Trump to sign trade agreements with Japan on Monday: White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will sign two trade agreements with Japan later on Monday, the White House said in a statement.

Trump is scheduled to sign the pacts — U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement — at 3:30 p.m. (1930 GMT), it said.

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a signing ceremony on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last month after reaching a limited deal.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Nearly 600 Burundian refugees head home as mass repatriation starts

By Nuzulack Dausen

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Nearly 600 refugees left Tanzania to return to their homes in neighboring Burundi on Thursday, the United Nations said – the first batch in a mass repatriation that some migrants fear could force them back against their will.

Hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled a surge of political violence in 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third disputed term in office and opponents accused him of breaching the constitution.

A U.N. Commission on Burundi reported last month that there was risk of a fresh wave of atrocities as the landlocked state approached a 2020 election with its political crisis unresolved.

But Burundi and Tanzania agreed in August to start repatriating 200,000 refugees, saying that conditions in Burundi had improved.

A Tanzanian government official and the United Nations said all of Thursday’s returns had been voluntary.

“All refugees who had registered to return home voluntarily from all camps gathered at Nduta camp and departed from there,” said Athuman Igwe, responsible for coordinating refugees affairs in Kigoma, western Tanzania.

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said 590 Burundian refugees had returned on flights that it had organized with the U.N.’s International Organization of Migration (IOM).

It said it had not promoted the repatriation program but was ready to help anyone who wanted to go back.

“We urge the governments of Tanzania and Burundi to respect their commitments to uphold international obligations and ensure that any refugee returns remain voluntary and that no refugee or asylum seeker is returned to Burundi against their will,” it added in a statement.

Some refugees have expressed fears that they might be forcibly returned to Burundi after Tanzania’s Home Affairs Minister Kangi Lugola said in a video posted to Twitter in August that Tanzania would send home “all Burundians” because “Burundi is peaceful”.

(Additional reporting by Katharine Houreld; writing by Clement Uwiringiyimana; editing by Katharine Houreld and Andrew Heavens)

Saudi prince seeks to dodge blame for Khashoggi killing: U.N. expert

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is trying to repair damage to his image done by Jamal Khashoggi’s murder by insisting “layers and layers” of hierarchy separated him from the Saudi agents who killed the journalist, the U.N. investigator told Reuters.

Mohammad bin Salman told CBS program “60 Minutes” that as de facto Saudi leader he ultimately bore “full responsibility” for the killing a year ago, but he denied ordering it. He made similar remarks to U.S. broadcaster PBS.

Asked how he did not know about the killing by Saudi officials, he told CBS it was impossible for him to know “what three million people working for the Saudi government do daily”.

In an interview with Reuters, Agnes Callamard, U.N. expert on summary executions, attributed his remarks to a “strategy of rehabilitation in the face of public outrage around the world”.

“He is creating a distance between himself, he is exonerating himself from direct criminal responsibility in the killing. He is creating layers, and layers and layers of actors and institutions which are protecting him from his direct accountability for the killing.”

She spoke before joining Khashoggi’s family and friends in Istanbul on Wednesday to mark the murder’s first anniversary.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the crown prince, was murdered on Oct 2 at its consulate in Istanbul. His dismembered body has never been found. A global outcry ensued and led to U.S. Treasury sanctions on 17 Saudi individuals and a Senate resolution blaming Prince Mohammed.

Saudi officials have denied suspicions in the CIA that the crown prince, known as MbS, ordered the killing. Eleven people are on trial in Saudi Arabia, although Callmard has voiced concerns over a potential miscarriage of justice.

IMPUNITY

A report by Callamard in June found credible evidence warranting further investigation that the crown prince and other senior officials including key adviser Saud al-Qahtani are liable for the murder.

Callamard told Reuters the only way she could interpret his admission of state responsibility — as opposed to personal responsibility — was as “recognizing implicitly at least that the killing was a state killing.”

“To the extent the killing occurred under his watch, he represents the state, he is indeed quasi head of state,” she said.

Turning to the international implications, Callamard said that if countries around the world did not respond properly to Khashoggi’s killing, “it will open the gate to a sense of impunity for the killing of independent critical voices.”

Callamard has called for states to widen sanctions to include the crown prince and his assets abroad unless he can prove he is not responsible.

Critics of the kingdom say his latest public comments appear part of a public relations campaign ahead of Riyadh’s hosting of the G20 next year, its IPO of state oil giant Saudi Aramco and a foreign investment push to diversify the economy away from oil.

