JORDAN

Kingdom to retake lands leased by Israel

Jordan’s king announced Sunday that his country is reassuming “full sovereignty” over two pieces of land leased by Israel, reflecting the cool relations between the neighboring countries as they mark the 25th anniversary of their landmark peace deal.

King Abdullah II had said last year that he would not renew the parts of the 1994 treaty that gave Israel a 25-year lease of Baqura and Ghamr.

The nations’ foreign ministries said Israeli farmers would be allowed to harvest this season’s crops in Ghamr, known in Hebrew as Tsofar. They also said that Jordan would respect private land ownership rights in Baqura, or Naharayim in Hebrew.

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But Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said farmers would require a visa and would have to enter the areas through official border crossings, instead of simply entering freely as they do now.

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The announcement marked a new blow to ties that have steadily deteriorated amid tensions over Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its policies in East Jerusalem.

— Associated Press

IRAN

2nd nuclear reactor being built at plant

Iran began pouring concrete Sunday for a second nuclear reactor at its Bushehr power plant, a facility Tehran cites as its reason to break the enrichment limit set by its unraveling 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani announced Sunday that Iran has discovered a new oil field with over 50 billion barrels of crude oil. The find could boost the country’s proven reserves by a third as it struggles to sell energy abroad amid U.S. sanctions imposed after President Trump pulled the United States from the nuclear deal in May 2018.

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Rouhani said the field is in southern Khuzestan province.

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Since the U.S. pullout from the deal, the other countries involved have been struggling to save it. However, they have offered no means by which Iran can sell its oil abroad. Iran since has gone beyond the deal’s stockpile and enrichment limits, and has started using advanced centrifuges barred by the deal.

Bushehr is fueled by uranium produced in Russia, not Iran, and is monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, Iran began 4.5 percent enrichment in part to supply Bushehr despite the deal limiting it to 3.67 percent.

Officials say the new reactor, and a third planned to be built, will each add more than 1,000 megawatts to Iran’s power grid.

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— Associated Press

SPAIN

Socialists win, but

far-right Vox surges

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists won Spain’s national election on Sunday, but large gains by the upstart far-right Vox party appear certain to widen the political deadlock in the European Union’s fifth-largest economy.

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After a fourth national ballot in as many years and the second in less than seven months, the left-wing Socialist Workers’ Party held on as the leading power in the national parliament. With 99.9 percent of the votes counted, the Socialists captured 120 seats, down three seats from the last election in April and still far from the absolute majority of 176 needed to form a government alone.

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The big political shift came as right-wing voters flocked to Vox, which broke into parliament in the spring for the first time. Sunday’s outcome means there will be no immediate end to the stalemate between forces on the right and the left in Spain, suggesting that the country could go many more weeks or even months without a new government.

The far-right party led by Santiago Abascal, 43, who speaks of “reconquering” Spain in terms that echo the medieval wars between Christian and Moorish forces, rocketed from 24 to 52 seats. That will make Vox the third-leading party in the Congress of Deputies, giving it much more leverage in forming a government and crafting legislation.

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The party has vowed to be much tougher on Catalan separatists and migrants.

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— Associated Press

Blast wounds 5 Italian troops in Iraq: A roadside explosion wounded five Italian military personnel in northern Iraq as they returned from a mission aimed at helping Iraqi troops combat the Islamic State militant group, Italian officials said. The Italian Defense Ministry said three of the wounded were in "grave condition." Rear Adm. Fabio Agostini said the five are part of a special forces team.

— From news services

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