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Turkey's Erdogan, Greek PM stress maintaining positive momentum in ties

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Ankara, May 14 (IANS) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and visiting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis have stressed on the significance of maintaining the recent positive trajectory in bilateral relations, despite longstanding disputes.

In a joint press conference in Ankara on Monday, Erdogan emphasised the importance of dialogue, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Despite the differences, we focus on the positive agenda by keeping our dialogue channels open,” he said.

The Turkish President added that the two sides held a constructive dialogue, addressing issues in Turkey-Greece relations, and agreed to aim for a bilateral trade volume of $10 billion.

Erdogan expressed hope that the improved relations would positively impact the rights of the Turkish minority in Greece.

He also stressed the necessity of a “fair and permanent solution” to the Cyprus issue, based on the island’s realities, to enhance regional stability and peace.

Regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict, Erdogan diverged from Mitsotakis, saying, “I do not see Hamas as a terrorist organisation. Hamas is a resistance group that protects its lands.”

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Mitsotakis acknowledged the ongoing development of bilateral cooperation, saying the mutual understanding between the two sides and relations are evolving positively.

He also reaffirmed Greece’s support for Turkey’s EU accession process.

Mitsotakis noted a divergence in perspectives on the Gaza issue.

“We know that Turkey accepts Hamas, which we consider a terrorist group, in a different way,” he said, noting that Greece also agrees that civilians must be protected.

–IANS

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Lankan Police announces reward for info on coordinator of suspected IS terrorists caught in Gujarat

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Colombo, May 28 (IANS) Sri Lanka Police on Monday announced a cash reward of Rs two million to anyone providing information on the alleged coordinator who sent four suspected IS terrorists to India.

The 46-year-old handler named Osman Pushparaja Gerard is alleged to have coordinated with the four terror suspects, all natives of the island nation.

“The mastermind must have already changed his appearance,” the police stated while releasing several photos of the suspect.

Lankan Police Chief also announced that a joint team comprising two special investigating units will lead the probe into these terror suspects’ possible involvement in the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombings.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Deshabandu Tennakone said that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) will be part of a special committee to investigate four Lankan terror suspects arrested by the Gujarat ATS at the Ahmedabad airport on May 19.

“India would deal with them according to their law. Sri Lanka would investigate if they have been party to any acts of terrorism, or aided and abetted any group while being in Sri Lanka, and will deal with them according to our law,” Sri Lanka’s Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told media on Monday.

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According to the investigations done so far, one of the four suspects, Mohamed Nusrat (35) was involved in the business of importing phone and electrical equipment from Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore and selling in Colombo.

Living in the heart of Colombo, he had a criminal record and was arrested in September 2020 for heroin trafficking.

Another suspect, Mohamed Nafran (27) is the son of a convicted drug lord, Mohamed Naufer who was also convicted for killing a High Court judge. Nafran, who had been travelling to India and Dubai since turning 16, has been involved in businesses of importing clothes and chocolates. In 2017, he was arrested under the Gem and Jewellery Act in Sri Lanka.

The other two suspects, it is believed, have left the Lankan shores for the first time.

All four arrived in an Indigo flight out of Colombo to Chennai before being arrested by Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) for having links with the banned terror outfit Islamic State.

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They were earlier also connected to the banned Sri Lankan radical militant outfit, National Thowheeth Jamath (NJT) and allegedly joined IS after getting in touch with a Pakistani handler.

–IANS

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Israeli attorney general slams ICC prosecutor for seeking warrants

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Tel Aviv, May 27 (IANS/DPA) Israeli Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has sharply criticised International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan for applying for the arrest of top Israeli politicians in remarks to the Israel Bar Council reported in the state media.

“The decision of the prosecutor ignores, among other things, the fact that the Israeli legal system has proved its independence in the past, its impartiality, and its commitment to the values of truth and justice,” Baharav-Miara said.

Khan announced a week ago that he was seeking arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as for Hamas leaders.

