically limiting discussions on the need for meaningful human control over lethal autonomous weapons.

“It is very unlikely as they finish up this year that there will be a mandate to meaningfully deal with meaningful human control, which is fundamental in our view to how you deploy such systems,” Williams said. “There would be no utility in continuing to come here and hear the same blah, blah, blah over and over again.” 

Williams said the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots may have to resort to civil activism to get an accord banning killer robots.  She said such tactics successfully achieved international treaties banning land mines and cluster munitions outside the United Nations framework.

But for now, the activists are not giving up on persuading U.N. member countries to take the right course.  They said delegating life-and death decisions to machines crosses what they call a moral red line and should not be allowed to happen.  

They said they have strong support for their stance from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In a statement to delegates attending the meeting, he warned of the dangers of giving machines the power and discretion to take lives without human involvement.

He called this morally repugnant and politically unacceptable.  He said these weapons should be prohibited by international law.

 

 

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The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots warns chances of achieving a U.N. treaty banning the development, production and use of fully autonomous lethal weapons, also known as killer robots, are looking increasingly remote.  Experts from some 80 countries are attending a weeklong meeting to discuss the prospect of negotiating an international treaty. 

Representatives from about 80 countries have been meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems since 2014.  They have to decide by November to begin negotiations on a new treaty to regulate killer robots. 

Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams says Russia has been in the forefront of a group of countries, including the United States and Australia, trying to block movement in this direction.  At the opening session, she tells VOA that Russia argued for drastically limiting discussions on the need for meaningful human control over lethal autonomous weapons.

“It is very unlikely as they finish up this year that there will be a mandate to meaningfully deal with meaningful human control, which is fundamental in our view to how you deploy such systems,” Williams said. “There would be no utility in continuing to come here and hear the same blah, blah, blah over and over again.” 

Williams said the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots may have to resort to civil activism to get an accord banning killer robots.  She said such tactics successfully achieved international treaties banning land mines and cluster munitions outside the United Nations framework.

But for now, the activists are not giving up on persuading U.N. member countries to take the right course.  They said delegating life-and death decisions to machines crosses what they call a moral red line and should not be allowed to happen.  

They said they have strong support for their stance from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In a statement to delegates attending the meeting, he warned of the dangers of giving machines the power and discretion to take lives without human involvement.

He called this morally repugnant and politically unacceptable.  He said these weapons should be prohibited by international law.

 

 

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British Prime Minister Theresa May says she does not have enough support in parliament to hold a third vote on a deal for Britain’s exit from the European Union.

“But I also indicated that I was continuing to talk to colleagues across this House [of Commons], and I would hope to be able to bring back a vote in this House that enables us to guarantee Brexit,” she told parliament.

May’s proposed deal for Britain to leave the European Union has been rejected twice. At present, Britain is set to leave the bloc without a deal on April 12 — an outcome which May has said she will avoid.

May said that she is “skeptical” that indicative votes for alternative Brexit plans would provide a clear path to the divorce.

Northern Ireland’s DUP and many other lawmakers oppose May’s Brexit deal because of the Irish backstop clause — a proposal that would prevent a physical border between Ireland (which would remain a member of the EU) and Northern Ireland (part of Britain).

May has come under increasing scrutiny, facing calls to step down even from within her party, as the country’s exit from EU proves complicated.

 

 

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Ukraine is getting set to choose a new president – with the first round of voting scheduled for March 31. The leading two candidates will then face a run off two weeks later to determine who will lead a country still at war with Russia. As Henry Ridgwell reports from Kyiv, the election now appears to be a three-way race between the incumbent Petro Poroshenko, the well-known politician Yulia Tymoshenko, and a television comedian – who has come out of nowhere to lead the polls.

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