Reacting to Prince Mohammed’s description of the killing as a “mistake”, Callamard countered that a killing that implicated “a consulate, requires preparation and planning and ultimately premeditation for 24 hours, is not a mistake.”

She called for “a transparent investigation into the chain of command” around the killing and demanded the prince apologize to Khashoggi’s family and fiancee.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Editing by William Maclean)

U.S. launches strike in southern Libya as U.N. warns of escalation

By Aidan Lewis

CAIRO (Reuters) – U.S. forces said on Wednesday they killed 11 suspected militants in their second air strike in a week near the southern Libyan town of Murzuq, as the U.N. envoy warned of a growing risk of armed escalation and rights abuses in the country.

The strike comes as rival factions have been locked in a battle around the capital Tripoli, about 500 miles (800km) to the north, which forces loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar have been trying to capture since April.

The U.S. attack, carried out on Tuesday deep in Libya’s southern desert, followed a Sept. 19 strike that the U.S. said had killed eight suspected militants.

“This air strike was conducted to eliminate ISIS (Islamic State) terrorists and deny them the ability to conduct attacks on the Libyan people,” Major General William Gayler, director of operations for U.S. Africa Command, said in a statement.

Some Islamic State militants retreated south into Libya’s desert as the group lost its stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte at the end of 2016.

The U.S., which has carried out occasional strikes in desert areas, has said it will not allow militants to use the fighting around Tripoli for cover.

The offensive on Tripoli by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) upended U.N.-led plans to broker a political settlement in Libya and soon stalled in the capital’s outskirts.

The conflict has spread outside Tripoli, with air and drone strikes against the port city of Misrata, Sirte, and Jufra in central Libya, U.N. Libya envoy Ghassan Salame told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

It had also triggered a “micro-conflict” in Murzuq, where more than 100 civilians are reported to have been killed over the past two months, he said.

“The conflict risks escalating to full-blown civil war,” Salame said by video link. “It is fanned by widespread violations of the U.N. arms embargo by all parties and external actors.”

“Serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law have been committed with total impunity, including increased summary executions, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment as well as conflict-related sexual violence.”

Libya has been divided between rival factions based in Tripoli and the east since 2014, three years after a NATO-backed uprising ended Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule.

Haftar’s LNA is battling forces aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA), which was set up in 2016 following a U.N.-brokered deal.

Haftar’s foreign backers include the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, who diplomats and analysts say are vying for influence in the oil-rich nation with regional rivals Turkey and Qatar.

At least 128,000 people have been displaced by the fighting since April, according to U.N. estimates.

(Reporting by Aidan Lewis in Cairo and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Killings, torture still going on in Venezuela: U.N. rights chief

FILE PHOTO - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations human rights chief said on Monday that extrajudicial killings appeared to be continuing in Venezuela and the Special Action Forces (FAES) presumed to be responsible had received support from the highest levels of government.

Michelle Bachelet told the U.N. Human Rights Council that alongside possible executions, her office had documented cases of torture of soldiers and others arbitrarily held and urged the government of President Nicolas Maduro to punish perpetrators.

Bachelet who issued a report in early July detailing witness accounts of death squads run by the FAES, said non-governmental organization Monitor de Victimas (Victims’ Monitor) had found 57 new presumed executions by FAES members in Caracas that month.

The government called her earlier report a “selective and openly partial vision” that ignored official information and relied on biased witnesses.

She has also expressed concern about U.S. sanctions aimed at pressuring Maduro to step down; on Monday she said they were among factors fuelling a mass exodus from the country, which is reeling from hyperinflation and a collapsing economy.

Bachelet said even though the sanctions envisaged exceptions for humanitarian assistance, over-caution by the financial sector, lower public revenues and a decrease in oil production were having a serious impact.

“All of this is contributing to the worsening of the humanitarian situation and the exodus of Venezuelans from the country,” noting that 4.3 million refugees and migrants had already fled the turmoil, most since the end of 2015.

Washington has urged the European Union to join the sanctions, arguing that they would help advance negotiations on a handover of power to opposition leader Juan Guaido, who assumed a rival interim presidency in January.

Guaido, who said Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate, has the support of most Western nations as well as Washington. Maduro calls him a U.S. puppet.

Bachelet called for more details from Venezuela’s Public Ministry on what she said it had told her were the convictions of 104 members of the security forces for human rights violations between August 2017 and May 2019.

