Asia International

Russia: ‘The Afghan money must be unblocked from western banks, primarily US’

Moscow [Russia]: Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, has called for unblocking and unfreezing of assets of Afghans in western banks, to curb the humanitarian crisis. “It is necessary to help the Afghan people, at least the money must be unblocked, the Afghan money, which is in accounts with Western banks, primarily in the United States, must be unblocked and people must be allowed to solve at least elementary things,” Sputnik quoted Putin as saying at the VTB Investment Forum “Russia Calling!” on Tuesday.Putin in a statement stated that the money of Afghan people must be released that is stored in banks in the western countries, especially in the US. The step would help the Afghan people in the time of humanitarian crisis.

Asia International

Iran may develop latent nuclear weapons despite Vienna talks

Tehran [Iran] : Iran may start working on a nuclear program for it’s latent capabilities, despite ongoing talks in Vienna.Boxed in, Iran has been lashing out in all directions. Most importantly, it has renewed its uranium enrichment programme, bringing it ever closer to weapons-grade level, according to Al Jazeera. “For its part, Washington expects Iran to return to the status quo ante and dispose of the highly enriched uranium and the powerful centrifuges that produced it before nuclear-related sanctions are lifted. It insists other sanctions may only be lifted after Iran changes its “destabilising” regional behaviour,” writes Marwan BIshara a senior political anyalyst at Al Jazeera.The Iran Nuclear Weapons Development assumes significance despite negotiations to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which has gained attention for the Seventh Round of talks in Vienna.According to Al Jazeera, Iran’s Nuclear Program has gained attraction internally with…

Asia International

Will hold the Central Electoral Commission liable if electoral fraud is detected, says Kyrgyz President

Bishkek [Kyrgyzstan]: Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov promised Sunday to hold liable the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), if electoral fraud while counting ballots is detected following the parliamentary elections.Earlier in the day, a technical fault occurred on the web-site of the Kyrgyz CEC when data of the ballots were being processed, and the number of parties elected to the parliament fell from ten to six. Leaders of two opposition parties said that they disagree with the voting results and required urgent hand vote counting. “If falsification from the CEC is detected, then all the CEC members will be held responsible. It is on their heads. As the authorities did not meddle with the electoral process, nobody meddled with the work of the CEC. If there was meddling, the CEC members must say who did it,” Japarov wrote on Facebook.According to the preliminary data of the…

Asia International

Indonesian police arrest 24 people related to terror financing

Jakarta [Indonesia]: The Indonesian National Police announced Thursday that its counter-terrorism squad dubbed “Densus 88” had arrested a total of 24 people related to fundraising for the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist group.“Of the 24 people, 14 are from Baitul Maal Abdurrahman bin Auf (an alms collecting foundation) and 10 are from Syam Organizer (a fund raising foundation),” head of Densus 88’s operation assistance unit, Senior Commissioner Aswin Siregar, said. Based on the financial reports of the foundations, Baitul Maal Abdurrahman bin Auf with tens of thousands of charity boxes spread across Indonesia collects around 15 billion rupiahs (about 1.05 million U.S. dollars) per year, while the Syam Organizer earns around 14 billion rupiahs (about 0.98 million U.S. dollars).When searching for the Syam Organizer office some time ago, officers confiscated around 944 million rupiahs (about 70,000 U.S. dollars) in cash.JI was a Southeast Asian militant…

Asia International

Malaysia reports 4,885 new COVID-19 infections, 63 more deaths

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] : Malaysia reported another 4,885 new COVID-19 infections, as of midnight Monday, bringing the national total to 2,591,486, according to the health ministry.Some 18 of the new cases are imported, with 4,867 being local transmissions, data released on the ministry’s website showed. Another 63 more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 30,063.About 5,628 patients have been released after recovery, bringing the total number of cured and discharged to 2,493,437.There are some 67,986 active cases, 549 are being held in intensive care units and 274 of them are in need of assisted breathing.The country administered a total of 109,016 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday alone, and some 78.7 per cent of the population have received at least one dose and 76.6 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

Asia International

China-ASEAN relations expand into comprehensive strategic partnership

Beijing [China]: The special summit commemorating the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations re-enforces Beijing’s expanding role in the ASEAN region.Though the China-ASEAN summit focuses on higher-end technology research including focus production on the COVID-19 vaccine, the strategic significance of the summit can’t be undermined, reported Global Times. The summit re-enforces China’s engagement with the 10-member ASEAN countries including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.The summit comes at a time when Beijing has expanded its economic role in the region as the ASEAN’s data shows its trade volume with China was USD 684.6 billion in 2020.China-ASEAN dialogue relations were established in 1991 after the end of the Cold War when Beijing started to expand its economic reach further in the South East Asian region.The above was followed by Beijing’s role as ASEAN’s dialogue partners which had morphed into…

Asia International

Mohamed bin Zayed receives Personal Representative of Sultan of Oman at Expo 2020 Dubai

Dubai [UAE] : Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received today Sayyid Asa’ad bin Tarik Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs, and Personal Representative of His Majesty the Sultan of Oman, who is visiting the country to lead a delegation attending Oman’s 51st National Day celebrations at the Oman Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai.The meeting, which took place at Expo 2020 Dubai, was attended by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs. The Omani Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations conveyed the greetings of Sultan Haitham bin Tarik of Oman, to President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his wishes for their continued health and wellness, and for…

Asia International

Sri Lanka Begins Trials For 2019 Easter Attack

Colombo [Sri Lanka] : A Sri Lankan court on Monday began the first of three trials connected to bombings that killed nearly 270 people on the island in 2019, amidst appeals for greater accountability from victim support groups. In this trial, former national police chief Pujith Jayasundara is charged with failing to act on repeated intelligence warnings of a possible terror attack. A total of 855 charges of murder and attempted murder were read out as Jayasundara stood in the dock at the back of the courtroom. A total of 1,215 witnesses have been listed to give evidence but not all may be called, his lawyer said. “Our position is the former police chief is not guilty. He did not intentionally aid or abet the attacks and there was no omission on his part that caused the attacks,” attorney Ranjith Dehiwala told Reuters. Ex-Defence…

Asia International

Japan conveys concerns to China, Russia about joint patrolling in Asia Pacific

Tokyo [Japan] : Japan has conveyed concerns to Russia and China over joint patrolling by their air forces in the Asia Pacific region, said Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Sunday.“As previously, we informed Russia and China via diplomatic channels about our concerns about similar actions from the viewpoint of the regional security,” Sputnik quoted the minister as saying. On Friday, the Russian and the Chinese armies conducted the third joint air patrolling in the Asia-Pacific involving strategic bombers, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.The patrolling as part of the military cooperation 2021 plan was not designed to counter other countries, the ministry added.The Chinese Defense Ministry said that China sent two H-6K aircraft to form a joint formation with two Russian Tu-95MC aircraft over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.During the patrol, the aircraft strictly abided by the provisions of…

Asia International

Japan mulls releasing oil reserves

Tokyo [Japan] : The Japanese government is considering to release crude oil reserves to curb the oil prices growth, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said on Saturday, citing sources.Previously, Japan resorted to this measure only in case of natural calamities or disruptions in overseas supplies caused by unstable political situation. Consequently, the step is being considered as a tool of stabilizing the prices for the first time. The country’s oil is kept at national oil reserves and at private oil firms. In late September, Japan possessed oil reserves sufficient for 242 days of consumption, according to the media.The increase in global oil prices has led Japan to record high prices for fuels, and the government decided to pay out oil companies extra five yens ($0,044) per one liter of the fuel produced, if gasoline price exceeds 170 yens per liter, starting December 2021.

Asia International

Chinese naval ship sails in Japan waters amid rising security tensions

Beijing [China]: A Chinese naval ship sailed in Japan’s waters earlier this week off its southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima, the country’s Defence Ministry said on Friday.The Chinese survey ship was spotted sailing off the southwestern prefecture on Wednesday and Thursday in the so-called contiguous zone outside Japan’s territorial waters, reported Kyodo News citing the ministry. A Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol plane spotted the ship heading toward Japanese waters from the contiguous zone south of Yakushima Island around 8:40 pm on Wednesday.The ship was then seen sailing west of Kuchinoerabu Island in the zone westward around 1:20 am on Thursday, the ministry further said.The Chinese vessel entered Japanese waters sometime between Wednesday night and early Thursday, the ministry determined based on the pattern of sightings, though it did not specify when the intrusion happened, according to Kyodo News.

