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February 2019 - International News

  • Cuba votes on new constitution.
    In Cuba, voters took part in a referendum on a new constitution that expands recognition of private property. The referendum contained only two options: yes or no to the new constitution.

    More than eight million were registered to voters. The new constitution, replacing the 1976 version, recognizes a limited role for the free market and private investment, but only under the control of the Communist Party.

    It enshrines socialism as the country's only ideology. Cuba's banned opposition, which normally calls for abstention at elections or spoiling ballot sheets, this time campaigned for a no vote.

  • Afghanistan begins export to India through Iran’s Chabahar port.
    Afghanistan has begun exports to India through Iran’s Chabahar port, as the landlocked country turns to overseas markets to improve its economy.

    At the inauguration of the new export route on 24 February 2019 in Zaranj city in western Nimroz province, President Ashraf Ghani said Chabahar port is the result of healthy cooperation between India, Iran and Afghanistan. He said, with the opening of the Chabahar route, Afghanistan’s exports will increase to two billion dollar from the current one billion dollar in 2020.

    Speaking at the ceremony, Indian ambassador Vinay Kumar said Afghanistan’s exports to India have increased by 40 percent after the launch of air corridor between Kabul and New Delhi. Officials said 23 trucks carrying 57 tonnes of dried fruits, textiles, carpets and mineral products were dispatched from Zaranj to Chabahar port to be shipped to Mumbai.

    The Iranian port provides easy access to the sea to Afghanistan and India has helped developed this route to allow both countries to engage in trade bypassing Pakistan.

  • Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari re-elected for second term.
    Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been re-elected for a second four year term. The country's Election Commission said, 76-year-old Buhari defeated his main rival, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar with a margin of around four million votes.

  • Israel: Ex-minister sentenced to 11 years in prison for spying. 
    In Israel, an ex-minister was sentenced to 11 years in prison for spying for his country's main enemy Iran, with prosecutors saying the plea bargain was necessary to avoid revealing secret information.

    Gonen Segev, who served as energy and infrastructure minister from 1995 to 1996, had previously agreed to a plea bargain on charges of serious espionage and transfer of information to the enemy.

  • Pakistan suspends Samjhauta Express train service.
    Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was, on 27 February 2019, captured by Pakistan after major aerial confrontation and chase between Pakistan Air Force planes, which dropped bombs in four locations of Jammu and Kashmir, and Indian Air Force jets that countered them over the Line of Control (LoC).

    Civilian airspace and airports north of Uttar Pradesh's Saharanput were closed after IAF instructions. Pakistan also closed its airspace for all airlines, with international flights exiting Indian airspace north of Mumbai being re-routed through the Middle-East.

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to reach Abu Dhabi to take part in OIC meet.
    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will reach Abu Dhabi on 28 February 2019 evening to take part in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meet. The plenary session of the OIC is scheduled on 01 March 2019, where India has been named as the “Guest of Honour”. This is the first time that India will participate in the OIC meet.

    The agenda will include a number of political, social, and economic topics, along with challenges facing the Muslim world. The session's agenda, which is being held under the theme '50 years of Islamic cooperation: Road map for prosperity and development', includes the follow-up of aspects of economic coordination that will push the level of cooperation and raise it towards new horizons.

    During the two-day conference, which coincides with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the OIC, the foreign ministers will discuss a range of issues regarding peace and stability in the Muslim world, as well as the integration and cooperation among the OIC members.

  • US, North Korea fail to strike deal at Hanoi Summit.
    The United States and North Korea have failed to reach a formal deal at the Hanoi Summit.

    After the summit, US President Donald Trump said, the talks ended with no agreement after he refused North Korean demand to lift all international sanctions.

    No joint communique was issued, despite high expectations before hand for progress. The two-day meeting in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi had come eight months after their historic summit in Singapore in June 2018.

  • Russia, Abu Dhabi express solidarity with India's fight against terrorism.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin called Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed his deep condolences on the Pulwama terrorist attack. He also conveyed solidarity of the people of the Russian Federation with the people of India in the fight against terrorism.

    Mr Modi thanked President Putin for Russian steadfast support for Indian efforts to protect its interests against cross-border terror attacks. Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan also held telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    According to Emirates News Agency, the Crown Prince underscored UAE's keenness on ensuring peace and stability in India-Pakistan ties.

  • Last rites of Nepal's Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation performed in Pokhara.
    The final rites of Nepal's Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari were performed with state honour in Pokhara on 01 March 2019. Rabindra Adhikari and six other persons including the pilot were killed in a helicopter crash in Taplejung district on 27 February 2019.

    President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, ministers, government officials and general public paid their tribute to Rabindra Adhikari and other victims of the chopper crash.

  • China calls for North Korean sanctions relief to be discussed at UNSC.
    China has called for North Korean sanctions relief to be discussed at the UN Security Council after US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un ended a summit without a deal.

    Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing on 01 March 2019, the UN Security Council should start discussions on the reversible clauses of the resolutions, which imposed sanctions on North Korea. He said the council should adjust the sanctions in accordance with the principle of simultaneous reciprocity.

    The Chinese spokesman further said, both the countries note that lifting sanctions is an important part of the denuclearization process. Beijing is the North's main trade partner and sole major ally, but it has backed a raft of UN sanctions following Pyongyang's repeated nuclear and missile tests in recent years.

  • South Korea to help US, North Korea reach a deal.
    South Korea will work with the U.S. and North Korea to ensure they reach agreement on denuclearization, the South’s President said, a day after talks between the U.S. and North Korean leaders collapsed over sanctions.

    A second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Vietnam, was cut short after they failed to reach a deal on the extent of sanctions relief North Korea would get in exchange for steps to give up its nuclear programme.

    South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has been an active supporter of efforts to end confrontation on the Korean peninsula, meeting Mr. Kim three times last year (2018) and trying to facilitate his nuclear negotiations with the U.S.

  • Yemen’s government, Houthi rebels agree on phase one of mutual pullback of forces from Hodeidah.
    Yemen's government and Houthi rebels have agreed on phase one of a mutual pullback of forces from the key city of Hodeidah. After talks in the city, UN officials said, the deal on the first phase has been finalized and they have agreed in principle for the second phase.

