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UN at 75: Secretary-General Guterres calls for global ceasefire



World cannot accept slavery in 21st century – Guterres

…As Britain and Japan sign post-Brexit trade deal***

Secretary-General António Guterres has appealed for a global ceasefire to enable the world to focus on the fight against COVID-19.

Guterres made the call in his message as the United Nations celebrates its 75th anniversary, which is celebrated yearly on Oct. 24.

The newsmen report that the year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the UN and its founding Charter.

The UN officially came into existence on Oct. 24, 1945, when its Charter was ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories.

Guterres said that the founding mission of the organisation was now more critical than it ever was.

This, he said, was to promote human dignity, protect human rights, respect international laws and save humanity from war.

“The 75th anniversary of the United Nations falls in the middle of a global pandemic.

“I call for a global ceasefire because in our world today, we have one common enemy, COVID-19.

“Now is the time for a stepped-up push for peace to achieve a global ceasefire. The clock is ticking,” he said.

The Secretary-General added that peace must be made on the planet because the climate emergency threatened life itself.

He said that the whole world must be mobilized to reach carbon neutrality, net zero emissions of greenhouse gasses by 2050.

Also read:  #EndSARS: US shut down Lagos consulate, issues security alert to nationals

According to him, a growing number of countries and companies have already pledged to meet this goal toward 2050.

Guterres said that more work had to be done to end human suffering from poverty, inequality, hunger and hatred and fight discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender or any other distinction.

He added that the months of the pandemic had seen a horrific rise in violence against women and girls.

Guterres emphasised the need to build on progress, stating that a remarkable global collaboration was underway for a safe, affordable and accessible COVID-19 vaccine for all.

“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) give us an inspiring blueprint for recovering better. We face colossal challenges but with global solidarity and cooperation, we can overcome them.

“On this anniversary, I ask people everywhere to join together. The United Nations not only stand with you, it belongs to you and is you, ‘we the peoples.’

“Together, let us uphold the enduring values of the United Nations Charter. Let us build on our advances across the decades and let us realise our shared vision of a better world for all,” the Secretary-General said.

In the meantime, Japan and Britain signed a free trade agreement on Friday that is to come into force at the end of the current post Brexit transition period.

Japanese Foreign Minister, Toshimitsu Motegi and Britain’s International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss signed the agreement in Tokyo.

It paves the way for the agreement to begin on Jan. 1, after Britain ceases to be bound by EU trade rules.

The deal is still subject to scrutiny by the parliaments of both countries.

The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was agreed in principle last month and hailed by Britain as its first major trade deal since it formally left the European Union.

The agreement is expected to boost British trade with Japan by an estimated 15.2 billion pounds (19.5 billion dollars), the British government said last month.

The agreement largely corresponds to the existing free trade agreement between Japan and the EU.

Britain formally left the EU on Jan. 31, and entered a transition period until the end of the year, during which it still belongs to the EU single market and customs union.

While Japanese companies welcome the agreement, they are also concerned over whether London will really be able to reach an agreement with the EU for the period after the end of the transition period.


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



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



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



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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