Articles by "Europe"

Outgoing council chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council Nicholas Holgate (Photo by AFP)
Council chief of Kensington and Chelsea Nicholas Holgate has stepped down after coming under fire for the borough’s handling of the last week blaze that killed 79 people at the Grenfell Tower.
In a statement on Wednesday, Holgate said the deadly fire was "heart-breaking" but he had to resign to avoid causing a "distraction."
"Despite my wish to have continued, in very challenging circumstances, to lead on the executive responsibilities of the council, I have decided that it is better to step down from my role, once an appropriate successor has been appointed,” said Holgate, who took on the job in 2014.
Holgate blamed his resignation on the government of UK Prime Minister Theresa May, a claim that was denied.
Demonstrators hold a banner in support of Grenfell Tower victims in London, June 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Noting that he communities and local government secretary had on Tuesday "required the leader of the council to seek my resignation," Holgate said Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid had forced him to give up his position.
The claim was dismissed by a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government, who said, "The appointment of chief executives is entirely the responsibility of the local authority."
Holgate hoped that the ongoing investigations would reveal “the truth of the causes of this tragedy.”
Labour welcomes the decision
Shadow housing secretary John Healey welcomed Holgate’s resignation, saying he was “right to go.”
“His council went awol in the days after this terrible fire - at a time when the victims, survivors, those families still looking for their family members who were missing, needed help on the ground and, above all, someone to reassure them and coordinate the relief and help efforts,” he told BBC.
The government and the council have come under heavy fire for their response to the fire.
May and members of the local council stirred outrage when they walked back earlier pledges to re-house the survivors of the fire in the same neighborhood.
The burned-out shell of the Grenfell Tower block. (Photo by AFP)
May also faced overwhelming pressure after it was revealed that the former Gavin Barwell, the former housing minister who was recently appointed as the prime minister’s adviser, had failed to OK a fire safety review request he had received.
The council has been accused of using a banned cladding material during that £8.6m refurbishment of the tower. The material has been blamed for the fire’s quick spread to all floors.
May has ordered these and all other allegations to be included in a full public inquiry into the fire.

Russian diplomat Vladimir Voronkov, who has been appointed as the first head of new UN Counterterrorism Office (file photo)
The United Nations (UN)’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed a veteran Russian diplomat, Vladimir Voronkov, as the first head of the world body’s newly established Counterterrorism Office.
Voronkov “will provide strategic leadership to UN counterterrorism efforts, participate in the decision-making process of the UN and ensure that the cross-cutting origins and impact of terrorism are reflected in [its] work,” Guterres’ deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said while announcing the appointment on Wednesday.
The appointment came a week after the 193-member UN General Assembly agreed to establish the new office with an objective to boost counterterrorism efforts, which had previously been distributed among several UN agencies and departments.
On Tuesday, Guterres said at a press conference that the world body had “a problem of coordination of the 38 entities that within the UN deal with counterterrorism. So it makes full sense to have a dedicated office.”
Voronkov, 64, who henceforth has the high-level rank of undersecretary-general, has over 30 years of experience with the Russian foreign service, working primarily within the UN. He had served as Russia’s representative to UN organizations in Vienna, Austria, since 2011, including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which deals with counterterrorism.
Voronkov has also served as Russia’s deputy ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), from 2005 to 2008, and on the board of governors of the UN’s global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“The secretary-general considers counterterrorism and prevention of violent extremism to be one of the highest priorities of the United Nations to address a growing threat to international peace and security,” Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric also said on the necessity of creating the new office.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
Russia has canceled a high-level meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon in response to Washington's new sanctions against Moscow.
Ryabkov, in a statement posted on the site of Russia's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, accused the United States of failing to propose anything tangible to improve relations.
"Previous multiple waves of American sanctions haven't achieved the result which their initiators had hoped for. Any new attempts to make Russia 'bow down' will be just as futile," the Russian official stated.
The statement also said the move "is a continuation of the trend set by the Obama administration aimed at ruining relations between our countries." It referred to the administration of former US President Barack Obama.  
The sanctions seriously undermine Washington's assertions that it wants dialogue with Moscow, the statement said.
The Russian diplomat was meant to be meeting Shannon in St. Petersburg on Friday to discuss "problems in bilateral ties."
Ryabkov has also called the new sanctions a "political gift" to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was on a visit to the United States on Tuesday.
Washington recently added 38 individuals and organizations to its list of those sanctioned over alleged Russian activities in Ukraine.
US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon (Photo by AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin also recently warned that the new sanctions by the Senate against Russia will complicate relations between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the US State Department said it regretted the cancellation.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, in a statement, accused Russia of violating the sovereignty of Ukraine.
"Let's remember that these sanctions didn't just come out of nowhere. Our targeted sanctions were imposed in response to Russia's ongoing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbor, Ukraine," she said.
The sanctions were approved by the Senate on Thursday by 98 to 2, but it still needs to pass the House of Representatives and be signed by US President Donald Trump to become law.
The bans bill mainly affect firms cooperating with Russian oil and gas companies, including BASF, Shell, Engie, OMV, Wintershall, and Uniper, taking part in the Nord Stream 2 project.
American policymakers are considering the new round of sanctions in an attempt to punish Russia for alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and for backing the government in Damascus since the crisis in Syria started in March 2011.
Trump has been a staunch supporter of improving relations with the United States’ former Cold War foe.
The intelligence community, however, has concluded that Russia played a role in the presidential election held last November.
Russia and the West have been imposing sanctions against each other since the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea rejoined the Russian Federation in 2014.
While the West’s economic and financial sanctions harmed Russian exports, Moscow retaliated by banning imports of Western food and barred some individuals from entering Russia.