    Under phase one, forces from both sides will withdraw from the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef, and Ras Issa. A pullback from Hodeidah was part of December's ceasefire between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-supported Yemeni forces.

  • UAE funded US military hospital to be built in Abu Dhabi.
    A US military hospital funded by the United Arab Emirates will be built in Abu Dhabi to treat Emirati soldiers and regionally based American troops.

    Lieutenant General Charles Hooper, director of the Defence Security Cooperation Agency, said the US would deploy medical military personnel in support of a facility very similar to the one in Germany -- the biggest American hospital outside the US. The United Arab Emirates has not yet announced any plans for such a hospital.

    The US has a number of military bases across the Gulf -- the largest in Qatar with about ten thousand troops. The UAE is a key regional ally of the United States and maintains close ties with the administration of President Donald Trump.

  • Mexico border wall: 16 US states sue over emergency declaration.
    A coalition of 16 US states led by California is suing President Donald Trump's administration over his decision to declare an emergency to raise funds for a Mexican border wall.

    The lawsuit was filed in the court for the Northern District of California. It comes days after Trump invoked emergency powers to bypass Congress and secure funding for the project - a key campaign pledge. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said they were taking President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power.

  • Israel to launch its first moon mission.
    Israelis to launch its first moon mission, sending an unmanned spacecraft to collect data to be shared with NASA. 585-kilogram Beresheet (Genesis) spacecraft is to lift off atopa Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at around 0145 GMT on 22 February, 2019. Mission control will be in Yehud, near Tel Aviv.

    Technology NGO SpaceIL, which is part of this mission, president Morris Kahn said, Israel are entering history and are proud to belong to a group that has dreamed and fulfilled the vision shared by many countries in the world but that so far only three of them have accomplished. So far only Russia, the United States and China have sent their spacecraft to the moon.

    The Chinese spacecraft made the first ever soft landing on the far side of the moon on January 3.

  • Pakistan: Two shooters & a manager granted visas to participate in New Delhi World Cup.
    Pakistan’s two shooters and a manager were on 18 February, 2019 granted visas to participate in the New Delhi World Cup starting at the Dr Karni Singh Range on 21 February, 2019. The Secretary of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) Rajiv Bhatia confirmed this to a news agency.

    This ended speculation about their presence in the event in the wake of the Pulwama terrorist attack. The ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) event, will offer 16 quota places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

  • Israel offers unconditional help to India.
    Israel has offered unconditional help to India in defending itself, especially against terrorism. Newly-appointed Israeli envoy Dr Ron Malka told that Israel is ready to help close friend India because terrorism is the problem of the world and not only of India and Israel.

    Emphasizing that the world should fight terrorism and eliminate it by collaborating, he said, Israel wants to help India, share knowledge and technique. He further said that by strengthening India, Israel was contributing to world stability and sustainability because India has a very important role in world stability.

  • Myanmar sets up committee to discuss reforming constitution.
    Myanmar on 19 February, 2019 set up a committee to discuss reforming the country's military-drafted constitution. This pits Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government openly against the powerful armed forces for the first time over the incendiary issue.

    Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a landslide in 2015 elections but was forced into an uneasy power-sharing agreement with the armed forces.

    Under a 2008 charter it drafted, the military controls all security ministries and is gifted a quarter of parliamentary seats. That hands the army an effective veto over any constitutional change. Suu Kyi's party has promised to reform the controversial document.

    Myanmar parliament voted on 19 February, 2019 to form a cross-party committee to debate reforms of the charter. Deputy Speaker and committee chair Tun Tun Hein told Parliament that the main purpose of the panel will be to write a bill to change the 2008 constitution.

    The NLD will be allocated 18 out of 45 seats on the panel, the military will have eight and the remainder will be divided between other parties. There has so far been no detail about the specific reforms the discussions would focus on. But its formation threatens a political showdown with the army, whose bloc of MPs stood up in protest early February when the committee's formation was first mooted.

  • Nepal: Month-long Festival of India begins in Kathmandu
    In Nepal, a month-long 'Festival of India' began in Kathmandu on 19 February, 2019 to familiarize the new generation of the country about the similarities between the two countries.

    Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri jointly inaugurated the event.

    Speaking on the occasion, Indian Ambassador said Buddhism has been established as a major religion in both the countries as Lord Buddha was born in Nepal and attained enlightenment in India. The festival, organized by the Indian Embassy and Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, is being held in Kathmandu and other major cities of Nepal from February 19th to March 21st.

  • Donald Trump signs order to establish US space force.
    Reuters US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to establish its Space Force as a new armed service within the Department of Air Force.

    As per the memorandum signed by Trump in his Oval Office on 19 February, 2019, the Space Force will include both combat and combat support functions to enable prompt and sustained offensive and defensive space operations in all domains.

    It said, the force will be organized, trained, and equipped to meet and protect the US national interests in the space, consistent with international laws.

    Mr. Donald Trump described the unique force as the future of US forces and a very big part of its defence system. He said, it will organize and train the next generation of warriors to deter aggression and defend the United States.

  • Mahatma Gandhi Scholarships awarded to 150 Sri Lankan students.
    Sri Lanka's 150 students from all 25 districts were awarded the prestigious Mahatma Gandhi scholarships for study in India. Sri Lankan Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu gave the scholarships at a special ceremony in Colombo on 20 February, 2019.

    This is the twelfth year in continuum that India has provided Mahatma Gandhi scholarships to bright students across Sri Lanka. The minister appreciated the assistance provided by India, including for the new trilingual school in Polonnaruwa and Saraswathy College in Kandy. He also thanked India for providing training to teachers in Sri Lanka.

    High commissioner of India said that it was a special occasion where 150 Sri Lankan students were awarded the Mahatma Gandhi scholarships while the world is celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. He urged the students in Sri Lanka to connect with the youth of India and told them to take advantage of scientific and educational developments in India.

    The high commissioner noted that India has recently launched a new Portal titled “Study in India” and more than 25000 seats are earmarked in Indian Institutions for foreign students. He expressed hope that Sri Lankan youth would make full use of the opportunities in India.

