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Ukrainian attacks with British weapons will invite retaliation, Russia tells UK

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Moscow, May 6 (IANS) Days after UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said that Ukraine had the right to use long-range missiles sent by his country to strike deep inside Russia, Moscow on Monday conveyed that this facility could invite retaliation on British targets.

UK’s Ambassador to Russia, Nigel Casey was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and told Moscow will retaliate against British targets in Ukraine or elsewhere if Ukraine strikes Russian territory with UK-provided missiles, RT reported.

“Casey was warned that the response to Ukrainian strikes using British weapons on Russian territory could be any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and beyond,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the meeting.

Cameron’s statements to the contrary “de facto recognised his country as a party to the conflict”, it said, adding that Russia understands Cameron’s comments as “evidence of a serious escalation and confirmation of London’s increasing involvement in military operations on the side of Kiev”.

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The UK envoy was urged to “think about the inevitable catastrophic consequences of such hostile steps from London and to immediately refute in the most decisive and unequivocal manner the bellicose provocative statements of the head of the Foreign Office”.

French Ambassador Pierre Levy was also summoned to the Foreign Ministry. Moscow has not yet disclosed the details of the meeting.

Russia has taken strong exception to French President Emmanuel Macron’s pitch for NATO troops in Ukraine to prevent a Russian breakthrough

Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry announced an exercise to test the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. President Vladimir Putin ordered the drills after “provocative statements and threats” by Western officials, the military said.

–IANS

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S. Korea, Japan, China to hold 1st summit since 2019 to discuss cooperation

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Seoul, May 26 (IANS) Leaders of South Korea, China and Japan are set to meet on Sunday and Monday in Seoul for summit meetings, resuming their trilateral dialogue for the first time since 2019.

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol will have back-to-back bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the presidential office later in the day and hold a trilateral session with the two leaders on Monday, Yonhap news agency reported.

It marks the first three-way summit among the Asian countries since December 2019, after a hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic and strained Seoul-Tokyo relations over historical disputes.

During a bilateral meeting with Li, who is making his first visit since taking office in March 2023, Yoon is expected to discuss ways to promote strategic communication and expand economic cooperation and trade, and exchange opinions on security issues.

In his talks with Kishida, Yoon is likely to exchange opinions on ways to deepen practical cooperation in various areas and bolster trilateral cooperation with the United States to deter North Korea’s threats.

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After the meetings, Yoon plans to host a welcome dinner for delegations of the three countries.

On Monday, the three leaders will discuss six areas of cooperation: economy and trade, sustainable development, health issues, science and technology, disaster and safety management, and people-to-people exchanges. They will adopt a joint statement on the outcome of the summit.

The leaders are expected to explore cooperation in economic, trade and health sectors while aiming to avoid friction, as Seoul and Tokyo have aligned more closely with Washington amid its intensifying rivalry with Beijing.

While their differences over North Korea and regional security issues are not likely to be resolved at the meeting, Seoul officials say it represents a crucial step in reviving trilateral dialogue to avoid conflict and boost collaboration in the economy, technology and health sectors.

Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo said the upcoming summit will serve as a “turning point” for restoring and normalizing the trilateral summit and provide an opportunity to recover “future-oriented and practical cooperation” among the three countries.

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–IANS

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Death toll from Brazil's weather catastrophe rises to 166

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Sao Paulo, May 26 (IANS) The death toll from storms and floods in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul since April 29 has risen to 166, the Civil Defense agency has said.

According to the agency, more than 637,000 people have been evacuated and 61 are still missing and some 2.3 million people in 469 municipalities were affected.

It added that the state has lost millions of dollars in trade, industry and agribusiness, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rains that have hit Rio Grande do Sul since April 29 have caused damage and traffic disruptions on the state’s roads. In Porto Alegre, the state capital, the situation had improved Monday, but new rains beginning on Thursday have caused renewed flooding.

–IANS

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Mandatory national service for 18-year-olds if Tories win, Sunak vows

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London, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Eighteen-year-olds would be forced to carry out a form of national service if the Tories are voted back in at the July 4 election, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced.