A picture taken on June 21, 2017 shows Croatian taxi cars parked in the main avenue to perturb traffic in Zagreb, to protest against controversial competitor ride-sharing Uber. (Photo by AFP)
Hundreds of Croatian taxi drivers on Wednesday blocked one of the capital's main boulevards with their cars to protest against Uber services in the country.
They demanded that the US-based ride-hailing company's app be banned, claiming it has been operating illegally in the country for two years.
The Croatian government on Wednesday discussed the protesters' demands and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said "we have concluded that transportation via Uber is against the current regulations in the Republic of Croatia."
Plenkovic said authorities already have carried out 170 inspections, handed down fines worth 5.2 million Croatian kunas (700,000 euros; $779,000) and confiscated 11 cars over the issue. He urged the taxi protesters to stop their action until a solution is worked out.
Uber issued a statement saying that the blocking of Zagreb streets "poses a threat to the citizens and infrastructure."
"This type of pressure represents a relic of bygone times — it is unacceptable nowadays, and it is not an example of (how) a modern European state should function," the statement said. "We support the adoption of a new regulation that would give consumers more choice and promote competition."
A man gets in an Uber SUV in Manhattan a day after it was announced that Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence as chief executive on June 14, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by AFP)
Doris Kosta, the protesters' legal representative, said that "no one can work illegally" in Croatia.
Last December, the company said that Uber's drivers follow all the rules in Croatia and pay the appropriate taxes. It said that this kind of a model is different to a taxi, and is a car rental with a driver.
There are an estimated 5,000 Uber drivers in Croatia, offering cheaper prices than ordinary taxi services. Some 100,000 Croats use the Uber app, according to the company.
Uber has recently introduced its UberBoat service on the Croatian Adriatic coast, offering trips from the resorts of Split, Dubrovnik and Hvar to nearby islands.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her son Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales prepare to take their seats as they arrive in the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament in the Houses of Parliament in London on June 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