  • Russia warns US against deploying new missiles in Europe.
    Russia has warned the US against deploying new missiles in Europe, threatening to retaliate in kind by targeting Western capitals with his own new weaponry. Delivering a state of the nation address, President Vladimir Putin said the US abandoned the 1987 arms control pact to free its hands to build new missiles and tried to shift the blame for the move on Russia. He, however, added that Russia still wants friendly relations with Washington and remains open to arms control talks.

    Signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty banned ground-launched missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

  • US, China top officials begin fresh round of negotiations to reach trade deal.
    Top trade officials from the US and China have started their latest, and possibly the last round of talks in Washington to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal before their self-imposed deadline of 1st March.

    The Chinese delegation is led by Vice- Premier Liu He, while US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin chaired the talks on behalf of the US.

    During the two-day talks, China is expected to announce a large purchase of US agricultural and energy products. Beijing will propose buying an additional 30 billion US dollars annually of American farm products such as soybeans, corn and wheat.

    US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during in December 2018 had agreed to temporarily pause their trade war and arrive at a trade deal by 1st March.

  • Venezuelan President announces to close border with Brazil until further notice.
    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced that he is closing the border with Brazil on 21 February 2019 night until further notice. Nicolas Maduro is also threatened to close the Colombian border in a bid to block the entry of humanitarian aid that he says is politically motivated.

    Venezuela´s opposition led by National Assembly president Juan Guaidó whom the US and some 50 other countries recognize as the legitimate president is planning to bring food and medicine across the Colombian border at four crossing points.

    The political crisis began in Venezuela in January when on 24th January, Guaido, marched against Maduro and announced himself as interim president.

  • FATF keeps Pakistan on grey list for failing to curb terror funding.
    International terror financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has decided to keep Pakistan on its grey list at the end of its week-long plenary meeting in Paris.

    India had made a strong push to ensure that Islamabad is not taken off the list, in the aftermath of Pulwama terror attack. In a statement, Paris-based FATF said, Pakistan has made only limited progress in curbing money laundering and terrorism financing.

    It failed to show a proper understanding of the risks posed by terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Jamat-ud-Dawa and others. The global financial body said, Pakistan has until October 2019 to either comply with the demands made by FATF members or it could be blacklisted.

    The FATF has asked Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan that includes showing sanctions were being applied in cases of money laundering and terrorism financing. It also has to demonstrate better cooperation between authorities, identify illegal money flows, and enhance support for prosecutors, among other measures. Terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack.

  • FATF extends deadline for Iran to fix its anti-money laundering, terrorism financing rules.
    The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has extended the deadline for Iran to fix its anti-money laundering and terrorism financing rules till June 2019.

    While welcoming the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in Iran, the FATF in a statement expressed its disappointment that the Action Plan still remains outstanding.

    In October 2018, the Paris based global watchdog had given Iran a February deadline to complete an Action Plan of reforms that would bring it in line with global norms, or face consequences.

    If Iran does not enact the remaining legislation in line with FATF Standards by June, the watchdog will require increased supervisory examination for branches and subsidiaries of financial institutions based in Iran.

  • Sri Lanka launches economic development framework for war-affected Northern Province.
    Sri Lankan government on 22 February 2019 launched an economic development framework for war-affected Northern Province to ensure its long-term growth and development.

    The framework accepts that the outcomes of post-war development programmes have been inadequate, particularly lack of viable employment and incomes for the local population. It said that the strategy centered on building infrastructure, and expansion of credit has not met the expectations with the region lagging behind from rest of the country in terms of economic indicators.

    The framework called for a two-pronged strategy on strengthening the economic base while supporting initiatives for export development. Releasing the framework, finance minister Mangala Samaraweera highlighted the initiatives taken by the government during the last budget in this direction.

    However, several Tamil MPs from the province lamented the slow implementation of policies and shortage of livelihood options for the war-affected families. One MP underlined that there are 90 thousand families headed by war widows in the affected districts and special plans should be devised to absorb them in the workforce.

  • Democrat Amy Klobuchar to contest for US president in 2020 election.
    In the United States, Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar has announced that she will contest for president in the forthcoming Presidential election in 2020.

    Ms Klobuchar, a former prosecutor, said she is running for everyone who wanted their work recognized. She won praise for grilling Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and attorney general nominee William Barr during recent confirmation hearings.

  • Egypt’s President El-Sissi elected as chairman of African Union.
    Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has been elected as the chairman of the African Union at the continental body's summit in Ethiopia.

    Addressing the summit, Sisi said that he would focus on improving peace and security in the African continent.

    El-Sisi's election brings an end the one-year chairmanship of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame. Reacting to Sisi's appointment, the rights group Amnesty International said his chairmanship might undermine the African Union's human rights mechanisms.

  • Poland to buy mobile rocket launchers from US.
    Poland will buy mobile rocket launchers worth 414 million US Dollar from the United States, as Warsaw seeks closer ties with Washington amid concerns over a resurgent Russia.

    Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told journalists that the deal, due to be signed on the 13th of February will significantly increase the Army's capacities and the delivery is expected by 2023. Made by US weapons giant Lockheed Martin, the HIMARS system can launch six guided rockets with a range of 70 kilometers or a single missile with a 300-kilometre range.

    In March, 2018, Warsaw already signed a 4.75 billion US Dollar contract to purchase a US-made Patriot anti-missile system. Poland's right wing government has been pushing for the United States to open a permanent military base on its soil, where American troops are already stationed on a rotational basis as part of NATO operations.

  • IMF chief warns Britain on Brexit challenge.
    International Monetary Fund (IMF) Chief Christine Lagarde has warned that the British exit from the European Union (EU) means it will never be as good as it is now for the country's economy.

    Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai on 10 February, 2019, Ms Lagarde criticised Britain's departure from the EU. Britain is due to leave EU on 29th March, 2019.

  • US President signs executive order to prioritize research & development in Artificial Intelligence.
    US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order directing the federal agencies to prioritize research and development in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

    The plan, called the American AI Initiative, follows big investment pledges from China and other countries intended to advance and apply AI technology in fields ranging from war fighting to health care. The order directs federal agencies to make government data and computing resources more available to AI experts while maintaining security and confidentiality.

