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Japan lodges protest with China over ships near disputed islets

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Shinzo Abe Japanese PM

Tokyo, July 3 : Japan on Friday said that it has lodged a protest with China over the intrusion by two China Coast Guard ships into Japanese territorial waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The two Chinese ships entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands at around 4:50 p.m. (local time) on Thursday and appeared to be trying to approach a Japanese fishing boat about 7 kms west of Uotsuri Island, according to the Japan Coast Guard.

As the two ships are still in territorial waters around the islands, which are administered by Japan but claimed by China, Tokyo has been demanding that the ships immediately leave the area, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

“We have been strongly urging (China) to stop trying to approach the Japanese fishing boat and leave our territorial waters immediately,” Suga said at a news conference, adding: “We will continue to deal with the matter calmly and resolutely.”

Japan Coast Guard patrol ships have been keeping a close watch on the Chinese ships and ensuring the safety of the Japanese fishing boat, according to Suga, the top government spokesman.

It is the first time since June 22 that a Chinese ship has entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkakus, which are called Diaoyu in Chinese, the japan times reported.

On that day, the city assembly of Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture passed a resolution to rename an administrative area covering the Senkaku Islands.

The name change from Tonoshiro to Tonoshiro Senkaku drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing.

China has sent its ships to waters around the islets for 80 days in a row, the longest streak since Japan put them under state control in September 2012, despite some recent thawing in bilateral relations that had been frayed over the Senkaku issue and conflicting views over history.

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Pompeo, Taliban deputy leader discuss intra-Afghan talks

The prisoners in question were named on a 5,000-member list given to the government by the Taliban.

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Kabul, Aug 4 : US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Talibans deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar discussed the much-awaited intra-Afghan talks and the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, a spokesman of the group said.

The talks took place on Monday via video conference.

“Both sides talked about the inception of intra-Afghan negotiations and the status quo emphasizing that release of the remaining prisoners are essential for commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations,” Khaame Press quoted spokesman Suhail Shaheen as saying.

“The Secretary of State also welcomed announcement of ceasefire by the Islamic Emirate on the eve of the current Eid.”

This comes as the both the Afghan government and Taliban have released hundreds of prisoners following the signing of peace deal between Washington and Taliban earlier this year.

Meanwhile, senior government official said on Monday that Afghan government is convening the consultative Loya Jirga, the grand assembly of Afghan elders and representatives, to find a consensus on the decision to release the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners who are accused of crimes including murder, drug trafficking and abduction, TOLO News reported.

The prisoners in question were named on a 5,000-member list given to the government by the Taliban.

The Afghan government has so far released 4,600 prisoners on this list but has refrained from releasing the remaining 400.

At least 3,200 people will attend the Jirga, according to presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

The prisoners, he said, are accused of murder and also for abduction, as well as other crimes.

The Afghan government has not made public any further details about the Jirga and its committees or its duration.

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Saudi Arabia concludes Hajj amid COVID-19 pandemic

This season is only limited to domestic pilgrims who are residents and citizens living in Saudi Arabia.

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Haj Social Distancing

Riyadh: Pilgrims on Monday bade farewell to Mecca after Hajj rituals were concluded, Xinhua news agency reported.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque had provided all relevant facilities for the pilgrims while ensuring precautionary measures against COVID-19.

The kingdom has organized an exceptional Hajj season with a limited number of pilgrims amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This season is only limited to domestic pilgrims who are residents and citizens living in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry announced on Monday 1,258 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the accumulated infections to 280,093.

The total recovered cases rose to 242,053 with the registration of 1,972 newly recovered cases.

The total death toll reached 2,949 with 32 fatalities reported in the last 24 hours.

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UNSC to focus on counter-terrorism issues in August

Indonesia, the fourth most populous country on earth after China, India, and the US, has been elected four times as non-permanent member to the Security Council.

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United Nations, Aug 4 : UN Security Council (UNSC) is expected to have focus on counter-terrorism issues in August, it was reported.

The Council will hold a ministerial-level open debate on “the linkages between terrorism and transnational organized crime” on Thursday, Dian Triansyah Djani, permanent representative of Indonesia to the UN and president of the Council for the month of August, said at a virtual press conference on the Council’s program of work on Monday.

There will also be a briefing on Secretary-Gneral’s biannual strategic-level report on the threat posed by the Islamic State terror group on August 24, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Council’s other open debate is “pandemics and the challenges to peacebuilding and sustaining peace”.

The likely briefers include Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Sarah Cliffe, director of New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, according to the program of work.

Several regular Middle East meetings are on the program of work as well.

There will be the three monthly Syria meetings: open and closed video-conferences on the political and humanitarian situation and a closed VTC on the use of chemical weapons.

The monthly meetings on developments in Yemen and on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question, are also planned in both open and closed format.

In addition, the Council will meet for a briefing on recent developments in Iraq and on the two latest secretary-general’s reports, on the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq and on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.

Meetings in open and closed format are also planned ahead of adoptions to renew the UN missions in Lebanon and Somalia.

An adoption is also expected to renew the Mali sanctions regime, as well as the mandate of its Panel of Experts.

The Council will be briefed on the latest secretary-general’s report on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau, as well as developments in the country following the post-electoral crisis earlier in the year.

Council members may also participate in a “virtual visiting mission” to meet with key stakeholders in Somalia ahead of the adoption, according to the Security Council Report (SCR), whose mission is to advance the transparency and effectiveness of the Council.

The Council will be watching developments in Burundi, Iran, Libya, Myanmar and Sudan, as well as those related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and additional meetings may be added as necessary, the SCR said.

Indonesia, the fourth most populous country on earth after China, India, and the US, has been elected four times as non-permanent member to the Security Council.

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