UK Queen Elizabeth II has presented Prime Minister Theresa May’s policies to the new Parliament, at a tumultuous time for Britain and as May’s future in power remain uncertain.
The queen took to Westminster on Wednesday to read out a list of the government's intentions for the lawmakers on their first day in office, following the June 8 snap general election that saw May’s Conservative Party lose its narrow majority.
The legislative program that the monarch laid out on behalf of May was a pared-down version of her party manifesto for the election and dropped some key promises to instead focus on Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).
“My government’s priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union,” said Elizabeth II. “My ministers are committed to working with Parliament, the devolved administrations, business and others to build the widest possible consensus on the country’s future outside the European Union.”
Eight of the 27 bills that were included in the agenda revolved around Brexit, while the rest were focused on other issues such as the recent wave of terror attacks that hit Britain as well as the deadly apartment block fire in Grenfell Tower last week.
Absent on the list, however, were May’s manifesto pledges to tax the elderly more heavily for their own care and slash free lunches for schoolchildren, the very unpopular policies that were blamed for May’s uninspiring election performance.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attends the first session of Parliament, June 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Faced with growing calls to step down since the vote, May has been struggling to save her reign by striking a deal for a minority government with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The deal plunged into new jeopardy on Wednesday after the DUP handed in an expensive £2 billion list of demands to the Tories, including £1 billion pumped into the health service in Northern Ireland and a similar figure for infrastructure projects, according to the BBC.
If true, this would make it impossible to get a deal on Thursday, the new deadline that was announced after a series of similar delays.
Notwithstanding the uncertain future she faces, May has decided to press ahead with the previous schedule for the EU talks. UK Brexit Secretary David Davis held the first round of talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday.
Corbyn attacks May
Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who managed to win many seats for his party in the election against all odds, took the opportunity on Wednesday to attack May and pitch himself as her replacement.

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament shows Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as she responds to Prime Minister Theresa May, June 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The opposition leader, who refused to bow to the queen, said at the beginning of the parliamentary session that the government has "apparently run out of ideas altogether."
While noting that Labour was "a government in waiting," Corbyn said people in many traditionally Tory areas had chosen “hope over fear” by voting for his party.
The so-called Queen’s Speech was marred by “Day of Rage” protests outside Westminster, where hundreds of Londoners had gathered to call for May’s resignation.

Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu addresses the parliament during a no-confidence vote in Bucharest on June 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Romania's government fell Wednesday after the ruling party took the unusual step of passing a no-confidence vote in its own prime minister following internal power struggles.
The left-wing Social Democrat party (PSD) filed the motion against premier Sorin Grindeanu barely six months after winning an election.
The PSD unexpectedly withdrew its support for Grindeanu on June 14, accusing him of "delays" in implementing reforms in the European Union's second-poorest country.
Grindeanu however refused to resign and denounced powerful PSD boss Liviu Dragnea for seeking to "concentrate all the power in his hands".
Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, on the screen, addresses the parliament during a no-confidence vote in Bucharest on June 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The 54-year-old, who led his party to a thumping poll victory in December, is barred from running for office because of a voter fraud conviction.
Nonetheless he continued to pull the government strings behind the scenes once Grindeanu became premier in January.
At first Grindeanu complied but recently began asserting his independence, which reportedly led to the current crisis.
Wednesday's no-confidence motion passed with 241 to 10 votes.
The PSD and its small ally, the ALDE party, are now expected to propose a new premier to center-right President Klaus Iohannis.
Once nominated, the incoming prime minister will then have 10 days to secure a vote of confidence in parliament for his cabinet and policy plans.
Ahead of the vote, Iohannis had urged the government to quickly resolve the crisis.
Romania's economy has been doing well, enjoying the fastest growth rate -- 5.6 percent -- in the EU in the first quarter, while efforts to tackle corruption have begun to bear fruit.
But the country of 20 million inhabitants can ill afford political instability, with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission warning more reforms are sorely needed.

