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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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Russian doctor who met Putin last week diagnosed with coronavirus

The Kremlin said that Putin was being regularly tested for coronavirus and that “everything is okay,” the RIA news agency reported.

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Russian Doctor with Putin

MOSCOW : A doctor who gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a tour of Moscow’s main coronavirus hospital last week said on Tuesday he had himself been diagnosed with the virus.

Putin visited the Kommunarka hospital last Tuesday where he chatted to the doctor, Denis Protsenko. Neither man was wearing protective equipment during their conversation, TV footage from the visit showed.

Protsenko, writing on Facebook said: “Yes, I have tested positive for coronavirus, but I feel pretty good. I’ve isolated myself in my office. I think the immunity I’ve developed this month is doing its job.”

The Kremlin said that Putin was being regularly tested for coronavirus and that “everything is okay,” the RIA news agency reported.

It has previously said that Putin is being protected from viruses and other illnesses “around the clock”.

Putin donned a hazmat suit and a respirator during his visit to the hospital last week when dropping in on patients. But he did not have his protective gear on during a meeting with Protsenko, with whom he was photographed shaking hands.

The Kremlin reported a coronavirus case in Putin’s administration on Friday, but said the person in question had not come into contact with the president and that all measures were being taken to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday granted the government powers to declare a national emergency over the coronavirus, and approved penalties for violations of lockdown rules including, in extreme cases, jail terms of up to seven years.

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Singapore court upholds gay sex ban

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Singapore, March 31 (IANS) A Singapore court has dismissed a bid to overturn a law that criminalises gay sex, dealing a blow to the city-states LGBT movement, a media report said.

The high court on Monday rejected appeals by three gay men who had argued the colonial-era law was unconstitutional, the BBC said in the report. The presiding judge said the law was “important in reflecting public sentiment and beliefs” in Singapore.

Under Section 377A, men found guilty of homosexual acts in public or private can be jailed for up to two years.

Speaking outside court, a lawyer for one of the complainants, M Ravi, said he was “very disappointed” by the ruling.

“It’s shocking to the conscience and it is so arbitrary,” the BBC quoted the lawyer as saying. The legal challenges were the latest attempts to repeal Section 377A, after an effort by a gay couple in 2014 was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Singapore’s authorities rarely enforce Section 377A, first introduced in 1938 by British colonial rulers. But the city-state’s leaders have refused to remove it, saying it reflects the conservative mores of the city state’s society, the BBC reported.

In Monday’s judgement, the court echoed that sentiment, saying non-enforcement of the law against consensual gay sex in private did not render it redundant.

The court concluded the law was constitutional because it did not violate articles regarding equality and freedom of speech.
Currently 70 countries criminalise same-sex relations.


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Bangladesh might extend shutdown of office

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Sheikh Hasina
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New Delhi : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday signalled that the shutdown of offices and workplaces due to the coronavirus pandemic may be extended to April 9.

Hasina made the remark while handing out instructions on the prevention of the novel coronavirus outbreak to field-level officers across Bangladesh via video-conference from her official residence here, reports bdnews24.

“We had declared a 10-day holiday. But it might be extended by a few more days,” Hasina said. Bangladesh announced the closure of all government and private offices and courts from March 26 to April 4 amid mounting fears.
However, the government said the shutdown would not affect emergency services such as hospitals and the fire service.

Public transport would also operate on a limited scale during the holidays, it added. On Monday, the government’s disease control agency has confirmed one more case of the coronavirus infection, taking the total number of infections to 49, bdnews24 reported. The overall death toll stood at five, the agency added.


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