Baharav-Miara said the Israeli justice system was fully competent to enforce the law.

“We do not shy away from enforcing the law against any person, even with the heads of the military and the state, if there are well-founded suspicions of violations of the law,” she told the Bar Council.

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“We don’t need outside help to clarify suspected criminal activity.”

The Israeli military was currently conducting investigations into possible violations during the Gaza War, she said.

The Attorney General noted that the ICC had been established to deal with situations where the law was dysfunctional.

“That is not our situation,” she said.

“The steps taken by the ICC prosecutor contravene the basic legal idea on which the court was founded, the principle of complementarity,” she said, referring to the principle under which functioning states have jurisdiction within their territory.

While many countries have signed and ratified the 2002 Rome Statute establishing the ICC, thus becoming state parties, Israel, the US, and Russia have all indicated that they do not intend to become state parties.

Israel nevertheless agreed to defend its position in the genocide allegation brought by South Africa to a separate UN court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), about the Gaza War.

ALSO READ:  Yoav Gallant calls ICC parallel between Israel and Hamas 'despicable'

–IANS/DPA

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Bodies of seven elephants found in Sri Lanka's national park

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Colombo, May 27 (IANS) Bodies of seven wild elephants were found by wildlife officials at the Flood Plains National Park in Polonnaruwa in north central Sri Lanka last week, wildlife officials told the media on Monday.

The bodies have been handed over to the wildlife veterinary unit for further investigation, officials said.

The officials said they suspected a herd of wild elephants was swept away while attempting to cross the Ode Ela, a waterway in the area, Xinhua news agency reported.

The bodies of five young elephants, aged between eight and 10 years, and two adult elephants, aged between 30 and 35 years, were found, according to the officials.

Sri Lanka has been experiencing heavy rains for the past few weeks.

–IANS

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PM Modi congratulates Lithuanian president on re-election

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New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated Gitanas Nauseda, who was re-elected as President of Lithuania for a second term last week.

“Congratulations to H.E. Gitanas Nauseda on being re-elected as the President of the Republic of Lithuania. I look forward to working together to further strengthen the close cooperation between India and Lithuania,” PM Modi posted on X.

Lithuanians have a great interest in Indian cultural traditions, including Yoga, and the study of Indian languages — mainly Hindi and Sanskrit — has been carried out at Vilnius University for several decades.

On Monday, Nauseda also had a telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who had called in to congratulate him on his victory in the presidential election.

The two leaders discussed the Ukraine Peace Conference to be held in Switzerland and the upcoming NATO Summit in Washington.

–IANS

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Archaeologists discover 2,300-yr-old gold ring in Jerusalem

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Tel Aviv, May 27 (IANS/DPA) Archaeologists in Jerusalem have discovered a 2,300-year-old gold ring believed to have belonged to a child living in the city’s Hellenistic period.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said in a statement that the ring, set with a red gem, was “exceedingly well-preserved” with no signs of rust or weathering.

It was unearthed recently at the City of David archaeological site by Tehiya Gangate, a member of the excavation team.

“I was sifting earth through the screen and suddenly saw something glitter,” Gangate said.

“This is an emotionally moving find, not the kind you find every day,” she added.

Researchers believe the ring probably belonged to a child due to its small size.

It was “manufactured by hammering thin pre-cut gold leaves onto a metal ring base,” the IAA statement said.

The ring was dated to around 300 BC.

The statement said it “reflects the common fashion of the Persian and Early Hellenistic periods, dating from the late 4th to the early 3rd century BC,” when “people began to prefer gold with set stones rather than decorated gold”.

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At the time, the region was under the dominion of Alexander the Great’s Macedonian Empire.

Alexander’s conquests “helped spread and transport luxury goods and products,” the statement said.

The latest finding reveals that Jerusalem’s residents “were open to the widespread Hellenistic style and influences,” the researchers said.

–IANS/DPA

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