Despite her recommendations to dissolve the FAES and prevent extrajudicial executions, this was not being done, she said: “On the contrary, the FAES have received support from the highest level of Government.”.

Some Latin American countries and activists are urging the Geneva forum, whose 47 members include Venezuela, to establish a U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Venezuela at the three-week session.

Bachelet, who visited Venezuela in June, said 83 opposition members were freed around that time, but the cases of 27 other detainees were still pending and Judge Lourdes Afiuni and journalist Braulio Jatar, conditionally released in early July, had not yet received unconditional freedom.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

U.S.-Japan trade deal may be finished, announced at U.N. General Assembly: Kudlow

FILE PHOTO: White House chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow speaks with reporters on the driveway outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S. July 26, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A final trade deal between the United States and Japan may be finished and announced at the U.N. General Assembly meetings later this month, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Friday.

“We announced at the G7 in France – I was over there – the outline of a deal with Japan, that deal may be finished and announced in its entirety at the U.N. meetings coming up in a couple of weeks,” Kudlow said in an interview with Fox Business Network.

(Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Bahamas hurricane survivors tell of children swept away; death toll reaches 30

FILE PHOTO: A man walks through the rubble in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian on the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, September 2, 2019. REUTERS/Dante Carrer

By Dante Carrer

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas (Reuters) – Richard Johnson said his six-year-old brother Adrian was just too small to withstand Hurricane Dorian. The boy was blown into churning storm surge and is among thousands of people missing, many of them children, after the worst hurricane to hit the Bahamas.

It was one of many harrowing stories emerging on Thursday as residents searched for loved ones and widespread looting was reported on the islands, where the United Nations estimates 70,000 people are in immediate need of food, water and shelter.

An international relief effort was trying to overcome formidable logistical challenges to help the Bahamas, where the health minister predicted a “staggering” death toll from Hurricane Dorian, now churning northward off the coast of South Carolina.

“I guess within seconds the gusts of the wind blew the little boy off the roof into the water,” Johnson said of his brother. “Given the circumstances, I’m not that hopeful.”

Aerial video of the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas, worst hit by the then-Category 5 hurricane, showed widespread devastation, with the harbor, shops and workplaces, a hospital and airport landing strips damaged or decimated.

FILE PHOTO: Aerial image of the island Great Abaco, shows the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian, Bahamas, September 3, 2019. UK Ministry of Defence/Handout via REUTERS

FILE PHOTO: Aerial image of the island Great Abaco, shows the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian, Bahamas, September 3, 2019. UK Ministry of Defence/Handout via REUTERS

The death toll from Dorian stood at 30 on Thursday evening, officials told CNN, The final toll is expected to be much higher.

“Let me say that I believe the number will be staggering,” Health Minister Duane Sands was quoted by The Nassau Guardian as telling Guardian radio. “… I have never lived through anything like this and I don’t want to live through anything like this again.”

Dorian turned a shantytown known as The Mud near Marsh Harbour into shredded wreckage, with bodies believed to be still below the ruins, based on the smell coming from the debris, according to a Reuters photographer who visited the area.

The photographer witnessed widespread looting in Marsh Harbour, seeing residents breaking into liquor stores and supermarkets, carrying off goods in bags or filling their vehicles.

$7 BILLION IN DAMAGE

The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday it was organizing an airlift from Panama of storage units, generators and prefab offices for two logistics hubs, as well as satellite equipment for emergency responders, and has bought eight metric tonnes of ready-to-eat meals.

The U.N. agency has allocated $5.4 million to a three-month emergency operation to support 39,000 people, said WFP Senior Spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel.

Displaced Haitian nationals take refuge on the grounds of the Government complex in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian on the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Dante Carrer

Displaced Haitian nationals take refuge on the grounds of the Government complex in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian on the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Dante Carrer

A flight from the U.S. Agency for International Development landed early on Thursday with enough relief supplies to help 31,500 people, bringing hygiene kits, water containers and buckets, plastic sheeting and chain saws.

Total insured and uninsured losses in the Bahamas amounted to $7 billion, including buildings and business interruptions, according to a preliminary estimate by Karen Clark & Co, a consultancy that provides catastrophic modeling and risk management services.

With telephones down in many areas, residents posted lists of missing loved ones on social media. One Facebook post by media outlet Our News Bahamas had 2,500 comments, mainly listing lost family members.

One survivor on the Abaco Islands, Ramond King, said he watched as swirling winds ripped the roof off his house, then churned to a neighbor’s home to pluck the entire structure into the sky.

