Poland says will extend ban on Ukraine grain imports

Poland says will extend ban on Ukraine grain imports
In accordance with the European Union, the embargo was imposed in April, until Sept. 15 to prevent Ukraine produce from glutting Polish market. (AP/File)
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Updated 12 September 2023
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Poland says will extend ban on Ukraine grain imports

Poland says will extend ban on Ukraine grain imports
  • “Regardless of the (European) Commission’s further decision, we will not open the border to Ukrainian grain after that date,” the government said
  • “If Brussels does not keep the embargo, we will introduce these measures ourselves,” it said

WARSAW: The Polish government on Tuesday agreed to extend a ban on Ukrainian grain imports unilaterally even if the current EU restrictions expire on September 15.
“Regardless of the (European) Commission’s further decision, we will not open the border to Ukrainian grain after that date,” the government said in a statement.
The statement said the government was still looking to extend the ban at the EU level but would do so in any case.
“If Brussels does not keep the embargo, we will introduce these measures ourselves... The interests of the Polish countryside are most important to us,” it said.
The conflict in Ukraine and the problems with Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea have resulted in the EU becoming a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain.
In June, the EU agreed to restrict imports of grain from Ukraine to five member states seeking to protect their farmers who blamed those imports for the slump in prices on local markets.
The five member states are Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
The five have asked for the restrictions, which expire on Friday, to be extended.
The issue is particularly sensitive in Poland as the country is holding elections next month.
The current populist right-wing government of the Law and Justice party has strong support in farming regions.
“I want to assure all farmers, the entire Polish countryside, that we will definitely defend the interests of the Polish farmer,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at the cabinet meeting.
Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Poland wanted to help Ukraine “but at the same time we must remember our citizens.”
The government adopted a resolution calling on the EU to extend the ban on wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seed imports.
It said Poland’s ban “will remain in force until agricultural relations between Poland and Ukraine are regulated.”
Poland is a major supplier of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and hosts some one million Ukrainian refugees.
The issue of grain imports has triggered a diplomatic spat between the two neighbors.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said Tuesday that Kyiv was considering legal action.
“We have no intention of harming Polish farmers... But in case of violation of trade law in the interest of political populism before the elections, Ukraine will be forced to turn to WTO arbitration to obtain compensation for violation of GATT norms,” he said on social media, referring to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.


Thai foreign minister welcomes releases of two more Thai hostages held by Hamas

Thai foreign minister welcomes releases of two more Thai hostages held by Hamas
Updated 7 sec ago
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Thai foreign minister welcomes releases of two more Thai hostages held by Hamas

Thai foreign minister welcomes releases of two more Thai hostages held by Hamas

BANGKOK: Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said on Wednesday he welcomed the release of two more Thai hostages that had been held by Hamas in Gaza.
“Happy to personally welcome 2 additional Thai hostages just released and arrived at the hospital in Tel Aviv,” he posted on the social media platform X. 

 


Draft bill seeks ‘loyalty agreement’ from foreigners entering Russia

Draft bill seeks ‘loyalty agreement’ from foreigners entering Russia
Updated 2 min 8 sec ago
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Draft bill seeks ‘loyalty agreement’ from foreigners entering Russia

Draft bill seeks ‘loyalty agreement’ from foreigners entering Russia
  • Since its full-scale invasion on Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has imposed a number of restrictions on foreigners from what it calls “unfriendly countries”

Russia’s Internal Affairs ministry is preparing a bill that would oblige foreigners entering the country to sign a “loyalty agreement” that would bar them from discrediting official policies, the TASS state news agency reported early on Wednesday.
The agreement would be aimed at protecting Russia’s “national interests,” TASS reported, citing the document.
A foreigner entering Russia would be prohibited from “interfering with the activities of public authorities of the Russian Federation, discrediting in any form the foreign and domestic state policy of the Russian Federation, public authorities and their officials.”
Reuters could not independently verify the draft bill. The Internal Affairs ministry did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.
Since its full-scale invasion on Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has imposed a number of restrictions on foreigners from what it calls “unfriendly countries” — meaning those that have imposed sanctions on it over its war in Ukraine.
The internal affairs draft bill provides that foreigners would be prohibited from disparaging or inciting the denial of “significant moral” values, such as marriage as a union of a man and a woman, family, as well as from disseminating propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships.
Distortion of the “historical truth” about the Soviet people’s defense of the country and its contribution to the victory over fascist Germany in World War Two would also be prohibited, TASS reported.
TASS did not specify what repercussions foreigners would face if they broke the agreement.
For the draft to become law, the document has to be introduced to the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, and go through committee review and several readings before being submitted to President Vladimir Putin for signing.


