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Amid deep North Korean-Russia ties, South Korea, Japan vow security cooperation with NATO

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Washington, July 11 (IANS) South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to bolster security cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) amid deepening military cooperation between North Korea and Russia.

Yoon and Kishida on Wednesday shared the view as they met bilaterally on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Washington, where they were invited as leaders of the four Indo-Pacific partner nations, which also include Australia and New Zealand, reported Yonhap news agency.

The NATO summit came just weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un produced a sweeping security cooperation agreement.

Earlier on Wednesday, the NATO leaders issued a summit declaration strongly condemning North Korea’s weapons exports to Russia.

“The recent moves by Russia and North Korea are causing serious concern not only in East Asia but also for global security,” Yoon said at the start of the talks with Kishida.

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“I hope that South Korea and Japan will cooperate closely with NATO member countries and reaffirm that the security of the North Atlantic and Northeast Asia cannot be separated,” he added.

Yoon said Moscow’s close alignment with Pyongyang highlights the importance of the trilateral security cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan, as outlined in their Camp David summit in August 2023.

“The two leaders shared concerns over the strengthening of military and economic cooperation between Russia and North Korea through the signing of the ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ treaty,” Yoon’s office said in a statement.

“They agreed that South Korea and Japan will closely cooperate and work together with the international community to address the Russia-North Korea military cooperation that violates UN Security Council resolutions,” it added.

Kishida also said the security of the two regions is “inseparable.”

“The security of the Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific is inseparable. This summit provides an opportunity to deepen cooperation between NATO and our Indo-Pacific partners,” Kishida said through a translator.

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Yoon and Kishida last met in Seoul in May as part of a trilateral summit with China.

–IANS

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Israel confirms killing high-ranking Hamas commander in Gaza

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Jerusalem, July 15 (IANS) Israeli security forces have confirmed that they killed Rafa’a Salameh, the commander of Hamas’s Khan Younis Brigade, in airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late last week.

In a statement, the Israeli military and Shin Bet internal security agency said on Sunday that Salameh was killed in the area of Khan Younis, Xinhua news agency reported.

Israeli warplanes on Saturday bombed the tents of displaced people in the Mawasi area in Khan Younis, killing at least 90 Palestinians and wounding 300 others, most of them women and children, according to the health authorities in Gaza.

Israeli media reported that Mohammed Deif, the commander of Hamas’s military wing, and Salameh were the targets of the Israeli airstrike.

Israel has not confirmed Deif’s status but a Hamas official said on Sunday that the senior militant, who survived at least seven assassination attempts by Israel, has survived the recent attack.

“Salameh was one of the closest associates of Mohammed Deif,” the military said, adding he was also “one of the masterminds” of Hamas’ rampage through the southern Israeli border on October 7, 2023.

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Salameh joined Hamas in the early 1990s.

In 2016, he was appointed commander of the Khan Younis Brigade, and was responsible for launching projectiles from the Khan Younis area towards Israeli territory and overseeing the operation of attack tunnels, the military said.

“The elimination of Rafa’a Salameh significantly impedes Hamas’ military capabilities,” the military noted.

–IANS

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12 Palestinians killed in Israeli air raid on school in Gaza: Sources

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Gaza, July 15 (IANS) At least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens of others wounded in an Israeli air raid on a school housing displaced people in the central Gaza Strip, said Palestinian security and medical sources.

Israeli aircraft bombed a school in the Nuseirat refugee camp run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) with at least one missile, security sources told Xinhua news agency on Sunday.

Some video footage circulated on social media platforms shows the moment the school was bombed, parts of which were destroyed, Xinhua news agency reported.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli army on the raid.

UNRWA condemned the Israeli raid, stressing that there is no safe place in Gaza.

“The UN agency sends the coordinates of its facilities daily to the Israeli army, yet the army insists on targeting it and the United Nations headquarters,” the UN agency advisor Adnan Abu Hasna told Xinhua.

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The attack came a day after Israeli warplanes bombed the tents of displaced people in the Mawasi area in Khan Younis, killing at least 90 Palestinians and wounding 300 others, most of them women and children, according to the health authorities in Gaza.

–IANS

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Police seize arms, ammunition in Afghanistan

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Kabul, July 15 (IANS) Police have seized a variety of arms and ammunition from across north Afghanistan’s Balkh province over the past four months, provincial police spokesperson Mohammad Eisa Wasiq said.

The counter-terrorism police have collected 29 pieces of different types of arms and ammunition during a series of operations in different districts of the province, Wasiq added on Sunday.

Calling upon Afghans to help police in recovering arms and ammunition from the illegal possession of any person, the official added that the police are trying to recover and register any arms illegally kept by individuals over the past 20 years, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Afghan caretaker government has recovered a lot of arms and ammunition, including battle tanks and missiles, since taking over power following the withdrawal of the US-led forces from the war-ravaged Asian country in August 2021.

–IANS

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Philippine Airlines plane overshoots runway in Philippines

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Manila, July 15 (IANS) A Philippine Airlines (PAL) propeller plane overshot the runway at an airport in Palawan province, the airline company said.

All 53 passengers and four crew members were safely deplaned, the company added on Sunday.

The plane, travelling from Cebu to Palawan, overran the runway upon landing at Busuanga airport before 3 p.m. local time amid poor weather conditions, PAL said.

The aircraft stopped on a grassy area beyond the concrete runway, causing the airport’s closure, and forcing incoming flights to be diverted to other airports, Xinhua news agency reported.

PAL said it is working with related authorities to restore normal operations in Busuanga airport.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is expected to investigate the incident.

–IANS

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7 missing following water barrier breaching in Myanmar

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Yangon, July 15 (IANS) Seven construction workers were missing following a water barrier breaching at a construction site near the bank of Ayeyarwady River in central Myanmar’s Mandalay region, said an official from the Myanmar Rescue Organisation.

The incident occurred in Amarapura township of Mandalay around 8.30 a.m. local time on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

When the water barrier broke and river water flooded the construction site, seven workers went missing as a result, the official told Xinhua.

The river water only overflowed the construction site and did not reach the villages, he added.

Search and rescue efforts are underway with the Myanmar Rescue Organisation and Myanmar Fire Services Department working together, the official said.

–IANS

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