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US envoy meets with Egyptian ministers in Cairo over Gaza crisis

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Cairo, June 7 (IANS) White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk has held separate meetings with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Defence Minister Mohamed Zaki here to discuss the latest developments of the crisis in the Gaza Strip.

During McGurk’s meeting with Shoukry on Thursday, they discussed the recent US proposal for an Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal, including an exchange of Palestinian prisoners and Israeli hostages, highlighting the joint mediation efforts made by Egypt, Qatar, and the United States in this regard, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ceasefire deal was proposed in late May by US President Joe Biden to end the conflict between Israel and Gaza-ruling Hamas, which has been going on over the past eight months.

Shoukry and McGurk stressed the importance for the two sides to reach a deal “as soon as possible” and take “serious and real steps” to ensure a ceasefire in the entire Gaza Strip, Xinhua news agency reported.

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McGurk’s meeting with the Egyptian Defense Minister touched on “the current regional developments in light of the continuation of (Israeli) military operations inside the Gaza Strip and their extremely difficult humanitarian repercussions”, said a statement by the Egyptian military.

The Israeli army launched a military operation on Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah in early May and took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing, a lifeline for delivering humanitarian aid from Egypt to Gaza. The move led to the closure of the vital crossing, with Egypt demanding Israeli withdrawal from its Palestinian side.

McGurk and Zaki discussed “the efforts made in light of the current initiatives to cease fire, open the crossings, and intensify the entry of humanitarian aid to the residents of the strip,” according to the Egyptian army’s statement.

The US, Egypt, and Qatar managed to mediate a week-long Israel-Hamas truce in late November 2023. Israel and Hamas failed to reach another ceasefire agreement after talks in Cairo last month.

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–IANS

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Russian warships arrive at Havana port after drills

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Moscow, June 13 (IANS) A detachment of Russian warships arrived at the port of Havana, Cuba, after completing exercises on using high-precision weapons, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

The Ministry said on Wednesday that these ships, belonging to the Northern Fleet, have arrived at the port on an “unofficial visit”.

They include a nuclear-powered submarine and a frigate with modern weapons on board, Xinhua news agency reported.

Before entering the Havana port, the ships conducted computer-simulated exercises, practising high-precision missile strikes against naval targets representing a mock enemy over 600 km away, according to the Ministry.

In the coming days, the crews of the ships and support vessels will participate in several protocol events, have the opportunity to rest, and explore local attractions, the Ministry said.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the Russian warships would visit the port of Havana from Wednesday to Monday, and the visit is within the framework of “historically friendly relations between Cuba and Russia”.

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–IANS

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Ukraine strikes Russian missile systems in Crimea

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Kiev, June 13 (IANS) The Ukrainian military carried out missile strikes on Russian missile systems S-300 and S-400 in southern Crimea, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement.

The radar of the S-300 missile system stationed near the Belbek airfield was destroyed in the strike, the statement said on Wednesday.

It also added that two S-400 missile systems stationed near Belbek and the city of Sevastopol also came under attack, Xinhua news agency reported.

The strikes caused a detonation of munition in all three areas where Russian anti-aircraft missile divisions are positioned, it said.

On Monday, the General Staff said that Ukrainian forces had struck two Russian S-300 complexes and one S-400 complex in Crimea.

–IANS

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Israel confirms killing of senior Hezbollah commander in Lebanon

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Jerusalem, June 13 (IANS) The Israeli military has confirmed that it killed a senior Hezbollah commander, Sami Taleb Abdullah, in southern Lebanon in an airstrike two days ago.

“As part of the strike, Sami Taleb Abdullah, the commander of the Nasr Unit in Hezbollah, was eliminated,” the military said on Wednesday in a statement, adding that he was “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon”.

The military released video footage of the attack, showing a bombing of a building which, as the military said, was a Hezbollah command and control centre in the town of Jouaiya in Tyre district, Xinhua news agency reported.

The centre was used to direct attacks from southeastern Lebanon against Israel, and 55-year-old Abdullah, known within Hezbollah as Hajj Abu Taleb, was its commander, according to the Israeli military.

Lebanese TV channel Al-Jadeed confirmed the death of Abdullah, adding that three other people were killed and 10 others injured during the attack.

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On Wednesday morning, Hezbollah announced it had launched retaliatory attacks using rockets, drones, and missiles on military sites in northern Israel.

According to the Israeli military, at least 170 projectiles were fired from Lebanon toward Israel.

Israel and Hezbollah forces have been exchanging fire along the Lebanon-Israel border since October 8, 2023.

–IANS

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19 pc children engaged in child labour in Afghanistan: OCHA

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Kabul, June 13 (IANS) Nineteen per cent of children are engaged in child labour in Afghanistan, the Afghanistan office of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

“The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is trying to prevent child labour and support their families. The Ministry has activated training centres for orphaned children and has provided vocational training along with other assistance to the children,” local media outlet TOLOnews quoted the Ministry’s Spokesperson Samiullah Rahimi as saying on Wednesday.

Folad, an Afghan child working at a brick factory in the Dehsabz district of Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, told Xinhua, “I am interested in going to school, but I can’t. We (our family) are in debt, and I’m not able to continue my studies because of poverty. If the government supports my family, I can go to school and continue my lessons.”

Four decades of war and extreme poverty in Afghanistan have forced numerous children to work as child labourers or struggle to make a living on the street from car washing to shoe shining as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

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–IANS

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Sri Lanka to implement national tariff policy next January

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Colombo, June 13 (IANS) Sri Lanka Cabinet approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to implement the national tariff policy in three phases from January 2025, the government’s Information department said.

The competitive environment for investment in Sri Lanka has been adversely affected due to the revision of the tariff policy following the various policies introduced from time to time by the existing governments, the department added on Wednesday as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

It said considering the situation, a technical committee has been appointed to formulate a national tariff policy.

–IANS

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