Asia International

US extends support to Philippines amid China’s ‘expansive, unlawful’ maritime claims

Washington [US]: Highlighting that the US stands with the Philippines amid the latter’s standoff with China, the Biden administration said that it believes that Beijing actions asserting its “expansive and unlawful” South China Sea maritime claims undermine peace and security in the region.“The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of this escalation that directly threatens regional peace and stability, escalates regional tensions, infringes upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as guaranteed under international law, and undermines the rules-based international order,” Sputnik quoted State Department spokesperson Ned Price as saying. According to Price, Washington “strongly believes that PRC actions asserting its expansive and unlawful South China Sea maritime claims undermine peace and security in the region.”Three Chinese coastguard ships blocked and first water cannons on two Philippines supply boats within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in…

Asia International

First consignment of Russian humanitarian aid lands in Kabul

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The first Russian consignment of humanitarian aid arrived in Kabul on Thursday.According to Taliban officials, three planes carrying 36 tons of humanitarian assistance landed in Kabul and the consignment was handed over to them, reported Khaama Press. The aid that included flour, cooking oil, and blankets was given to the Deputy Minister of Information and Culture and spokesperson of the Taliban Zabiullah Mujahid.The Taliban officials expressed gratitude to the Russian government and called on other countries to continue providing the Afghan people with relief assistance, reported Khaama Press.Russia intends to send to Afghanistan a total amount of 108 tons of humanitarian aid from which the first tranche arrived and the other two will soon be dispatched to Afghanistan, added Khaama Press.UN Migration Agency raised concern over the ongoing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, saying that Afghanistan may fall into “extreme poverty” by mid-2022…

Asia International

India, Singapore in talks to resume commercial flights soon

Singapore: It is learnt that Singapore is in talks with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of External Affairs to restart scheduled commercial services with two daily flights each from Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. As of now, only repatriation is taking place through Air India, under the Vande Bharat mission.Singapore has announced that from November 29 it will open up its Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) for India and once the programme is in place there will be no need for quarantine for vaccinated passengers. There is huge pent up demand for travellers from both sides. Technically, repatriation flights cannot be included under Singapore’s VTL arrangement and only scheduled commercial flights are included in this programme. It is learnt Singapore is keen that Singapore airlines should restart partial operations to India. Sources say that talks for resumption of commercial flights between Singapore and…

Asia International

IMF demands five major prior actions to resume loan facility: Pakistan finance advisor Shaukat Tarin

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistani Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin has said that IMF gave Pakistan a list of five major prior actions for the resumption of its six billion dollars Extended Fund Facility (EFF), local media reported. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Shaukat Tarin said the five prior actions going to be implemented by Pakistan include submission of abolishing of Tax Exemption bill 2021, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Amendment bill 2021, and already hiked electricity tariff besides two other minor actions, Geo Tv reported.He said that the IMF did not agree with the promulgation of the ordinance for withdrawal of tax exemptions but the government would have to submit a tax exemption bill in order to fulfil the IMF’s conditions. Citing top official sources, Goe Tv reported that the increase in monetary policy ranging from 75 to 100 basis points, adjusting upward from 7.25 to…

Asia International

American journalist released from Myanmar’s jail reaches US

Washington [US]: Danny Fenster, an American journalist who was recently released from jail in Myanmar, has now reached the US. He expressed his gratitude to everyone involved in his release, a media report said.“I just have so much gratitude right now for everything everyone’s done. I think every action everyone’s taken, it’s helped a little bit,” CNN quoted Fenster as saying Tuesday. It is Fenster’s first public remark since his release this week.Fenster was wrongfully detained in Myanmar since May 2021 in a Myanmar jail on charges of visa breaches, unlawful association with an illegal group, and incitement that was widely condemned by press advocates and the US government.The US on Monday welcomed the release of American journalist Daniel Fenster from prison in Burma, where he was wrongfully detained for almost six months.“We welcome the release of American journalist Daniel Fenster from prison in…

Asia International

Taliban deputy PM Baradar meets Iran’s special envoy, discusses Afghan political, security issues

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban co-founder and acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met with Iran’s special envoy to Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi and discussed political, security, economic and cultural issues, local media reported on Tuesday. Deputy PM Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met with Iran’s envoy for Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Tolo News reported citing Mohammad Naeem, Islamic Emirate political office spokesman as saying. They discussed political, security, economic and cultural issues, he added.Earlier, Qomi also met with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and acting Commerce Minister Nooraddin Azizi. “Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and acting Commerce Minister Nooraddin Azizi met with Iran’s special envoy to Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi and discussed the economy and the development of trade between countries,” Tolo News reported citing the Foreign Ministry spokesperson as saying. Qomi arrived in Kabul on Monday to hold meetings with officials…

Asia International

Vietnam re-elected to UN International Law Commission

Hanoi [Vietnam]: Vietnamese Ambassador to the UN Nguyen Hong Thao has become a member of the UN International Law Commission (ILC) for the 2023-2027 term.Ambassador Thao was re-elected on Friday at the 76th UN General Assembly in New York with 145 votes for out of 191 votes, ranking 4th among 11 candidates in Asia – Pacific. At the UN headquarters shortly after being elected, Ambassador Thao told reporters that he is proud to continue to contribute to Vietnam’s rising position, living up to international friends’ expectations for Vietnam’s role of formulating international law to settle all disputes and promote cooperation among peoples. He pledged to make more efforts in his second term to glorify Vietnam in the international arena.Thao was the first Vietnamese elected to the ILC from 2017 to 2022. He graduated with a Doctor of Law degree from Paris I School, Sorbonne…

Asia International

Pak’s Lahore declared most polluted city globally after breaching AQI 700 mark

Lahore [Pakistan]: Pakistan’s Lahore has been declared the most polluted city globally after the city recorded its highest ever smog levels as the Air Quality Index (AQI) went above 700, reported a local media. The Air Quality Index data was released on Thursday and put Lahore on the list of the most polluted cities in the world.The AQI remained above 500 for the fourth consecutive day in various parts of the city which worsened to 700 after 12 pm on Thursday, reported Samaa TV. Meanwhile, the issue of pollution has hit the Pakistani courts as an environmental pollution case was heard in the Lahore High Court on Friday. The HC judge said that no measures have been taken by the authorities to bring the pollution to curb the smog, reported Samaa TV. “Now I will visit myself to know the whole matter because our…

Asia International

Japan’s new Foreign Minister confirms intention to sign peace treaty with Russia

Tokyo [Japan] : Japan intends to resolve the issue of the ownership of the four disputed islands, Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and Habomai, and eventually sign a peace treaty with Russia, recently appointed Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Friday.“As for the peace treaty with Russia, we intend to resolve the issue of the ownership of the four islands and conclude a peace treaty, without shifting this responsibility onto future generations. We will be working on this on the basis of the previously reached agreements, including the agreement secured in Singapore in 2018,” Hayashi said at a press conference.

Asia International

Korean government to import 200 tons of urea from Vietnam next week at 0 pc quota tariff

eoul [South Korea] : In order to ease a supply shortage of urea water solution, the Korean government will increase urea water solution imported from Australia from 20,000 liters to 27,000 liters and import 200 tons of vehicle urea from Vietnam within next week.For smooth import process, the government will cut quota tariffs from current 5-6 per cent to 0 per cent and support quick customs clearance. It also will hold daily meeting until the situation backs to normal. On the morning of the 8th, the government held a joint response meeting with ministries over the supply shortage of urea water solution presided over by Lee Eog-weon, the 1st Vice Minister of Economy and Finance.At this meeting, 1st Vice Minister of Economy and Finance Lee Eog-weon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior and Safety, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs,…

Asia International

Japan launches small Epsilon 5 rocket with nine satellites

Tokyo [Japan]: Japan launched a small Epsilon 5 rocket with nine satellites.The launch, broadcast live by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), was carried out from the Uchinoura Space Center in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima. The nine satellites were created by private companies and enterprises. The launch was earlier postponed three times for technical reasons and because of the weather conditions.