The Prime Minister said Britain has “generations of young people who have not had the opportunities they deserve” as he claimed the radical measure would help unite society in an “increasingly uncertain world”.

In future, 18-year-olds would be given a choice between a full-time placement in the armed forces for 12 months or spending one weekend a month for a year volunteering in their community, the Tories said.

In an apparent pitch to older voters, the party said this could include helping local fire, police and National Health Service services as well as charities tackling loneliness and supporting elderly, isolated people.

Sunak is seeking to draw a dividing line with Labour on global security following his pledge to raise defence spending to 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product by 2030.

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Heightening his attack on Saturday, Sunak said voters would be left “at risk” with Keir Starmer in Number 10 because Britain’s enemies would notice that he “doesn’t have a plan”.

Teenagers who choose to sign up for a placement in the forces would “learn and take part in logistics, cyber security, procurement or civil response operations”, the Tories said.

The Conservatives said they would establish a royal commission bringing in expertise from across the military and civil society to design what they described as the “bold” national service programme.

The party said it would work towards the first pilot being open for applications in September 2025, after which it would seek to introduce a new “National Service Act” to make the measures compulsory by the end of the next Parliament.

The Prime Minister said: “This is a great country but generations of young people have not had the opportunities or experience they deserve and there are forces trying to divide our society in this increasingly uncertain world.

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“I have a clear plan to address this and secure our future. I will bring in a new model of national service to create a shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country.

“This new, mandatory national service will provide life-changing opportunities for our young people, offering them the chance to learn real-world skills, do new things and contribute to their community and our country.”

Earlier on Saturday, Sunak suggested a government led by Keir would be marked by uncertainty and a “more dangerous world.”

“The consequences of uncertainty are clear. No plan means a more dangerous world. You, your family and our country are all at risk if Labour win,” he said.

Keir’s party branded the announcement “another desperate unfunded commitment” and pointed out that David Cameron introduced a similar scheme – the National Citizen Service – when he was prime minister.

Cameron’s announcement had no armed forces component to it, instead encouraging youngsters to take part in activities such as outdoor education-style courses as part of his “Big Society” initiative.

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A Labour spokesperson said: “This is not a plan – it’s a review which could cost billions and is only needed because the Tories hollowed out the armed forces to their smallest size since Napoleon.

“Britain has had enough of the Conservatives, who are bankrupt of ideas, and have no plans to end 14 years of chaos. It’s time to turn the page and rebuild Britain with Labour.”

–IANS/DPA

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British RAF pilot dies after aircraft crash

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London, May 26 (IANS) A British Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot was killed after a Spitfire crashed near an RAF base in Lincolnshire, an RAF spokesperson has said.

“It is with great sadness that we must confirm the death of an RAF pilot in a tragic accident near RAF Coningsby today,” said the spokesperson on Saturday.

Earlier, a Lincolnshire police spokesperson said a “single occupant aircraft” is believed to have crashed and nobody else is thought to have been involved, Xinhua news agency reported.

British media reported that the plane went down shortly before 1220 GMT and the crashed Spitfire was taking part in a Battle of Britain memorial event.

RAF Coningsby is home to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a collection of wartime fighter and bomber aircraft that take part in air shows and memorial displays.

–IANS

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Hamas announces capture of Israeli soldiers in Gaza, Israel denies

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Gaza, May 26 (IANS) The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, on Sunday announced the capture of an unspecified number of Israeli soldiers during an operation in the Jabalia camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

“Our fighters were able to carry out a complex operation on Saturday afternoon in the northern Gaza Strip, where they lured an Israeli force into one of the tunnels in the Jabalia camp, clashed with it from zero distance, and killed, captured, and wounded all its members,” Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Ubaida said in a statement.

A video clip released by Hamas showed an individual being dragged in a tunnel, purportedly an Israeli soldier, but this has not been independently verified, Xinhua news agency reported.

The video also showcased weapons and equipment claimed to be used by Israeli soldiers.

In response to the announcement, Israeli army spokesman Avichai Adraee said “there is no incident of kidnapping a soldier in Gaza”.

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–IANS

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