Duterte: Philippines wants more cooperation with Pakistan, Russia, India

President Rodrigo Duterte at a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases. (AP)
President Rodrigo Duterte at a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases. (AP)
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Updated 04 December 2020

Duterte: Philippines wants more cooperation with Pakistan, Russia, India

Duterte: Philippines wants more cooperation with Pakistan, Russia, India
  • The president wants to cooperate with Pakistan and Russia in the areas of counterterrorism and healthcare
  • Duterte also promised to expand defense cooperation with India

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed the Philippines’ interest in expanding cooperation with Pakistan and Russia in the areas of counterterrorism and healthcare, especially in the fight against coronavirus.
His comments came as he received the credentials of several new envoys to Manila on Wednesday.
“Let me extend our military-to-military exchanges and sharing of intelligence and best practices, particularly in countering terrorism and violence,” Duterte told Pakistani Ambassador Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad Kazi.
He praised Duterte’s “far-sighted policies” and “leadership, which has brought so many dividends for the Republic of the Philippines.” The two countries enjoy “long, enduring ties of friendship and cooperation,” Kazi said. “In fact, we started off in 1949, when a consulate of the Philippines was opened in Karachi.” He referred to the island region of Mindanao, which has a significant Muslim population and has seen numerous outbreaks of militancy and separatism.
“We, in Pakistan, admire the consistent endeavors of your excellency towards restoration of peace and stability in the Mindanao region, which has brought increased trust and stability among the stakeholders, and significant prosperity for the people of the region and the country,” Kazi said.
In 2017, Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following a five-month siege of Marawi City by Daesh-affiliated militants.
During Wednesday’s ceremony, Duterte also promised to expand defense cooperation with India as he welcomed New Delhi’s Ambassador Shambhu Kumaran.
Duterte said relations between India and the Philippines are driven by synergies between his administration’s independent foreign policy and New Delhi’s “Act East” policy.
“The Philippines is committed to further enhance cooperation with India in defense, security, trade and investments, and in combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” he told Kumaran.
The ambassador said India would like to explore “various opportunities for cooperation in new areas such as space, and to work towards ensuring a stable, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific by working together in the areas of defense and maritime security.” Accepting the letter of credence from Russian Ambassador Marat Pavlov, Duterte said the Philippines considers Russia a good friend and partner.
“We aim for an even more robust and deeper cooperation in the coming years,” Duterte told Pavlov. “We thank Russia for its offer to supply (the coronavirus vaccine) Sputnik V and share its technology on vaccine production with the Philippines.” Russia and the Philippines have agreed to conduct the vaccine’s Phase 3 clinical trials together, as Moscow promised to share its vaccine technology with Manila and pledged to build a pharmaceutical facility in the country.
Duterte repeated his invitation for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the Philippines, as next year the countries will mark their 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
“It will be an opportunity to celebrate and reaffirm the enduring friendship and cooperation between our countries,” Duterte said.
 


Philippines court to allow Nobel laureate Ressa to go to Norway

Philippines court to allow Nobel laureate Ressa to go to Norway
Updated 5 sec ago