    The order also calls on agencies to protect civil liberties, privacy and American values in applying AI technologies, and to help workers gain relevant skills through fellowships, apprenticeships, training programs and computer science education.

  • Radio reaches more people than any other media platform: UN secretary-General. 
    UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said radio is a powerful tool even in today’s world of digital communications. In his message on the eighth World Radio Day to be celebrated February 13, he said radio reaches more people than any other media platform.

    Talking about the importance of the Radio, he said it conveys vital information and raises awareness on important issues. He said it is a personal, interactive platform where people can air their views, concerns, and grievances. Mr. Guterres added that the radio can create a community.On UN peacekeeping operations, he said radio is a vital way of informing, reuniting and empowering people affected by war.

    He said the power of radio to promote dialogue, tolerance and peace should be duly recognized by the governments world over.

  • US team in Beijing for trade talks.
    US negotiators met their Chinese counterparts in Beijing for a new round of high-stakes trade talks, hoping to reach a deal before the March 1 deadline set by Donald Trump in the backdrop of the IMF warning of a possible global economic storm. The talks will include officials from the agriculture, energy and commerce departments.

    In December, Washington suspended for three months its plan to increase tariffs on USD 200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 per cent from the current 10 per cent to allow time for negotiators to work out a trade spat. Washington is demanding far-reaching changes from China to address commercial practices. US says, practices which China is using, are deeply unfair, including theft of American intellectual property.

    China has offered to boost its purchases of US goods during the truce, but is likely to resist calls for structural changes to its industrial policy including slashing government subsidies.

  • US acting secretary of defence makes unannounced visit to Afghanistan.
    US acting secretary of defence Patrick Shanahan have reached Afghanistan on an unannounced visit amid a push by the United States to negotiate peace with the Taliban. Shanahan is expected to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

    He said that it is important that the Afghan government is involved in discussions regarding Afghanistan. Washington has important security interests in the region and that he wanted to hear from the US commanders on the ground.

  • Democrat Amy Klobuchar to contest for US president in 2020 election.
    In the United States, Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar has announced that she will contest for president in the forthcoming Presidential election in 2020.

    Ms. Klobuchar, a former prosecutor, said she is running for everyone who wanted their work recognized. She won praise for grilling Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and attorney general nominee William Barr during recent confirmation hearings.

    The 58-year-old enters an increasingly crowded field of Democrats competing to challenge President Donald Trump. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Tulsi Gabbard are among those who have already announced that they will run. A record total of five women have so far entered the race for the US presidency.

  • European Union members of UNSC ask for humanitarian access to eastern Ukraine's.
    European Union members of the UN Security Council have asked for humanitarian access to eastern Ukraine's areas held by separatists.

    The countries said in a statement, some 3.5 million people require humanitarian aid and protection due to widespread mine contamination, escalating psychological trauma and lack of access to basic services.

    They urged all parties to the conflict, to re-establish full access for all international humanitarian organizations to the non-government-controlled areas and allow speedy delivery of humanitarian assistance.

  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov warns Mike Pompeo against using US force in Venezuela.
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned his US counterpart Mike Pompeo against any American interference, including using force, in Venezuela which is facing a major leadership crisis.

    The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on 12 February, 2019, that Lavrov is ready for talks regarding the Venezuelan issue in line with UN principles. The remarks came after US President Donald Trump reaffirmed earlier this month that military intervention in Venezuela was an option.

  • Afghan government fired its election commission.
    The Afghan government has fired its election commission. The move by President Ashraf Ghani's administration comes more than three months after chaotic parliamentary elections, the results of which have still not been announced and ahead of July's controversial presidential vote.

    Both the Independent Election Commission and its complaints commission have been fired. It did not offer reasons but Ghani gave political parties and civil society representatives one week to nominate candidates to a new commission.

  • US House passes a measure aimed at withdrawing all US military support in Yemen.
    The US House has passed a measure aimed at withdrawing all US military support for the Saudi Arabia-backed war in Yemen.

    The Democratic-led House on 13 February, 2019 advanced the bill, 248 to 177, as its first major vote on foreign policy. The vote was a sharp rebuke to Saudi Arabia for its conduct in that conflict and a push-back against the Trump administration's close ties to the kingdom.

    Eighteen Republicans joined all voting Democrats in supporting the measure. The vote puts pressure on the Senate to act. The Senate easily passed a similar measure late last year condemning the administration's defence of the Saudi kingdom, but it died as the last Congress ended with the then Republican-controlled House not bringing it to a vote.

  • Egypt’s Parliament to vote on extending president's term.
    Egypt's Parliament has begun deliberations over constitutional amendments that could allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in office till 2034. The amendments will provide 12 more years after his current, second term expires in 2022.

    According to a statement, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Al opened session on 13 February, 2019.
    The discussions are to lead to a vote later in the day or on 14 February, 2019. The 596-seat assembly has already given its preliminary approval to the changes last week.

    The amendments are near certain to be overwhelmingly approved by the legislature, packed with el-Sissi's supporters, but will also need to be put to a national referendum to become law.

  • In shake up between humans, machines, over 133M new jobs may emerge by 2022.
    In the shakeup between humans and machines, there is a likelihood of creation of over 133 million new jobs by 2022. However, at the same time, 75 million jobs may be displaced.

    During the World Government Summit WGS 2019 in Dubai, the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) called on governments and institutions around the world to collaborate far more closely around the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR.

    Addressing a plenary session, 'the Future of the Economy in the Age of 4IR', at the seventh WGS 2019, OECD Secretary-General José Angel Gurría cautioned governments against creating a situation where they have to look after people who are unable to participate in a new digitally-driven economy.
    He said, the digital transformation can change the world, but a level playing field has to be created.

    In OECD countries alone, up to half of all people will be displaced or affected by technology. The OECD's projections suggest that one billion people worldwide lack the necessary digital literacy and skills to participate in the digital economy, with Gurria pointing out that uneven broadband access means that less than half the world's population uses the internet.

    Globally, 200 million fewer women are online than men. Gurria said countries across the world are at different stages of the digital revolution and some people will be left behind.

