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Ban appoints Major General Menon head of UN Syria-Israel observer mission

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Major General Jai Shankar Menon to head the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the Syria-Israel ceasefire in the Golan Heights.

Menon succeeds Lieutenant General Purna Chandra Thapa of Nepal whose assignment ends on Sunday. Menon was Additional Director General for Equipment Management in the Indian Army.

Announcing the appointment Tuesday, Ban’s deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said, “Menon brings to his new position extensive command experience and knowledge of peacekeeping affairs at the national and international levels.”

Menon is familiar with the region having served with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from 2007 to 2009. UNDOF was set up in 1974 to supervise the ceasefire and disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria in the area seized by Israel during the 1967 War.

His appointment as UNDOF Head of Mission and Force Commander comes at a time of heightened tension with Syria engulfed in a multilateral civil war involving the government headed by President Hafez al-Assad backed by Iran and Russia; rebels supported by Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries and the West, and the Islamic State, the fundamentalist terrorist group.

The Syrian side that UNDOF monitors is still under the control of the beleaguered forces loyal to al-Assad.

UNDOF has 947 personnel, 789 of them blue-helmeted troops, including 190 from India.

Menon’s previous assignments include General Officer Commanding of an infantry division, commandant of the Regimental Training Centre, brigade commander and Military Observer with the UN Operation in Mozambique.

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China Pakistan Economic Corridor to be completed at all costs: Imran Khan

The multi-billion dollar corridor connects the Chinese city of Kashgar with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

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CPEC Project

Islamabad, July 4 : Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed that the government would complete the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project at any cost and pass its benefits to the nation.

“The corridor is a manifestation of Pakistan-China friendship and the government will complete it at any cost and bring its fruit to every Pakistani,” Dawn news quoted Khan as saying said at a meeting on Friday held to review progress on the CPEC projects.

Terming the CPEC an excellent project for the country”s socio-economic development, he said the gigantic multi-faceted initiative would guarantee a bright future for the nation.

Lauding the performance of CPEC Authority, the remier said measures must be taken to improve its working as well as capacity.

The CPEC is a flagship $62 billion project of Chinese President Xi Jinping”s Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a vast network of highways, rail lines and sea lanes.

The multi-billion dollar corridor connects the Chinese city of Kashgar with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

According to the Dawn news report, the vast initiative is intended to rapidly upgrade Pakistan”s required infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects and special economic zones.

In November 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia, while some major power projects were commissioned by late 2017.

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No need to sit face to face with US: North Korea

Trump and Kim have met three times since June 2018 to try to reach a deal on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for US concessions, Yonhap News Agency reported.

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Trump-Kim meeting at DMZ

Seoul, July 4 : North Korea feels that there is “no need to sit face to face with the US” for talks, a top Pyongyang diplomat said on Saturday, accusing Washington of taking advantage of a dialogue only as “a tool for grappling its political crisis”.

First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui made the remark as talk of another summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gained traction recently after South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he would push for such a meeting to take place before the November presidential election in America, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“Now is a very sensitive time when even the slightest misjudgment and misstep would incur fatal and irrevocable consequences. We cannot but be shocked at the story about the summit indifferent to the present situation of North Korea-US relations,” Choe said in a statement carried by Pyongyang”s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The US would be mistaken if it still thinks “negotiations would still work on us”, Choe said, adding the North has already “worked out a detailed strategic timetable for putting under control the long-term threat from the US”.

“We do not feel any need to sit face to face with the US, as it does not consider the North Korea-US dialogue as nothing more than a tool for grappling its political crisis.”

Trump and Kim have met three times since June 2018 to try to reach a deal on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for US concessions, Yonhap News Agency reported.

At the first summit in Singapore in 2018, the two leaders agreed to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, better bilateral relations and a lasting peace regime.

But their second summit in Hanoi in February 2019 ended without an agreement.

The two leaders met again four months later at the inter-Korean border and agreed to resume working-level negotiations.

The two sides held working-level talks in Stockholm in October, but no progress was made.

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Disaster

105-year-old man recovers from COVID-19 in Pakistan

According to Pakistan’s health ministry, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased to 221,896 with 4,551 deaths and 113,623 recoveries.

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Maulana Ghazi Fazal Rauf

Islamabad, July 4 : A 105-year-old man in Pakistan’s Punjab province has been discharged from hospital after successfully defeating COVID-19, the media reported.

Fazal Rauf, who is also a war veteran and has served in the Pakistan Army, was tested positive and had been quarantined in hospital since then, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rauf was tested for the disease again on Thursday and his report came out negative.

On Friday, e was shifted back to his home, and his condition remains stable.

According to Pakistan’s health ministry, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased to 221,896 with 4,551 deaths and 113,623 recoveries.

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