This artist rendering provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows some of the 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and in the habitable zone of their star identified by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. (Photo by AP)
Europe has given the green light to a project to find habitable planets like Earth in other star systems.
The University of Warwick, whose scientists will participate in the project, said in a statement on Wednesday that the mission "could eventually even lead to the detection of extra-terrestrial life."
The statement said a committee of the European Space Agency (ESA), meeting in Madrid, approved PLATO (PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars) on Tuesday, which means "it can move from a blueprint into construction."
The England-based university said, "The PLATO mission will address fundamental questions such as 'how common are Earth-like planets?' and 'is our solar system unusual or even unique?'."
With 26 onboard telescopes, PLATO is scheduled to begin monitoring thousands of stars over a large area of sky in 2026, according to the ESA. The mission will be launched 1.5 million kilometers (about 932,000 miles) into space.
The deep-space observatory is estimated to cost about 600 million euros ($668 million).
The ESA’s mission will join NASA's Kepler observatory in a dedicated search for exoplanets revolving around stars other than our Sun.
A project dubbed LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna), tasked with observing from space gravitational waves, which are created when black holes collide, was also provisionally approved by the ESA on Tuesday.
The mission, which is estimated to cost about one billion euros, is expected to be launched in 2034, if it receives final approval.
The project will include free-floating detectors on three craft, separated by 2.5 million kilometers in a triangular formation, following Earth in its orbit around the Sun.
The ESA said a final approval will depend on the availability of technology and finance.

Hundreds of angry protesters have rallied in the “Day of Rage” demonstrations across London to urge British Prime Minister Theresa May to resign over her failed policies.
The protests began on Wednesday morning, when large groups of people started marching towards the government offices and the parliament building in Westminster as May and Queen Elizabeth II were preparing to address lawmakers.
Chanting “May must go” and “Justice in, Tories out,” the protesters also demanded justice for the people who lost their loved ones and their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire that killed at least 79 people last week.
The event was organized by the Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary, a group that aims to build “a new Britain” through protest rallies.
The group wrote in an incendiary Facebook post that the Tories were waging a "class war" on the working class, declaring that "there will be no peace until this government is brought down."
Demonstrators hold up placards during "Day of Rage" protests in central London, June 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The organization also charged that politicians are looking to “divert rage and fury” by promising reports and investigations into the Grenfell blaze while walking back their promises to re-house the victims.
May had initially promised to house all of the survivors in Kensington, the same neighborhood as the tower, but later on said some people might be required to live out of the borough.
Corbyn as prime minister
Some of the protesters also took the opportunity to renew calls for May to be replaced by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn led a strong campaign during the June 8 snap general election, which saw his party gain more seats in parliament and strip the Tories off their majority.
A woman with holds a placard as she participates in Day of Rage protests in London, June 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The outcome of the vote cost May dearly and worsened her already weak job approval ratings, raising speculations about her future in power.
The protests overshadowed the Queen’s Speech, where May and the queen laid out Britain's policies over the next two years.
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage condemned the protests and said it was not the right time for May to quit.
Meanwhile, the London Socialist Party announced that it was planning to lead another anti-May protest in Parliament Square from 4 pm.
A third separate demonstration, dubbed Stand Up To Racism, was also due to begin on 6 pm.
Since her dismal election performance, May has been struggling to save her faltering reign by forming a minority government with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.

This file photo taken on February 20, 2017 shows a woman wearing a top showing flags of European Union countries during a "Flag Mob" demonstration in Parliament Square in central London on February 20, 2017, part of a national day of action in support of migrants in the UK. (AFP photo)
A study carried out in Britain suggests that the country is receiving far fewer numbers of migrants from European Union countries this year.
The results of the study released on Wednesday by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said migration from EU countries to Britain had fallen sharply in 2016, adding that the number of people arriving from Eastern European countries for work in Britain had fallen by about a third since the Brexit vote in June 2016.
The study said a fall in allocations of National Insurance numbers, required by people looking to work or claim social welfare in Britain, showed a significant decline in the number of people arriving from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
It found that the figure fell to the lowest level since the countries became part of the EU in 2004, adding that about 26,000 nationals of those states had registered with authorities in the first three months of this year, about a third lower than the first quarter of 2016.
The study said a plunge in the pound, which came after the Brexit vote, could be to blame for the fall in migration from EU states to Britain.
"The referendum result led to a wave of concern in global financial markets about the UK economy, which immediately resulted in a decline in the value of the pound against other major currencies, reducing the relative value of wages for foreign workers," said the study.
Estimates suggest that about 3.6 million EU citizens were living in Britain in 2016, one million of them from Poland. A third of those migrants live in London and most of them are employed in farming, catering and the state-run National Health Service.
Carlos Vargas-Silva, the acting director of the Migration Observatory, said Britain was no longer an attractive country for workers. He said migrants are also becoming increasingly irritated by the uncertainty surrounding their long-term legal status in Britain and also an increase in highly-publicized xenophobic attacks.
“We are seeing indications that the UK has become less of an attractive destination for migrants from Poland and the other A8 countries since the referendum on leaving the EU,” Vargas-Silva said.
Britain has officially started negotiations for leaving the EU. Prime Minister Theresa May will announce her plans for the breath-taking talks in the coming days.