  • Donald Trump to sign spending bill averting government shutdown.
    US President Donald Trump will sign a spending bill averting a government shutdown but will also issue an emergency declaration to fund his controversial border wall.

    Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell told colleagues that he spoke to Mr. Trump, who indicated that he is prepared to sign the bill and also issue a national emergency declaration. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the plan minutes later.

  • William Barr sworn in as US Attorney General
    In United States, William Barr was sworn for second time as the nation’s Attorney General, taking the helm of the Justice Department as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    Earlier, the Senate voted 54-45 to confirm his appointment. Mr. Barr, who also served as the Attorney General from 1991 to 1993 during President George H.W. Bush’s administration, succeeds Jeff Sessions.

    As the country’s chief law enforcement officer, Barr will oversee the remaining work in Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign and decide how much Congress and the public know about its conclusion.

  • US President Donald Trump declares national emergency to construct wall along Mexico border.
    US President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to construct a wall along the border with Mexico.

    The declaration will give Mr. Trump access to billions of dollars for the project. Speaking at the White House, Mr. Trump said, he would draw the money from federal military construction and counter-drug efforts, by passing Congress, which approved far less money for his proposed wall than he had sought.

  • US President Trump hails North Korea's 'tremendous' economic potential.
    US President on 15 February, 2019 hailed Pyongyang's "tremendous" economic potential ahead of a second scheduled summit between the President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong UN.

    Trump told that their location between South Korea and Russia and China right smack in the middle is phenomenal. And we think they have a great chance for tremendous economic prosperity in the future. Pyongyang has yet to provide any official confirmation of the Feb 27-28 summit, which will be the second time the two leaders come together following their June 12 Singapore meeting.

  • Germany rejects US call to leave Iran nuclear deal.
    Germany has rejected an appeal by US Vice President Mike Pence for Europeans to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal and isolate Tehran.

    Foreign Minister Heiko Maas defended the 2015 agreement under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief. Maas told the Munich Security Conference on 15 February, 2019 that together with the British, French and the entire EU we have found ways to keep Iran in the nuclear agreement until 15 February, 2019.

    He said our goal remains an Iran without nuclear weapons, precisely because we see Pence at a conference on the Middle East in Warsaw on 14 February, 2019 denounced the retention by the Europeans of the nuclear agreement.

    He accused Tehran of planning a "new Holocaust" with its opposition to Israel and regional ambitions in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Pence also criticized the initiative of France, Germany and Britain to allow European companies to continue operating in Iran despite US sanctions.

  • Iraqi novelist Alaa Mashzoub gunned down in Karbala.
    In Iraq, a renowned novelist Alaa Mashzoub was gunned down by unknown assailants on 02 February, 2019 night in the city of Karbala. Police said that he was killed after he left a literary event and was heading home on his motorcycle.

    Mashzoub has 20 published books and has written extensively about Karbala's history and culture. He has also written about Iraq's once-thriving Jewish minority. In recent times, Iraq has seen a number of political assassinations, particularly of outspoken activists.

  • Pope Francis lands in Abu Dhabi, becomes 1st pontiff to visit Arabian Peninsula.
    Pope Francis landed in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on a historic visit, becoming the first pontiff to visit the Arabian Peninsula. He was received at the airport by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi said, they warmly welcome him Holy Father, Pope Francis.

    The Pope is visiting the UAE on the invitation of the Crown Prince to take part in an interfaith Conference. An estimated 700 participants from different faith are expected to participate in the Human Fraternity Conference, which includes representatives of the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh faiths.

    Poojya Brahmvihariji of BAPS, who is spearheading the construction of the Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi is also one of the keynote speakers at the Conference.

  • Sri Lanka celebrating its 71st Independence day on 04, February.
    Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said that he is against forming a national government by joining a party with only one MP.

  • Fire in country's space research Centre has killed 3 scientists: ISNA news agency
    Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported that a fire in the country's space research Centre has killed three scientists. The report quotes Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi as saying that three researchers have died because of a fire in one of the buildings of the Space Research Centre.

    Iran plans to launch a satellite into orbit despite US criticism that such launches benefit its ballistic missile programme. In January, the country launched a satellite, but authorities said it failed to reach the necessary speed in the third stage of its launch.

  • Israel says it has begun construction of massive new Gaza border barrier.
    Israel on 03 February, 2019 said it has begun construction of a massive new Gaza border barrier.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told that work to strengthen the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip had entered a new phase with the construction of an above-ground barrier. He said the barrier, set to stand six metres off the ground, will prevent terrorists from Gaza from penetrating into Israeli territory on the ground.

    This construction follows the 65-kilometre course of an underground barrier, also under construction, meant to neutralize the threat of cross-border tunnels built by Gaza militants. Palestinians, now for nearly a year, have gathered at least weekly along the Gaza border for often-violent protests, calling for an end to the Israel's blockade of Gaza.

  • Former Law Minister of Nepal Nilambar Acharya appointed as country's ambassador to India.
    Former Law Minister of Nepal Nilambar Acharya has been appointed as country's ambassador to India.

    President Bidya Devi Bhandari administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr. Acharya in Kathmandu. He has been appointed on the recommendation of cabinet.

    Mr. Acharya served as a member of Eminent Persons Group formed by India and Nepal on bilateral relations. He was Law Minister in the interim government of 1990. Mr. Acharya had also served as Nepal’s envoy to Sri Lanka.

  • Donald Trump nominates acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary.
    United States President Donald Trump has nominated acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt as the Interior Secretary.

    Bernhardt will replace Ryan Zinke, if the Senate approves his nomination. Zinke resigned in December amid ethics investigations. Mr. Trump told that Bernhardt has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived.

  • EU Countries endorse Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
    More than a dozen European Union countries have endorsed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim President.

    Putting the pressure on embattled President Nicolas Maduro to resign and clear the way for a new Presidential election, Germany, France and Britain and Spain publicly supported Guaido after a deadline to call a presidential election passed without action.

    Other European nations, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal also lined up behind Guaido, who last month (January) declared himself interim President with the support of the United States and many South American nations.

