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13 Indians successfully rescued and repatriated from Laos

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Vientiane, May 26 (IANS) The Embassy of India in Laos said on Sunday that it has successfully rescued and repatriated 13 Indians, including seven Odiya workers from a wood factory in Attapeu province and six Indian youngsters from the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in the Bokeo province of the Southeast Asian country.

“So far, the Embassy has rescued 428 Indians from Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR). We thank Lao authorities for their cooperation,” the Embassy said in a post on X.

Stating that ensuring the safety and well-being of Indians remains its top priority, the Embassy also advised Indian workers coming to Laos/Lao PDR, to not get duped by fake or illegal job offers.

Earlier this month, the Embassy had issued an advisory detailing recent instances wherein Indian nationals were lured for employment through Thailand to Laos.

“These fake jobs are for posts such as ‘Digital Sales and Marketing Executives’ or ‘Customer Support Service’ by dubious companies involved in call-centre scams and crypto-currency fraud in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Laos. Agents in places such as Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore and India associated with these firms are recruiting Indian nationals by taking a simple interview and the typing test, and are offering high salaries, hotel bookings along with return air tickets and visa facilitation,” the advisory stated.

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It added that victims are illegally taken across the border into Laos from Thailand and held captive to work in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Laos under harsh and restrictive conditions.

“At times, they are taken hostages by criminal syndicates indulging in illegal activities and forced to work in strenuous conditions under constant physical and mental torture. In some other cases, Indian workers have been brought to Laos to work in other regions of Laos in low-cost jobs such as mining, wood factories, etc. In most cases, their handlers exploit them and endanger them in illegal work,” the advisory mentioned.

Advising Indian nationals to not get enticed and entrapped in fraudulent or exploitative job offers, the Embassy requested them to exercise extreme caution and verify the antecedents of recruiting agents as well as any company before taking up any job offer in Laos.

“Visa on Arrival in Thailand or Laos does not permit employment and the Lao authorities do not issue work permits to Indian nationals coming to Laos on such visas. Please note that those convicted of human trafficking crimes have been sentenced up to 18 years in prison in Laos,” the advisory warned.

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–IANS

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Thousands of Israelis turn out in renewed rally against govt

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Jerusalem, June 21 (IANS/DPA) Thousands of Israelis turned out for fresh protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in a renewed show of anger at the failure to agree on a ceasefire in Gaza and bring about the return of hostages.

According to Israeli media on Thursday, the largest rally took place in front of a private home of the Prime Minister in the city of Caesarea.

The demonstrators demanded new elections and the release of the hostages held in the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds also gathered in Jerusalem for a protest, according to reports.

These are the latest in months of protests as people accuse Netanyahu of bowing to the demands of the ultra-orthodox partners in his right-wing coalition and obstructing a deal to release the Israeli hostages held by Palestinian Islamist organisation Hamas.

Some Ministers oppose an agreement with Hamas as it would also provide for a ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

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Israel continues to seek to eliminate Hamas, which attacked sites in southern Israel on October 7, killing nearly 1,200 people and abducting about 250 more to Gaza.

Israel responded by pounding Gaza with airstrikes and launched a ground offensive into the sealed-off Palestinian territory at the end of October.

More than 37,300 people have been killed and more than 85,000 injured in the course of the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to the Hamas-controlled health authority in Gaza.

Months of efforts have failed to bring about a breakthrough in indirect negotiations to persuade Israel to agree to a ceasefire and Hamas to release around 120 hostages.

–IANS/DPA

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WHO warns counterfeit diabetes drugs in circulation worldwide

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Geneva, June 21 (IANS/DPA) Counterfeit diabetes drugs have been in circulation since 2022, a problem affecting all regions of the world, the WHO warned in a statement.

The health authority on Thursday referred specifically to findings in Britain, the US and Brazil since October 2023.

The drug concerns Ozempic, a medicine containing the active ingredient semaglutide, which is also approved in the EU for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.