World Food Program (WFP) workers unload humanitarian aid parcels that will be distributed to South Sudanese refugees, on May 20, 2017, at Al-Obeid airport in Sudan's North Kordofan state. (AFP photo)
The United Nations has issued a new appeal for humanitarian funds from donor countries, saying the current finances only suffice a quarter of what is needed worldwide.
The UN said on Wednesday that about $23.5 million were required for humanitarian assistance programs around the world this year, adding that only a fourth of that sum had been received.
“New disasters and deteriorating protracted emergencies are driving up the numbers,” the UN said in a statement.
The United Nations is currently providing food and other life-saving humanitarian aid items to people affected by war in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Estimates suggest that about 20 million people face famine in countries such as Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
The UN had initially appealed for 22.2 billion this year but more conflicts and natural disasters made it ask for an extra one billion dollars. It says the total number of people needing aid has reached a record 141 million in 37 countries as a result of flooding in Peru, drought in Kenya and escalating violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Stephen O’Brien, the UN emergency relief coordinator, said there was the need for an increased support to the poor and war-affected people across the world.
"Donors have invested in these efforts but we are in a race against time. People's lives and well-being depend on increasing our collective support,” O’Brien said in a statement.
The revised appeal comes amid warnings from the United States that it could reduce its contribution to UN humanitarian programs. President Donald Trump, who took office in January, has said his administration is reviewing donations. Washington has contributed more than $1.5 billion to UN aid programs this year.

Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a vigil outside Finsbury Park Mosque in north London on June 20, 2017, following a van attack on pedestrians nearby on June 19. (Photo by AFP)
Leader of the UK Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has urged all communities in Britain to stay united following the recent terror attacks in the country.
Corbyn made the comments on Wednesday during a vigil held for victims of Monday’s terror attack outside a mosque in north London.
"Those that set off bombs in London on 7/7 and killed people from this borough. Those that supported and that person who set off that bomb in Manchester that took so many lives, those that killed people with knives on London bridge, and this incident, they were all designed to achieve the same thing; attacks on a community that will bring about a division on all of our communities,” Corbyn said.
British opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (L) meets locals at Finsbury Park Mosque in north London. (Photo by AFP)
“The only response can ever be, one of bringing communities together in solidarity and support for each other at a time of crisis,” he added.  
A large number of people attended the ceremony to pay tribute to those affected by the incident. They held signs and chanted slogans against Islamophobia.
On Monday, Corbyn said, “all mosques across this country will get the protection they need.”
In the early hours of Monday, a van drove into Muslim worshipers outside Finsbury Park Mosque. One person was killed following the assault and nine others were taken to hospitals with injuries. The London Metropolitan Police said the incident was treated as a terrorist attack.
Members of the media gather at a Police near the scene in Finsbury Park area of north London after a vehicle hit pedestrians, on June 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The incident bore the hallmarks of a terrorist attack in the British capital earlier this month.
Terror on and near the London Bridge left at least eight people dead and wounded almost 50 others on June 3.
Eight minutes after the first emergency call, armed police forces killed ringleader Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22.
The vehicle used by the attackers where it crashed into railings at the southern end of London Bridge, June 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The three knife-wielding assailants drove a hired van into pedestrians on the bridge and stabbed others in Borough Market in an attack initially praised and subsequently claimed by the Daesh Takfiri group.
A similar attack on March 22 left five people dead after a man drove a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and stabbed a policeman to death.
Terrorist alert has been set at "severe" in Britain, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu salutes as he reviews units during the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2017. (AFP photo)
Russia has ordered restructuring of its military deployments along its western border in response to NATO’s buildup in the region.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday that Russia was refining defenses on its western flank to respond to NATO's increased deployment of troops and weaponry in neighboring countries.
Shoigu said NATO’s buildup was a clear sign of the Western military alliance’s aggressive, anti-Russia stance.
Tensions have been high between Russia and NATO since a conflict erupted in Ukraine three years ago. Supporting claims of the Ukrainian government, the United States and allies in NATO accused Russia of having a hand in the conflict that has plagued eastern Ukraine. NATO has been beefing up deployments along Russia’s borders based on agreements it had reached earlier with the members but many say it is a result of the confrontation between Russia and the West in Ukraine. Moscow is also irked by NATO’s ever-increasing inclination to expand eastward and says it could undermine the military balance in the region.
Shoigu’s comments came hours after a NATO F-16 fighter jet tried to approach the minister's plane over the Baltic Sea, but it was chased away by another Russian fighter jet that was scrambled to the scene.
The TASS news agency reported that a Russian Su-27 made the NATO fighter jet change direction and fly away from Shoigu’s plane. It was not clear why the NATO plane was approaching the plane carrying Shoigu.
A Russian multipurpose MiG-35 fighter jet flies during its presentation at the MiG plant in Lukhovitsy, January 27, 2017. (AFP photo)
Russian and US aircraft engaged in a dangerous encounter in the same area on Monday. The Russian Defense Ministry said its fighter jets intercepted two US spy planes in separate incidents on a single day.
The ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that a Baltic Fleet Su-27 jet was scrambled on Monday to intercept a US RC-135 spy plane that was flying toward the Russian border.
“While being escorted, the RC-135 attempted to move closer towards the Russian interceptor, making a provocative turn towards the Su-27,” read the statement.
The escalated confrontation above the Baltic region comes days after the United States downed a Syrian fighter jet flying over the province of Raqqah. Russia, which is assisting Syria militarily in the fight against terrorism, swiftly condemned the US action and said it would not go unanswered.

