Japan relaxes visa requirements for Saudi nationals

Japan relaxes visa requirements for Saudi nationals
The scheme will come into effect on Dec. 4. (AFP)
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Updated 29 November 2023
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Japan relaxes visa requirements for Saudi nationals

Japan relaxes visa requirements for Saudi nationals
  • The scheme will come into effect on Dec. 4

Japan on Wednesday announced the relaxation of visa requirements for Saudi nationals, introducing multiple-entry visa schemes for Saudis who meet certain financial requirements.

According to the Japanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia, the new visa was introduced for short-term stays for the purpose of tourism, business, and visiting relatives or friends. It will be granted for a period of 90 days with a validity of three years.

The scheme will come into effect on Dec. 4, and will require applicants to visit the embassy or consulate-general in order to submit their application.

“We hope the several visa relaxation measures the Government of Japan has taken will make the relationship between the people of Japan and Saudi Arabia closer and deeper,” the embassy said in a statement.

This story was originally published in Japanese on Arab News Japan

 


Ukraine leader downplays loss of Avdiivka, seeks faster support

Ukraine leader downplays loss of Avdiivka, seeks faster support
Updated 22 February 2024
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Ukraine leader downplays loss of Avdiivka, seeks faster support

Ukraine leader downplays loss of Avdiivka, seeks faster support
  • Russian troops took control of Avdiivka last week in Moscow’s biggest battlefield gain since its forces captured Bakhmut last May
  • Zelensky pointed to earlier gains made by Ukraine forces, particularly in the northeastern Kharkiv region and destruction of Russian ships

KYIV: President Volodymyr Zelensky downplayed Ukraine’s loss of the eastern town of Avdiivka to Russian forces and called for faster support from allies as the war against Russia neared the two-year mark, in comments broadcast on Wednesday.

Russian troops took control of Avdiivka last week in Moscow’s biggest battlefield gain since its forces captured Bakhmut last May. Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin says Russia will press on with its drive through eastern Ukraine.
Zelensky, in excerpts from an interview with Fox News to be aired on Thursday, acknowledged that last year had been “complicated” for Ukraine, particularly as 2023 came to a close.
But, speaking in English, he pointed to earlier gains, particularly in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where the Fox interview took place.
“During these two years we got (back) part of the Kharkiv region. Now we are in this region ... and we unblocked the Black Sea. There are grain routes and we destroyed a lot of their ships of the Russian fleet,” Zelensky said.
“That is what we did over two years. And what they could do? Only this one place. But what for?“
Avdiivka lies 15 km (nine miles) northwest of the Russian-held main town of Donetsk region, also named Donetsk.
Russian analysts say its capture will keep Donetsk safe from Ukrainian shelling as Moscow considers how to pursue its drive to capture all of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In his comments, Zelensky expressed new discontent with the slowdown in Western aid for Ukraine’s war effort, without singling out the United States.
US President Joe Biden’s request to extend a big aid package has been held up by wrangling in the US Congress.
“We have to be more quick. That means to lose all the bureaucracy. Otherwise we will not have any chance,” he said.
The president acknowledged that finding an alternative to US support would not be easy.
“Of course, we will find. We will not stay in the same place. We have to survive. We have to find some parallel steps,” he said in the interview, conducted in part on a hospital ward.
“You understand that this help is crucial. So without it, sorry, we will have more and more such heroic guys who will be in the hospitals. If you don’t have a real defending shield and similar powerful artillery with rounds, of course you will lose people.”
The US Senate has passed a $95 billion aid package that includes funds for Ukraine, but House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson has declined to bring it up for a vote on the floor of the House.


Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser

Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser
Updated 22 February 2024
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Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser

Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser
  • He had earlier said there is no doubt that the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Nalvany "was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did”
  • Biden tends to go off script during election fundraisers and in recent months has dug into China, the Republican Party, and Israel for its war on Gaza

SAN FRANCISCO: President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “crazy SOB” during a fundraiser in San Francisco on Wednesday, warning there is always the threat of nuclear conflict but that the existential threat to humanity remains climate.

