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Japan’s Abe in Tehran to ease US-Iran tensions

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Shinzo Abe

Tokyo, June 12 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on a two-day trip to Iran, during which he will try to help diffuse rising tensions in the Persian Gulf between Washington and Tehran.

Prior to the Japanese leader’s departure from Tokyo’s Haneda airport, Abe said he wanted to exchange candid views while in Iran and help ease rising tensions.

“To ease tensions, I’d like to have a frank exchange of views,” Abe told reporters at the airport.

During his visit, Abe is slated to meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani and intends to try and urge Iran to stick to an international nuclear accord inked in 2015 between Iran and six major powers, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

US President Donald Trump, however, has since pulled the United States out of the international nuclear deal and restored sanctions against Tehran that were scraped under the 2015 deal, leading to a backlash from Tehran and it opting to suspend some of its commitments under the deal.

The US sending a carrier strike force, B-52 bombers and armed troops to the Gulf, after Iran said it plans to keep more enriched uranium than is permitted under the pact, has contributed to rising tensions in the region.

Prior to this, the US said it would on May 2 end waivers granted since November that have been applicable to certain countries including resource-poor Japan to import oil from Iran.

The Japanese prime minister believes he can help de-escalate the situation as Japan has friendly ties with both Washington and Tehran.

Abe’s high-stakes, yet symbolic visit to Iran will mark the first visit to be made a Japanese prime minister to Iran since Takeo Fukuda in 1978.

In light of the escalating tensions in the region, Abe will seek to use the summit-level talks to try and urge Iran to exercise restraint and engage in dialogue as the US. has voiced its openness to hold further talks.

Abe garnered the support of Trump to try and help mediate the situation with Iran while the US leader was here for a state visit recently.

Japan, who maintains friendly ties with Iran, relies on its Middle Eastern partner for 5 per cent of its total crude oil imports, due to favourable prices.

Disaster

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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Netanyahu, Gantz make ‘significant progress’ in coalition talks

Currently, Ministers must resign if they face criminal charges, but the law does not explicitly refer to a Prime Minister.

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Netanyahu and Gantz

Jerusalem, March 29 : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz wrapped up an all-night meeting on Sunday in terms of a unity government, which they were hoping to finalize later in the day, a media report said here.

A joint statement said they to reached “understandings and significant progress” during the talks at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, without elaborating, The Times of Israel said in the report.

Further talks will be held later Sunday with the aim of reaching a signed deal, according to the statement.

The unity talks came after Gantz in a shock move was elected Parliament or Knesset Speaker on Thursday, leading to the dissolution of his Blue and White alliance, which had campaigned during the three elections over the past year on not joining a government led by Netanyahu due to his indictment on graft charges, said The Times of Israel report.

Meanwhile, members of the Gantz-led Israel Resilience patyu have said the only alternative to joining a Netanyahu-led coalition was a fourth round of elections and that a government was needed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

As part of the negotiations, Netanyahu is seeking legislation saying that an acting Prime Minister under indictment can continue to serve, in order to ensure he can fill that role when his prime ministerial rotation with Gantz is slated to go into effect, the report further said.

Currently, Ministers must resign if they face criminal charges, but the law does not explicitly refer to a Prime Minister.

Israel is currently facing a parliamentary crisis as the elections on March 2, the third within a year, once again failed to produce a clear majority by either Netanyahu or Gantz.

Netanyahu, the country’s longest serving Prime Minister, had been due in court last week to face corruption charges in connection with three separate cases, a BBC report said.

But the hearing has now been postponed until at least May 24 because of the coronavirus outbreak that has so far infected 3,865 people across Israel nad killed 12 others.

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Disaster

Jack Ma, Alibaba foundations donate medical supplies to India

Similar to the arrangement with the Italian Red Cross Society in Italy, the Indian charity will facilitate the distribution of these supplies in the country.

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jack ma alibaba founder

New Delhi, March 29 : The Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation have donated essential medical supplies to India along with six more countries — Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Collectively, these seven countries will receive a total of 1.7 million face masks, 1,65,000 test kits as well as protective clothing and medical equipment such as ventilators, forehead thermometers.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to make a difference, most importantly by sourcing these supplies and overcoming logistical challenges to get the medical supplies to where they are needed as fast as we can,” a Jack Ma Foundation spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday.

With this announcement, the two foundations have now donated essential medical supplies to 23 Asian countries, totalling 7.4 million masks, 4,85,000 test kits along with other medical equipment.

The first batch of medical supplies for India arrived in Delhi on Saturday night and was received by the Indian Red Cross Society.

“To supplement the efforts of government, Indian Red Cross has mobilised first tranche of supplies consisting of facemasks, protective body suits and essential medical equipment,” said R.K Jain, Secretary General, Indian Red Cross.

Similar to the arrangement with the Italian Red Cross Society in Italy, the Indian charity will facilitate the distribution of these supplies in the country.

These donations are among a number of aid initiatives from the Alibaba Foundation and Jack Ma Foundation to support the areas of the world affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

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