  • Pope Francis calls for rejection of word “war’ in all its form. 
    Pope Francis, who is on a three day visit to the UAE called for the rejection of the word “war’ in all its form. He was speaking at the Interfaith Conference in Abu Dhabi which was attended by at least 600 religious and cultural leaders of different faiths and scholars.

    He said, human fraternity requires of us, as representatives of the world's religions, the duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word 'war'. The Pope said, he is thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya. The interfaith meeting in Abu Dhabi attended by and other religious leaders of different faiths.

    Pope Francis said, hatred and violence in the name of God cannot be justified, praising the value of education in reducing conflict. In his speech, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, the world's top Sunni Muslim cleric said, he and the Pope agreed that all faiths should be free from the actions of those who commit violence in the name of religion.

    United Arab Emirates is playing a leading role in Yemen's conflict as part of a Saudi-led military coalition.

  • UAE leaders, Pope Francis discuss friendly relations between UAE and Vatican.
    Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on 04 February, 2019 discussed with His Holiness Pope Francis friendly relations between the UAE and the Vatican as well a number of topics of mutual interest.

    During the meeting held at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, the two sides reviewed prospects for cooperation and joint efforts to consolidate fraternity and coexistence and promote dialogue so as to ensure security, stability and peace worldwide. It was also an important opportunity, they said, to exchange views and strengthen dialogue and tolerance.

    Pope Francis who is on a three day visit to UAE also took part in “The Global Conference for Human Fraternity”, an interfaith Conference, which was graced by many other religious leaders including his Eminence Ahmed At-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif and Swami Brahmvihariji of BAPS, who is spearheading the construction of the Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi.

    On 05 February, 2019, Papal Mass is scheduled to be held at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, which is expected to attract an estimated 1.35 lakh people from the UAE and neighbouring countries - one of the largest single gatherings ever held in the UAE.

  • Nayib Bukele claims victory in El Salvador's presidential election.
    Former mayor of San Salvador, Nayib Bukele has claimed victory in the El Salvador's presidential election. With most votes counted, the former mayor of the capital city had nearly 53 per cent of the vote with his closest rival, Carlos Calleja garnering 32 per cent votes.

    Bukele's primary opponents -- Carlos Calleja of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), and Hugo. Martinez of the leftist Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN) -- recognized the win.

    Politics in El Salvador has been dominated over the past three decades by two main parties - the incumbent left-wing FMLN and the conservative ARENA.

  • Macedonia signs accord to join NATO.
    Macedonia on 06 February, 2019 signed an accord to join NATO to become the 30th member of the US-led alliance. At a formal signing of the NATO accession protocol, Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov hailed the moment as showing that the country will never walk alone once in the alliance.

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the admittance of a new member highlighted that all European nations who meet the entrance criteria could join the regional alliance. However, Moscow has continually rejected NATO's position, saying that by taking in Balkan members, the alliance is undermining security in the region.

    The Macedonia-NATO accord follows a deal with Greece ending a 27-year-old dispute over Macedonia's name. The accord must now be ratified by allied governments.

  • Sri Lankan parliament to debate and vote to form national government.
    Sri Lankan parliament will take up for debate on 07 February, 2019 to form a national government followed by voting.

    United National Party (UNP) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has proposed to form a national government with help of other parties which has been opposed by President Maithripala Sirsiena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

    All MPs of UNP have been informed that it is mandatory for them to vote in favour of the proposal of the national government. Opposition MP Dinesh Gunawardena said the government has decided to take up the proposal ignoring the opposition from other parties.

    The proposal to form the national government was submitted by the Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella in Parliament last week with an aim to increase the number of ministerial portfolios.

  • Guterres underlines climate action urgency, as UN weather agency confirms record global warming.
    UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for urgent climate action and increased ambition ahead of his climate summit in September. His comment comes after the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released data showing the past four years from 2015 to 2018 were officially the 'four warmest on record'.

    The analysis, based on the monitoring performed by five leading international organizations, also shows that the global average surface temperature in 2018 was approximately 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) baseline.

    WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said that the long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one. He said the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years.

    In order to mobilize political will, Mr. Guterres is convening a Climate Summit on 23 September, 2019.

  • Red Cross calls for total ban on nuclear weapons.
    The Red Cross on 08 February, 2019 called for a total ban on nuclear weapons, warning of the growing risk that such arms could again be used with devastating effect.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched a global campaign to raise awareness about the rising nuclear threat facing the world. In a joint statement in Geneva, they said some nuclear-armed states were straying from their "long-standing nuclear disarmament obligations".

    The statement said these nuclear-armed nations were also upgrading their arsenals, developing new kinds of nuclear weapons and making them easier to use. The campaign comes after the United States and Russia announced to abandon the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

    The campaign aims to encourage people to lobby their governments to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which has so far been signed by 70 nations and ratified by 21.

  • Climate march held in Belgium for urgent action to prevent global warming.
    At least 70,000 people braved cold and rain in Brussels to demand the Belgian government and the European Union increase their efforts to fight climate change.

    The event has been described as Belgium's biggest climate march ever. Trains from across the nation were so clogged that thousands of people did not make the march in time.

    Some 35,000 students in Belgium skipped classes to take their demands for urgent action to prevent global warming.

  • UAE, Iraq discuss methods to counter extremism and terrorism.
    UAE and Iraq have discussed methods of countering extremism and terrorism, in addition to a number of issues of mutual concern during a meeting in Baghdad. Emirates News Agency said first meeting of the UAE-Iraq Political Consultative Committee was held at the level of senior officials of the foreign finistries of both countries.

    During the meeting the two sides discussed bilateral relations and means of strengthening and developing them. Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar, Assistant Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, who chaired the UAE side, stressed the importance of this round of consultations to enhance aspects of joint cooperation between the two countries.

    Al-Marar and Nizar Issa Al-Khairallah, Under-secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iraq, exchanged views and political stance towards the latest regional and global developments. The two sides agreed to hold a second meeting of political consultations at a date to be agreed upon later.

  • Venezuela crisis: Diplomat to US defects from Nicolas Maduro.
    Venezuela's top military representative to the US has defected from Nicolás Maduro's government.

