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Discussions on over Australian presence in Malabar: US Pacific Fleet chief

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Scott H. Swift

New Delhi, May 5 : With Australia seeking a role as an “observer” in the India-US exercise Malabar, US Pacific Fleet commander Scott H. Swift said on Friday that discussions are still on over the issue.

Talking to reporters here, Admiral Swift, who is on a visit to India, said there is a desire to increase participants in the exercise, but added that it can be done only step by step.A

“What countries are included in Malabar exercise is a dialogue which is robust and ongoing. Last year the Japanese participated… a final consensus on who will be the participants this year is still open.

“As for observer’s status, there is a process we go through Afor all our exercises. The first step is to attend in observer’s status and then as participant. But ultimately it is a bilateral dialogue between the US and India, there is a desire to increase the participant but it must be done step by step in a collaborative way,” he said.

Asked if anti-submarine warfare (ASW) is going to be an important component of the exercise, scheduled to be held in the Bay of Bengal in July, he said it has always been a part, but added that whether US Navy’s P-8 aircraft will participate depend on their availability.

“ASW has always been an element of Malabar. There is a desire on my part and of Indian Navy to continue to deepen all elements of the exercise, so I expect ASW training would deepen. We continues to learn more about how to operate our P8s more effectively, I expect the Indian Navy has the same experience,” he said.

“I won’t comment on whether P8 or submarines will be there, but that is what the desire is,” he said.

Malabar is a joint exercise between India and US, which now has Japan as a permanent partner.

In 2007, Australia was included along with Japan in the exercise. An outlash from China led to its withdrawal.

Australia has expressed interest in participating in the Malabar exercise, seeking the observer’s role this time.

Asked if India and US were planning any joint patrols in the Indian Ocean Region, Swift said: “I hesitate a bit on the term joint patrol, terms are important. We do pass-ex, have done multiple operations throughout the Pacific with many nations, this is more a norm than an exception. But this is a decision for individual countries to make.”

He also stressed that security should not be about security alone, and it should bring prosperity, adding thatthe rule of international law has brought prosperity to Asia-Pacific and made it the world’s “growth engine”.

“Many suggest the Indo-Asia-Pacific region is the economic engine of the world. The mechanisms by which that prosperity was enabled has been those norms and rules… the question is why would we want to change that rules-based order. Specifically if changes are needed, we have set up institutions to manage those changes,” he said.

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Azerbaijan says 2,783 soldiers killed in Nagorno-Karabakh fighting

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Nagorno Karabakh

Azerbaijan said Thursday that nearly 2,800 of its soldiers were killed in recent fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, the first details it has released of military losses in weeks of clashes with Armenian forces.

The defence ministry in Baku said in a statement that “2,783 servicemen of the Azerbaijani armed forces were killed in the patriotic war,” adding that 100 more soldiers were missing.

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Criminal networks could try to sell fake COVID vaccines physically and on internet, warns Interpol

The Interpol has asked police organisations to ensure “the safety of the supply chain” and said “identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential”.

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Vaccine

New Delhi, December 3: The Interpol has warned law enforcement agencies across the globe that organised criminal networks could try to advertise and sell fake COVID-19 vaccines physically and on the internet.

In an Orange notice issued to all 194 member countries on Wednesday, the Lyon-based international police cooperation body warned agencies to prepare for potential criminal activity in relation to “the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines”.

“It also includes examples of crimes where individuals have been advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines,” a statement from the Interpol said.

The Interpol issues an Orange notice to warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.

The CBI, which is the national central bureau for India, is tasked with coordination with the Interpol.

The warning came on the day the UK became the first Western nation to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, vaulting past the US and the European Union in the race to approve a vaccine.

The Interpol has asked police organisations to ensure “the safety of the supply chain” and said “identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential”.

“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives,” Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said in a statement.

“It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why INTERPOL has issued this global warning,” the official said.

The Interpol cybercrime unit has analysed that of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies suspected of selling illicit medicines and medical devices, around 1,700 contained cyber threats, especially phishing and spamming malware making such operators even more potent of causing financial and health harms.

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Pakistan’s Covid-19 cases surpass 406k mark

Frontline healthcare workers and people over 65 years of age will be the first to get the vaccine administered, he added.

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pakistan coronavirus

Islamabad, Dec 3 : Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 406,810 after an additional 3,499 people tested positive in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

In the same period, a total of 8,205 people died and 346,951 recovered from the disease in the country which is currently battling a serious second wave, Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry as saying.

The two new figures increased the overall death toll and recoveries to 8,205 and 346,951, respectively.

Sindh province is currently the worst hit with 177,625 cases, followed by most populous province Punjab with 121,083 positive cases, the official figures revealed.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Health Faisal Sultan said that the government has approved to allocate a budget of $150 million to purchase vaccines.

Frontline healthcare workers and people over 65 years of age will be the first to get the vaccine administered, he added.

Meanwhile, Federal Parliamentary Secretary in the Health Ministry Nausheen Hamid said that the government will provide free of cost vaccine to its citizens and the vaccination will start in the second quarter of 2021.

The Pakistani government has also decided to observe “Covid-19 standard operating procedures compliance week” from Saturday for creating awareness in public about the significance of the SOPs in guarding against the disease.

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