Police lead a suspect from an apartment after a search in Madrid, Spain, June 21, 2017. (Photo by AP)
Spain’s Interior Ministry says three Moroccans, including one suspected of membership in the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, have been arrested.
The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that police arrested the main suspect, a 32-year-old, during a raid on a residential apartment in the neighborhood of Las Delicias in Madrid.
He was described as being "in an advanced state of radicalization" and was in possession of "an extensive ideological and electronic library of numerous manuals on jihadist terrorism," including specific manuals on suicide bombing.
"He had an extremely dangerous profile, similar to that of terrorists recently implicated in the attacks in Britain or in France," the statement added.
The ministry said he was "an obvious threat to the security of our country" as he intended to recruit others to conduct acts of terror in Spain.
The other two Moroccans were living with the 32-year-old suspect.
Spain has been on a high terror alert for the past two years.
According to the ministry, at least 69 people were arrested in 2016 as part of the fight against terrorism. More than 35 people have been arrested this year.
In March 2004, Madrid was hit by coordinated train bombings by an al-Qaeda inspired group. More than 190 people were killed.

US President Donald Trump (R) meets with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko at the White House in Washington, DC, June 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he has had “very effective” talks with US President Donald Trump during a visit to Washington about the US’s provision of “defensive” lethal weapons to Ukraine.​
Poroshenko said on Wednesday that he had had “very effective negotiations for defensive weapons” with his American counterpart in the meeting in Washington on Tuesday.
“We talked that we don’t need to attack anybody but we want to have an effective mechanism to defend by radioelectronic warfare, by drones, by everything,” Poroshenko told FOX news.
After the meeting with Poroshenko, Trump said “a lot of progress has been made” in the relations between the two countries and that the two had “very, very good discussions.”
Poroshenko had said earlier in Washington, “We received strong support from the US side, support in terms of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the independence of our state.” But he declined to directly answer a question by reporters about whether it was time for Washington to start selling lethal arms to Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the US State Department in Washington, DC, June 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The government in Kiev has been engaged in an armed conflict with pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine.
Kiev has repeatedly requested more advanced weaponry from the US. The administration of former US president Barack Obama had refused to supply it with lethal weaponry and instead provided Kiev with $600 million in military assistance, including training, equipment, and advice.
In September 2016, the US House approved legislation to allow the supply of lethal “defensive” arms to Kiev, but it still needs to be approved by the US Senate and signed by the US president.
The Pentagon said earlier that the Trump administration did not rule out the option of providing Ukraine with lethal weapons.
Moscow has several times warned Washington against supplying Kiev with such weapons, arguing that the move could seriously affect the balance of power in the region.
The Trump-Poroshenko meeting took place on the same day that the US added more Russian individuals and entities to its list of those facing sanctions over Moscow’s alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis.
The economic sanctions against Moscow were originally introduced in March 2014, after the strategic Black Sea peninsula of Crimea joined Russia following a referendum.
Since then, the US and some other Western countries have imposed several more rounds of sanctions against Russia over accusations that Moscow has been involved in the deadly crisis in Ukraine, which has so far killed more than 10,000 people. The Kremlin has, however, strongly rejected the accusations.