Asia International

Hong Kong administration blind to climate crisis, focuses only on ‘national security threat’: Report

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong administration, which is extremely active on national security law (NSL) — is completely blind to the real threat to the territory that is climate change, according to a report in local media. Currently, at a time when the impact of the national security law and the related clampdown on freedoms is widening day by day in Hong Kong by the administration, the issue of climate change seems to be immune in the territory.The Hong Kong administration’s preoccupation with imagined national security threats is blinding it to the real threats to China and its people posed by climate change. It is being distracted from doing anything about the extremely high per capita greenhouse gas pollution from Hong Kong that is worsening those threats, reported Hong Kong Free Press. Further, the publication stated that to be sure, for decades Hong Kong’s…

Asia South Asian Countries

Lahore, Karachi rank among world’s top 4 most polluted cities

Islamabad [Pakistan] : Pakistan’s Lahore and Karachi have featured on the list of the world’s top four most polluted cities by capturing third and the fourth rank respectively, reported a local media.Lahore reported the Particulate Matter (PM) rating of 181 whereas Karachi recorded a PM rating of 163 making both the cities feature in the list of the world’s most polluted cities, according to the air pollution data released by the US Air Quality Index, reported The News International. The standards set by the Air Quality Index categorises a city under “unhealthy” if the PM rating lies between 151 and 200. The rating between 201 and 300 falls under the category of “highly unhealthy” and anything above 301 falls under the “dangerous” category.Lahore featured on the same list earlier this month after the AQI hit the 289 mark on November 2, reported The News…

Asia South Asian Countries

China facing pressure to prevent rise in domestic COVID-19 cases due to imported virus infections

Beijing [China] : China’s Deputy Director from the National Health Commission Disease Control Bureau, Wu Liangyou, during a press conference, has said that the pressure that China is facing to prevent the rebound of domestic coronavirus with imported cases remains a major risk, reported a local media.The current wave of COVID-19 has hit 44 cities across 20 provinces of China resulting in the confirmation of about 918 new cases linking back to multiple imported sources unrelated to each other, Global Times reported citing a senior official of NHC. Asked about the consideration by the Chinese authorities about abandoning the “dynamic zero COVID” policy on pandemic prevention and control, the deputy director claimed that China’s strict policy fits “national conditions” and scientific philosophy behind pandemic prevention and control, reported Global Times.Wu further stated that China will keep the strict pandemic prevention and control measures for…

Asia International

Japanese PM Kishida to double as foreign minister until Cabinet relaunch next week

Tokyo [Japan]: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will double as foreign minister until he relaunches the Cabinet after the Japanese parliament holds a special session next week, local media reported Thursday. After Akira Amari resigned from the post of the secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) due to his shock defeat in a single-seat district in Sunday’s House of Representatives election, the party officially decided to appoint Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to the party’s No. 2 post.Motegi, former policy chief of the LDP, easily secured his seat in his constituency Tochigi Prefecture in the latest election of the lower chamber. Former education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will be a candidate to succeed Motegi as foreign minister, local media reported, citing sources. Under the Japanese Constitution, the Cabinet must resign en masse when the first session of the Diet is convened following a general…

Asia International

Japan’s ruling LDP expected to keep lower house majority, hint exit polls

Tokyo [Japan]: Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition Komeito is expected to retain a majority in the House of Representatives following Sunday’s general election, Japanese media informed citing exit polls.LDP and Komeito appear to have won at least 233 of the 465 seats in the powerful lower chamber of parliament, defeating opposition parties, Kyodo News reported. This came as new PM Kishida seeks a public mandate for his COVID-19, economic and security policies.If so, the LDP would have lost many of the 276 seats it held prior to the election, but Kishida has said he will claim victory if the LDP-Komeito coalition retains a majority.Polling stations across Japan were closed at 8 pm (local time) and ballots are being counted, with the final outcome hinging on dozens of battleground constituencies where candidates were neck-and-neck, Kyodo News reported.Meanwhile, Kishida…

Asia International

Xi Jinping last ventured out of China 21 months ago, COVID-19 one main reason

Beijing [China]: As the world leaders met in person to address the G20 summit in Rome, Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the summit virtually owing to a resurgence of COVID-19 in the country. Xi has not left China in 21 months. His last trio outside the country was in January 2020.COVID-19 outbreak in China is being seen as one overt reason for not stepping out of the country. Interestingly, the Chinese President has also not met his American counterpart, Joe Biden who assumed charge in January this year. Jinping is also scheduled to address the climate talks in the coming week at United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) virtually where the country’s commitment to “curbing” the carbon emissions has been seen as important to blunt the dreadful results of climate change, reported the New York Times. There has been a shift in the domestic…

Asia International

INS Tarangini undertakes sea sortie during visit to Sri Lanka

Colombo [Sri Lanka] : INS Tarangini undertook a sea sortie off Trincomalee as part of Sail Training familiarisation for 10 Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) trainees on Tuesday.The ship also conducted a two-day-long harbour training phase for the trainees prior to the sortie. Sail Training Ships Tarangini and Sudarshini are in Trincomalee as part of Overseas Deployment of First Training Squadron from October 24 to 28, said the Indian Navy. The newly appointed Ambassadors are Peggy Frantzen of Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Mateja Vodeb Ghosh of the Republic of Slovenia, Naor Gilon of Israel and Wael Mohamed Awad Hamed of the Arab Republic of Egypt.The 1st Training Squadron (comprising Indian Naval Ships Sujata, Magar, Shardul, Sudarshini, Tarangini and Coast Guard Ship Vikram) is on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka from 24 – 28 October 2021 as part of their Overseas Deployment for the 100th…

Asia International

Indonesia reports 460 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, 30 more deaths

Jakarta [Indonesia]: Indonesia on Monday confirmed 460 new COVID-19 cases, raising its tally of infections to 42,40,479, according to the country’s Health Ministry.The ministry reported that the death toll from the virus in Indonesia rose by 30 to 14,32,35, while 1,236 more people recovered in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 40,83,690. Indonesia started mass COVID-19 vaccinations on January 13 after the authorities approved the emergency use of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine.More than 113.42 million people have received their first doses of vaccines, while over 68.26 million have taken their second doses.Indonesia has so far administered over 182.79 million doses including third booster jabs.The Indonesian government aims to vaccinate 208.2 million people in the country.

Asia International

Taliban ‘deputy PM’ Hanafi discusses Afghan situation, humanitarian aid with UN envoy

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Afghanistan “deputy Prime Minister” Abdul Salam Hanafi held a meeting with UN envoy to Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, during which they discussed the situation in the country and humanitarian aid. “PM deputy Abdul Salam Hanafi met with the UN envoy to Afghanistan Deborah Lyons today [Saturday] and both sides discussed Afghanistan’s situation, humanitarian aid and the country’s banking system,” Tolo News quoted Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid as saying.The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has deteriorated ever since the Taliban took control of Kabul in August. The UN agencies have warned that the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is worsening, and funding for emergency aid is urgently needed to help 20 million people there. Afghanistan has suffered decades of conflict and displacement, as well as chronic poverty, severe drought, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly half the population, more than 18 million people, require aid assistance…

Asia International

New Zealand Prime Minister continues media interaction despite earthquake hitting at 5.9 on Richter scale

Wellington [New Zealand]: Tremors from a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in New Zealand failed to force Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to interrupt her press conference on Friday, while she instead refused to dismiss the event, describing the rumblings as a “slight distraction.”“Ah, sorry, a slight distraction – would you mind repeating that question?” Arden said and continued the briefing. The briefing was broadcast live and focused on the government’s goal to vaccinate up to 90% of the population against COVID-19 and introduce vaccination certificates.New Zealand’s seismic agency GeoNet said the magnitude 5.9 quake occurred in the central part of the North Island at a 210-kilometer depth (130 miles), with tremors reaching as far as the southern city of Christchurch.No damage or casualties have been reported.

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES Views & Voices

Bilawal Bhutto: Pakistan’s next Prime Minister?

By Kshvid News Desk with inputs from agencies Pakistan emerged as an independent and democratic state on the world map in 1947.  But the democracy was not always in the power in Pakistan. Three times Pakistan faced Dictator presidents. The political structure of Pakistan is always in crisis due to internal and external interferences but from the last decade Pakistan is emerging as a democratic country and new political leaders are becoming popular, Imran Khan is the best example of it. His party won the 2018 general elections of Pakistan because he used to talk about young and enthusiastic leadership. But unfortunately, the present domestic and economic conditions of Pakistan don’t support Imran khan to hold the prime minister seat as the next PM of Pakistan. Currently, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has the potential of becoming Pakistan’s Prime Minister in the 2023 General elections. Bilawal…

Asia International

ASEAN’s emphasis on Cyber issues resonates deeply with India: MEA

New Delhi [India] : Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (East) Riva Ganguly Das while addressing the third India-ASEAN Track 1.5 Dialogue on cyber issues expressed that ASEAN’s emphasis on Cyber Security and Cyber connectivity resonates deeply with India’s approach towards the Cyberspace.“Emphasis of ASEAN on Cyber Security and Cyber connectivity in accordance with international laws resonates deeply with India’s approach towards Cyberspace,” Secretary Riva Das was quoted as saying by the Ministry of External Affairs. India has been working domestically to address the cyber security challenges through platforms capable of supporting and sustaining the efforts in securing cyberspace as well as through the adoption of comprehensive policies such as the New National Cyber Security Policy, the Secretary informed.During her address, Das also said that there is a crucial need for international cooperation to exchange experiences and share best practices for the protection of information…

Asia International

Chinese survey ship leaves Malaysian waters after envoy summoned

Beijing [China]: Two weeks after the Malaysian Foreign Ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador to the country against the presence of China’s vessel in its waters, Beijing’s survey ship has now left Malaysian waters, a media report said.On Monday, ship tracking data showed the 4,600-ton Chinese vessel Da Yang Hao is now on its way northward, more than 200 nautical miles west of the Philippines, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA). Sharihman Lockman, a senior analyst at Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), said that it is “hard to have any certainty” as to China’s decision-making.Stressing that Da Yang Hao was “obviously there as a form of protest against Malaysia’s oil and gas” activities, Lockman said that China has probably calculated that they have made their point and left.Da Yang Hao, since late September, was operating in an area that runs through the exclusive…

Asia International

North Korea fires unidentified projectile toward East Sea

Seoul [South Korea]: North Korea on Tuesday fired an “unidentified” projectile towards the East Sea, said the Joint Chief of Staff (JCS), reported Yonhap News Agency.The news further reported that the move may dampen South Korea’s push to resume the dialogue with the neighbouring country. Further details are awaited on the latest launch.Notably, this comes after North Korea launched a hypersonic missile last month.

