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About 20-odd Indians stuck in Russia, efforts on for their early release: MEA

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New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) At least 20 Indians, who had gone as support staff to work with the Russian Army, are stuck in that country and efforts are on to seek their early release, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday, reiterating that New Delhi is “deeply committed” to the welfare of all its nationals.

The remarks came in the backdrop of reports that a group of Indian youth fell victim to agents who deceitfully sent them to Russia under the false pretext of providing them with security guard jobs.

“It is our understanding that there are 20-odd people who have gone to work as support staff or as helpers with the Russian Army. These are the people who’ve contacted us… We are trying our level best to ensure their early discharge,” MEA spokesman Randhir Jaiswal said while addressing the weekly media briefing on Thursday.

The spokesperson also referred to the statements issued by the MEA that urged all Indian nationals in Russia to exercise due caution and stay away from the conflict (with Ukraine).

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“We are trying our best… We are in regular touch with the Russian authorities — both here in New Delhi and in Moscow. We are deeply-committed to the welfare of all Indians,” Jaiswal told reporters.

The ministry had issued a statement on February 26, which said that several Indian nationals have already been discharged and that India remains “committed to pursuing all the relevant cases of its citizens for an early discharge from the Russian Army”.

The statement also noted that there were “inaccurate reports” in the media regarding Indians with the Russian Army seeking help for discharge.

On being asked about India’s position on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, Jaiswal reiterated that both sides should come together and find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

“Our position is very well known. We’ve said this at the highest levels that India desires that there be discussion, that there be diplomacy, that there be constant engagement so that both sides can come together and find a solution for peace,” he said.

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–IANS

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Islamic Group leader killed in Israeli airstrike in Lebanon

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Beirut, June 22 (IANS) A leader from the Islamic Group was killed on Saturday in an Israeli airstrike targeting a vehicle in the village of Al-Khyara, located in the Western Bekaa district of Lebanon, a Lebanese military source told Xinhua news agency.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said an Israeli drone fired two air-to-surface missiles at a Cherokee SUV in Khyara, killing Ayman Hashem Ghazme, a field leader of the Islamic Group who was driving the car.

The source added that members of the Civil Defense had put out the fire in the car and worked with the Lebanese Red Cross to transport the body to a hospital in the Bekaa region, Xinhua news agency reported.

Tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border escalated on October 8, 2023, following a barrage of rockets launched by the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah toward Israel in solidarity with Hamas’ attack on Israel the day before. Israel then retaliated by firing heavy artillery toward southeastern Lebanon.

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–IANS

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Bangladesh PM Hasina calls on President Murmu before wrapping up India visit

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called on President Droupadi Murmu at the Rashtrapati Bhavan before wrapping up her State visit to India on Saturday evening.

“Welcoming Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the President said that she was delighted to meet her again, just a few days after the swearing-in ceremony of the new government. She said these regular interactions reflect the enduring spirit of friendship and cooperation that began with the journey of Bangladesh’s Liberation War of 1971,” President Murmu’s office said in a statement after the meeting.

During the “warm and cordial conversation”, the two leaders agreed to work together to enhance the relationship across all domains including economic ties, development partnership, defence cooperation, energy security, and connectivity.

“The President was happy to note that under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has made significant economic progress. The President noted that India and Bangladesh are moving ahead rapidly to strengthen their cooperation in various areas and are entering into new sectors also. She expressed confidence that this will chart the future course of the India-Bangladesh relationship,” the statement added.

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This is the first State Visit hosted by India after the formation of the new government on June 9.

Earlier, PM Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Hasina set a futuristic vision for bilateral cooperation in new areas and concluded 10 agreements following their meeting at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

“Bangladesh is India’s largest development partner and lies at the confluence of our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, Act East policy, Vision SAGAR and Indo-Pacific vision. Together, we have completed many important public welfare projects in the last one year,” said PM Modi.

External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar also highlighted that the State visit of the Bangladesh PM reflects the depth of the “Bharat-Bangladesh Maitri”.

He highlighted that PM Hasina being the first State guest in the Modi government’s third consecutive term shows the importance India attaches to its relationship with Bangladesh.

“Being truly good neighbours, our ties are consolidating traditional areas and covering new ground. The agreements signed today show the breadth of our bonds. From seas to space, digital, green and health, military, rail and disaster, our two countries are collaborating across all avenues of human endeavour,” stated EAM Jaishankar.

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–IANS

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60 foreign nationals held in Afghanistan's jails

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Kabul, June 22 (IANS) A total of 60 foreign nationals have been held in prisons in Afghanistan, a local media outlet reported on Saturday.

Afghanistan is holding 60 foreigners, including 10 women, in prisons, Ariana News quoted Abdullah Hamdard, Deputy Head of the Prison Administration, as saying.

The foreigners are imprisoned in the country for various crimes, said Hamdard, adding that there is no torture in the prisons of the nation, but there are opportunities for prisoners to learn and train.

The nationalities of the detainees were not revealed, Xinhua news agency reported.

The administration had reported 40 foreign detainees in April, adding that they were from various countries, including neighbouring nations.

According to Hamdard, about 20,000 people, including 1,500 women, are currently held in prisons in the country.

–IANS

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Heavy rain hits South Korea; govt activates counter-disaster team

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Seoul, June 22 (IANS) Heavy rains pounded southern regions in South Korea on Saturday, including the southernmost resort island of Jeju, with the government initiating anti-disaster operations to brace for emergencies.

Heavy rainfall of up to 150 millimetres was expected in Jeju over the weekend and as much as 50-100 mm in southwestern Gwangju city and the surrounding South Jeolla Province, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).

The Gwangju regional weather agency said it issued heavy rain advisories for the entire Gwangju and South Jeolla regions starting at noon, reports Yonhap news agency.

A heavy rain advisory is issued when rainfall is expected to exceed 60 mm in three hours or 110 mm in 12 hours.

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said it activated the Level 1 operation of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters to respond to the heavy rains.

The warning level has been elevated to “caution” from “attention”, it said.

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Interior Minister Lee Sang-min called for citizens to avoid visiting regions where the advisories have been issued and instructed related government agencies to proactively prepare for any potential damage.

–IANS

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Malawi: MP, activist arrested over 'inflammatory' posts about Vice President's plane crash

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Lilongwe, June 22 (IANS) Police in Malawi have arrested a Member of Parliament (MP), Kamlepo Kalua, and an activist, Bon Kalindo, for their social media posts regarding the June 10 plane crash that killed the country’s Vice President Saulos Chilima and eight other officials.

National police spokesperson Peter Kalaya confirmed the arrests in a statement on Friday, saying they had made “inflammatory social media posts which are full of innuendos and insinuations”.

Kalaya said that the voice notes in question contain serious criminal elements as defined by the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act, Xinhua news agency reported.

The police spokesperson further said that the posts have the potential to incite violence and disorder.

The social media posts reportedly made by Kalua and Kalindo questioned and contradicted the authorities’ narrative regarding the cause of the plane crash.

The plane, a Dornier 228 military aircraft belonging to the Malawi Defence Force, crashed on June 10 in a forest a few kilometres away from Mzuzu City in northern Malawi due to poor weather conditions, according to the country’s Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Colleen Zamba.

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Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has since engaged foreign experts to join the Malawi Defence Force and the Malawi Police Service in investigating the crash to find out the actual cause.

Meanwhile, experts from Germany are scheduled to jet into the country on Saturday to help investigate, Minister of Information and Digitalisation Moses Kunkuyu said.

–IANS

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