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Pope urges Putin to stop "spiral of violence and death"

Pope urges Putin to stop "spiral of violence and death"

Pope Francis on Sunday (2 October) expressed concern over the nuclear threat and military escalation in the war in Ukraine, dedicating his entire Angelus address to the situation and issuing a powerful appeal for an immediate ceasefire. He deplored the annexation of Ukrainian territory by Russia, called for respect for the territorial integrity of every country and the rights of minorities. He expressed his saddness for the thousands of victims, especially children. "How much blood must still flow for us to realize that war is never a solution, only destruction? In the name of God and in the name of the sense of humanity that dwells in every heart, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire. Let there be a halt to arms, and let us seek the conditions for negotiations that will lead to solutions that are not imposed by force, but consensual, just and stable. And they will be so if they are based on respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, and the rights of minorities and legitimate concerns", the Pope said. Pope Francis appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, imploring him to “stop this spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine and denounced the “absurd” risk to humanity of catastrophic nuclear war as tensions escalate.

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World leaders gather in London for the funeral of Elizabeth II

World leaders gather in London for the funeral of Elizabeth II

World leaders have descended on London this weekend ahead of Monday's funeral of Queen Elizabeth II who died on 8 September. US President Joe Biden is among the world leaders already in the British capital. The fifty-six Commonwealth countries, who were held in special affection by the Queen, will all be fully represented, most of them by their heads of state or prime ministers. Monday's funeral will be culmination of days of public events to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the accession to the throne of her son King Charles III. Tributes for Queen Elizabeth have come from across the UK, the Commonwealth and the rest of the world, with most highlighting the Queen's extraordinary sense of duty and service, served with commitment over the seventy years of her reign.  Tens of thousands of people queued for many hours to pass by the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II which has been laying in state at London's Westminster Hall, a reflection of the very solid bond that the Queen had forged with her people during her long reign.
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Xi sets the tone, and Putin answers questions

Xi sets the tone, and Putin answers questions

Chinese President Xi chose Central Asia for his first foray overseas after a long hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, travelling to Kazakhstan, and then onwards to Samarkand to attend the meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) and have various bilateral meetings. Chinese protocol these days demand that all meetings with Xi are fully masked, and so attired delegations troded in to meet the Chinese leader: Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev was early in queue. There was Uzbekistan's president Miriyzoyev, who for good measure gave President Xi Uzbekistan's "Order of Friendship", and Belarus President Lukashenko. But most interest was focused on when Putin's turn came. Increasingly the Russian leader is starting to look like the junior partner in the relationship with Xi. Certainly the official language was all proper and correct, but there was something in the body language that showed Putin's awkwardness at the new situation.Putin said Russia will consolidate and deepen bilateral and multilateral communication and collaboration with China, and expand cooperation in key areas such as economy, trade and energy. “We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis,” Putin said in televised remarks to Xi. “We understand your questions and concern about this. During today’s meeting, we will, of course, explain our position.” "Questions and concern" - not exactly enthusiastic support then by China for Putin's adventure in Ukraine.
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Opinion: The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation goes beyond managing Russia-China relations in Central Asia

Opinion: The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation goes beyond managing Russia-China relations in Central Asia

"As the world comes closer to multi-polarity, the role of such organizations as SCO will grow further. Russia and China will seek to use them as a counterbalance to western dominated international political and economic organizations, such as G7, the EU, the World Bank and IMF", writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. He argues that in the present context of emerging great power competition, the SCO started to be viewed less as a tool to manage Russia – China relations in Central Asia, or counter terrorist threats from Afghanistan, and more as a significant grouping of non-western powers in the emerging multipolar world.
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Vostok-2022 military exercises are meant to show that Russia is not isolated

Vostok-2022 military exercises are meant to show that Russia is not isolated

For the last few days Russia has been conducting military exercises in the Far East, with the participation of tens of thousands of soldiers, and multiple military hardware. But apart from the limited military value, Vostok-2022 are meant to show that Russia is far from being isolated in the international community, despite the sanctions and pressure of the west, following its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. Commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that "it is to be noted that in recent military exercises, the Russian Ministry of Defence invited contingents from the unrecognised Russian protectorates of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This allowed a number of countries to refuse to participate, citing  the Abkhaz and South Ossetian presence as diplomatically problematic. This year the Russians decided to take no chances. Participation of countries such as India was of much more political importance than that of Moscow's South Caucasus proxies." "Regardless however, Vostok-2022 has exposed once again a weakness in the diplomatic war that Ukraine is waging against Russia with the support of western countries. The response in the Middle East, Africa and Asia against the blatant aggressive invasion has been lukewarm."
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The world waits whilst Tehran and Washington haggle about nuclear deal

The world waits whilst Tehran and Washington haggle about nuclear deal

After years of tension and months of negotiations, it appeared in August that the process of reviving the Iran nuclear, known as JCPOA, was coming to a successful close. The EU negotiators, who had been leading the difficult discussions, made what they said was the "final offer", and early indications from both Tehran and Washington appeared to be positive. In Brussels, officials were cautiously optimistic that a deal was in the bag. But the process dragged on and reports in some Middle East media sources appear to suggest that it has now grinded again back to a halt.  The US said Iran’s latest response was “not constructive”.