Asia International

Japan’s new Prime Minister visits Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Tokyo [Japan] : Japan’s newly elected Prime Minister Fumio Kishida travelled on Sunday to the defunct Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the country’s quake-and-tsunami-hit northeast.This is the former foreign minister’s first trip to the crisis area since he was sworn in as Japan’s 100th prime minister in early October. He arrived in the area on Saturday. “The power plant’s complete decommissioning is a must if we want to rebuild the region, so I want to see you building a confidential relationship with the locals as you carry on with the work,” Kishida told the Fukushima operator TEPCO.The prime minister laid flowers at a shrine honouring victims of the 2011 disaster in the town of Namie, not far from the crippled nuclear plant. The catastrophe killed more than 15,000 people, displaced thousands more and caused a meltdown at the power plant.

Asia International

Japan pledges to donate more COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan

Taipei [Taiwan]: The Japanese government on Friday announced to donate more AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan as a part of Tokyo’s free vaccine aid initiative for the Southeast Asian countries.During a press briefing, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Motegi Toshimitsu also stated that Japan has given out 25 million doses to other countries and is planning to hand out an additional 4.9 million jabs to Southeast Asian countries, including 2 million doses each to Indonesia and the Philippines, 500,000 doses to Vietnam, and 400,000 doses to Thailand, Taiwan News reported. The foreign minister also said that another batch of AstraZeneca vaccine would be shipped to Taiwan.Meanwhile, Japan has donated a total of 3.9 million COVID-19 vaccines to Taipei in five separate shipments since June, Taiwan News reported.Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Joanne Ou also expressed gratitude to Japan for its latest…

Asia International

Meeting to dissolve Japan’s House of Representatives begins

Tokyo [Japan] : A meeting to dissolve Japan’s current House of Representatives began on Thursday afternoon, and the lower house will be formally dissolved after the reading out the rescript of dissolution.The general election will be held on October 31 after the four-year term of lower house members expires on October 21. In Japan’s postwar history, this will be the first time that a general election is scheduled after the term has expired. In addition, the period between the dissolution of the lower house and the voting day will be the shortest.Fumio Kishida, newly elected Japanese Prime Minister, won the presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on September 29 and was elected as prime minister on October 4 in parliament controlled by the LDP-led coalition.Kishida would wish to garner wider public support in the general election for his policies to recover…

Asia International

In the face of threats from China, Taiwan stands on democracy’s first line of defense: Tsai Ing-wen

Taipei [Taiwan], October 14 (ANI): Amid the unrelenting Chinese incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday said that the country stands on democracy’s first line of defense, in the face of increasing threats from authoritarian actors. “Taiwan stands on democracy’s first line of defense, in the face of increasing threats from authoritarian actors. We will not give in, and will continue working with our democratic partners across the world to enhance our collective resilience,” tweeted Tsai Ing-wen.Earlier, China on Saturday hit out at former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott over his visit to Taiwan and issued a strong statement against him. The development comes after Abbott, who is the Special Envoy for Indigenous Affairs of Australia, visited Taiwan last week and met President Tsai Ing-wen along with other government officials, Taiwan News reported. In response to Abbott’s visit, the…

Asia International

Danish PM Frederiksen visits Taj Mahal with her husband

Agra (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen visited the Taj Mahal — one of the Seven Wonders in the world — here on Sunday during her three-day visit to India.Frederiksen visited the Taj Mahal with her husband Bo Tengberg. They also visited the Agra Fort here. She is the first head of state visiting India since COVID-19 restrictions are in place since last March.The Danish PM arrived in New Delhi early on Saturday. She was received by the Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi, at Delhi airport.Earlier on Saturday, Frederiksen met President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held bilateral talks in New Delhi.The two leaders underlined the warm and friendly relations between India and Denmark. They agreed to enhance efforts for reforming and strengthening multilateralism and a rules-based international order, including freedom of navigation.Both sides…

Asia International

Pakistan minister blames past rulers for current economic crisis

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan federal minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has blamed the past governments for the current economic situation in the country and said that the former rulers have ruined the “national economy during their 10 years of misrule”.He believed that the amount was being used for debt servicing could be used to offset the price hike, reported The News International. In a statement on Twitter, the information minister said had the government not repaid 12 billion dollars in debt, the amount could have been used to provide subsidy in the prices of oil and electricity.He said that the country’s current economic crisis was a “gift of 10-year rule of Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif,” adding that had the former rulers not ruined the national economy during their 10 years of misrule, the consumers could have been protected from the adverse effects of rising…

Asia International

India-Japan maritime exercise ‘JIMEX’ to be conducted from October 6

New Delhi [India]: The fifth edition of the India-Japan Maritime Bilateral Exercise (JIMEX) will be conducted in the Arabian Sea from October 6-8.JIMEX-21 aims to develop a common understanding of operational procedures and enhance inter-operability through the conduct of a multitude of advanced exercises, across the entire spectrum of maritime operations. Multi-faceted tactical exercises involving weapon firings, cross-deck helicopter operations and complex surface, anti-submarine and air warfare drills will consolidate coordination developed by the two navies, the Ministry of Defence informed in a statement. Indigenously built guided missile stealth destroyer ‘Kochi’ and guided-missile frigate ‘Teg’, under the command of Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, who is the flag officer commanding the western fleet will represent the Indian Navy.The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force will be represented by JMSDF ships Kaga, an Izumo Class Helicopter Carrier and Murasame, a Guided Missile Destroyer, led by Rear Admiral IkeuchiIzuru,…

Asia International

North Korea says communication channels with South to be restored on Monday

Seoul [South Korea]: North Korea says all the communication channels with South Korea will be restored starting midnight, the Yonhap news agency reported.All inter-Korean hotlines will be restored starting at 9 am (local time) on Monday, October 4 (00:00 GMT), Yonhap said. At the end of September, Kim Yo Jong, the deputy department director of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee and the North Korean leader’s sister, said that Pyongyang was ready to declare the end of the war with Seoul, bring back the Inter-Korean Liaison Office and hold a leaders’ summit provided that bilateral relations are marked by respect and fairness.The statement came in response to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposal to declare the end of the war between Seoul and Pyongyang.

Asia International

60 Chinese warplanes enter into Taiwan’s Defence zone in two days

Taipei [Taiwan]: Taiwan on Saturday said that at least 58 Chinese warplanes entered its air identification zone (ADIZ) in the last two days of which 20 of them flew in on Saturday alone. A total of 38 Chinese military planes, such as fighter jets and bombers, entered the area on Friday, Kyodo News reported citing the Defense Ministry.These are said to be the biggest incursions by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) since Taipei began publicly reporting such activities last year. “Oct. 1 wasn’t a good day. The #PLAAF flew 38 warplanes into #Taiwan’s ADIZ, making it the largest number of daily sorties on record. Threatening? Of course. It’s strange the #PRC doesn’t bother faking excuses anymore,” Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet. Meanwhile, these Taiwanese military planes were scrambled in response on both days to warn the Chinese aircraft away, Kyodo…

Asia International

Japan to end COVID-19 emergency measures nationwide this week, says PM Suga

Tokyo [Japan]: The Japanese government will end this week the COVID-19 state of emergency in Tokyo and 18 prefectures as well as the quasi-state of emergency in other areas, as the number of infections declined steadily, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday.Japan’s coronavirus advisory panel has approved a government plan to end the state of emergency and quasi-measures on Thursday as scheduled. It would be the first time since April 4 that none of Japan’s 47 prefectures is under either a state of emergency or a quasi-state of emergency.“The number of new COVID-19 cases and patients with severe symptoms have dramatically declined,” Suga said at a committee meeting at the House of Representatives.He said, “We will enhance social response to the spread of infections through vaccinations and health care system enhancement among other steps and work on balancing antivirus measures and restoring normal…

