BREAKING NEWS
newsdailyApril 17, 2021
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Russia accused a Ukrainian diplomat on Saturday of trying to obtain classified information and ordered him to leave the country by April 22, prompting a like-for-like response from Ukraine as border tensions simmer.

Russia’s FSB security service said Oleksandr Sosoniuk had been detained when he tried to access information from Russian law enforcement databases during a meeting with a Russian citizen.

The foreign ministry gave Sosoniuk 72 hours to leave, and Ukraine then did likewise to a Russian diplomat in Kyiv.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Sosoniuk had been held for several hours before being allowed to return to his consulate in St Petersburg, and called the detention a provocation. “We fully deny the accusations levelled against the consular officer,” it said in a statement.

Tensions between Moscow and Kyiv have been rising amid a build-up of Russian troops along the border and clashes in eastern Ukraine between the army and pro-Russian separatists.–Reuters


newsdailyApril 3, 2021
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Myanmar security forces opened fire on pro-democracy protests on Saturday killing at least five people, a protester and media said, as the military reinforced its bid to end dissent with arrest warrants for online critics and internet blocks.

Despite the killing of more than 550 people by the security forces since the Feb. 1 coup, protesters are coming out every day, often in smaller groups in smaller towns, to voice opposition to the reimposition of military rule. Security forces in the central town of Monywa, which has seen big protests day after days for weeks, fired on a crowd killing at least four people and wounding several, two media organisations said.

“They started firing non-stop with both stun grenade and live rounds,” the protester in Monywa, who declined to be identified, told Reuters via a messaging app. “People backed off and quickly put up … barriers but a bullet hit a person in front of me in the head. He died on the spot.”

One man was shot and killed in the southern town of Thaton, the Bago Weekly Journal online news portal and residents reported. Police also fired in the central town of Bago, wounding one man.

Police and a spokesman for the junta did not answer telephone calls seeking comment. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group, in a statement earlier in the day, said the security forces had killed 550 people, 46 of them children, since the military overthrew an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The demonstrations that drew tens of thousands of people in the early days of defiance in big cities have become more rare with opponents of the coup adopting “guerrilla rallies” – small, quick shows of defiance before security forces can respond.


newsdailyApril 3, 2021
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CAIRO: All ships stranded by the grounding of the giant container ship Ever Given in the Suez Canal in March had passed through the canal by Saturday, ending the backlog that built up during the blockage, the canal authority said.

The last 61 ships, out of 422 ships that were queuing when the vessel was dislodged on Monday, passed through the vital trade artery on Saturday, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said.

International supply chains were thrown into disarray when the 400-metre-long (430-yard) Ever Given ran aground in the canal on March 23, with specialist rescue teams taking almost a week to free her after extensive dredging and repeated tugging operations.

In total, 85 ships had been due to pass through the canal on Saturday including 24 ships that arrived after Ever Given was dislodged, the SCA said. An SCA investigation began on Wednesday into what caused the vessel to run aground in the canal and block the waterway for six days, the canal authority’s chairman, Osama Rabie, told the MBC Masr private TV late on Friday. “The investigation is going well and will take two more days, then we will announce the results,” he added.–Reuters.


newsdailyMarch 13, 2021
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Colombo: Sri Lanka has decided to close more than a thousand Islamic schools across the country and ban women from wearing the niqab. According to the International News Agency, Sri Lankan Minister of Public Security Sarath Weerasekara has signed a document banning the wearing of the burqa, which will be approved by the cabinet. 

The Sri Lankan minister added that in the past few women in the country wore the burqa, but now the trend has escalated to a dangerous level, a sign that extremism is on the rise in the country, threatening national security. Minister Sarath Weerasekara added that more than a thousand Islamic schools violating the national education policy have also been banned. No one can be allowed to open a school of his own accord and teach as he pleases.

Recently, the order to burn the bodies of Muslims who died in Corona, Sri Lanka, was withdrawn at the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan. In Sri Lanka, Muslims are facing severe restrictions and hardships following the attack on churches and hotels on Easter. In 2019, hundreds of people were killed in a suicide attack on churches and hotels on Easter. One of the attackers was wearing a niqab, which led to a nationwide ban on the niqab.


newsdailyMarch 13, 2021
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BEIJING: China’s international affairs expert Chenz-Xizhong has said that India is not eligible to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. In a statement issued from Beijing, he said that although India wanted to become a permanent member of the Security Council, it would violate its resolutions.