Philippines court to allow Nobel laureate Ressa to go to Norway

Philippines court to allow Nobel laureate Ressa to go to Norway
  • The prize is the first Nobel Peace Prize for journalists since the German Carl von Ossietzky won it in 1935
  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided this year’s award ceremony will be an in-person event taking place in Oslo City Hall
MANILA: Philippine journalist Maria Ressa will be allowed to travel so she can accept her Nobel Peace Prize in person after a court gave her permission to leave the Southeast Asian country to visit Norway later this month.
Ressa, who is subject to travel restrictions due to the legal cases she faces in the Philippines, shared the Peace Prize with Russian investigative journalist Dmitry Muratov, in an endorsement of free speech under fire worldwide.
The prize is the first Nobel Peace Prize for journalists since the German Carl von Ossietzky won it in 1935 for revealing his country’s secret post-war rearmament program.
In its ruling on Friday, the Philippine Court of Appeals granted Ressa’s request to travel to receive the award on Dec. 10, noting that “she is not a flight risk.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided this year’s award ceremony will be an in-person event taking place in Oslo City Hall.
Ressa’s news site, Rappler, has had its license suspended and she is embroiled in various legal cases. Supporters say she is being targeted due to her scrutiny of government policies, including a bloody war on drugs launched by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Free on bail as she appeals against a six-year prison sentence https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-media-idUSKBN23M03B handed down last year for a libel conviction, Ressa is facing five tax evasion charges and a corporate case with the regulator.
The Philippines saw its ranking in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index drop two notches to 138 out of 180 countries, and the Committee to Protect Journalists ranks the Philippines seventh in the world in its impunity index, which tracks deaths of media members whose killers go free.
The government denies hounding media and says any problems organizations face are legal, not political. It says it believes in free speech.
The United Nations on Monday had urged the Philippines to allow Ressa to travel https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/un-urges-philippines-let-nobel-laureate-ressa-travel-norway-2021-11-29 to Norway to accept the award.

Hiroshima attack flame offered for Pearl Harbor memorial

Hiroshima attack flame offered for Pearl Harbor memorial
Updated 41 min 34 sec ago

Hiroshima attack flame offered for Pearl Harbor memorial

Hiroshima attack flame offered for Pearl Harbor memorial
  • The “flame of peace” is said to have been taken from the smoldering ruins of Hiroshima after the world’s first nuclear attack
  • December 8 will mark 80 years since the Pearl Harbor attack

TOKYO: The family of a famed Hiroshima atomic bomb victim is fundraising to take a flame burning since the wartime attack to Pearl Harbor to light a peace monument, they said Friday.
The “flame of peace” is said to have been taken from the smoldering ruins of Hiroshima after the world’s first nuclear attack. It was kept alive first in a private home before being moved to a peace tower in Japan’s Fukuoka in 1968.
Now, the family of Sadako Sasaki, who died at 12 of radiation-induced leukaemia a decade after the attack, wants the flame to be taken to the site of the deadly Japanese attack to promote peace.
“We want this plan to be a symbol of peace after Japan and the United States, once enemies, have overcome their hatred,” Sasaki’s brother Masahiro Sasaki told AFP.
A majority of Americans “still support the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and their reaction to our calls for ‘no more Hiroshima, no more Nagasaki’ is ‘you attacked Pearl Harbor,’ but we have to overcome the hatred,” the 80-year-old said.
He is soliciting private donations in Japan and the US to transport the flame next summer, and are discussing a site for the monument with authorities in Hawaii.
“We’re hoping that it will be at the memorial” built over the remains of the USS Arizona, which sank during the attack, he said.
The “flame of peace” has been taken abroad before including to the Vatican in 2019 when atomic bomb survivors were granted an audience with the Pope.
Sadako Sasaki is widely remembered for having folded one thousand paper cranes before dying on October 25, 1955, after a long battle with leukaemia.
She set out to fold the cranes while in hospital, after hearing a tradition that doing so would make a wish come true.
Her brother Masahiro, also an atomic bomb survivor, and her nephew Yuji have used her story to educate people globally about the dangers of war.
In 2012, they donated one of Sasaki’s paper cranes to the memorial built over the remains of the Arizona.
December 8 will mark 80 years since the Pearl Harbor attack, which killed more than 2,400 Americans and opened the war between Japan and the US.
Around 140,000 people died in the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, a toll that includes those who survived the explosion but died soon after from radiation exposure.
Three days later the US dropped a plutonium bomb on the port city of Nagasaki, killing about 74,000 people and leading to the end of World War II.


Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of omicron variant currently on mainland France

Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of omicron variant currently on mainland France
Updated 03 December 2021

Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of omicron variant currently on mainland France

Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of omicron variant currently on mainland France

PARIS: The French Health Ministry said there were currently nine confirmed cases of the new omicron coronavirus variant on mainland France, which, according to the government’s top scientific adviser, could become dominant strain of the virus in the country by the end of January.


