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  • daboost/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration will announce plans to "cancel" security assistance to Pakistan, a congressional source confirms to ABC News after State Department officials called Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to inform members of Congress.The move comes as President Trump has ramped up his criticism of the unsteady American ally in tweets that blasted the country for giving the U.S. "nothing but lies & deceit."Pakistan is a key partner in the fight against terrorism, but the U.S. has also accused it of supporting terror groups like the Haqqani Network, an independent division of the Taliban responsible for multiple attacks in neighboring Afghanistan.The State Department declined to comment, as did White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders during her briefing Wednesday, saying, "We'll continue to keep you posted as those decisions are finalized."In a tweet Monday, Trump accused Pakistan of taking "more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years" and in return providing "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help.""No more!" he vowed.The comments stirred angry reaction from Pakistan, where protesters burned Trump's image and American flags. The Prime Minister's office issued a long statement condemning Trump's "completely incomprehensible" statement that "contradicted facts manifestly, struck with great insensitivity at the trust between two nations built over generations, and negated the decades of sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation."The statement went on to defend Pakistan's record on terrorism, but did not preview any changes in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship: "Despite all unwarranted allegations, Pakistan cannot act in haste and will remain committed to playing a constructive role towards an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process."The State Department did not specify to Congress what kind of security assistance was being "canceled," how much money it would be, and whether it was temporary or permanent, except to say that, "This is what we're doing," according to the congressional source.The move will include the $255 million the administration withheld from Pakistan at the end of August as part of the administration's new South Asia strategy, which called on Pakistan to do more to take out terrorists."We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting, but that will have to change, and that will change immediately," Trump said in a major address of the new strategy on August 21. "It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace."That $255 million in funds, called foreign military financing, was put on hold so that it did not expire with the new fiscal year, but would not be given to Pakistan either -- until the country started "delivering results," the State Department said at the time.What's also unclear is how much more funding will now be withheld, if any. The State Department had told Congress the announcement would come Wednesday, but there was no word by the end of the day."The action they have taken to date is not insubstantial, but it’s not complete. Pakistan must ultimately decide for itself the degree to which groups like the Taliban and Haqqani Network threaten its place in the international community," the State Department said August 31.Since then, relations seemed to improve. In the fall, both Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis had trips to the country regarded as improvements. Even Trump's criticism softened, with him striking a more conciliatory tone in an October 13 tweet."Starting to develop a much better relationship with Pakistan and its leaders. I want to thank them for their cooperation on many fronts," he wrote after Pakistani security forces helped secure the release of American Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle, and their three children from Taliban
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  • gabriel__bostan/iStock/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- At least 21 people have died in six days of mass protests sweeping Iran, state media reported.Among them were nine protesters who died in clashes with authorities while trying to break into a police station in the town of Qahdarijan in central Isfahan province Monday night, Iranian state television reported.Hundreds of people have also been arrested in Iran's capital in recent days, according to Ali Asghar Naserbakht, the deputy governor of Tehran province.The demonstrations, which began in the northeastern city of Mashhad last week, are the biggest challenge to Iran's Islamic Republic since mass protests erupted over a disputed election in 2009. The ongoing unrest stemmed from grievances over economic hardships and has since expanded into a nationwide show of dissent against the country's leadership.Here are five things to know about the Iran protests:1. The key playersTwo main political factions have controlled post-revolutionary Iran: the reformists and the conservatives. The reformists, represented by former President Mohammad Khatami, support gradual changes to make Iran more free and democratic. The conservatives, who favor Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, support maintaining and preserving the authoritarian status quo.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won the 2013 election as a moderate backed by reformists, promising greater freedoms for Iranians and detente abroad after years of global sanctions against the country amid two terms of a conservative presidency. Rouhani led Iran through two years of negotiations with the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Germany and China that resulted in a historic deal in 2015, under which Iran agreed to limit its controversial nuclear development program in return for sanctions relief.Rouhani, again backed by reformists, won re-election in a landslide vote in 2017. The president vowed to stabilize the economy and further improve international relations during his second term. But he has faced numerous obstacles to fulfilling those promises.Among those challenges were thousands of unlicensed credit and finance institutions in Iran that had flourished during the two terms of Rouhani's predecessor. These institutions had lured millions of customers, hoping to make money amid a stagnant economy by offering high interest rates on deposits in the Iranian currency. But because of extensive corruption, many of them collapsed and went bankrupt.Countless Iranians lost their savings, leading to a series of small protests across the country in recent months.Sanctions were eased after the nuclear deal, but Rouhani decided to amend tax regulations to compensate for Iran's shrinking oil revenue. Iranians have used smartphones and social networks to closely monitor the policy move since the president submitted a draft 2018 budget to parliament Dec. 10.While proposing the budget plan, Rouhani acknowledged that six financial institutions used to control 25 percent of the country's currency market and that he struggled to curb the corruption. The budget proposal also revealed plans to increase the price of fuel, as well as the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars to the clergy and the hardliner institutions under their control, while the government would slash spending for infrastructure projects and cash subsidies.The budget plan is still under review.Many Iranians took to social media to express discontent over inequality and to demand that the government devote more money and attention to the country's low-income population, rather than the clergy. Rouhani openly said he supported the criticism and urged Iranians to keep pushing for their demands.2. How the protests startedOn Dec. 28, about two weeks after the budget proposal, an anti-government protest was held in Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city and hometown of the supreme leader. The demonstration was reportedly organized by conservatives to try to weaken R
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  • SUNG YOON JO/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Though the "nuclear button" North Korea's leader said he has on his desk probably doesn't exist, his threatening posture toward the United States in his New Year's address was clear. A top U.N. official who visited the secretive country last month told ABC he believes the risk of accidental war is real.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A Delta flight from Atlanta to London was turned around twice overnight Wednesday, according to a report.Delta Flight 284 took off from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday, but was turned around after pilots heard a mysterious noise coming from the plane, the airline told ABC affiliate WSB.The plane, which was flying over North Carolina at the time of the diversion, landed back in Atlanta just before 9:30 p.m., according to airline tracking firm FlightAware.A Delta representative told WSB that the passengers would be placed on another flight, which took off at around 12:11 a.m., but that flight was also turned around, according to FlightAware data.It landed back in Atlanta at 1:30 a.m., FlightAware said. The reason for the second return was not immediately clear.Delta did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- North Korea will re-open the inter-Korean communication line on Wednesday afternoon to discuss sending a delegation to next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea, the isolated regime announced.
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