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Final document at Ukraine peace summit backed by 80 countries

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Final document at Ukraine peace summit backed by 80 countries

Vienna, June 16 (IANS/DPA) The final declaration of the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland was approved by 80 of the 93 participating states at the close of the two-day event on Sunday.

Countries that did not sign include six states from the G20 group of the world’s most important economic powers — Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, India and Indonesia, according to a list published by the Swiss hosts.

Armenia, Bahrain, Thailand, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Colombia and the Vatican also did not back the document released at the Burgenstock mountain hotel resort near Lucerne.

Brazil, India, South Africa and the UAE are united with Russia in the so-called BRICS group and maintain a friendly relationship with Russia despite its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The draft of the final declaration took this into account and does not explicitly condemn Moscow for its actions.

Instead, it recalls the Charter of the United Nations: “In particular, we reaffirm our commitment to refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” the text reads.

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The principles of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine, must be respected, it stated.

The signatories also favour protecting the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya, which is occupied by Russia, and agree that any threat to use nuclear weapons should be condemned.

They also call for unhindered grain exports from Ukraine, which are particularly important for impoverished countries in Africa and other parts of the world.

The declaration also advocates the exchange of prisoners of war and the return of children and other civilians abducted from Ukraine to Russia.

Earlier in the day, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer anticipated an incomplete backing of the document, while downplaying the significance of this.

This was only because of its exact wording, according to Nehammer, rather than reflecting a lack of support for efforts to broker peace in Ukraine.

The basic common position would not be affected, he said: “That’s why I’m not so worried if not everyone signs now.”

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The question of the scope of a follow-up conference was also still difficult to answer. Before Russia also takes a seat at the negotiating table, another conference in a different format is conceivable, Nehammer added.

“You really have to see it as a process,” he said.

According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the conference as such brought significant progress.

Kuleba said that all countries that were not present were also aware of the impetus provided by the meeting. Overall, the process that has been initiated is very welcome. He said: “We are on the right track.”

Kuleba again stressed the need to support Ukraine militarily with the highest quality weapons possible. The stronger Ukraine is, the more willing Moscow will be to negotiate peace, according to him.

The aim of the event was to initiate a peace process in which Russia would also be involved in the long term. Officials from Moscow were not invited on this occasion and did not express a wish to attend.

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–IANS/DPA

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No action against anti-India elements exposes Canada's double standards: MEA

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No action against anti-India elements exposes Canada's double
 standards: MEA

No action against anti-India elements exposes Canada's double
 standards: MEA

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) India on Thursday reiterated that it expects Canada to take action against anti-India elements otherwise “the rule of law and respect for pluralism” in the country will continue to be “severely undermined”.

“When a democracy adopts different yardsticks to measure or implement the rule of law and freedom of expression, it only exposes its double standards. We expect Canada to take action against anti-India elements who have repeatedly threatened Indian leaders, institutions, airlines, and diplomats with violence,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said during the weekly media briefing on Thursday.

“We would like to see stronger action at the same level of seriousness on the threats posed to us as well,” he added.

With another Hindu temple in Alberta’s capital Edmonton vandalised with hateful graffiti on Tuesday, New Delhi has slammed Ottawa for its inability to rein in the extremists.

The MEA stated that it has “strongly” taken up the matter with the Canadian authorities, both in New Delhi and in the Canadian capital.

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“We condemn the vandalisation. We expect the local authorities to take swift and strong action against those responsible. These attacks against temples have become a recurring occurrence and are done with a purpose, which is not very difficult to fathom,” said Jaiswal.

“We have seen a number of such incidents in recent times in Canada. Lack of action against the perpetrators has further emboldened such criminal elements. Those advocating and responsible for extremism and violence need to be brought to justice, or else the rule of law and respect for pluralism in Canada will continue to be severely undermined,” he added.

Tuesday’s incident added to the series of attacks targeting Hindu establishments in Canada.

“During the last few years, Hindu temples in the Greater Toronto Area, British Columbia, and other places in Canada have been vandalised with hateful graffiti. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of ‘Sikhs for Justice’ last year publicly called for Hindus to go back to India,” Canadian Member of Parliament Chandra Arya wrote on X on July 23.

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“Khalistan supporters publicly celebrated in Brampton and Vancouver the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and brandished images of deadly weapons. As I have always been saying, Khalistani extremists seem to get away with ease with their public rhetoric of hate and violence.

“Again, let me put on record. Hindu-Canadians are legitimately concerned. Like a broken record, I again call on Canadian law enforcement agencies to take this issue seriously before these rhetorics get translated into physical action against Hindu-Canadians,” Arya detailed.

The Indian government has repeatedly expressed its deep concern and strong protest at the disturbing actions being allowed to continue unchecked in Canada, saying it illustrates the political space that has been given in the country to separatism, extremism, and violence.

In May, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar targeted the Justin Trudeau government for giving refuge to pro-Khalistani elements, asserting that further deterioration in bilateral ties would eventually result in a big loss for Canada.

