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IMF says no lending to Sudan until arrears addressed

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IMF demand to hike power tariff may worsen Pakistan’s inflation – Minister

…As Suspected UAE spy commits suicide in Istanbul prison***

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) continues to provide Sudan with technical assistance and policy support, but it cannot offer additional financing because of the country’s arrears, a senior IMF official said.

Sudan’s Transitional Military Council is in talks with opposition groups on the formation of a joint body to lead a transition from 30 years of autocratic rule by Omar al-Bashir.

It ousted and arrested al-Bashir after months of protests.

Jihad Azour, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department, told Reuters on Monday that Sudan’s Transitional Military Council had not approached the IMF about the country’s debt.

“We have been engaged with Sudan, we provide them (Sudan authorities) with technical assistance and policy support,” Azour said.

But he added: “We cannot provide them with financing because they are still incurring arrears, and until they address this arrear issue, in our bylaws, we cannot provide them with additional lending.”

The IMF in late 2017 estimated Sudan’s arrears to the fund to be $1.3 billion this year, out of a total external debt estimated at $59 billion.

The United States imposed a range of sanctions on Sudan, first over Khartoum’s perceived support for militants, later its violent suppression of rebels in Darfur.

An overhaul of Sudan’s debt is “too premature”, said Azour, “because this would require the removal of the sanctions. Technically it is not something that you can achieve now.” 

In the meantime,  one of two detainees held by Turkey on suspicion of spying for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has committed suicide in the prison, a justice ministry official on Monday said.

The two suspects were arrested on April 19 and confessed to spying on Arab nationals, a senior Turkish official said at the time.

Turkey was investigating whether the arrival in the country of one of them was related to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The justice ministry official said that the suspect hung himself but did not provide further details.

One of the two men arrived in Turkey in October 2018, days after Khashoggi was murdered inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, the official said at the time of their detention.

The official added that the other had arrived later to help his colleague with the workload.

The two men were charged with international, political and military espionage and sent to Silivri prison, west of Istanbul, according to state-owned Anadolu news agency.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the consulate on Oct. 2 by a team of Saudi operatives, provoking an international outcry.

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’

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The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin

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Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel

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A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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