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North Korea touts ties with Russia on Kim-Putin summit anniversary

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Seoul, April 25 (IANS) North Korea on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to further strengthening ties with Russia on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the first-ever summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kim and Putin held their first summit in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok on April 25, 2019, and also met at Russia’s Vostochny spaceport in September last year, Yonhap news agency reported.

“It is the consistent stand of the DPRK government to attach utmost importance to the DPRK-Russia relations and invariably develop the tradition of deep-rooted friendship,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Im Chon-il said in an English-language statement uploaded on the ministry’s website.

DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The official said the two nations have strengthened their cooperation and extended full support to each other on the “common front to smash the military threats and provocations, and high-handed and arbitrary practices of the imperialists.”

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“The DPRK-Russia relations rooted in comradeship and militant unity will steadily develop into invincible comradely relations and eternal strategic relations,” Im said.

Im also reiterated the North’s support for Russia in its war with Ukraine and pledged to stand aside the Russian military.

Ties between Pyongyang and Moscow have significantly deepened following last year’s summit, spawning speculation over their arms deal for Russia’s use in the war.

–IANS

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Ukraine reports renewed Russian attacks in country's west

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Kyiv, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Russia subjected Ukraine to a massive drone and missile attack overnight, according to Kyiv’s military.

The Ukrainian air force said missiles, including Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, rockets and drones, were fired at western Ukraine.

Explosions were reported from the Khmelnytskyi region, where the Starokostiantyniv Air Force Base is also located.

According to the regional administration, a residential building was hit in the Vinnytsia region. Three people were injured in the attack, Governor Serhiy Borzov wrote on Telegram.

The Lviv region on the border with Poland was also attacked, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi wrote on Telegram.

An explosion was also heard near the capital, Kyiv, reported the public broadcaster Suspilne. Air raid warnings sounded across the country.

The heavy nighttime air raid was preceded by the launch of Tu-95 strategic bombers in Russia, which fire cruise missiles. Later, MiG-31 fighter jets, which are the carrier systems for the Kinzhal, also took off.

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The country has been fending off a full-scale Russian invasion since February 2022.

–IANS/DPA

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In a first, Indian Haj pilgrims travel from Jeddah to Mecca by high-speed train

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Jeddah, May 26 (IANS) In a historic first, Indian Haj pilgrims, who arrived at the Jeddah airport on Sunday, travelled to Mecca by high-speed Haramain Train instead of buses.

The arrangement, which will make the journey of the pilgrims more comfortable, has been facilitated by India’s Consulate General in Jeddah in coordination with the concerned Saudi authorities.

The Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia Suhel Ajaz Khan and Consul General Shahid Alam accompanied by Vice President of Saudi Arabian Railways, Al Harbi and other officials from Ministry of Haj and Ministry of Transport, escorted the Indian Haj pilgrims from Jeddah Airport to Mecca on first such journey on the High Speed Train on Sunday.

With the highest speed of the train being 300 km per hour, the journey will also reduce the travel time from Jeddah to Mecca considerably.

It is estimated that about 32,000 Indian Haj pilgrims will use the exclusive service this year.

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The Indian Haj Mission – the biggest operation of its kind handled by the Indian government outside the country’s borders, has closely coordinated logistics with the concerned Saudi authorities to make the new initiative a success.

–IANS

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Gaza aid deliveries restart from Egypt via Kerem Shalom crossing

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Cairo, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Badly needed aid to the Gaza Strip started coming from Egypt through the Kerem Shalom crossing for the first time in nearly three weeks on Sunday, an Egyptian TV station reported.

The state-affiliated al-Qahera News TV said 200 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies were moving from outside the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, heading to the Karm Abu Salem crossing or Kerem Shalom.

According to the broadcaster, these included four fuel trucks and began moving through Karen Shalom.

Earlier this month, Israel took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah, crossing with Egypt, in an operation that halted aid deliveries via the vital facility into the heavily populated strip.

Since the closure of the Rafah crossing, Egypt has indicated it will not coordinate aid transports through Rafah until the Israeli forces withdraw.

Hamas has recently attacked the Kerem Shalom crossing and Israeli settlements with rockets.

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Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi agreed on aid deliveries to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Egypt, in a temporary arrangement, will hand over humanitarian aid and fuel to the United Nations at the crossing until a legal mechanism is reached to reopen the Rafah crossing from the Palestinian side, an Egyptian presidency statement said.

–IANS/DPA

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Taiwan thanks the US, others for supporting peace in the region

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Taipei, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Taiwan President Lai Ching-te on Sunday expressed his gratitude to the US and the international community for support amid higher tensions in the region, calling on China to jointly shoulder the important responsibility of regional stability.

“I am very grateful to US President Biden, the US government and Congress, and other countries around the world for their firm support for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Lai told reporters in southern Taiwan at an event held by his independence-leaning Progressive Progressive Party Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

During his inaugural speech on Monday, Lai stressed that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are indispensable to global security and prosperity.

“Any country that creates disturbance in the Taiwan Strait and affects regional stability will not be accepted by the international community,” Lai said.

Lai said he is very much looking forward to enhancing mutual understanding and reconciliation through exchanges and cooperation with China in order to create mutual benefits.

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Lai’s comments came just a day after Washington said it was “deeply concerned” about China’s military drills in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan, which were conducted days after Lai’s inauguration.

“We are monitoring PRC activities closely and coordinating with allies and partners regarding our shared concerns,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement on Saturday.

“We strongly urge Beijing to act with restraint. Using a normal, routine, and democratic transition as an excuse for military provocations risks escalation and erodes longstanding norms that for decades have maintained peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is critical for regional and global security and prosperity and a matter of international concern,” Miller said.

–IANS/DPA

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Four injured, over 2,700 affected as tropical cyclone hits Philippines

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Manila, May 26 (IANS) Four people were injured and 2,734 affected as tropical cyclone Ewiniar triggered floods and landslides in parts of the Philippines, the government said on Sunday.

In a report, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said the four injured people were from the Bicol region, southeast of the Philippine capital, Manila, Xinhua news agency reported.

It added that no deaths have been reported so far.

Meanwhile, more than 6,000 passengers, truck drivers and cargo helpers were stranded in all ports nationwide on Sunday morning due to the inclement weather conditions, said the Philippine Coast Guard.

Ewiniar, the first cyclone to hit the Philippines this year, has affected the Bicol region on the main Luzon island and the Eastern Visayas region in the central Philippines.

The state weather bureau said Ewiniar will continue to dump heavy rain in many areas, including Metro Manila, warning of more flooding and possible landslides.

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The bureau forecast Ewiniar to reach severe tropical storm category on Monday and typhoon category by Tuesday before exiting the Philippines on Wednesday.

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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