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US announced an additional $53 million in support of Ukraine's power transmission and heating infrastructure 

The United States on Tuesday (29 November) announced an additional humanitarian aid package worth $53 million (about €51 million) to repair Ukraine's power grid and to purchase new power grid equipment for Ukraine. This news was announced by the US Department of State in a statement.

“This equipment will be rapidly delivered to Ukraine on an emergency basis to help Ukrainians persevere through the winter. This supply package will include distribution transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, disconnectors, vehicles and other key equipment”, the statement reads.

Maximiliaan va… Wed, 11/30/2022 - 00:28 Monday Commentary: Let sports unite us
The 2022 FIFA World Cup opened in Doha on Sunday (20 November) with a lavish half an hour opening ceremony full of music and colour. It will be followed by weeks of football extravaganza that millions are looking forward to watching. It was a proud moment for the small Arab Gulf country which has put a lot of effort and resources towards making the event a success, writes Dennis Sammut in today's Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu. Ever since it was decided to hold the FIFA world cup in Qatar there have been those who questioned the decision. Some said the climate was too hot; others criticised the working conditions of the labour force that built the facilities; others questioned Qatar's human rights record, especially on gay rights. Some of the criticism was justified. The world cup helped put attention to such problems and that is how it should be. But frankly, a lot of the criticism of Qatar went over the top and reeked of racism. Qatar has its shortcomings, but the hundreds of thousands of people who flock there to work, and others who just visit, appreciate it for what it is: a young nation that is trying to play a positive role in the world and to offer opportunity for work and business to whoever wants to work with it. It is ofcourse easy to say that sports and politics do not mix. Since sports is an expression of human talent and human feelings politics cannot be excluded. It needs to be managed. People watching football do not need expressions of political opinions shoved down their throats. Many even find such expressions as an insult to their intelligence. But that does not mean that the occasion of a global sports event cannot be a way of transmitting a dignified message with political connotations. One such example happened yesterday when the captain of the Iranian team sent a message to his compatriots back home.
dennis2020 Mon, 11/21/2022 - 05:46

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Russia blocks text at UN conference on nuclear disarmament

Russia blocks text at UN conference on nuclear disarmament

Russia on Friday prevented the adoption of a joint declaration following a four-week United Nations conference on nuclear disarmament and non proliferation, citing "political" aspects of the text. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which 191 signatories review every five years, aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote complete disarmament and promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  "Our delegation has one key objection on some paragraphs which are blatantly political in nature," said Russian representative Igor Vishnevetsky, adding that Russia was not the only country to take issue with the text.  According to sources close to the negotiations, Russia was opposed in particular to paragraphs concerning the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, which is occupied by the Russian military. The latest draft text had expressed "grave concern" over military activities around Ukrainian power plants, including Zaporizhzhia, as well as over Ukraine's loss of control of such sites and the negative impact on safety.
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NATO Secretary-General speaks about threat in Arctic ahead of Canada visit

NATO Secretary-General speaks about threat in Arctic ahead of Canada visit

NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stotlenberg, is visiting  the Canadian Arctic Region, together with Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau to underline the strategic importance of the region for the Euro-Atlantic alliance. "Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine is a game-changer for global security. It shows that we cannot take our security for granted – anywhere. NATO has responded with unity and resolve, determined to support Ukraine and keep our 1 billion people safe – everywhere", Stoltenberg wrote on Wednesday in an opinion piece for Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. Stoltenberg added: "NATO is a defensive alliance. Our purpose is to prevent conflict and preserve peace. Much of the High North (Arctic territory and waters), has traditionally been an area of low tensions. But unfortunately, this is changing due to the rapidly warming climate and rising global competition. Increasing parts of the Arctic will be ice-free in summer. This is unlocking opportunities for shipping routes, natural resources and economic development. But it also raises the risk of tensions. Authoritarian regimes are clearly willing to use military intimidation or aggression to achieve their aims. At the same time, they are stepping up their activities and interest in the Arctic."
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The arrival of a Chinese spy ship in Sri Lanka unsettles India

The arrival of a Chinese spy ship in Sri Lanka unsettles India

China’s satellite tracking vessel Yuan Wang 5 arrived at Sri Lanka’s southern Hambantota Port, on Tuesday (16 August) despite the concerns of both India and the United States. The vessel was earlier scheduled to dock at the Chinese managed Hambantota port on August 11 for “replenishment”, according to officials. Its arrival was postponed by five days after Sri Lankan authorities made a request to China, reportedly citing Indian security concerns. Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry said the ship will be allowed to remain in the Chinese-run port until 22 August. Foreign security analysts quoted by Reuters describe the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China's latest generation space-tracking ships, used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches. Several Indian media reports described it as a "dual-use spy ship". Shipping analytics websites call it a research and survey vessel. One report by Indian news site NDTV said the government in Delhi was concerned about "the possibility of the ship's tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian installations while on its way to Sri Lanka". Earlier in July, an Indian foreign ministry spokesman said the government was monitoring the ship's planned visit, adding that Delhi would protect its security and economic interests.
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International community calls on Russia to withdraw from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

