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Kerry says Syrian war should be settled on political track

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The US Secretary of State John Kerry said Syria crisis should be settled on a political track, urging parties to take advantage of current opportunity to end the conflicts.

Political settlement was the only way to end conflicts in Syria, Xinhua quoted Kerry as saying in a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

Agreements reached by top diplomats earlier on Friday provided an opportunity that parties could not miss, Kerry said.

“If the international community and Syrians themselves miss the opportunity now before we to achieve that political resolution to the conflicts, the violence… will continue,” he said.

Kerry said humanitarian aid could start flow to areas where in urgent need “today or tomorrow,” while a lot of work must be done in order to ensure an effective “cessation of hostilities” within the week.

One of the issues needed to be clarified was which actions could be defined as against terrorists, and which could not, he said.

The US claimed that Russian airstrikes targeted against oppositions in Syria instead of terrorists. The claim was rejected by the Russian side.

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11 more deaths take UK COVID-19 death toll to 44,830

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Saudi Arabia Coronavirus Covid 19

London, July 14 (IANS) Another 11 COVID-19 patients have died in Britain as of Sunday afternoon, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 44,830, the British Department of Health and Social Care said.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community.

As of Monday morning, 290,133 people have tested positive for the disease in Britain, a daily increase of 530, according to the department, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

Meanwhile, a London-based children charity warned Monday that deep budget cuts to education and rising poverty worldwide caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could force at least 9.7 million children out of school forever by the end of this year.

The world is facing a hidden education emergency as COVID-19 would leave an estimated US $77 billion gap in education spending for the world”s poorest children over the next 18 months, said Save the Children in its Save Our Education report.

–IANS

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US hardens stance against China’s South China Sea resource claims

The relationship between the United States and China has grown increasingly tense over the past six months over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its tightened grip on Hong Kong and its crackdown on China’s Uighur Muslim community.

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mike pompeo

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday hardened its rejection of China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, calling it “unlawful,” a move that will further sour the already-fraught ties between the world’s largest two economies.

China has offered no coherent legal basis for its ambitions in the South China Sea and for years has been using intimidation against other South Asian coastal states, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” Pompeo, a prominent China hawk within the Trump administration, said in a statement.

The United States has long opposed China’s expansive territorial claims on the South China Sea, even sending U.S. warships regularly through the strategic waterway to demonstrate freedom of navigation there. Monday’s comments reflect a harsher tone.

“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law,” Pompeo said.

The relationship between the United States and China has grown increasingly tense over the past six months over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its tightened grip on Hong Kong and its crackdown on China’s Uighur Muslim community.

China claims 90% of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of it, through which about $3 trillion of trade passes each year. Beijing has built bases atop atolls in the region but says its intentions are peaceful.

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Global coronavirus infections top 13 million

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RUSSIA CORONAVIRUS

Worldwide coronavirus infections passed 13 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease which has killed more than half a million people in seven months.

The first case was reported in China in early January and it took three months to reach one million cases. It has taken just five days to climb to 13 million cases from 12 million recorded on July 8.

The number of cases is around triple that of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organization.

There have been more than 568,500 deaths linked to the coronavirus so far, within the same range as the number of yearly influenza deaths reported worldwide. The first death was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China, before infections and fatalities surged in Europe and then later in the United States.

Many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. Other places, such as the Australian city of Melbourne, are implementing a second round of shutdowns.

The Reuters tally, which is based on government reports, shows the disease is accelerating the fastest in Latin America. The Americas account for more than half the world’s infections and half the deaths.

The United States reported a daily global record of 69,070 new infections on July 10. In Brazil, 1.86 million people have tested positive, including President Jair Bolsonaro, and more than 72,000 people have died.

India, the country with the third-highest number of infections, has been contending with an average of 26,000 new infections each day since the beginning of July.

In countries with limited testing capacity, case numbers reflect only a proportion of total infections. Experts say official data likely under-represents both infections and deaths.

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