Asia International

North Korea fires ‘unidentified projectile’ into East Sea

Pyongyang [North Korea]: North Korea fired at least one unidentified projectile into the East Sea on Tuesday, Yonhap News Agency reported citing South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).No other details were immediately available, including whether the projectile was a ballistic missile banned under UN Security Council resolutions, how many were fired, where the launch took place and how far it flew. The launch came three days after Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said that the North could declare a formal end to the Korean War as suggested by the South and even discuss the possibility of a summit on conditions that Seoul drops its double standards and hostile attitudes against it, Yonhap News Agency reported.According to the South Korean news agency, the North has long accused South Korea and the United States of “double standards”, claiming it makes no…

Asia International

Pak FM calls Afghanistan ‘more stable’ after Taliban takeover

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has called Afghanistan “more stable” after the Taliban took control of the country, a media report said. Claiming that there is no sign of the civil war in the neighbouring country since the Taliban takeover, Qureshi in a recent interview claimed that the country is “more stable after a change in regime”, according to Khaama Press.He also stressed that despite the change in the regime in Afghanistan, Pakistan didn’t witness an influx of refugees from the country. However, earlier this month Pajhwok Afghan News claimed that thousands of Afghans including women and children were stranded near the Pakistan border in the Spin Boldak district of southern Kandahar province. Afghans and their families, who hail from Afghanistan’s northern and eastern provinces were in a hurry to leave the country. Islamabad was allowing only those people who had…

Asia International

Pakistan crux of problem in Afghanistan, say experts

Islamabad [Pakistan]- A recent European Parliament resolution, highlighting Islamabad’s role in Afghanistan, comes in the backdrop of a growing global recognition that despite the Taliban showing its true gory colours, it is nothing short of a wonder that Pakistan is still selling to the world, the outfit that has overtaken control of the war-torn country, according to experts. Pakistan’s interest in pitching for the Taliban has not been hidden to the world, according to experts at the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS).Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, recently in an interview reiterated his county’s stance of giving Taliban global recognition. There have been reports of senior Taliban leaders insisting that chopping off of hands and summary executions. During the previous Taliban regime (1996 to 2001), while Afghanistan’s then Foreign Minister Mullah Nooruddin Turabi had announced the chopping of hands and heads of Afghans,…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Polls close in first elections post electoral system changes in Hong Kong

Hong Kong: In the first elections since modifications were made to Hong Kong’s electoral system earlier this year, the polls were closed for subsector ordinary elections.Starting at 9:00 am, voters cast their ballots at five ordinary polling stations and one dedicated polling station across Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) government. An electronic poll register system was used for the first time at the polling stations to ensure more efficient and accurate issuance of ballot papers, reported CGTN. After the polls closed at 6:00 pm on Sunday, the ballot boxes were delivered to the Convention and Exhibition Centre for a vote count, under the observance of candidates, election agents and counting agents at the central counting station’s designated area.Meanwhile, HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Sunday morning that the elections, the first after the electoral system improvements and the implementation of the principle of…

Asia International

Pakistani Taliban attacks threaten safety of Chinese projects

Beijing [China]: The frequent attacks by the Pakistani Taliban in Pakistan raised concerns on the security and safety of Chinese projects in the country, Chinese state media reported. Analysts have warned that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may continue its attacks in Pakistan and cause damage to China’s projects and personnel in the country, Global Times reported on Saturday.The TTP had expressed its happiness over the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Recently, TTP leader Mufti Wali Noor Mehsud, in an exclusive interview with Japanese media outlet Mainichi Shimbun, welcomed the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan and said that “we are hopeful for a strong relationship between the two of us”. Experts believe that the recent developments in Afghanistan have encouraged the TTP members and they want to realise Pashtuns’ rule in Pakistan. Established in 2007, TTP is believed to be an alliance of some…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Japan’s administrative reform Minister Taro Kono ‘most popular pick’ to lead govt after PM Suga

Tokyo [Japan]: After Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced his intention to resign, Japan’s Administrative Reform Minister Taro Kono is the most popular pick to succeed the country’s top rank, Kyodo News reported citing a News poll released.The results came after a nationwide telephone survey was conducted with 1,071 randomly selected eligible voters in the country. “Kono gained 31.9 per cent of support from respondents in the nationwide telephone survey conducted with 1,071 randomly selected eligible voters on Saturday and Sunday, ahead of former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba with 26.6 per cent and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida with 18.8 per cent,” the News polls informed.Kono, who is also known as an outspoken lawmaker adept at social media is in charge of COVID-19 vaccinations in the country.Japan’s ruling party leaders have geared up to become the successor of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga after the latter’s…

Asia International

New ‘inclusive’ Afghanistan government to be announced soon: Taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Taliban on Sunday said that the new Afghanistan government is expected to be announced soon and it will be “an inclusive government.” “Now we live in a completely independent Afghanistan. The new government will be announced very soon,” said Anaamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, reported Tolo News.Although Samangani did not give details about the structure and features of the future government, he said “it will be an inclusive government and all the people will see themselves in it.” Samangani’s remarks come amid a visit by Pakistan’s ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, who arrived in Kabul on Saturday with a delegation of senior Pakistani officials. Pakistani media reported that Hamid arrived in Kabul at the invitation of the Taliban. Pakistan intelligence chief Faiz Hameed has taken an “emergency” trip to Kabul to resolve an evolving internal crisis…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Mission SAGAR: INS Airavat arrives in Thailand with COVID relief supplies

Bangkok [Thailand]: As part of the ongoing Mission SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), INS Airavat arrived at Sattahip, Thailand with COVID relief material on Friday. The ship is delivering 300 oxygen concentrators based on the requirement projected by the Government of Thailand in its fight against the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.According to the Defence Ministry, INS Airavat has been deployed to deliver COVID relief to friendly foreign nations in South East Asia which are battling the COVID19 pandemic under the aegis of ‘Mission SAGAR’ initiated by the Government of India. In the current deployment, the ship has delivered COVID relief material to Indonesia, Vietnam prior to arriving in Thailand.A Landing Ship Tank (Large) class of ship, INS Airavat, is a part of the Eastern Fleet at Visakhapatnam under Eastern Naval Command. The ship is indigenously designed and built to induct military…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Vietnamese envoy thanks India for delivering oxygen concentrators

New Delhi [India]: Vietnam’s envoy to India Pham Sanh Chau on Wednesday thanked New Delhi for delivering oxygen and oxygen concentrators in time to save thousands of lives in Vietnam during the pandemic.While speaking to ANI in New Delhi, he said, “We are grateful that the Indian government delivered oxygen and oxygen concentrators just in time to save thousands of lives. It was delivered by an Indian Navy ship. We will never forget this. A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Pham Sanh Chau and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakashi Lekhi attended the installation ceremony of Vietnam’s founding father and former President Ho Chi Minh’s bust at New Delhi’s Chanakyapuri today.“I am proud of the fact that this bust has been unveiled today. The way Mahatma Gandhi lives and India lives in the hearts of Vietnamese, Ho Chi…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

INS Airavat arrives at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with Covid relief supplies

Ho Chi Minh City [Vietnam]: As part of the ongoing Mission SAGAR, INS Airavat arrived at Ho Chi Minh City Port in Vietnam with COVID Relief Material on 30 August, the Ministry of Defence informed on Monday.The ship is carrying 100 Metric Tons of Liquid Medical Oxygen in 05 ISO Containers and 300 Oxygen Concentrators of 10 LPM capacity each based on the requirement projected by the Government of Vietnam in its fight against the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. “INS Airavat reaches Vietnam with oxygen supplies. Indo-Pacific approach in practice,” External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar tweeted.INS Airavat, an indigenously built Landing Ship Tank (Large) under the Eastern Naval Command based at Visakhapatnam, is on a deployment to South East Asia for trans-shipment of COVID Relief aid. A defence ministry release stated the ship had earlier entered Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia on 24…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Taliban seals off Kabul airport, stops people as evacuation process nears end

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Taliban on Saturday sealed off Kabul airport in order to prevent large crowds from leaving the war-torn country as final NATO evacuation flights left Afghanistan. New layers of checkpoints sprang up on roads leading to the airport, some manned by uniformed Taliban fighters with Humvees and night-vision goggles captured from Afghan security forces, reported Euronews.The massive US-led airlift wound down ahead of an August 31 deadline of the Taliban. Britain too began bringing its troops home from Afghanistan, as a Royal Air Force plane carrying soldiers landed at the RAF Brize Norton airbase northwest of London. The troops are part of a contingent of 1,000 that has been based in Kabul to help run the airlift, reported Euronews. Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised Friday to “shift heaven and earth” to get more people from Afghanistan to Britain by other means, though…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