The Chinese diplomat said that India’s revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir showed that it had forcibly annexed its internationally recognized disputed territory. Which is unacceptable to Pakistan and the international community. The Modi government’s aggressive mindset of nationalism based on Hindu extremism is being exposed. Which is contrary to international law and unacceptable to the United Nations and the international community.


newsdailyMarch 13, 2021
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Moscow: Russia has sent for the first time MiG-29 fighter jets to the Arctic Ocean for experimental combat duty on the island of Novaya Zemlya. According to a report by a foreign news agency, the MiG-29 fighter jet was deployed on the occasion of the replacement of the MiG-31BM fighter jets at Rogachevo air base of the northern ship.

Russian media say the MiG-29 has been deployed on the navy’s deck for the first time. According to media reports, the Russian Air Force has increased air patrols in the Arctic region of the island of Novaya Zemlya, which has led to the deployment of MiG-29 fighter jets on the Arctic. Moreover,  Russia’s air defense system S400 has been on combat duty on the island of Novaya Zemlya for many years.


newsdailyMarch 9, 2021
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NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a bridge connecting India with Bangladesh today. Modi said while opening the bridge via video conferencing, “This connectivity has not only strengthened the friendship between India and Bangladesh, but also proves to be a strong link of business too, The entire region is being developed as a trade corridor between northeast India and Bangladesh,”.

According to an official statement issued by Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Maitri Setu (Friendship Bridge) symbolizes growing bilateral relations and friendly ties between two countries. The 1.9-kilometer-long (around 1.2 miles) bridge joins Sabroom town in India with Ramgarh town in Bangladesh. The opening of the bridge will lead to a new era of trade and people-to-people movements between the two countries.

With this inauguration, Tripura is set to become the “gateway of northeast” with access to Bangladesh’s Chittagong port, which is just 80 km (49.7 mi) from Sabroom, the statement said. Modi highlighted that the rail and water connectivity projects that have been realized in recent years have been strengthened by this bridge. “This will improve the connectivity of south Assam, Mizoram, and Manipur along with Tripura with Bangladesh and Southeast Asia,” he said.

Efforts are under way to connect the Chittagong port with northeast India through an alternative river route, he said, adding that the integrated checkpoint in Sabroom will work as a full-fledged logistic hub with warehouses and container trans-shipment facilities. (Anadolu Agency)


newsdailyFebruary 25, 2021
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YEREVAN: Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned of an attempted military coup against him on Thursday, and thousands took to the streets of the capital to support him after the army demanded he and his government resign.

Russia, an ally of Armenia which has a military base in Armenia, said it was alarmed by events in the former Soviet republic and called for the situation to be resolved peacefully and within the constitution.

Pashinyan, 45, has faced calls to quit since November after what critics said was his disastrous handling of a six-week conflict between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and surrounding areas.

Ethnic Armenian forces ceded swathes of territory to Azerbaijan in the fighting and Russia, which worries about instability in the former Soviet Union, has deployed peacekeepers to the enclave, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated by ethnic Armenians.

Pashinyan, a former journalist who swept to power in a peaceful revolution in May 2018, has rejected calls to step down despite opposition protests. He says he takes responsibility for what happened but now needs to ensure his country’s security. On Thursday, the army added its voice to those calling for him to resign.

“The ineffective management of the current authorities and the serious mistakes in foreign policy have put the country on the brink of collapse,” the army said in a statement. It denounced Pashinyan’s sacking of the first deputy head of the army’s general staff, a move it described as irresponsible, groundless and detrimental to the state.

Two former presidents – Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sarksyan – released statements calling on Armenians to throw their support behind the military. It was unclear whether the army was willing to use force to back its statement, in which it called for Pashinyan to resign. Pashinyan responded by calling on his followers to rally in the centre of the capital, Yerevan, to support him and took to Facebook to address the nation in a livestream.

“WE HAVE ALREADY SHED ENOUGH BLOOD”

“The most important problem now is to keep the power in the hands of the people, because I consider what is happening to be a military coup,” Pashinyan said. He then appeared with his wife, son and daughter outside the main government building where several thousand of his supporters had gathered. He said it was vital to avoid confrontation despite the mounting tension.