The counterfeit version looks identical to the real medicine. Because the product also suppresses the appetite, it is increasingly being prescribed for weight loss.

But counterfeit drugs may not contain the right amount of active ingredients and could therefore lead to uncontrolled sugar in diabetics, the WHO said, adding they may also contain other active ingredients that pose health risks.

The WHO called on doctors, pharmacists, regulatory authorities and the public to be vigilant.

People should only buy medicines on prescription from pharmacies and not online, the WHO said.

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Users should ensure that the dosage scale on insulin pens is displayed correctly, the label looks correct and there are no spelling mistakes on the box, the global health agency added.

–IANS/DPA

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Putin warns S.Korea against arms deliveries to Ukraine

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Hanoi, June 21 (IANS/DPA) Russian President Vladimir Putin has said South Korea would be making a “big mistake” if it supplies arms to Ukraine.

“If that happens, then we will make corresponding decisions that will not please the current leadership of South Korea,” Putin said on Thursday during a trip to Vietnam.

The South Korean government had earlier expressed concern over a new Russia-North Korea strategic partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked.

Seoul said the security commitments violated UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.

It also suggested it could reconsider its long-standing policy of not supplying weapons to Kiev.

North Korea, ruled by President Kim Jong Un, is subject to far-reaching UN sanctions and import bans due to its nuclear weapons programme, including the trade in weapons and the transfer of military technologies to the country.

During a state visit to Pyongyang on Wednesday, Putin signed the partnership agreement with Kim.

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At a press conference in Hanoi on Thursday, Putin called Seoul’s concerns unfounded.

He said South Korea had nothing to fear as the pact would only apply if either Russia or North Korea was attacked by a third country.

“As far as I know, (South Korea) is not planning any aggression” against North Korea, he said.

This means that “there is no need to fear our cooperation”.

Putin also said that he would not deploy any North Korean soldiers in Ukraine.

However, he threatened to deliver high-precision weapons to North Korea as a response to Western arms deliveries to Ukraine.

–IANS/DPA

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Washington prioritises Ukraine, postpones military supplies to others

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Washington, June 21 (IANS/DPA) The US government plans to postpone the delivery of some military equipment to other countries to prioritise strengthening Ukraine’s air defences.

White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that given Kiev’s urgent needs, the US government had made the “difficult but necessary” decision to postpone certain planned arms sales to other countries, in particular missiles for the Patriot and NASAMS air defence systems.

These should go instead to Ukraine, whose armed forces urgently need additional air defence capacities, he added.

The countries concerned had been informed, Kirby said, though he did not say which countries were involved.

All are to receive what they had ordered, just a little later than originally planned, he added.

This was first mentioned by US President Joe Biden during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a few days ago on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy.

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–IANS/DPA

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White House: Netanyahu criticism is 'perplexing' and 'disappointing'

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Washington, June 21 (IANS/DPA) The US government has expressed its anger at statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he asserted that Washington is withholding arms deliveries to Israel.

White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby on Thursday called Netanyahu’s recent video message “perplexing to say the least,” “deeply disappointing” and “vexing”.

“This President put fighter aircraft up in the air in the middle of April to help shoot down several hundred drones and missiles, including ballistic missiles, that were fired from Iran proper at Israel,” Kirby noted.

Kirby said “no other country was doing more” to help Israel in its fight against Hamas and that the White House had “no idea” what prompted Netanyahu to make the comments in a video released on Tuesday.

In it, Netanyahu said it was “inconceivable” that the US had been “withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel,” but did offer specifics.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who recently met with Netanyahu, has also pushed back.

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Blinken said earlier that all arms shipments were moving as they “normally” would to Israel, apart from certain bombs that could be used in densely populated areas of Gaza. Those explosives have been paused pending a review.

Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden have been at loggerheads for months.

Biden and other high-ranking US government officials have made it unusually clear that they do not agree with Netanyahu’s actions in the Gaza war.

Criticism has been levelled in particular at the high number of civilian casualties and the humanitarian hardship in the Gaza Strip.

–IANS/DPA

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