US forces target ISIS-K planner in Nangarhar after Kabul attack

Washington [US]: An ISIS-Khorasan planner was killed in a “counterterrorism” operation conducted by US military forces in the Nangahar province, a day after a terror attack in Kabul killed scores of people including 13 US troops. In a statement spokesperson, for US Central Command said US forces conducted the “over-the-horizon” operation on Friday targeting the ISIS-K planner and the initial indication was that they “killed the target”.“US military forces conducted an over the horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planner the unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangahat province of Afghanistan. The initial indication is that we killed the target,” Navy Capt. Bill Urban said. “We know of no civilian casualties,” the statement read. On Thursday, a suicide bomber and multiple ISIS-K gunmen killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 169 Afghan civilians in the attack at the Kabul airport. ISKP on Thursday…

Asia International South Asian Countries

Sri Lanka -India Friendship: INS Shakti reaches Colombo with 100 tons of Oxygen

Colombo [Sri Lanka]: An Indian Naval Vessel Shakti on Sunday reached Colombo with 100 tons of Oxygen from Visakhapatnam. The High Commission of India in Colombo said the Indian Navy Ship Shakti reached Sri Lanka with wishes and goodwill from the people of India to the people of the Island country.“Fully loaded with wishes and goodwill from the people of #India to the people of #SriLanka, Indian Naval Vessel Shakti reaches #colombo with 100 tons of Oxygen from #Vizag. More oxygen consignments scheduled from #India !!!” tweeted the High Commission of India in Colombo. Aligned with the Government of India’s ongoing commitment to support Sri Lanka in the fight against COVID-19, INS Shakti sailed from Visakhapatnam on August 19, reported Sri Lanka Mirror. Named Operation Samudra Setu-II, deployment of the vessel was in response to a personal request for assistance by Sri Lankan President…

Asia International

Russia confirms 21,000 new COVID-19 cases over past 24 hours: Response center

Moscow [Russia] August 21 :Russia registered 21,000 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, up from 20,992 the day before, taking the overall tally to 6,726,523, the federal response center said on Saturday. “Over the past day, 21,000 COVID-19 cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 1,832 cases (7.6 per cent) without clinical symptoms,” the center said, adding that the rate of increase grew to 0.31 per cent.Moscow has the highest number of new cases with 1,852 daily infections, down from 1,925 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 1,665 new cases, down from 1,691, and the Moscow Region with 1,119 cases, up from 1,029. The response center reported 797 new deaths linked to the coronavirus, up from 785 the day before, raising the country’s death toll to 175,282. In the same 24 hours, 20,647 COVID-19 patients were…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Taiwan, Japan to hold first-ever security talks as China escalates border disputes

Tokyo [Japan]: Japanese and Taiwanese officials are set to hold first-ever security talks to address the military and “gray-zone” coercion tactics that China imposes on both nations, a media report said on Thursday.Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is planning to hold talks with its Taiwanese counterpart, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in the first-ever ruling party version of its “two-plus-two” security dialogue normally held between governments, Taiwan News reported. The talks are aimed at strengthening bilateral relations and addressing the security issues of both nations.The talks will be held online as soon as this month. The discussion will reportedly cover “ways to promote exchanges between Japan and Taiwan, in addition to security issues,” Taiwan News added.In an attempt to examine bilateral relations between Tokyo and Taipei, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party established a project team under its Foreign Affairs Division.Japan and Taiwan both have maritime…

Asia International

Taliban in Afghanistan: The story of the Taliban

The Taliban has retaken Afghan government 20 years after it was removed from power in a US-led invasion. On Sunda y, the Taliban swept to power in Afghanistan after a few weeks of stunning military victories. The armed group had been toppled in a US-led invasion in 2001 following the September 11 attacks on US soil, but it gradually regained strength, carrying out numerous attacks on foreign as well as Afghan forces in the past 20 years. The Taliban, which means “students” in the Pashto language, is trying to project a more moderate image this time around, but observers in Afghanistan and internationally remain sceptical. On Tuesday, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid promised to protect women’s rights and press freedom in the first news conference since the takeover. The beginning Many leaders of the Taliban prior to the formation of the armed group in early 1990s,…

Asia International

Changing Political Dynamics in Asia : China courts the Taliban in Afghanistan

News Desk with Inputs From Agencies The world has been left stunned at images of the Taliban’s blitzkrieg across Afghanistan, as that country’s military evaporated with remarkable swiftness. The USA’s legacy there has been irreparably damaged, so will China be able to take advantage as the Taliban installs itself in Kabul? On 28 July, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met formally in Tianjin with a nine-member Taliban delegation, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the hardline Muslim group’s co-founder and deputy leader. The meeting itself was not a surprise – for the Taliban has been in China previously for meetings – but the way China publicized it was. Indeed, Wang publicly acknowledged the Taliban as “a crucial military and political force in Afghanistan that is expected to play an important role in the peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process of the country”. Such a Chinese affirmation…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Gwadar Port: Pakistan to take Iranian electricity to power up the Port

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Government on Thursday started negotiations for importing 70 to 100-megawatt Iranian electricity to power up Gwadar Port as Tehran is enjoying a surplus. A decision to this effect was taken during a session of the Cabinet Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CCoCPEC), which met under the chairmanship of the Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, reported The News International.The Gawadar Port which would be completed by 2023 is delayed owing to various reasons. Different options were considered during the meeting for the provision of electricity to the deep seaport as the 300 MW power plant under-constructions in Gwadar, reported The News International. A transmission line of 220 KV would also be constructed to connect with the national grid, the meeting was told. For the time being, the meeting observed, the only available option was the import…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Japan orders evacuation of over 1.2 million people over heavy rainfall

Tokyo [Japan]: Japan has ordered the evacuation of 1.23 million people in four southwestern provinces over the heavy rainfall, media reported on Saturday.The evacuation was ordered for residents of the prefectures of Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the NHK broadcaster reported, citing the data of regional authorities. The southwestern regions of Japan have been hit by heavy rains for several days, which raises the risk of floods. A landslide has already left one person dead and two more injured.The weather will remain rainy in southwestern Japan on Sunday.

Asia International

South Korea allows use of remaining AstraZeneca doses on those aged over 30

Seoul [South Korea]: The South Korean health authorities have allowed to immunize those aged 30 and over with the unused shots of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Friday.Such citizens will be able to sign up for the remaining doses of the vaccine not used in the vaccination campaign. The British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine came under international scrutiny due to reported rare cases of blood clots, leading to restriction of its use to older age groups in some countries.The South Korean government plans to vaccinate 36 million people, or 70% of the population, by the end of September. To date, 21.8 million people have been vaccinated at least once, and 8.2 million people have been completely immunized.

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Pakistani terrorists among 12 killed in US airstrikes in Afghanistan’s Nejrab

Kabul [Afghanistan]: At least 12 Taliban terrorists were killed including two Pakistani terrorists in airstrikes conducted by the United States in Nejrab district of Kapisa province on Tuesday, local media reported. “12 Taliban terrorists including 4 of their commanders & 2 others Pakistani terrorists were killed in airstrikes conducted by US. Air Forces in Nejrab district of Kapisa province, late morning today. Also, some amount of their weapons, amos & equipment were destroyed,” Ministry of Defense, Afghanistan tweeted.These airstrikes come as Afghanistan is witnessing a surge in violence as the Taliban has intensified its offensive against Afghan forces and civilians with the complete pullback of foreign forces just a few weeks away. Over the last few weeks, the Taliban have captured several districts in Afghanistan. The city of Zaranj, near the Iranian border, became the first provincial capital to fall into Taliban control. On…

Asia International South Asian Countries TOP NEWS UPDATES

War Against Taliban: Massive fighting underway between Taliban terrorists, Afghan security forces in Balkh, Takhar

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Massive fighting between the Afghan forces and the Taliban terrorists is underway in the country’s northern provinces of Balkh and Takhar since Sunday night, local media reports said quoting provincial officials. In Balkh, heavy clashes are underway in the Dehdadi district since Sunday night, sources said. The clashes are close to Balkh capital Mazar-e-Sharif city and Pul-e-Imam Bukhari area. The defense lines will break if reinforcements are not sent to the province, TOLO News reported.The security forces supported by public uprising forces retook the control of Farkhar and Worsaj districts in Takhar on Sunday after they retreated from the capital city Taluqan. The government and Taliban have not yet confirmed the news, TOLO News added. The Taliban now controls all the districts of Helmand province and has been fighting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in the provincial capital, Lashkargah. The…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Japan orders evacuation of 3,00,000 people over Lupit typhoon

Tokyo [Japan]: Japan has ordered the evacuation of some 3,00,200 people from the prefectures of Hiroshima, Shimane and Ehime over the Lupit typhoon, media reported on Monday.Japanese airline cancelled 63 flights in the southwestern part of the country over the typhoon, the NHK broadcaster reported. The Lupit’s central atmospheric pressure is 985 hectopascals, with winds reaching 23 meters per second (51 miles per hour) and maximum gusts of up to 35 meters per second. The experts warn of stronger winds and higher waves.Typhoon Lupit was reported to have lashed the coastal provinces of China on Thursday, causing heavy downpours in other regions.

