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Italy announces bilateral security deal with Ukraine

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Rome, Feb 25 (IANS) The Italian government has announced a bilateral support agreement with Ukraine ahead of the Group of Seven (G7) leaders’ meeting under Italy’s presidency.

Both events were held on Saturday as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine reached its second anniversary.

The security partnership with a 10-year mandate between Rome and Kiev includes cooperation in defence, economy, infrastructure and energy, and humanitarian support, among other fields, Xinhua news agency reported, citing Italian media.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said that security and support for Ukraine will be among the main priorities under the G7 mandate. She was among a small group of world leaders who travelled to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, to commemorate the second anniversary of the conflict.

“We reiterate the centrality of Ukraine to the agenda of Italy’s G7 presidency and 360 degrees of Italy’s assistance to Kiev, starting from reconstruction and in security matters,” Meloni said on Saturday from Antonov Airport near the Ukrainian capital, according to Italian media reports.

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In addition to Meloni, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the unusual G7 meeting outside the territory of the host country in person, with leaders from other members of the group — the UK, France, Germany, Japan and the US — participating via video link.

Other leaders in Kiev on Saturday included Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, whose country is holding the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU) Council. The EU is a “non-enumerated member” of the G7.

The next meeting on the calendar under Italy’s G7 presidency is the minister-level gathering on industry and digital technology in the northern Italian cities of Verona and Trento on March 13-15.

The centrepiece of the Italian G7 presidency will be the summit of heads of state and government to be held in the southern Italian region of Apulia in June.

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–IANS

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Russia could mirror Western actions, arm North Korea: Putin

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Hanoi, June 20 (IANS) In a clear warning to the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday indicated his nation could supply long-range precision weapons to North Kora and other countries, on the same pattern that the US and other countries are arming Ukraine.

”We do not rule out supplying weapons to other countries, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Let the West think where they might end up,” the Russian President, who is in Vietnam on the second leg of his Asian tour after visiting North Korea, told media persons after meetings with the Vietnamese leadership, RT reported.

He was responding to this previous statement on sending missiles to adversaries of the West, in response to the US and its allies allowing Ukraine to use their supplied weapons to strike deep inside Russia.

Noting that the Western countries that have supplied long-range and other weapons to Ukraine have said they can’t be held responsible for how Kiev uses them, and insist that it does not make them parties to the conflict, Putin said that Russia, therefore, reserves the same right for itself.

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He also said that Moscow is considering modifications to its doctrine on the use of atomic weapons, as the West appears to be working on low-yield weapons to lower the nuclear threshold.

Asked about the peace terms he offered Ukraine last week, Putin said that Russia has always been willing to negotiate, while Kiev and its Western backers sabotaged both the Minsk process and the Istanbul talks. The Russian President, who had cited conditions for peace talks, including Ukraine removing its troops from Donbass and two other regions, and assuring it would not join NATO, underlined that the terms he outlined will not be valid forever.

“Our terms will change depending on the situation on the ground,” he said.

Putin arrived in Hanoi on Wednesday evening from Pyongyang, where he signed a strategic partnership treaty with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. His trip to Vietnam is aimed at strengthening bilateral ties with Hanoi, including trade and nuclear energy cooperation.

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–IANS

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In rare move, US diverts missiles ordered by other countries to Ukraine

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Yashwant Raj Washington, June 20 (IANS) The US on Thursday announced, that in an “extraordinary” step, it was reprioritising “hundreds” of air defence missiles ordered by other countries and sending them instead to Ukraine for its defence from Russia.

These interceptor missiles are meant for American-supplied Patriot and NASAMS air defence systems.

The White House said missiles ordered by other countries will be delivered but will be delayed by at least 16 months. It refused to disclose the number of countries whose orders will be affected but said Taiwan was not among them.

Announcing the extraordinary measure, John Kirby, the spokesperson for the US National Security Council, said that the broader message for Russia was that “if you think you’re going to be able to outlast Ukraine, and if you think you’re gonna be able to outlast those of us who are supporting Ukraine, you’re just flat out wrong. And we’re going to make sure that we give you print the critical air defence capabilities they need now and into the future”.

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Asked about the number of these reprioritized missiles, he said they were “in the realm of the hundreds”.

Kirby went on to say the countries whose orders would be delayed had been informed and that they understood why the US was doing it.