“The danger of the coup is manageable,” he said. “We don’t have enemies inside Armenia. We have only brothers and sisters.” He was expected to address supporters again later on Thursday.

Several thousand opposition supporters staged a rival protest on a different square in the capital. Crowds there could be seen cheering and clapping as a fighter jet flew overhead in footage circulated by Russia’s RIA news agency. In Pashinyan’s earlier livestream, he said he had dismissed the head of the general staff of the armed forces, a move that still needs to be signed off by the president.

Pashinyan said a replacement would be announced later and that the crisis would be overcome constitutionally. Arayik Harutyunyan, president of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, offered to act as a mediator between Pashinyan and the general staff. “We have already shed enough blood. It’s time to overcome the crises and move on,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Armenian counterpart by telephone that Moscow considered the crisis a domestic matter for Armenia but hoped it would be resolved peacefully, the Russian foreign ministry said.–Reuters

 

 


newsdailyFebruary 24, 2021
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UNITED NATIONS: The world must stop it’s assault on nature and find more political will to combat climate change, the president of United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, has told the 5th UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5).

“The impact of global warming and climate change are visible and the impacts of biodiversity loss, though less visible, will be equally devastating for the future of humanity,” the Pakistani envoy said in a speech to the Assembly, which ended a two-day online meeting on Tuesday.

Attended by thousands of online participants, including more than 1,500 delegates from 153 UN member states and over 60 environment ministers, the Assembly, which is the pre-eminent forum for multilateral action on environmental issues, also agreed on key aspects of UN Environment Programme’s work, kicked off the commemoration of UNEP’s 50th anniversary and held leadership dialogues on how to build a resilient and inclusive post-coronavirus pandemic world.

A political statement adopted by the Assembly warned that the world risks new pandemics “if we don’t change how we safeguard nature.” In his remarks, Ambassador Akram said while our planet was a hospitable and bio-diverse, “unfortunately, in the industrial era we have severely abused nature.”

In the past 50 years, he said, the world’s population has doubled, the global economy has grown nearly fourfold and global trade has increased tenfold, driving up the demand for energy and materials. Many types of pollution were increasing, with negative impacts for nature.

“Over a third of our forests have disappeared, 66 per cent of the ocean area is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, half the live coral cover on reefs has disappeared since the 1870s, and over 85 per cent of wetlands have been lost.
“Humans have assaulted nature….,” the ECOSOC chief added.

The coronavirus pandemic was a grim reminder of the relationship between people and nature, he said, stressing that if the environmental targets were not achieved, most of the other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will also fail to be realized by 2030.
Economic models that are driving states to fight nature, and each other, must be discarded and new paradigm that values its preservation adopted, the Pakistani envoy said.
“The three areas of focus I have identified for ECOSOC this year – finance, sustainable infrastructure and science and technology – are vital to achieve environmental goals,” he said. An estimated $4.3 trillion was needed for developing countries to recover from the COVID crisis and achieve the SDGs targets, Ambassador Akram said, adding no recovery, much less a green recovery, was possible without access to adequate finance and as such the promise of $100 billion annually must be fulfilled.

Science and technology offered answers to the challenge of recovery, he said, pointing out that the rapid vaccine production affirmed the ability of innovation.

“The world is at a critical inflection point,” Ambassador Akram told the Assembly, while identifying that the choice was massive suffering and impending economic and environmental catastrophe or sustainable and equitable global growth.

“We must mobilize the political will to take critical decisions – to end the rape of nature, to contain economic greed, to reverse policy negligence, and to prevent humanity from destroying the hospitality of our planet,” he said in conclusion.

The political statement, which the Assembly adopted, also warned that “more than ever that human health and well-being are dependent upon nature and the solutions it provides, and we are aware that we shall face recurring risks of future pandemics if we maintain our current unsustainable patterns in our interactions with nature.”

Sveinung Rotevatn, President of the Assembly and Norway’s Minister for Climate and Environment, echoed the warning. “Everyone gathered at the Environment Assembly today are deeply concerned about how the pandemic causes new and serious health, socioeconomic and environmental challenges, and exacerbates existing ones, all over the world,” he told a press conference on the closing day of UNEA-5.

“We shall work together to identify actions which can help us address climate change, protect biodiversity, and reduce pollution, at the same time,” he added.

The Assembly agreed to a new Medium-Term Strategy, Programme of Work and budget for UNEP. The new Strategy – which will take UNEP from 2022-2025 – sets out a vision for UNEP’s role in delivering the promises of the 2030 Agenda.