Asia Corona Updates International South Asian Countries

Bangladesh COVID-19 deaths exceed 22,000-mark

Dhaka [Bangladesh]: Bangladesh reported 12,606 new COVID-19 cases and 248 new deaths on Friday, taking the national tally to 1,335,260 and the death toll to 22,150, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said. The official data showed that 48,015 samples were tested in the last 24 hours as of 8:00 a.m. local time Friday across Bangladesh.The total number of recovered patients in the country stood at 1,172,437 including 15,494 new recoveries on Friday, said the DGHS. According to the official data, the COVID-19 fatality rate in Bangladesh is now 1.66 percent and the current recovery rate is 87.81 percent. Bangladesh recorded the highest daily new cases of 16,230 on July 28 and the highest number of deaths of 264 on Aug. 5. (ANI/Xinhua)

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

War against Taliban: 30 Pak nationals among 112 Taliban terrorists killed in airstrikes in Helmand

Kabul [Afghanistan]: As many as 30 Pakistani nationals, who were members of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, were killed in airstrikes on Taliban targets in Helmand province. The Afghan Defense Ministry said the airstrikes that took place in the Lashkargah city on Friday killed a total of 112 Taliban terrorists.“112 Taliban terrorists including 30 Pakistani affiliated to Al-Qaeda terrorist network for the Indian subcontinent, were killed and 31 others wounded in airstrikes conducted by AAF at the outskirts of Lashkargah city, Helmand provincial center, yesterday,” Afghan Defense Ministry tweeted. Afghanistan has repeatedly accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists in its territory and supporting the Taliban offensive against the Aghan government forces. These airstrikes come a day after the Afghan Ambassador to the UN Ghulam Isaczai said on Friday said that Afghanistan is prepared to provide the United Nations Security Council with material evidence in support…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Renowned Afghan poet Abdullah Atifi killed by Taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan] : Afghanistan’s renowned poet and historian Abdullah Atifi was killed by Taliban out of his residence in Uruzgan province’s Chora district on Wednesday night, Tolo news quoted provincial Governor Mohammad Omar Shirzad as saying. The governor added that the poet was killed out of his residence by the Taliban’s gunmen. However, the Taliban hasn’t commented on the incident yet.Taliban’s aggressive advances haven’t left even the renowned persons in societies. Last week, the Taliban had killed a popular Afghan comedian in the country’s Kandahar province. On July 22, comedian Nazar Mohammed better known as Khasha Zwan was taken out of his home and killed by the Taliban gunmen. In the past few weeks, Afghanistan has witnessed a surge in violence as the Taliban intensified their offensive against civilians and Afghan security forces with the complete pullback of foreign forces just a few weeks…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar: Brunei’s candidate emerges as front-runner

Naypyitaw [Myanmar]: Brunei’s second foreign minister Erywan Yusof has emerged as the front-runner for the job of ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar to facilitate mediation among the stakeholders and to find a peaceful resolution of the political crisis in the country.The discussion in this regard took place during the meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers on Monday, Kyodo News reported citing sources. The ministers discussed a peaceful resolution of the situation in Myanmar where the military overthrew a democratically elected government and seized power six months ago.However, the situation is in flux as to whether the Myanmar side agrees to accept Erywan’s appointment, the sources said.The sources said Indonesia strongly opposed the selection of Thai candidate Virasakdi Futrakul, a former deputy foreign minister and veteran diplomat who was publicly endorsed by Myanmar’s junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing on…

Asia International TOP NEWS UPDATES

North Korea: Major General executed for terming Kim’s order as ‘ignorant of reality’

Pyongyang [North Korea]: A major general was killed for reportedly saying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s military granaries distribution order was ‘ignorant of reality’.The top general was executed for saying Kim’s order to open military storehouses and release wartime grain reserves to the hungry public was “unrealistic,” it was reported. The organization, which keeps in touch with people inside North Korea, quoted one of its sources there as saying: “The major general in charge of the logistics headquarters of Training Camp 815 was court-martialed and shot on July 18 after he criticized Kim’s special order as ‘an order ignorant of reality.'”On July 22, the regime notified “military officers ranked department head and above” of the punishment in a warning message that included “detailed recent examples of ‘stern judgments'” in other cases.The notification said that after receiving the special order from the ruling party,…

Asia International

Japan: State of emergency declared till August 31 to prevent spread of COVID-19

Tokyo [Japan]: Japan on Saturday declared a state of emergency to Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Okinawa Prefectures and applied priority measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukuoka Prefectures till August 31.“Government of Japan applies the declaration of a state of emergency to Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Okinawa Prefectures and applies priority measures to prevent the spread of #COVID19 to Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukuoka Prefectures till August 31st,” tweeted PM’s Office of Japan. This comes as cases surge throughout the country. The Tokyo metropolitan government confirmed 3,865 new cases on July 29; the nationwide figure was 10,699. Both numbers are the highest since the start of the pandemic. And even though about three weeks have passed since the declaration, there is no sign that the wave of infections is slowing, reported NHK…

Asia International

Vaccinated people make up 75% of recent Covid-19 cases in Singapore

Vaccinated individuals accounted for three-quarters of Singapore’s COVID-19 infections in the last four weeks, but they were not falling seriously ill, government data showed, as a rapid ramp-up in inoculations leaves fewer people unvaccinated. While the data shows that vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe cases, it also underscores the risk that even those inoculated could be contagious, so that inoculation alone may not suffice to halt transmission. Of Singapore’s 1,096 locally transmitted infections in the last 28 days, 484, or about 44%, were in fully vaccinated people, while 30% were partially vaccinated and just over 25% were unvaccinated, Thursday’s data showed. While seven cases of serious illness required oxygen, and another was in critical condition in intensive care, none of the eight had been fully vaccinated, the health ministry said. “There is continuing evidence that vaccination helps to prevent serious disease when…

Asia International

Magnitude 6.7 earthquake rocks Philippines, no tsunami threat

A strong earthquake shook the Philippines on Saturday, the US Geological Survey reported, but it was deep, and local authorities said they did not expect damage. The 6.7-magnitude quake struck off the main island of Luzon at 4:48 am (2048 GMT) at a depth of 112 kilometres (70 miles), USGS said. It was followed a few minutes later with a 5.8-magnitude quake in the same region that was also deep. “It’s very strong, we’re alarmed,” said police Major Ronnie Aurellano in Calatagan municipality, Batangas province, which is south of Manila and near the epicentre of the quakes. “It’s raining very hard here as well, but our people here are used to earthquakes. They’re aware of the duck, hold and cover when there’s an earthquake.” “We’re checking low-lying areas in case there’s a tsunami,” he added. The Philippine seismological agency said it did not expect…

Asia International

Covid: South Korea to extend social distancing rules in Seoul for 2 more weeks

South Korea, which is currently battling its worst of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, said on Friday it will extend the ongoing social distancing rules imposed in its capital Seoul for two more weeks till August 8. The government, on July 12 imposed the highest level of social distancing restrictions (Level 4) in Seoul and neighbouring areas as the viral disease was spreading at a rapid pace. According to rules, a gathering of three or more people is banned after 6 pm, churches and nightclubs are shut, rallies are banned and only 49 people are allowed to attend marriages and funerals. Restaurants and cafes can remain open only till 10 pm and sporting events are allowed without any spectators, a said on Friday. Companies have been recommended to allow their employees to work from home while students are only allowed to attend online classes, the…

Asia International

WADA says it’s in discussions with Russia’s anti-doping agency over a dispute.

Tokyo, Jul 20 (Sputnik) The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) continues to work with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) on restoring RUSADA’s status, WADA president Witold Banka said on Tuesday. Speaking at the 138th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Tokyo, Banka said that the conditions for restoring RUSADA’s status were laid out in the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Banka said that WADA is working with RUSADA on meeting these conditions. “… we have done everything possible to ensure that athletes who are suspected of doping do not participate in the Tokyo Olympics,” the WADA head emphasized on Tuesday. After Moscow rejected WADA’s four-year ban on Russian athletes’ participation in major sports events (motivated by alleged non-compliance with the world anti-doping code), the WADA Executive Committee filed an arbitration request with the CAS. On December 17, 2020, CAS announced its…

Asia International Views & Voices

The Afghan war: It’s going to impact all of us!