International community calls on Russia to withdraw from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

EU member states and other countries in the international community have issued a statement on the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and have called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the territory of the plant. In a statement the 42 countries called on Russia to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorised personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its immediate surroundings, and all of Ukraine so that the operator and the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside interference, threat, or unacceptably harsh working conditions. This will also enable the IAEA to carry out its verification pursuant to Ukraine’s safeguards obligations under safe and secure conditions and in a timely manner. The statement said that the international community will hold Russia accountable for its aggression, and Russia must bear full responsibility for its unlawful actions in Ukraine.
UN warns Da'esh remains a serious global terrorist threat
The UN has warned of a continued threat from the Islamist terrorist group Daesh. In a joint briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday (9 August), UN counterterrorism officials confirmed that the threat posed by Da’esh terrorist fighters and their affiliates remains “global and evolving”.  “Da’esh and its affiliates continue to exploit conflict dynamics, governance fragilities and inequality to incite, plan and organize terrorist attacks,” said UN counter-terrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov, presenting the Secretary-General’s fifteenth report. They also exploit pandemic restrictions, misuse digital spaces to recruit sympathizers and have “significantly” increased the use of unmanned aerial systems, as reported in northern Iraq.  In charting the of Da’esh expansion across Iraq, Syria and through areas of Africa that until recently had been largely spared from attacks, Mr. Voronkov attributed their success in part to a decentralized structure focused around a “general directorate of provinces” and associated “offices”. These operate in both Iraq and Syria, as well as outside the core conflict zone – notably in Afghanistan, Somalia and the Lake Chad Basin. Better understanding and monitoring, including through global and regional cooperation, are vital to counter the threat.
dennis2020 Wed, 08/10/2022 - 09:33
Decision time for the future of the Iran nuclear deal
After years of uncertainty and negotiations, it is finally decision time for the future of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On Monday (8 August), the European Union submitted a “final text” at talks to salvage the 2015 deal aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Tehran said it was reviewing the proposals. Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia, as well as the United States indirectly, resumed talks on Thursday in Vienna, months after they had stalled. The European Union has submitted a “final text,” a European official said on Monday. “We worked for four days and today the text is on the table,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity. “The negotiation is finished, it’s the final text... and it will not be renegotiated.” “Now the ball is in the court of the capitals and we will see what happens,” the European official added. AFP news agency quoted European diplomats as saying that the final draft tabled is non-negotiable, and “stretches us all to the limits of our flexibility.”  According to The Wall Street Journal correspondent Laurence Norman, a senior EU official said that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will send messages to participating states setting out the next steps. The EU has been co-ordinating the efforts to revive the JCPOA, which involved mediating indirect talks between Iran and the United States.
dennis2020 Tue, 08/09/2022 - 07:24
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G7 warn China over Taiwan

G7 warn China over Taiwan

The G7 countries have called on China not to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the Taiwan Strait and beyond, and to resolve cross-Strait differences by peaceful means. In a statement, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, reaffirmed their shared commitment to maintaining the rules-based international order, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and beyond. The statement added: We are concerned by recent and announced threatening actions by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), particularly live-fire exercises and economic coercion, which risk unnecessary escalation. There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally. The PRC’s escalatory response risks increasing tensions and destabilizing the region.
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Pelosi vows support for Taiwan during controversial visit

Pelosi vows support for Taiwan during controversial visit

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has vowed continued American support for Taiwan during a controversial visit to the Island which has been condemned by China. China considers Taiwan as a renegade province, and the United States, in line with the rest of the international community, has since the 1970s maintained only full diplomatic relations with Beijing, even though it has an informal diplomatic presence on the Island, and maintains with it strong military co-operation. Pelosi, the third highest ranking US official, after the President and the Vice President, made the visit to Taiwan despite concerns from the White House and the US military and security establishment. Speaking at the presidential palace in Taipei, Pelosi said: "We will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship. Now, more than ever, America's solidarity with Taiwan is crucial. And that is the message we are bringing here today." During the meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing Wen, Pelosi was presented with "The Order of Propitious Clouds", which is a Taiwanese civilian honour. Presenting Pelosi with the Special Grand Cordon, which is the award's top rank, President Tsai said she was awarding it to Pelosi to thank the US for its support.
Al Qaeda leader killed in a CIA anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan
The United States delivered a heavy blow against the Al-Qaeda terrorist group on Sunday, killing its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a CIA drone strike on the house where he was staying in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. “Justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” US president Joe Biden said in a special televised address from outside the White House. Intelligence had located al-Zawahiri’s family in Kabul earlier this year, Biden said, adding that no members of the family or civilians had been killed in the attack. Earlier, US officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told reporters earlier that the CIA carried out a drone attack in Kabul using two missiles. Al-Zawahiri was on his balcony at the time, they said. The killing of Zawahiri in Kabul also raises questions about the return of international terrorism to Afghanistan after the Taliban take-over last year.
dennis2020 Tue, 08/02/2022 - 08:08