“‘This can’t be real, this can’t be real’,” King recalled thinking. “Nothing is here, nothing at all. Everything is gone, just bodies.”

FILE PHOTO: Families react as they are reunited after a church group was evacuated from the Abaco Islands after Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Nassau, Bahamas September 4, 2019. Picture taken September 4, 2019. REUTERS/John Marc Nutt

FILE PHOTO: Families react as they are reunited after a church group was evacuated from the Abaco Islands after Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Nassau, Bahamas September 4, 2019. Picture taken September 4, 2019. REUTERS/John Marc Nutt

RELIEF EFFORTS

The Netherlands’ ambassador to the United Nations tweeted the country was sending two naval ships with supplies from St Maarten, a Dutch island about 1,100 miles (1,770 km) southeast of the Bahamas.

Jamaica was sending a 150-member military contingent to help secure Abaco and Grand Bahama, officials said.

Volunteers also ferried supplies to the islands in a flotilla of small boats.

Cruise lines responded as well.

The Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line said it would transport first responders, medics and journalists for free to Freeport on Thursday, returning to Florida on Friday with any Bahamians who have documents to enter the United States.

“It’s a humanitarian trip. We’re also taking donations that have arrived in the port (in Palm Beach),” said Francisco Sanchez, a sales representative for the cruise line.

Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas said it was delivering 10,000 meals of chicken, rice and fruit to Grand Bahama.

Dorian hovered over the Bahamas for nearly two days with torrential rains and fierce winds that whipped up 12- to 18-foot (3.7- to 5.5-meter) storm surges.

On Thursday, the storm was barreling north-northeast just off the southeastern U.S. coast, moving at about 7 miles per hour (11 kph), with maximum sustained winds fluctuating between 110 and 115 mph (175-185 kph), between a Category 2 and Category 3 storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson wind scale.

(Reporting by Nick Brown in Nassau, Bahamas and Dante Carrer in Marsh Harbor Bahamas, Nick Carey in Charleston, South Carolina, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Rebekah Ward in Mexico City, Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Grant McCool)

North Korea tells United Nations to cut international aid staff: letter

FILE PHOTO: North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho attends a meeting with China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China December 7, 2018. Fred Dufour/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – North Korea has told the United Nations to cut the number of international staff it deploys in the country because the world body’s programs have failed “due to the politicization of U.N. assistance by hostile forces,” according to a letter seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The United Nations estimates 10.3 million people – almost half the country’s population – are in need and some 41 percent of North Koreans are undernourished, while Pyongyang said in February it was facing a food shortfall this year and had to halve rations, blaming drought, floods and sanctions.

“U.N. supported programs failed to bring the results as desired due to the politicization of U.N. assistance by hostile forces,” Kim Chang Min, secretary-general for North Korea’s National Coordinating Committee for the United Nations, wrote to the top U.N. official posted in the country.

In the Aug. 21 letter, Kim said the number of international staff should be cut by the end of the year.

North Korea wants the number of international staff with the U.N. Development Programme to be cut to one or two from six, the World Health Organization to four from six and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to cut its 13 staff by one or two.

Kim said the number of international staff with the World Food Programme should be reduced “according to the amount of food aid to be provided” once the agency and North Korean agree how to implement a plan for 2019 to 2021.

There was also no need for a humanitarian aid coordination officer, Kim wrote, adding that U.N. aid officials could instead “visit as and when required.”

The United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Historically there’s been a critical lack of international expertise and oversight and capacity to monitor the use of the assistance that is provided,” said a U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We’re deeply surprised by this turn of events in part because this is when the needs have grown and the U.N. has been trying to mobilize support to scale up assistance in country,” the diplomat said.

The move comes amid stalled talks between the United States and North Korea aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. The U.N. Security Council has unanimously ratcheted up sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke funding for those programs.

“The North Korean government’s decisions are only hurting the North Korean people,” said a second U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“This is coming at a time where both Russia and China are pushing a false narrative that sanctions are causing the humanitarian problems in North Korea and the only way to solve that is to give North Korea sanctions relief,” the diplomat said.

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, told reporters on Tuesday that unilateral sanctions imposed on North Korea by other countries and some strict interpretations of U.N. sanctions were hindering humanitarian work.

“The population of North Korea should not suffer under those sanctions that have been imposed illegitimately,” he said.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Peter Cooney)

North Korea denies it amassed $2 billion through cyberattacks on banks

FILE PHOTO: A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva October 2, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Picture

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea denied on Sunday allegations that it had obtained $2 billion through cyberattacks on banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, and accused the United States for spreading rumors.