“The strategy is about transforming how UNEP operates and engages with Member States, UN agencies, the private sector, civil society and youth groups, so we can go harder, faster, stronger,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP ‘s Executive Director.

“This strategy is about providing science and know-how to governments. The strategy is also about collective, whole-of-society action – moving us outside ministries of environment to drive action.”—APP


newsdailyFebruary 23, 2021
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ISLAMABAD: With violence spiking, Afghanistan’s warring sides have returned to the negotiation table, ending more than a month of delays amid hopes that the two sides can agree on a reduction of violence – and eventually, an outright ceasefire.

Taliban spokesman Dr. Mohammad Naeem tweeted Monday night that talks had resumed in the Middle Eastern State of Qatar, where the insurgent movement maintains a political office. There were no details other than the atmosphere was “cordial”, a commitment that negotiations should continue and an announcement that the first item of business will be setting the agenda.

When talks ended abruptly in January, just days after beginning, both sides submitted their wish lists for agendas. The task now is for the two sides to sift through the respective wish lists, agree on items to negotiate and the order in which they will be tackled.

The priority for the Afghan government, Washington and NATO is a serious reduction in violence leading to a cease fire. The Taliban have said it is negotiable, but until now have resisted any immediate cease fire.

Washington is reviewing the February 2020 peace deal the previous Trump administration signed with the Taliban that calls for the final withdrawal of international forces by May 1. The Taliban have resisted suggestions of even a brief extension, but a consensus is mounting in Washington for a delay in the withdrawal deadline.

There is even a suggestion of a smaller intelligence – based force staying behind that would focus almost exclusively on counter-terrorism and an increasingly active and deadly Islamic State affiliate, headquartered in eastern Afghanistan.

But neither Washington nor NATO has yet to announce a decision on the fate of an estimated 10,000 troops, including 2,500 American soldiers, still in Afghanistan. The Biden administration has emphasized a political solution to the protracted Afghan conflict, retained Zalmay Khalilzad, the man who negotiated the U.S. peace deal with the Taliban and until now avoided any definitive statements about the road forward.

The resumption in talks in Doha follows on the heels of a blizzard of diplomatic activity including a steady stream of officials to Pakistan and its powerful Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. Pakistan is seen as critical to getting the Taliban back to the table but also to pressing the insurgent movement ,whose leadership is headquartered in Pakistan, to reduce violence in Afghanistan .

Just this past week the U.S. Central Command head Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie was in Islamabad, as was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Afghan envoy, Zamir Kabulov and Qatar’s foreign ministry’s special envoy Dr Mutlaq Bin Majed Al Qahtani. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s special envoy Umar Daudzai is expected in Islamabad on Wednesday.

While details of the meetings have been sketchy, Afghanistan featured prominently and officials familiar with the talks said a reduction of violence and eventual cease fire dominated discussions.

Pakistan, which also still hosts 1.5 million Afghan refugees has repeatedly said the only solution in Afghanistan is political and has previously been credited with getting the Taliban to the negotiating table.

The latest diplomatic activity in Islamabad also coincidentally comes as Pakistan is being discussed at a meeting underway this week in Paris of the Financial Action Task Force probing terrorism financing and money laundering. Pakistan is currently on a so-called grey list, the last step before a black listing which would seriously erode the country’s ability to borrow money.

Few analysts expect Pakistan to be blacklisted, which so far includes only Iran and North Korea, but Islamabad is pressing hard to be removed from the grey list. While Pakistan has allies, like China, among the 37-member countries that make up FATF, Russian and U.S. support is critical to being removed from the grey list.

Still the issues ahead for Taliban and Afghan government are thorny ones and it isn’t immediately clear whether any country has sufficient influence with either side to force a peace deal that will last.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has flatly refused an interim administration, and his critics accuse him of wanting to hold on to power. Meanwhile, a Taliban official says they want a “new Islamic government” that would not include Ghani, but refused to give details of this government and whether it would even include elections. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

In an open letter to the American people last week, the Taliban’s lead negotiator in the U.S./Taliban deal, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar urged compliance with the deal, promised rights for men and women “based on Islamic law” without stipulating, vowed not to interfere in any other nation, and also vowed to end the world’s largest crop of poppies, which produces opium used in the production of heroin.



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