“This is the last existential threat. It is climate. We have a crazy SOB like that guy Putin and others and we always have to worry about nuclear conflict, but the existential threat to humanity is climate,” Biden told a small group of donors.
Biden has previously cursed “son of a bitch” at others. In January 2022, he was caught on the hot mic using the same term of abuse against a Fox News White House reporter.
Biden tends to go off script during election fundraisers and in recent months has dug into the Chinese government, the Republican Party, and US ally Israel for its bombing of the Gaza Strip.
Biden’s verbal attacks against Putin have also sharply intensified at the White House and on the campaign trail. Last week, the US President blamed Putin and “his thugs” for the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
“We don’t know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Nalvany was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did,” Biden said at the White House after Russian prison officials announced that Navalny had died.
The Kremlin has denied involvement in Navalny’s death and said Western claims that Putin was responsible are unacceptable.
Biden and Putin remain deeply at odds over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago, over which Russia has been sanctioned by the United States and other Western nations. Biden’s reactions have put a further chill into already bitter US-Russian relations.
On Tuesday, Biden said the US will announce a major package of sanctions against Russia over Navalny’s death and the Ukraine war.
Biden’s expected Republican opponent in November, former President Donald Trump, has expressed admiration for Putin both during his 2017-2021 White House tenure and afterward. However, he also recently compared himself to Navalny, implying that they both had faced politically motivated prosecutions.
“I don’t know where the hell this comes from,” Biden said on Wednesday reacting to Trump comparing himself to Navalny.


US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies

US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies
Updated 22 February 2024
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US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies

US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that she believed frozen embryos created through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) were babies, endorsing a controversial ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court.
That state’s high court said that frozen embryos in test tubes should be considered children, rattling doctors and patients in reproductive medicine as well as raising legal questions, US media reported after Friday’s decision.
Haley, in an interview with NBC News, sided with the Alabama court.
“Embryos, to me, are babies,” Haley said. “When you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, that’s a life. And so I do see where that’s coming from when they talk about that.”
The former South Carolina governor said she had her son after using artificial insemination, a different procedure which does not involve embryos in a lab.
Haley is the last major 2024 Republican presidential challenger to frontrunner Donald Trump. The two will face off a third time on Saturday in her home state of South Carolina, with Haley again trailing in opinion polls but refusing to drop out.
Trump has not publicly mentioned the Alabama ruling. A representative for his campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ruling was greeted by widespread shock in Alabama, which has one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws, according to news reports, with patients confused about whether to proceed with IVF and others wondering whether to move their embryos.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham paused in-vitro fertilization after the state supreme court ruling, due to fear of prosecution and lawsuits, a hospital representative said.
“This is exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.
The Alabama ruling was the latest involving reproductive services after the US Supreme Court in 2022 overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion.
Republican candidates this election cycle largely steered clear of the abortion issue. The party’s underwhelming performance in the 2022 midterm elections was seen as voter backlash against the Roe v. Wade ruling.
Haley, the only Republican woman in the 2024 race, has urged Republicans to focus on finding consensus, rather than faulting those who favor abortion rights.
Trump has taken credit for appointing three right-wing justices to the Supreme Court, securing the majority needed to overturn Roe in the first place. But he has also avoided saying whether he would sign a national ban into law.


Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town

Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town
Updated 22 February 2024
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Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town

Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town
  • The capture of Avdiivka, after months of little change in the front lines, indicated a change of momentum as the second anniversary of the Russian invasion nears

NEAR AVDIIVKA, Ukraine: Ukrainian soldiers dug in around new positions outside of Avdiivka say Russian forces who captured the eastern Ukrainian town last week are pressing on toward nearby towns and villages.
“It doesn’t end with them taking Avdiivka. They continue assaulting (our positions),” said Andriy, a Ukrainian drone pilot of the 47th Mechanized Brigade, sitting quietly in a darkened area.
“After Avdiivka, the villages nearby are next. And then, Myrnohrad and Pokrovsk, the nearest larger towns.”
Russian forces secured Avdiivka after months of bombardment reduced the town to rubble. It was Russia’s biggest battlefield victory since its forces captured Bakhmut in May 2023.
The capture of Avdiivka, after months of little change in the front lines, indicated a change of momentum as the second anniversary of the Russian invasion nears. President Vladimir Putin says Russian troops will push further into Ukraine.
Russian forces, Andriy said, have “a lot of manpower. There is lots of shelling. And KABs (guided aerial bombs) still bomb us as they used to. Well, perhaps there is a little less, but still a lot.”
A member of the unit launches an FPV (First Point View) drone from a wooded area and, wearing goggles, controls its trajectory on a monitor.
The whine of the drone eventually turns into a slight thud, indicating that an explosion has occurred. The drone flies headlong into a dugout.
Andriy and his fellow unit member, identifying himself as Huk, follow the progress of drones.
Footage shows the vast coke and chemical plant on the edge of Avdiivka, once one of Europe’s largest, and the area around it. Two blurred figures, Russian soldiers, are seen walking through an open area.
Maksym Zhorin, Deputy Commander of Ukraine’s Third Assault Brigade, wrote on Telegram on Wednesday: “The situation on the Avdiivka front is quite clear. The Russians will advance as far as their strength allows, depending on who among them survives.”
Andriy and Huk harbor no illusions of what lies ahead.
“It seems like things are calmer, but they are continuing their attempts to capture Lastochkyne. They are moving toward it,” Huk says, referring to a village to the northwest.
“I think they are now taking a small break to gather their forces so as to continue attacking us.”
Neither is demoralized by the decision to move out of the town, once home to 32,000 people. But some relief would be welcome.
“What will happen further? I don’t know. I just live day by day, or at least I try to,” Andriy said.
“We will keep working. That it our duty. And first of all, we are waiting to be replaced. We would like at least part of our ranks to rotate out. We don’t just want our ranks to be replenished.”


Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting

Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting
Updated 22 February 2024
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Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting

Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting
  • “Multilateral institutions are not properly equipped to deal with the current challenges, as has been demonstrated by the Security Council’s unacceptable paralysis on the ongoing conflicts” in Gaza and Ukraine, Vieira says

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil criticized the “paralysis” of the UN Security Council on the wars in Gaza and Ukraine as it opened a G20 meeting Wednesday where the international community’s deep divisions were on display.
The outlook is bleak for progress on the thorny agenda of conflicts and crises gripping the planet as foreign ministers from the world’s biggest economies gather in Rio de Janeiro for the Group of 20’s first high-level meeting of the year.
Opening the two-day meeting, which featured US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Brazil’s top diplomat, Mauro Vieira, said the explosion of global conflicts shows international institutions like the United Nations are not working.
“Multilateral institutions are not properly equipped to deal with the current challenges, as has been demonstrated by the Security Council’s unacceptable paralysis on the ongoing conflicts” in Gaza and Ukraine, Vieira said, adding the situation was costing “innocent lives.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell for his part warned multilateralism “is in crisis.”
The Security Council has failed to act on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, held in check by Russian veto power, and has struggled to find a response to the war in Gaza, with Israel’s ally the United States using its veto to block calls for a ceasefire, most recently Tuesday.
Brazil, which took over the rotating G20 presidency from India in December, has voiced hopes the group could be a forum to make progress on such questions.
But that likely took a hit when Lula ignited a diplomatic firestorm Sunday by accusing Israel of “genocide,” comparing its military campaign in the Gaza Strip to the Holocaust.
The comments drew outrage in Israel, which declared him persona non grata, and could overshadow any bid to de-escalate the conflict via the G20.
Blinken, who met Lula Wednesday in Brasilia before heading to the G20, “made clear we disagree with (his) comments,” a senior State Department official told journalists.
The secretary of state and Brazilian leader had a “frank exchange” in their more than 90-minute meeting at the presidential palace, the official said.
More than four months after the Gaza war started with Hamas fighters’ unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which has vowed to wipe out the Islamist group in retaliation, there is little sign of progress toward peace.
The outlook is similarly grim on Russia’s war in Ukraine, which also has G20 members divided as the second anniversary of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion approaches.
Despite a push by Western countries to condemn the invasion, the G20’s last summit ended with a watered-down statement denouncing the use of force but not explicitly naming Russia, which maintains friendly ties with India and Brazil, among other members.
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he planned to use the Rio meeting to “call out Russia’s aggression” directly to Lavrov, as Britain announced sanctions on six Russian officials over opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death in prison last week.
Lavrov — who will meet Lula in Brasilia Thursday, according to a Brazilian official — meanwhile lashed out at the West for “pumping Ukraine full of arms.”
“Neither Kiev nor the West have shown the political will to resolve the conflict,” he told Brazilian newspaper O Globo.
Blinken voiced pessimism on the current chances for diplomacy on Ukraine in his meeting with Lula. “We don’t see the conditions for it right now,” a US official said.
Brazil also wants to use its G20 presidency to push the fights against poverty and climate change.
There will also be space for bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the gathering — though a Blinken-Lavrov encounter looks unlikely, given soaring tensions.
The pair last met in person at a G20 gathering in India in March 2023.
Founded in 1999, the G20 brings together most of the world’s biggest economies.
Originally an economic forum, it has grown increasingly involved in international politics.
A Brazilian government source said that after recent G20 struggles for consensus, the hosts axed the requirement that every meeting produce a joint statement — with the exception of the annual leaders’ summit, scheduled for November in Rio.