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“Freedom of speech cannot be freedom to advocate violence, freedom of speech cannot be freedom to support separatism and terrorism in a foreign country. It cannot be… A group of Khalistanis have been misusing Canada’s freedom laws for years.

“But when the Canadian government has any political compulsions, they accommodate these people who are also their vote bank,” Jaishankar said while speaking at the ‘Vishwabandhu Bharat’ interaction in Nashik.

–IANS

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Death toll from Philippine floods, landslides rises to 21

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Death toll from Philippine floods, landslides rises to 21

Death toll from Philippine floods, landslides rises to 21

Manila, July 25 (IANS) The death toll in the Philippine floods and landslides triggered by southwest monsoon enhanced by typhoon Gaemi has climbed to 21, police said on Thursday.

In a preliminary report, police said seven people died in the Philippine capital region Manila, three in Cavite province, five in Batangas province, and three in Rizal province. Police also reported that one died in Bulacan province and another two in Angeles City in Pampanga province.

The cause of death mainly was drowning, landslides, fallen trees, and electrocution, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Philippines’ national disaster agency has yet to report deaths due to the twin effects of southwest monsoon and Gaemi, which exits the Philippines on Thursday morning.

Gaemi, the third typhoon to lash the Philippines this year, has dumped rains, triggering flash floods and landslides in Metro Manila and many regions.

Aside from taking lives, Gaemi submerged and destroyed houses, primarily shanties in coastal and riverside communities, and swept away cars.

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Displaced residents spent Wednesday night in covered courts, schoolhouses, churches, and other makeshift evacuation centers while waiting for the floodwaters in their areas to recede.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries globally, mainly due to its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire and the Pacific typhoon belt. On average, the archipelagic country experiences 20 typhoons yearly, some intense and destructive.

–IANS

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Australian shipwreck found 55 years after maritime disaster

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Australian shipwreck found 55 years after maritime disaster

Australian shipwreck found 55 years after maritime disaster

Canberra, July 25 (IANS) Researchers from Australia’s national science agency have solved one of the country’s biggest maritime mysteries by discovering the wreck of a ship that sank over 50 years ago.

The motor vessel (MV) Noongah was carrying steel between the east coast cities of Newcastle and Townsville on August 25, 1969, when it encountered a storm and sank, triggering one of the largest searches for survivors in Australian maritime history, Xinhua news agency reported.

Of the 26 crew on board at the time of the incident, 21 died. Only one body was recovered and the wreck was never found.

However, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on Thursday announced it has confirmed the final resting place of the 71-meter freighter.

The CSIRO’s advanced research vessel (RV) Investigator surveyed an unidentified shipwreck in June 2024, collecting video footage and high-resolution seafloor mapping data.

In collaboration with experts from New South Wales (NSW) Heritage and NGO The Sydney Project the team was able to identify the wreck as the MV Noongah.

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The investigation showed the wreck is sitting upright at a depth of 170 meters.

Matt Kimber from the CSIRO’s Marine National Facility (MNF) informed stakeholders including surviving crew members and the families of the sailors who died, of the outcome of the RV Investigator survey.

The data and vision collected by the CSIRO have been provided to the project partners to allow planning for a dive by The Sydney Project to collect additional vision of the wreck.

–IANS

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Israel recovers bodies of five hostages from Gaza

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Israel recovers bodies of five hostages from Gaza

Israel recovers bodies of five hostages from Gaza

Jerusalem, July 25 (IANS) The bodies of five Israeli people, who were held hostages by Hamas after the attack on the country, have been recovered, Israeli forces said on Thursday.

They were identified as Maya Goren from Kibbutz Nir Oz and four soldiers, whose bodies were held hostage, according to a joint statement released by the Israeli military and the Shin Bet internal security agency. The soldiers — Oren Goldin, Tomer Ahimas, Ravid Aryeh Katz, and Kiril Brodski — were killed in combat with Hamas militants on October 7, 2023, Xinhua news agency reported.

The bodies were retrieved in an operation carried out in Gaza on Wednesday by commando and Shin Bet forces and taken to Israel for identification, according to the statement.

Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the communities most severely affected by Hamas’ assault, released a statement saying that Goren, a 56-year-old kindergarten teacher, was “brought home for burial” after nine months of being held in Gaza. Israeli authorities said in December 2023 that she was believed to be dead.

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With about 110 people still being held hostage in Gaza, at least a third of them are feared dead, according to Israeli estimates.

–IANS

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Three killed in road accident in Afghanistan

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Three killed in road accident in Afghanistan

Three killed in road accident in Afghanistan

Charikar, July 25 (IANS) Three commuters lost their lives and three others were injured following a road accident in Afghanistan’s Parwan province on Thursday morning, police said.

The accident occurred in Siagard district when a passenger car rammed into a truck, leaving three dead including two women, and injuring three others, said Fazal Rahim Muskinyar, spokesman for the provincial police.

Three women, who were injured in the accident, were transported to the provincial hospital for treatment, Xinhua news agency reported.

Dilapidated roads, reckless driving, overspeeding, overloading, and lack of safety measures often cause deadly accidents in Afghanistan.

–IANS

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