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Greek leaders oppose upgrading defence cooperation with US

“Greece should not be considered a given ally by anyone. Trump as President does not respect the international law; we have witnessed what he has done in Iraq,” Velopoulos said.

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Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Athens, Jan 11 : Greek political party leaders expressed concern over tensions in the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East and opposed the upgrading of Greece’s defence cooperation with the US during a series of meetings with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Mitsotakis held a round of separate talks with the opposition party leaders on Friday to brief them on the results of his recent visit to Washington and exchange views on “issues of national significance,” according to an e-mailed press statement issued by his office, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I do not think that we will have substantial diverging views,” said Mitsotakis before the camera of Greek national broadcaster ERT during his meeting with the center-Left Movement For Change (KINAL-Kinima Allagis) leader Fofi Gennimata.

Based on the remarks political leaders made on ERT’s camera after the meetings, intra-party consensus is still sought regarding Athens’ cooperation with the U.S., in particular in a period of increased frictions in the region after the new U.S-Iran crisis and the recent developments on Iraqi soil.

“I expressed our concern over the growing tension in the region. I asked the Prime Minister for the suspension of the vote on the bill regarding the upgrading of Greece’s defence cooperation with the United States. We should not repeat the reckless overspending in defence now that we have exited the crisis,” said Alexis Tsipras, leader of main opposition Radical Left SYRIZA party.

“We are talking, while the Mediterranean is on fire. Dependence only on the USA is a mistake. The world, the planet is multi-polar and we should advance our relations with other countries as well. There is China, there is Russia, there is Germany, others will note, as well as India which is an emerging power,” said Kyriakos Velopoulos, leader of the right-wing Greek Solution (Elliniki Lysi).

“Greece should not be considered a given ally by anyone. Trump as President does not respect the international law; we have witnessed what he has done in Iraq,” Velopoulos said.

The prime minister’s talks with political party leaders will close on Monday.

Disaster

Iran extends furloughs for prisoners amid coronavirus fight

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Tehran, March 30 : Iran’s Judiciary on Sunday announced the extension of furloughs for 100,000 inmates amid the nationwide fight against COVID-19, state TV reported.

Furloughs were extended until April 19 for the prisoners who had already been granted a leave until April 3, Iran’s Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said, reported Xinhua news agency.

Such extension does not include the released prisoners who carried out an illegal or criminal act during their furloughs, he added.

Iran’s Judiciary has temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in prisons.

Iran is the worst-hit country by the virus in the Middle East.

Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education on Sunday reported the total number of 38,309 cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, of whom 2,640 have died.

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UN Relief and Works Agency warns of COVID-19 spread in Gaza Strip

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Gaza Border

Gaza, March 30 : A senior official of UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Sunday warned of the consequences of the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Gaza Strip.

Director of the UNRWA in Gaza Matthias Schmale told reporters that the organization is gravely concerned about the spread of the virus in light of Gaza’s vulnerable situation, stressing that managing such a crisis would be “extremely difficult”, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said Gaza Strip is suffering from a severe lack of resources in light of 13-year-old Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave.

“It is unreasonable to think that a place like Gaza can be isolated from the world, which puts everyone, including the people, under the responsibility of stopping the spread of the virus,” he said, adding that “the worst scenario is the spread of the virus under a total closure.”

Schmale called for lifting the blockade that has been imposed on Gaza since 2007 and stressed the importance of providing respiratory equipment and preventative medical equipment to Gaza.

The total number of Palestinians infected with the coronavirus has reached 108, including nine in the Gaza Strip.

UNRWA provides basic services, including health, education, sanitation and food supplies to more than one million Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip, a home for two million Palestinians.

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British doctor dies of coronavirus

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London, March 30 : Amged El-Hawrani, an ear, nose and throat trainer at Queen’s Hospital Burton in Staffordshire, died with coronavirus in the UK on Sunday.

In a statement, his family said he was “incredibly strong” and “compassionate”, the BBC reported.

“His greatest passions were his family and his profession, and he dedicated his life to both”, they added.

His colleague Gavin Boyle, chief executive at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton (UHDB), said he was “known for his dedication and commitment to his patients” and that his death had left hospital staff “desperately saddened”.

NHS national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis said his death was “a stark reminder to the whole country that we all must take this crisis seriously”.

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