Malaysia detects first omicron case in quarantined traveler from South Africa

Malaysia detects first omicron case in quarantined traveler from South Africa
Updated 03 December 2021

Malaysia detects first omicron case in quarantined traveler from South Africa

Malaysia detects first omicron case in quarantined traveler from South Africa
  • The 19-year-old woman was asymptomatic and had been vaccinated
  • Five other people who shared a vehicle with her prior to her quarantine all tested negative

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has detected its first case of the omicron coronavirus variant in a foreign student who was quarantined after arrival from South Africa two weeks ago, its health minister said on Friday.
Authorities had re-tested earlier positive samples after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced omicron as a variant of concern on Nov. 24, minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.
The 19-year-old woman, who was asymptomatic and had been vaccinated, had tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival in Malaysia, via Singapore, and was quarantined for 10 days before being released on Nov. 29, Khairy said.
Five other people who shared a vehicle with her prior to her quarantine all tested negative.
Authorities, however, have asked the student along with eight close contacts to undergo further testing after her earlier test samples were confirmed to be the new variant, Khairy added.
An increasing number of countries are reporting cases of the omicron variant, which the WHO has said carries a very high risk of causing surges of infection.
Neighbouring Singapore confirmed two imported cases on Thursday.
This week, Malaysia temporarily banned the entry of travelers from eight southern African countries that have reported the presence of the variant or are considered high-risk.
On Friday, Khairy said Malaysia would immediately imposed further restrictions, including additional tests for vaccinated travelers from Singapore, who are allowed to enter Malaysia without quarantine.


Taliban: Several Iranian guards dead after Nimroz border clashes 

Taliban: Several Iranian guards dead after Nimroz border clashes 
Updated 03 December 2021

Taliban: Several Iranian guards dead after Nimroz border clashes 

Taliban: Several Iranian guards dead after Nimroz border clashes 
  • Local reports claim Taliban fighters seized Iranian border checkpoints 

KABUL: Taliban authorities said on Thursday that Iranian forces had suffered at least nine casualties during clashes on the Afghanistan-Iran border after fuel smuggling attempts from the Iranian side.

Fighting between the two countries’ respective security forces broke out in Konjak, Nimroz province in southwestern Afghanistan on Wednesday at around midday, and continued until the late evening. Local authorities and witnesses said the Taliban seized three Iranian check posts.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the clashes were triggered by “a misunderstanding at the local level” and that “the situation is now under control with the understanding of both sides.”

The spokesperson for the governor of Nimroz, Salahudin Ayobi, told Arab News tensions had been resolved and the “misunderstanding” had been over fuel smuggling.

“The main issue of this misunderstanding was smuggling fuel to Afghanistan. During this battle at least nine Iranian border forces were killed and injured,” he said, adding that one Taliban fighter was wounded. 

Iranian authorities did not confirm the numbers.

FASTFACT

Nimroz governor spokesperson says clashes erupted over fuel smuggling from Iranian side.

Qiam Mawlawi, a Taliban commander in the Konjak district of Nimroz, said the clash was prompted by the Iranians.

“We responded to their misbehavior,” he said. “Currently the situation has turned back to normal, but we are on standby.”

While Iranian media reported the fighting started following a dispute among residents and denied the capture of border check posts, locals said Taliban forces had crossed the border into Iran.

“The Taliban were able to capture Borjak, Melak and Shah Balak check posts from Iranian forces, and heavy (gun)fire (took place) between both sides,” Abdul Satar, Konjak resident, told Arab News.

Sabrina Zory, a civil activist in Nimroz, said the clashes started when Taliban forces stopped a fuel tanker crossing through Borjak. “

After the fighting began, (the) Taliban entered Iranian soil, and the Taliban fighters were able to capture three (Iranian) check posts,” she said. “According to the reports from the local Taliban who participated in this cross-border fighting, five Iranian border police were killed.”

Iran was among the few countries to keep its embassy in Kabul open after the Western-backed administration collapsed in mid-August, leading to the Taliban seizing control of the country.

Tension on the border between the two, an active smuggling and human trafficking route, has been a long-standing issue.