The 20-year war in Afghanistan has been abandoned, with the United States announcing in mid-September that it will withdraw its troops from the country. What has the US left in its wake? Leaving power in the hands of a deliberately weak government is virtually a US handover of power to the Taliban. This significant setback has once again left a “black mark” on the claim of US supremacy. The US declaration of abandonment of the Afghan war will also profoundly affect Central Asian politics, as well as the politics of Pakistan, India, and many countries in South Asia and the region. Many say China will benefit significantly from other aspects, including mineral extraction and investments in Afghanistan. However, China’s biggest concern is with Uyghur Muslim rebels living in their Xinxiang province, adjacent to Afghanistan, and they fear the Taliban’s presence on the Afghan border…

Asia International

Lockdown returns in Australia’s Melbourne due to growing Covid clusters

Amid concern over rising Covid cases in Australia, the country’s largest city Melbourne has been put under a 5-day strict lockdown, starting tonight. Melbourne’s fifth lockdown of the pandemic will apply across Victoria state, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday. On Wednesday, officials announced that Sydney will remain in lockdown for five weeks. A three-week lockdown of Sydney and surrounding communities in New South Wales state had been due to end on Friday. But it will now last until July 30 at the earliest. Health authorities are concerned by how quickly the delta variant is spreading in a vulnerable Australian population in which fewer than 13% of adults are fully vaccinated.

Asia International

Indonesia becomes Asia’s hotspot, reports 54,000 Covid-19 virus cases

Indonesia reported more than 54,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time Wednesday, surpassing recent daily infections in India, whose disastrous outbreak is declining, and becoming Asia’s new virus hotspot. Officials fear that the more highly transmissible delta variant is now spreading from the islands of Java and Bali, where outbreaks prompted a partial lockdown that closed places of worship, malls, parks and restaurants. “I predict the outbreak will increase continuously in July as we are not able yet to prevent the spread of infections,” epidemiology expert Pandu Riono at the University of Indonesia said Wednesday. “Emergency social restrictions are still inadequate. They should be twice as stringent since we are facing the delta variant, which is two times more contagious.” The Health Ministry reported 54,517 new cases and 991 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began above…

Asia International

Magnitude 5.4 earthquake registered near Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula – Seismologists

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY: A 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck off the eastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East on Wednesday, the regional branch of the Geophysical Survey of the Russian Academy of Sciences (GS RAS) said. The epicenter of the earthquake was located at a depth of 40 kilometers (24.8 miles), 162 kilometers (100.6 miles) of the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Kamchatka is located in a seismically active zone known as the Ring of Fire and regularly suffers from earthquakes. The eastern coast of the peninsula lies along the border of three tectonic plates – Okhotsk, Pacific and North American ones – with the latter two moving toward the first one, which increases the seismic activity in the region.

Asia International

Indonesia reports record daily COVID-19 cases at 47,899

Jakarta: Indonesia on Tuesday recorded 47,899 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, marking the highest daily spike and bringing the total tally to 2,615,529, the Health Ministry said. The ministry also reported that the COVID-19-related death toll added by 864 to 68,219. An additional 20,123 recovered patients were discharged from hospitals, raising the total number of recoveries from the pandemic in the Southeast Asian country to 2,139,601. The virus has spread to all the country’s 34 provinces. Specifically, in the past 24 hours, Jakarta recorded 12,182 new cases, West Java 7,192, East Java 6,269, Banten 4,016 and Central Java 3,270.

Asia International

Hong Kong’s longest railway line to open fully

Tuen Ma Line, the longest railway line in Hong Kong, will fully open on Sunday, running through the eastern and western New Territories and Kowloon.   Chief Executive Carrie Lam officiated a ceremony celebrating the opening of Tuen Ma Line on Saturday, saying it was another major transport infrastructure completed by the current government, reports Xinhua news agency. The city government will continue to improve Hong Kong’s railway network to make it more convenient for the public to travel, she added. The 56 km-long Tuen Ma Line has 27 stations and connects Tuen Mun to Wu Kai Sha of the New Territories, making Hong Kong’s railway network more comprehensive. Tuen Ma Line Phase 1 was opened on February 14, 2020. One of the challenges in the construction of Tuen Ma Line was heritage conservation. A large number of relics were found when Sung Wong Toi…

Asia International

China Space Station: First crewed mission to construct new orbiting laboratory launched

China on Thursday successfully launched its crewed spacecraft, sending three astronauts to its space station’s core module Tianhe for a three-month mission. The Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket, was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China’s Gobi Desert. The launch was telecast live by the state-run CGTN-TV. In few minutes of the launch, the mission control announced that the launch was a complete success. It is China’s seventh crewed mission to space and the first during the construction of China’s space station, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). It is also the first in nearly five years after the country’s last manned mission in 2016. The three astronauts are commander Nie Haisheng, a 56-year-old veteran who participated in the Shenzhou-6 and Shenzhou-10 missions, Liu Boming, 54, who was part of the Shenzhou-7 mission, and Tang Hongbo,…

Asia International

Putin lashes out at US after ‘constructive’ talks with Joe Biden

“As for the general assessment, I believe there was no hostility at all,” Putin said during his solo press briefing, adding that the meeting, the first of its kind since Biden took office in January, was “open” and with “no pressure of the parties on each other.” Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at the US on arms control, human rights, cyber-attacks, among other issues, after “constructive” talks with his American counterpart Joe Biden. “As for the general assessment, I believe there was no hostility at all,” Putin said during his solo press briefing, adding that the meeting, the first of its kind since Biden took office in January, was “open” and with “no pressure of the parties on each other.” Putin said that the two sides “differ in many respects” but “showed willingness to understand each other and seek ways to bring the…

Asia International

Provincial lawmaker threatens to kill KP Sharma Oli

Narottam Baidhya, a provincial lawmaker from Bagmati Province, threatened to kill Oli while criticizing the recent expansion of cabinet and unconstitutional moves. Amid the ongoing political turmoil in Nepal, a provincial lawmaker from the opposition Nepali Congress has threatened to kill caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. Narottam Baidhya, a provincial lawmaker from Bagmati Province, threatened to kill Oli while criticizing the recent expansion of cabinet and unconstitutional moves. “While talking about Nepal’s present scenario, Oli is rising in such a way that he has been compromising every aspect of governance in order to stay in power and save his chair. If we let Khadga (Prasad) Oligo loose then the country would collapse” Badihya said while raising his hand in the air. While making a reference to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, he made an appeal to “save this nation,” adding that “if no…

Asia International

Thousands of wild animals were sold in Wuhan markets

The wild animals that were sold included mammals such as civet cats, mink and raccoon dogs, which are known to be susceptible to coronaviruses, along with squirrels, badgers, foxes and hedgehogs, as well as birds and reptiles. Thousands of wild animals were sold in markets in the Chinese city of Wuhan ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to new research. Wuhan, where the first coronavirus case was reported, is famous for the active trade of wild animals including mammals. In a detailed record of wild animal sales yet to be published, the British and Chinese researchers estimate that over 47,000 wild animals were sold in the city’s markets two and a half years before the disease emerged. In monthly site visits to 17 shops selling wild animals across four markets in Wuhan between May 2017 and November 2019, researchers documented the sale of 38…

Asia International

Hong Kong opens vaccine drive to children

Government officials said Thursday they will offer the vaccine to about 240,000 children from 12 to 15 years old starting Friday, joining other countries that have started vaccinating children. Hong Kong will allow children age 12 and above to receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine as it seeks to boost immunization rates in the city. Government officials said Thursday they will offer the vaccine to about 240,000 children from 12 to 15 years old starting Friday, joining other countries that have started vaccinating children.  The move comes as Hong Kong is urging its 7.5 million population to get inoculated. Since its vaccination drive began in late February, just over 15% of the population has been fully vaccinated.  The city has seen widespread vaccine hesitancy due to a mistrust of the government and outsized fears of side effects after several people died following inoculations, despite a determination…

Asia International

Afghanistan: Taliban declare three-day Eid ceasefire

The Taliban has declared a three-day ceasefire across Afghanistan to mark this week’s Eid al-Fitr holiday, two days after more than 50 people – mostly young girls – were killed in bomb blasts outside a school in the capital Kabul. “Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are instructed to halt all offensive operations against the enemy countrywide from the first till the third day of Eid,” a statement released by the Taliban said on Monday. “But if the enemy conducts any assault or attack against you during these days, stand ready to robustly protect and defend yourselves and your territory,” it added. The ceasefire announcement comes as the United States continues to pull out its last 2,500 troops 20 years after it invaded the country and removed the Taliban from power. US-led efforts to bring peace seem to have faltered as talks between the Taliban…

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