Iran, Syria situation and Russian election meddling discussed during Pompeo-Lavrov meeting

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds press conference with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Washington. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 December 2019

Iran, Syria situation and Russian election meddling discussed during Pompeo-Lavrov meeting

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held wide-ranging talks with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday, which included disputes over arms control agreements, Ukraine, Syria and Venezuela as well as allegations of foreign interference in American elections.

Counter-terroism, narcotics and the situation in Afghanistan were also discussed during the meeting between the two.

Iran's nuclear deal also came up, with Lavrov saying in the post-meeting press conference that Russia would do everything in its power to maintain Iran's nuclear deal, adding he wanted to maintain safety of navigation in the Arabian Gulf.

Lavrov also said that Palestinian-Israel peace efforts appeared to be stalling and were now in "critical condition."

Pompeo was keen to stress that any foreign interference in American elections was “unacceptable" and warned Russia and others that the Trump administration will protect the integrity of the vote.

Before meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Lavrov repeated Russian denials of interference in the 2016 presidential election. He said the conclusion by the US intelligence community that Russia intervened in favor of Trump was “baseless.”

Lavrov's visit to Washington, his first since May 2017, was overshadowed by the introduction of Ukraine-related impeachment articles by the House and Trump's complaints about an internal Justice Department watchdog's finding that the FBI was justified in opening an investigation into ties between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.

The two matters threatened to dwarf the diplomacy, which both sides had hoped could lead to an improvement in relations between Washington and Moscow. Lavrov and Pompeo noted cooperation in counterterrorism and anti-narcotics efforts that has continued despite the tensions and expressed hope that shared goals for North Korea and Iran could be realized.


Singapore confirms first case of Wuhan virus

Updated 23 January 2020

Singapore confirms first case of Wuhan virus

Singapore Thursday confirmed its first case of the new SARS-like virus which has killed 17 people in China and spread to multiple countries including the United States.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the patient was a 66-year-old man from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with his family on Monday.
He was immediately isolated after arriving at a hospital with a fever and cough, and test results later confirmed he was infected with the coronavirus.
One of his traveling companions, a 37-year-old man from Wuhan, has also been admitted to hospital as a suspect case.
Prior to admission, they had stayed at a hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, the ministry said.
It added that Singapore was expecting more cases and alarms “given the high volume of international travel.”
Moreover, tourists leaving Bangkok for China said on Thursday they were worried about the spread of the Wuhan virus, ahead of more air and train travel in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year holidays.
China has placed Wuhan, a city of 11 million, on lockdown, as it is considered the epicenter of a new coronavirus outbreak that has killed 17 and infected nearly 600.
Thailand has so far confirmed four cases of coronavirus, the largest number outside China. Two of the cases were Chinese women who have since been allowed to return home. Chinese tourists make up the largest group of visitors to Thailand.
At Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, masked visitors lined up as usual to check in for Southern China Airlines flights back to China.
AirAsia said on Thursday it has canceled direct flights between Wuhan and cities in Thailand and Malaysia until Jan 28.
Matt Thomas, who lives in the Chinese city of Xian, said he was worried about the new Chinese virus, especially because he once contracted swine flu which he described as “awful.”
“I’m a bit worried that it will repeat. I have just got to be safe. In these sorts of situations, you know, take everything seriously, don’t take any risks,” Thomas said.
Chinese health officials fear the transmission rate will accelerate, as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year.