A Russian Su-27 jet (file photo by AFP)
A Russian fighter jet has reportedly chased away a NATO plane that was trying to approach an aircraft carrying Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu over the Baltic Sea.
A NATO F-16 fighter jet was trying to approach Shoigu’s plane on Wednesday, but a Russian Su-27 chased it away, the TASS news agency reported.
The NATO jet had to change direction and retreat.
It was not clear why the NATO plane was approaching the plane carrying Shoigu.
In a separate incident, Russian and US aircraft were engaged in a dangerous encounter over the Baltic Sea. The Russian Defense Ministry said its fighter jets have intercepted two US spy planes in separate incidents on a single day.
The ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that a Baltic Fleet Su-27 jet was scrambled on Monday to intercept a US RC-135 spy plane that was flying toward the Russian border.
“While being escorted, the RC-135 attempted to move closer towards the Russian interceptor, making a provocative turn towards the Su-27,” read the statement.
It said the pilot of the Russian jet “reacted to the RC-135 maneuver” and continued to escort it until the spy plane turned away from the Russian border.
The intercept occurred 40 kilometers from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
The ministry said that “in just 10 minutes [after the incident] another RC-135 entered the same zone and it was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 as well.”
The Pentagon had on Tuesday accused Russia of carrying out an “unsafe” intercept of a US jet over the Baltic Sea a day earlier. Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis accused the Russian pilot of flying too fast and having “poor control” over his jet. He claimed that the US aircraft “did nothing to provoke this behavior.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Fox New had reported that the Russian Su-27 jet, which had air-to-air missiles under its wings, approached the US plane “rapidly” and flew “erratically” within 1.5 meters of it.
US officials claimed that the American jet was on a “routine” mission over the Baltic Sea in international airspace.
A RC-135 US reconnaissance aircraft (photo via Reuters)
The Russian Defense Ministry, however, said that, “All flights of Russian interceptors over international waters of the Baltic Sea are carried out strictly in accordance with international rules.”
Tensions in Syrian skies and elsewhere
The ministry said that, during the past week, US and NATO jets had carried out more than a dozen flights over the sea “for reconnaissance purposes in close proximity to the Russian border.”
There have been more than 30 interactions between US and Russian jets and ships in the Baltic Sea since the beginning of this month, CNN reported.
The recent encounter occurred only a day after a US warplane shot down a Syrian fighter jet over the Syrian province of Raqqah. Russia has been conducting an aerial bombardment campaign in Syria on a request by Damascus. But the US forces in Syria are there without any permission from the Syrian government or a United Nations (UN) mandate.
Reacting to the downing of the Syrian jet, Russia said it was “a cynical violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic” and “military aggression.” Russia also threatened to treat coalition aircraft potentially flying in areas west of the Euphrates River in Syria “as air targets.”
The Pentagon responded, “We will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened.”
Later, early on Tuesday, a US warplane also shot down what US forces said was an Iranian-made drone operated by pro-government forces in Syria.
Russia accused the US-led coalition of “complicity with terrorism” after the drone was downed in southern Syria.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that the incidents in Syria could be “very dangerous” and lead to an escalation of the war.
Russia and the US have been supporting opposite sides in the six-year conflict in Syria. Washington has been backing some of the militant groups opposed to the Syrian government.
The US has also been leading dozens of its allies in a coalition purportedly targeting the positions of Daesh terrorists in Syria.