A United Nations report seen by Reuters last month said North Korea had used “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to steal from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, amassing $2 billion which it used to fund weapons of mass destruction programs.

“The United States and other hostile forces are now spreading ill-hearted rumors,” North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency reported, citing a statement from the spokesperson for the National Coordination Committee of the DPRK for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism.

“Such a fabrication by the hostile forces is nothing but a sort of a nasty game aimed at tarnishing the image of our Republic and finding justification for sanctions and pressure campaign against the DPRK,” the statement said.

Washington has made scant progress toward its goal of getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, despite three meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea’s vice foreign minister said on Saturday that hopes for talks with Washington were fading, and criticized Mike Pompeo’s recent comments about “North Korea’s rogue behavior”.

Pyongyang has been blamed in recent years for a series of online attacks, mostly on financial networks, in the United States, South Korea and over a dozen other countries, as experts say such cyber activities generate hard currency for the regime.

The crux of the allegations against North Korea is its connection to a hacking group called Lazarus that is linked to $81 million cyber heist at the Bangladesh central bank in 2016 and a 2014 attack on Sony’s Hollywood studio.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Netanyahu: Israel ready for any scenario after Hezbollah clash

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as he arrives to review an honor guard with his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed during their meeting in Jerusalem September 1, 2019. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

By Ari Rabinovitch and Ellen Francis

JERUSALEM/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel was prepared for any scenario after a cross-border clash with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, but neither side seemed eager for another conflict.

Israel’s military said anti-tank missiles from Lebanon targeted an army base and vehicles. It responded with fire into southern Lebanon, after a week of growing tension raised fears of a new war with long-time enemy Hezbollah.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said its fighters destroyed an Israeli military vehicle, killing and wounding those inside. Israel said there were no casualties.

Netanyahu, whose re-election campaign ahead of a poll less than three weeks away could have been complicated by war in the north, signaled business as usual after the hostilities erupted along the frontier with Lebanon.

The Israeli leader kept to his regular schedule, commenting on the security situation, in Hebrew only, at the start of a meeting with Honduras’ visiting president, and did not take questions from reporters.

“We were attacked by a few anti-tank missiles. We responded with 100 shells, aerial fire and various measures. We are in consultations about what’s to come,” Netanyahu said.

“I have given instructions to be prepared for any scenario, and we will decide on what’s next depending on how things develop,” he said, almost dismissively, in a departure from his usually much tougher language toward Israel’s enemies.

“I can make an important announcement – we have no casualties, no wounded, not even a scratch.”

The U.N. peacekeeping force on the frontier said calm had returned to the region at night. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) also said it had urged both sides to “exercise utmost restraint to prevent any further escalation.”

The two sides fought a month-long war in 2006 after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

Israel has been on alert for a confrontation with Hezbollah for the past week after two drones crashed in Beirut’s southern suburbs, with one of them exploding. Security officials in the region have described the target as linked to precision-guided missile projects.

Any new war between Israel and Hezbollah would raise the risk of a wider conflict in the Middle East, where Iran has defied U.S. attempts to force it to renegotiate a 2015 nuclear deal it reached with world powers.

At the same time, Israel is alarmed by Tehran’s growing influence in the region through militia allies such as Hezbollah in countries such as Syria.

In Iraq, powerful Iranian-backed militias have blamed a series of recent blasts at their weapons depots on Israel and the United States.

Hezbollah said the operation on Sunday was carried out by a unit named after two of its fighters who were killed by an Israeli airstrike inside Syria last week.

An Iranian security official was cited as saying the Hezbollah attack on Sunday was “a reciprocal measure”.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday night that field commanders were ready to respond to last week’s drone attack, which he blamed on Israel. But like Netanyahu, Nasrallah has not indicated Hezbollah was seeking full-scale war.

Amid the threats, Israel had moved extra forces into the border region, which was largely quiet since the 2006 war.

Without claiming responsibility for the Beirut drone attack, the Israeli military has published what it said were details about an extensive Iranian-sponsored campaign to provide Hezbollah with the means to produce precision-guided missiles.

Such missiles could potentially pose a counter-balance to Israel’s overwhelming military force in any future war, with the capacity to home in on and knock out core infrastructure sites.

Nasrallah says Hezbollah has enough of the missiles, dismissing claims that it has factories to produce the weapons.

(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)