Qatar Airways said on Thursday it will offer free laptops to business class passengers flying to the United States, in an effort to get round an American ban on electronics.In a statement, the Doha-based carrier said it would begin offering a “laptop l…

Britain should not expect a “UK rebate” from the EU in talks over its exit from the bloc, Germany’s foreign minister said Thursday, in reference to a budget discount won by then-PM Margaret Thatcher.

The priority of the EU’s remaining 27 member states would be to protect their social and economic interests, Sigmar Gabriel told German parliament, a day after British Prime Minister Theresa May launched the two-year negotiation process to quit the bloc.

“In all these, there will be no UK rebate,” Gabriel stressed, in a reference to a reduction in Britain’s contribution to the EU budget in place since 1985.

Thatcher had obtained the substantial rebate — equivalent to two-thirds of Britain’s net contribution in the previous year — after threatening to halt payments to the bloc’s budget.

With a potential row now building up over Britain’s so-called “exit bill”, estimated to be as much as 60 billion euros ($64 billion, £52 billion), Gabriel also reminded Britain that it is obliged to meet its financial commitments to the EU.

At the same time, Gabriel noted that the divorce settlement talks should not lead to a “totally hostile relationship” between the two sides.

“We must stay friends,” he said.

As EU leaders squared up for tough negotiations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday rebuffed May’s call for exit talks to run alongside negotiations on future ties between the EU and Britain.

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday presented a common front with Merkel, insisting that details about the UK’s withdrawal had to be agreed on first.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Thursday to move ahead on a plan to create Israel’s first new settlement in the occupied West Bank in more than 20 years despite international concern over the issue.”I promised to create a new community and we a…

Nigeria is facing a major shortfall in vaccines to contain an outbreak of meningitis that has claimed 282 lives since November last year, senior health officials said on Thursday.The head of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekwea…

The US economy grew slightly faster in the last three months of 2016 than originally reported, but still experienced a significant slowdown, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.An uptick in consumption and business inventory investment saw the fi…

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker joked Thursday that he was ready to encourage Ohio or Texas to leave the United States should President Donald Trump continue to celebrate Brexit.”The newly elected president is delighted to see Britain…

More than five million Syrians are now refugees, the UN said Thursday, as aid groups urged the international community to end the country’s six-year war and provide more assistance.The new figures mean around a quarter of Syria’s population has fled si…