    Col José Luis Silva says he now recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president instead. Mr. Guaidó declared himself acting president, gaining the backing of several countries including the US. Meanwhile, Mr. Maduro has rejected demands by European countries to call elections.

    Several countries including Spain, Germany, France and the UK said they would recognize Mr. Guaidó as president if elections were not called within eight days. President Maduro was sworn in for a second term earlier this month after an election marred by an opposition boycott and allegations of vote-rigging, leading to large anti-Maduro protests.

  • Relations between India-UAE going through ‘golden era’: Navdeep Suri.
    Relations between India and UAE are going through a ‘golden era’ as both countries continue to explore deeper cooperation in the new areas.

    Addressing the august gathering on the occasion of the 70th Republic Day reception hosted by the Indian Consulate in Dubai, Ambassador Navdeep Suri said that the bilateral relationship between the two countries have matured and transformed into a comprehensive strategic partnership over the last few years and are at their best ever.

    The deepening of the energy ties, the Ambassador said, was a highlight of last year, as the relationship transformed from a buyer-seller relationship to that of a strategic partnership in energy security. He Continued, with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is delivering the crude oil for storage in Mangalore Strategic reserve and a consortium of Indian oil companies is acquiring 10 per cent stake in Lower Zakum Offshore oil field in Abu Dhabi.

  • Malaysia stripped of world para swim event over Israel stance.
    Malaysia has been stripped of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships for threatening to refuse to allow Israeli athletes to take part.

    The International Paralympic Committee said the decision was taken after the Malaysian authorities failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli Para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination, and safely in the Championships. IPC President Andrew Parsons said when a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then they have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host.

    The championships, a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, were due to take place in Kuching on July 29-August 4.

  • US imposes sanctions on Venezuela state-owned oil company PDVSA.
    In USA, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA on 29 January, 2019 to put pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to cede power to the opposition. The sanctions will freeze any assets the firm may have in US.

    Maduro, in his television address on 29 January, 2019 said that his government will take legal action against the USA in international court against the sanctions. The sanctions will not affect consumer prices at the gas pump in USA but will hit oil refiners, particularly those on the US Gulf Coast.

    The sanctions come just days after the US and several European countries refused to recognize Maduro as Venezuela's legitimate president and instead recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president.

  • Syria signs long-term economic cooperation deal with Iran. Syria has signed a long-term economic cooperation deal with Iran.

    In Damascus on 28 January, 2019 with the visiting Iranian first vice president Eshaq Jahangiri, Syrian Prime Minister Emad Khamis said the new agreement covers the industrial, agricultural, service, infrastructure and energy sectors among others.

    Khamis said his government also reached an agreement with Iran on the banking sector as well as establishing an electricity generating station in the coastal city of Latakia. Both sides also signed agreements to expand the ports in Latakia and Tartus.

  • US files charges against China's Huawei and CFO Meng Wanzhou.
    The US Justice Department has filed a host of criminal charges against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

    The charges against the world's second largest smartphone maker include accusations of bank fraud, obstruction of justice and theft of technology. The case could ratchet up tensions between China and the US, and impact the firm's global expansion efforts.

    Both Ms. Meng and Huawei deny the allegations. Ms. Meng was arrested in Canada last month at the request of the US for allegedly evading sanctions on Iran.

  • Indian-origin US Senator Kamala Harris launches 2020 presidential bid.
    AP Indian-origin US Senator Kamala Harris has launched her 2020 presidential bid.

    In a scathing criticism of President Donald Trump's policies, Harris on 27 January, 2019 said the US is at an inflection point in the history due to the attack on democracy like never before.

    Addressing a cheering crowd in downtown Oakland, she said free press has been bullied and attacked, and democratic institutions undermined under the current leadership. Harris also slammed Trump’s policies at the border, and his decision to shut down the government.

    She denounced his plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border as a medieval vanity project. 54-year-old Harris, who was elected to the Senate in 2016, announced her run for presidency last week.

  • UAE, Saudi central banks launch common digital currency called 'Aber'.
    The central banks of the UAE and Saudi Arabia have launched a common digital currency called "Aber", which will be used in financial settlements between the two countries through Block chains and Distributed Ledgers technologies.

    The UAE central bank said in a statement that it will establish an additional means for the central financial transfer systems of the two countries and enable banks to directly deal with each other in conducting financial remittances.

    Through this digital currency, both the United Arab Emirates Central Bank (UAECB) and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) are studying the impact on the improvement and reduction of remittance costs and the assessments of risks.

  • China’s top negotiator arrives in Washington for trade talks with US.
    China's top trade negotiator has reached Washington as the world's top two economies prepare for crucial trade talks.

    Chinese delegation, led by Vice Premier Liu He, is expected to meet US President Donald Trump at the end of the two-day talks. The talks are slated to begin on 30 January, 2019. The discussions in Washington will be the first face-to-face cabinet-level discussions with China since Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in December last year (2018) struck a three-month long truce in their trade war.

    If no deal is reached by March 2, tariffs on 200 billion US dollars of Chinese imports are set to increase from 10 per cent to 25 per cent. The visit of the Chinese delegation comes after the US Justice Department unveiled charges against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and its chief financial officer. However, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has said the indictments were separate from trade negotiations with China.

  • New H-1B visa filing rule to give priority to workers with advanced degrees from US.
    The US has announced a new H-1B visa filing rule from April under which priority would be given to foreign workers with advanced degrees from American universities. The final rule reverses the order by which the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the regular cap and the advanced degree exemption.

    To be published in the Federal Register on 31 January, 2019, the new rule will go into effect on April 1. USCIS Director Francis Cissna said US employers seeking to employ foreign workers with a US master's or higher degree will have a greater chance of selection in the H-1B lottery in years of excess demand for new H-1B visas.

    The change will result in an estimated increase of up to 16 per cent (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected petitions for H-1B beneficiaries with a master's degree or higher from a US institution of higher education.

    The H-1B visa, popular among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The number of H-1B visas granted annually is capped at 65,000, and another 20,000 are reserved for people who hold advanced degrees from US higher education institutions.