“We have of course informed all the affected countries that we are taking this extraordinary step and we’re making every effort to minimize any negative impact to countries with affected foreign military sales cases. If any of our other partners were ever in a situation similar to Ukraine’s we would go to extraordinary lengths to support their security as well.”

These missiles will begin reaching Ukraine before the end of summer and the supplies will continue over the next 16 months, shoring up the country to defend its cities and populations from Russian missiles.

US President Joe Biden has committed his administration to defend Ukraine for as long as it takes and has sent billions of dollars worth of defence equipment by itself and with allies in Europe and Asia.

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–IANS

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Israeli army says they killed a Hezbollah commander in south Lebanon

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Beirut/Tel Aviv, June 20 (IANS/DPA) The Israeli army said on Thursday that they killed another pro-Iranian Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon.

It said that “terrorist Fadel Ibrahim” was eliminated by an Israeli aircraft in a precise strike in the area of Deir Kifa in southern Lebanon.

The army said: “Ibrahim was the commander of Hezbollah operations in the Jouaiyya area, as part of his role, Ibrahim was responsible for planning and carrying out terror attacks against Israel and commanding Hezbollah ground forces in the area of Jouaiyya.”

Hezbollah confirmed his death and said that in response to the attack in Deir Kifa, the Shiite militia reportedly fired dozens of rockets at targets in northern Israel.

The Lebanese news agency NNA had previously reported that one person was killed in a drone strike on a car in the affected area.

There were also Israeli attacks on other places in southern Lebanon like Khiyam and Iqlim al-Tuffah region.

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The Israeli military also said it had destroyed a rocket launcher on Lebanese soil.

There are concerns that the conflict between the Israeli military and the Hezbollah militia will continue to expand.

–IANS/DPA

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Over 3300-year-old cargo ship uncovered off Israel's coast

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Jerusalem, June 20 (IANS) An over 3,300-year-old ship’s cargo of hundreds of intact Canaanite storage amphorae was revealed at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, 90 km off Israel’s coast, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the London-based gas and oil company Energean said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The IAA said that under the cargo, found 1.8 km deep in the sea, is probably the skeleton of a 12-14 meter-long ship, as yet unexcavated, the oldest found in the world in the deep seas.

Last year, the ship was discovered by an underwater robot during a survey by Energean, which operates in the Israeli gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Energean and the IAA recently conducted a complex operation to extract two sample amphorae from opposite ends of the ship to minimize disturbance to the intact assemblage of the ship and its cargo.

The IAA noted that the ship likely sank due to a storm or an attempted piracy attack, which were common events in the late Bronze Age.

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Examination revealed that the amphora type found in the cargo was designed for efficiently transporting relatively cheap, mass-produced products such as oil, wine, and other agricultural goods like fruit.

The large quantity of amphorae on board indicates significant commercial ties between their country of origin and the ancient Near Eastern lands on the Mediterranean coast, the IAA said.

It added that this period saw a rise in international commerce, with organised commercial networks, tax collection, and trade supervision.

Advancements in ship manufacturing allowed for greater cargo volumes, boosting the status of port cities in the eastern Mediterranean, with goods transported in amphorae to the Aegean Sea, Crete, and Mycenaean Greece.

–IANS/DPA

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German minister says deal soon for deporting Afghans, Syrians

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Potsdam (Germany), June 20 (IANS/DPA) German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has expressed confidence that the country will soon find ways to deport immigrants convicted of serious crimes or deemed Islamist threats to Afghanistan and Syria.

“We are in concrete negotiations on this and are confident that we will be able to achieve this for this group,” Faeser said on Thursday at a meeting with the state interior ministers from Germany’s 16 federal states just outside Berlin.

There are only a small number of such people, Faeser stressed. She said the German government is examining the extent to which repatriation via neighbouring countries would be possible in the case of Afghan nationals, citing Uzbekistan as a country that had been previously discussed.

However, Faeser did not want to publicly name any countries with which talks are ongoing out of fears of “jeopardizing the concrete negotiations we are currently conducting.”

Germany halted deportations to Afghanistan after the Taliban, a radical Islamist group, seized power over the country in August 2021.

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But resuming deportations to Afghanistan and war-torn Syria has been a hot-button issue in Germany, particularly in the wake of the slaying of a policeman by a knife-wielding Afghan migrant during an attack in the German city of Mannheim in May.

–IANS/DPA

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