Belgian police have “neutralized” a suspect after an explosion rocked Brussels' central train station.
"There was man and a small explosion took place near him. Soldiers neutralized him with gunfire. No one (else) was injured," said Belgian federal police spokesman Peter De Waele on Tuesday.
The attack took place at Brussels' Gare Centrale train station which was subsequently evacuated along with a nearby popular tourist destination.
Following the blast, Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel called on people via Twitter to adhere to instructions issued by the local authorities.
A railway sorting agent, Nicolas Van Herrewegen, noted that the explosion itself was not large but had caused panic in the station.
"I went down to the mezzanine level, someone was shouting…and he blew up a trolley," he said.
"I was behind a wall when it exploded. I went down and alerted my colleagues to evacuate everyone. He (the suspect) was still around but after that we didn't see him," he added.
The attacker is yet to be identified.
Soldiers and police officials guide members of the public from inside a cordoned off area on a street outside Gare Centrale in Brussels on June 20, 2017, after an explosion in the Belgian capital. (Photo by AFP)
Around one hour after the incident, the country’s federal crisis center announced that the situation was "under control.”
Belgian prosecutors have announced that they are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.
The country has been on high alert since Daesh bombers attacked the city's airport and metro in March 2016, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds more.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov adjusts his spectacles during a news conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian following their meeting in Moscow on June 20, 2017. (Photos by AFP)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has slammed the US’s "Russophobe obsession" after Washington intensifies its anti-Moscow trade sanctions over its alleged complicity in the Ukraine crisis.
Lavrov denounced Washington’s policies during a joint presser held with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Moscow on Tuesday.
"I can only express my regrets at the Russophobe obsession of our American colleagues. It goes beyond all bounds", he said.
"It is no way helps to improve the atmosphere. The sanctions were imposed for no apparent reason, again," he said.
The Russian foreign minister made the remarks after the US Treasury Department announced that it would tighten its sanctions against entities with alleged ties to the conflict in Ukraine.
The latest round of sanctions were announced during a visit by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to Washington.  
"These designations will maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic solution," claimed US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies about the fiscal year 2018 budget during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 13, 2017.
"This administration is committed to a diplomatic process that guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty, and there should be no sanctions relief until Russia meets its obligations under the Minsk agreements," he added.
In accordance to the new sanctions, the assets, relative to US jurisdiction, of 38 individuals and entities, including two Russian government officials and 11 individuals financially active in Crimea will be frozen.  
Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that the anti-Russia sanctions will continue to be implicated until Moscow pulls out from eastern Ukraine.
"It's part of the reason there are sanctions, because until they are out of eastern Ukraine, we're going to continue to have sanctions on Russia, and we believe that is part of Ukraine, and so therefore those sanctions will remain,” he said.
The US sanctions came just one day after, the EU extended its own sanctions imposed over Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, for another year.
Despite the recent announcements, Le Drian said that his country’s goal was not isolating Russia.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reacts during a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov following their meeting in Moscow on June 20, 2017.
"We are not seeking Russia's isolation from the rest of Europe, nor its economic weakening…We must understand one another," he said.
The EU has blocked the import of products from Crimea and halted any European investment or real estate purchases and prevents cruise ships from stopping in Crimea.
Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17, 2014 and formally applied to become part of Russia following a referendum, in which the majority of people voted to separate from Ukraine and reunite with Russia.
The EU, however, considers the development as an illegal “annexation” and has imposed a raft of economic sanctions on Russia. The 28-member bloc has also extended an array of other sanctions on Moscow for another six months in March.
Russia, however, has categorically denied the allegations that it is responsible for the Ukrainian conflict.


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