Syria will respect UN ceasefire plan - Annan

April 11,2012

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Damascus, April 11: The UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, says he has received assurances from Damascus that it will respect his ceasefire plan.

Speaking during a visit to Iran, Mr Annan said there could be "improved conditions on the ground" by Thursday morning, if all sides did so.

A deadline for Syria to withdraw troops and weaponry from population centres expires on Thursday.

But there has so far been little sign of a let-up in violence.

At least 100 people were reported to have been killed on Tuesday, with fresh shelling in Homs and military activity in other cities overnight and into Wednesday morning.

There were also reports of shooting across the border with Turkey, with bullets landing in a refugee camp.

Mr Annan said he had received "further clarifications" from the government of Bashar al-Assad on how they intended to suspend hostilities and respect the six-point peace plan.

"If everyone respects it I think by six in the morning on Thursday we shall see improved conditions on the ground," he said.

But he said Damascus was still seeking assurances that opposition forces would also stop the fighting "so that we could see cessation of all the violence".

Mr Annan was speaking in Tehran after talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, during which he appealed for Iran's support.

He said the region "cannot afford another shock" and warned that any miscalculation or mistakes in Syria could have "unimaginable consequences".

Iran has been a key ally of Damascus, but Mr Salehi said that "as long as the peace plan continues its approach, Iran will support it".


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Benjamin Netanyahu corruption trial resumes

Agencies
July 19,2020

Occupied Jerusalem, Jul 19: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumed on Sunday.

Netanyahu is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals in which he is alleged to have received lavish gifts from billionaire friends and exchanged regulatory favors with media moguls for more agreeable coverage of himself and his family.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing, painting the accusations as a media-orchestrated witchhunt pursued by a biased law enforcement system.

The trial opened in May. Just before appearing in front of the judges, Netanyahu took to a podium inside the courthouse and flanked by his party members bashed the country’s legal institutions in an angry tirade.

Netanyahu was not expected to appear at Sunday’s hearing, which is taking place at an occupied Jerusalem court and is mostly a procedural deliberation.

The trial resumes as Netanyahu faces widespread anger over his government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

While the country appeared to have tamped down a first wave of infections, what’s emerged as a hasty and erratic reopening sent infections soaring. Yet even amid the rise in new cases Netanyahu and his emergency government — formed with the goal of dealing with the crisis — appeared to neglect the numbers and moved forward with other policy priorities and its reopening plans.

It has since paused them and even re-impose restrictions, including a weekend only lockdown set to begin later this week.

Netanyahu’s government has been criticized for a baffling, halting response to the new wave, which has seen daily cases rise to nearly 2,000. It has been slammed for its handling of the economic fallout of the crisis.

His trial thus comes at inopportune timing. Netanyahu had hoped to ride on the goodwill he gained from overcoming the first wave of infections going into his corruption trial, but the increasingly souring mood has affected his approval rating and may deny him the public backing he had hoped for. The anger has sparked protests over the past few weeks that have culminated in violent clashes with police.

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NRI who lost son in accident pays towards repatriation of 61 Indians from UAE

News Network
July 28,2020

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Dubai, Jul 28: A heart-broken father who lost his 19-year-old son in a tragic car accident during Christmas last year has sponsored the repatriation costs of 61 Indians stranded in the UAE.

 The special flydubai repatriation flight, chartered by the All Kerala Colleges Alumni Federation (Akcaf) volunteer group, of which he is a member of, departed from Dubai to Kochi on July 25 carrying 199 passengers.

 On this particular flight, I sponsored 55 air tickets," said TN Krishnakumar, a sales and marketing director. He had lost his son Rohit Krishnakumar in a car accident, which also claimed the life of the teen's friend, Sharat Kumar (21).

"All passengers who were registered with the Indian missions were also asked to register on the Akcaf volunteer group website. Each passenger was further vetted, after which we made home visits to ensure that all the applicants were genuinely in need of financial support and repatriation," he said.

Commenting on what inspired him to dedicate himself to community work, Krishankumar said: "When a situation like this comes up, you realise there is no meaning in money. I invested everything I made into my son, and that had crashed in front of my eyes. He was a third-year medical student at the University of Manchester in the UK and had returned home for a vacation when the accident took place. Since then, I have been involved in a lot of social activities. If I do not do this, there is no meaning to my existence."

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Krishnakumar said the group has supported thousands of individuals in need of help. "We supported unemployed people with several hundred bags of grocery kits and other necessary items. We also supported Covid-19 patients by transferring them to the medical facility in Warsan, etc.," he said.

"I come from a very middle-class family. I got a scholarship to study in college, and I studied with the help of taxpayers' money. I have always wanted to give back to society. I have grown immensely in life and now is my time to give back.," he added.

Krishnakumar also sponsors the education of over 1,000 academically gifted school children in Kerala's government-aided schools. He is a life trustee at the College of Engineering Trivandrum Alumni Galaxy Charitable Trust and an active participant towards various educational causes.

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Saudi King Salman chairs cabinet meeting from hospital via video call

Agencies
July 22,2020

Riyadh, Jul 22: Saudi King Salman held a cabinet meeting via video call from hospital in the capital Riyadh on Tuesday, a day after the 84-year-old monarch was admitted with inflammation of the gall bladder.

Three Saudi sources said the king was in stable condition.

A video of the king chairing the meeting was broadcast on Saudi state TV on Tuesday evening. In the video, which has no sound, King Salman can be seen behind a desk, wordlessly reading and leafing through documents.

The king, who has ruled the world’s largest oil exporter and close US ally since 2015, was undergoing medical checks, state media on Monday cited a Royal Court statement as saying.

Three well-connnected Saudi sources who declined to be identified, two of whom were speaking late on Monday and one on Tuesday, said the king was “fine”.

An official in the region, who requested anonymity, said he spoke to one of King Salman’s sons on Monday who seemed “calm” and that there was no sense of panic about the monarch’s health.

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