G7 calls on Houthis to stop threats to shipping

G7 calls on Houthis to stop threats to shipping
Updated 15 min 4 sec ago
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G7 calls on Houthis to stop threats to shipping

G7 calls on Houthis to stop threats to shipping
  • Gaza’s Hamas government says that almost 15,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory ground and air operation

TOKYO: G7 foreign ministers called Wednesday on Iran-backed Houthi rebels to cease threats to international shipping and to release a vessel they seized earlier this month.
“Emphasizing the importance of maritime security, we call on all parties not to threaten or interfere with lawful exercise of navigational rights and freedoms by all vessels,” a statement released by G7 chair Japan read.
“We especially call on the Houthis to immediately cease attacks on civilians and threats to international shipping lanes and commercial vessels and release the M/V Galaxy Leader and its crew, illegally seized from international waters on November 19,” it added.
The Houthis have launched a series of drone and missile strikes targeting Israel since Hamas militants poured over the border into Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 240.
Gaza’s Hamas government says that almost 15,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory ground and air operation.
On November 17, Houthis seized Israeli-linked cargo vessel the Galaxy Leader and its 25 international crew at the entrance to the Red Sea.
On Sunday, two ballistic missiles were launched from an area controlled by Houthi rebels in Yemen, landing around 10 nautical miles from US destroyer the USS Mason, according to the Pentagon.
The USS Mason and other allied ships were responding to the boarding of a tanker ship off the Yemeni port city of Aden by five armed people — believed to be Somalis — who fled in a small boat and were detained, the Pentagon said.
 

 


China ready to strengthen coordination with EU, prepare for upcoming summit -Chinese foreign ministry

China ready to strengthen coordination with EU, prepare for upcoming summit -Chinese foreign ministry
Updated 44 min 19 sec ago
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China ready to strengthen coordination with EU, prepare for upcoming summit -Chinese foreign ministry

China ready to strengthen coordination with EU, prepare for upcoming summit -Chinese foreign ministry
  • Both sides need to grasp the general direction of China-EU relations, uphold mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation

BEIJING: China is ready to strengthen communication and coordination with the European Union (EU) and make preparations for the China-EU summit, China’s vice foreign minister said during a meeting with the EU External Action Service deputy secretary-general on Tuesday.
Both sides need to grasp the general direction of China-EU relations, uphold mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation, and fully respect each other’s core interests, the Chinese foreign ministry cited Vice Minister Sun Weidong as saying in a statement on Wednesday.

 

 


Saudi Arabia issues rallying cry at UN for end to war and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza

Albulaziz Alwasil, Saudi Arabia’s envoy to the UN. (Twitter @ksamissionun)
Albulaziz Alwasil, Saudi Arabia’s envoy to the UN. (Twitter @ksamissionun)
Updated 29 November 2023
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Saudi Arabia issues rallying cry at UN for end to war and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza

Albulaziz Alwasil, Saudi Arabia’s envoy to the UN. (Twitter @ksamissionun)
  • Albulaziz Alwasil, the Kingdom’s envoy to the UN, called for action to halt the brutality against defenseless civilians, destruction of infrastructure, and loss of innocent lives
  • He says his country spares no effort in its attempts to safeguard civilians in Gaza and provide them with aid, and has so far raised more than $133 million to help achieve this

NEW YORK CITY: Saudi Arabia has once again called for an “immediate end to military operations” in Gaza, as the Kingdom’s ambassador to the UN issued a rallying cry for collective international efforts to end the humanitarian catastrophe in the territory.
Addressing a meeting of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Albulaziz Alwasil painted a bleak picture of “defenseless civilians” facing relentless brutality, the destruction of vital infrastructure including health centers and places of worship, and the alarming loss of innocent lives, including thousands of women, children and elderly people.
He said his country is sparing no effort in its attempts to safeguard civilians in Gaza and provide them with aid. Its commitment to providing humanitarian assistance by air and sea, and the launch of major fundraising campaigns that have raised more than SR500 million ($133 million), underscore the Kingdom’s dedication to alleviating the suffering of Palestinian civilians, he added.
On Nov. 11, Riyadh hosted an extraordinary joint Islamic and Arab summit to discuss the escalating war, during which the participants adopted a resolution that stated they “unequivocally reject the Israeli aggression against Gaza.”
It also condemned the displacement of Palestinians, attacks on hospitals, and the overall violence in the region. It emphasized the immediate need for food, medicine and fuel in Gaza and called for humanitarian aid convoys to be granted access to the territory as a matter of urgency.
It urged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the League of Arab States to adopt an official position in opposition to the aggression in Gaza, and called for increased pressure in an effort to establish a serious political process designed to achieve a comprehensive and just peace in line with the principles of international law.
Alwasil welcomed the humanitarian pause that began on Friday and was initiated by efforts by Qatar, Egypt and the US, while calling for it to become a complete halt to military operations. He also stressed the importance of releasing all hostages and prisoners, and reiterated the need to implement all relevant UN Security Council resolutions and General Assembly mandates without conditions.
Alwasil said the Israeli occupation forces must be held accountable for their actions, denounced the use of weapons prohibited by international conventions, and condemned the annexation of settlements in the West Bank.
He also criticized those responsible for repeated incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque, which he described as grave violations of international law and provocations that cause tensions to rise and disrupt peace efforts.
“We call upon the international community to hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for these inhumane crimes, which are tantamount to a blatant violation of international humanitarian law,” said Alwasil.
“We warn against double standards and selectivity, and not committing to UN laws and resolutions. This has serious consequences that go beyond this crisis and undermine the legitimacy of the global order, which in turn reflects negatively on our ability to maintain international peace and security.”
Alwasil reiterated Saudi Arabia’s unwavering belief in a two-state solution as the key to stability and security for Palestine.
He added that there is a need “for the Israeli occupation forces to heed the calls for peace, namely the Arab Peace Initiative, and to engage in serious negotiations in good faith to achieve peace based on the two-state solution. This would allow us to achieve security and stability in this vital region of the world.”