  • Rich tribute paid to Mahatma Gandhi on his 71st death anniversary in Nepal.
    In Nepal, a rich tribute was paid to Mahatma Gandhi on his 71st death anniversary. A talk on "Mahatma Gandhi: Peace, Non-Violence and Humanity" was organized by the Embassy of India and Dilli Raman Kalyani Regmi Memorial Library Development Board in Kathmandu on 30 January, 2019 evening.

    The speakers highlighted the importance of Gandhian principles of peace, non-violence, inclusive society and environment protection in today's world. Chief Guest and Chancellor of Nepal Academy, Dr. Ganga Prasad Upreti said Gandhiji was born in India but he was a globally recognized personality.

    The book is published by Mahamana Malaviya Mission Nepal. A small exhibition of books on Mahatma Gandhi and photos of Gandhiji's life was also organized. A large number of people from different walks of life including former ministers, diplomats, academicians and students attended the event.

  • UNSC adopts resolution to extend sanctions against CAR for another year.
    The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution to extend sanctions against the Central African Republic (CAR) for another year.

    Resolution 2454, adopted unanimously by the 15-member council, decides to renew the sanctions regime - an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze till January 31, 2020.

    It also decides to extend the mandate of the panel of experts, which helps the Security Council with the implementation of the sanctions, until Feb 29, 2020.

    The resolution envisages the establishment of key benchmarks in various sectors that could help the Security Council review the arms embargo on the CAR government by April 30, 2019.

  • US urges Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro to accept amnesty.
    The United States has urged Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro to accept an amnesty offer from opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom Washington has recognized as President.

    US National Security Advisor John Bolton said Mr. Maduro should take advantage of the amnesty offer and move on.

    Mr. Guaido declared himself the interim president of Venezuela and was swiftly recognized by the United States and key Latin American nations amid a spiraling economic crisis under Mr. Maduro's leftist regime.

  • Germany, France and UK set up transactions channel with Iran.
    Germany, France and the UK have set up a payment channel with Iran called INSTEX, to help continue trade and circumvent US sanctions.

    Brussels hopes the long-awaited special payment system will help save the Iran nuclear deal by allowing Tehran to keep trading with EU companies despite Washington reimposing sanctions after US President Donald Trump abruptly quit the accord in 2018 year. The three countries have launched the device at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Bucharest.

    While, the new institution, called INSTEX is a project of the three governments, it will receive the formal endorsement of all 28 EU members. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad JavadZarif welcomed the move. Deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi also welcomed the step as a first step by the EU in fulfilling its commitments toward Iran.

  • Polar vortex brings cold snap to US states.
    The United States is shivering in a deadly cold snap known as a polar vortex. At least eight people have been killed in several states as a result of the Arctic weather.

    Temperatures fell to minus 30 degree Celsius in Chicago, colder than parts of Antarctica and minus 37 degree Celsius in North Dakota. More than 1,600 flights have been cancelled at Chicago airport.

  • Russia denounces Washington's decision to leave landmark Cold War nuclear missile treaty.
    Telegraph Russia denounced Washington's decision to leave a landmark Cold War nuclear missile treaty on 01 February, 2019.

    Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, US exit was not a question of Russia's guilt but is instead the strategy of the United States to get out of its international legal obligations in different areas.

    US President Donald Trump had earlier said the United States was suspending its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

  • Venezuela: Juan Guaido appeals to his countrymen to take streets for biggest march in history.
    Opposition leader of Venezuela, Juan Guaido appealed to his countrymen to take to the streets at the weekend for the biggest march in the history, in a bid to rachet up pressure on embattled President Nicolas Maduro to call early elections.

    Mr. Guaido in a letter, to the presidents of Mexico and Uruguay, said, he would only enter into negotiations if they serve to start the transition process, culminating in the holding of free elections.

    President of Mexico and Uruguay have jointly called a conference in Montevideo for neutral countries to discuss the crisis.

  • US imposed visa restrictions on Ghana.
    Washington has imposed visa restrictions on Ghana following a row over the deportation of Ghanaians staying illegally in the United States.

    In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security on 31 January, 2019 said the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has ordered consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants.

    It added that without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population.

    US officials have repeatedly accused the West African country of refusing to accept the return of Ghanian nationals that it wants to deport.

    Some 7,000 Ghanaians are living illegally in the United States.

  • Iranians gather to launch celebrations for 40th anniversary of Iranian revolution. 
    Thousands of Iranians gathered at the mausoleum of the Islamic republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran on 01 February, 2019 began celebrations for the 40th anniversary of Iranian revolution.

    The ceremonies for the revolution started at 9:33 am (0603 GMT), the exact time that Khomeini returned to Iran and his plane touched down at Tehran airport in1979.

    Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of the influential expert’s assembly which appoints the supreme leader of the Islamic republic, delivered a keynote speech.

    On February 1 each year, Iran begins 10 days of celebrations to mark the anniversary of Khomeini's return from exile after the pro-Western shah fled Iran following widespread demonstrations.

  • 91st Academy Awards or Oscar’s ceremony begins in Los Angeles.
    91st Academy Awards or Oscar’s ceremony begins in Los Angeles, California. Alfonso Cuaron's 'Roma' creates history by becoming first Mexican movie to win Foreign Language Film Oscar.

    Cuaron also created history by becoming the first person to win a Cinematography Oscar for "Roma" film that he also directed.

    Film 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has won best Animated Feature Oscar. Produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, it has been widely praised both for its fresh story and visual style.

    Indian producer Guneet Monga’s film 'Period. End of Sentence' wins Best Documentary Short Subject. 'Period. End of Sentence', an India set film on the taboos around menstruation and featuring the real 'Pad Man', and emerged the winner.

    American Ruth E Carter also made Oscar history by becoming the first woman of colour in history to win in the costume design category for film Black Panther.

    American actor Mahershala Ali continued his winning spree as he took home the Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor for his work in Peter Farrelly's biographical comedy-drama 'Green Book', This is his career's second Oscar in the category.

    48-year-old actress Regina King won her first Oscar trophy in the Best Supporting Actress category for her performance in Barry Jenkins' film 'If Beale Street Could Talk'.



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