Real needs of troops-contributing countries must be tended: Chinese envoy

A Chinese envoy said Tuesday that the international community must pay attention to the real needs of troops-contributing countries (TCCs) in peacekeeping.

“The international community must pay attention to the real needs of TCCs, in particular, those of developing countries, enhance capacity building in the area of peacekeeping and ensure the availability of targeted training and resources,” Ma Zhaoxu, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council open debate on “Investing in Peace: Delivering Quality Training and Capacity Building to Improve Safety and Security and Performance of UN Peacekeepers.”

“Thorough and effective training and capacity building must be conducted to keep improving the safety, security and performance of peacekeepers,” said the Chinese ambassador.

As for the role of the Secretariat, the Chinese envoy noted that efforts must be made to “fully leverage the role of the Secretariat. The Secretariat should keep improving training policies for peacekeeping and provide updated training materials in a timely manner in light of the situation in the task areas,” said Ma.

“The Secretariat, on the basis of its own advantages, can play a coordinating role between the supply and demand in the area of capacity building for peacekeeping,” he said.

Death toll from H1N1 influenza rises to 5 in Myanmar

Two more people have died of seasonal influenza A/H1N1, bringing the total number of deaths to five across Myanmar so far, an official from the Ministry of Health and Sports told the media Thursday.

“Four of them were from Yangon region while one six-month-old infant died in Sagaing region. Most of them include young child and elderly who had also suffered from weak resistance, diabetes and hypertension,” said Dr. Thida Hla, deputy director-general of medical services department under the ministry.

So far, a total of 12 people were confirmed to have contracted with the H1N1 virus out of 48 suspected patients as of Wednesday, she added.

The symptoms of H1N1 include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills as well as vomiting and diarrhea.

The symptoms come within one to five days which is called incubation period after exposure to the infected person as the virus is spread through airborne droplets from sneezing and coughing or by hands which are contaminated with secretions, the ministry’s release said.

Prevention and control of H1N1 virus to reduce the risk of fatality from the virus is being carried out by the health authorities, who urged people to follow recommended precautionary measure.

In July 2017, at least 30 people were infected with seasonal influenza A/H1N1-2009 across Myanmar, claiming at least six lives.

Chinese envoy asks for more development aid for developing countries

A Chinese envoy on Wednesday called for more development aid for developing countries.

North-South cooperation should be taken as the main channel for financing for development and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be upheld, Ma Zhaoxu, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told a forum on financing for development of the UN Economic and Social Council.

Developed countries should scale up their support to developing countries in finance, technology and capacity building and tailor official development aid to the specific national conditions and actual needs of developing countries, he said.

Developing countries should also work to deepen South-South cooperation and promote sustainable development, said the Chinese ambassador.

Ma asked to take into account the needs of developing countries and prioritize areas such as poverty eradication, infrastructure, health and education in channeling development funds.

Financing for development is key to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said.

Japanese PM to visit Iran amid tensions over Persian Gulf

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make a two-day visit to Iran from June 12, amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf between the United States and Iran over an international nuclear agreement, Japanese government said Thursday.

At a meeting of a lower house steering committee, it was provisionally decided that amid tensions in the region, Abe would visit Iran with the prime minister believing he could help deescalate the situation as Japan has friendly ties with both Washington and Tehran.

According to the outlines of the plan, Abe will meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

During the talks, the Japanese premier is likely to underscore Japan’s hope that Iran would stick to an international nuclear accord inked in 2015 between Iran and six major powers.

US President Donald Trump, however, has since pulled the US out of the international nuclear deal and restored sanctions against Tehran that were scraped under the 2015 deal.

Before Abe’s trip, government sources said that Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono will visit Iran to hold talks with his counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Washington informs India of possible caps on H-1B visas over stored data concerns

The US has told India it is considering caps on H-1B work visas for nations that force foreign companies to store data locally, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, widening the two countries’ row over tariffs and trade.

The plan to restrict the popular H-1B visa program, under which skilled foreign workers are brought to the US each year, comes days ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to New Delhi.

India, which has upset companies such as Mastercard and irked the US government with stringent new rules on data storage, is the largest recipient of these temporary visas, most of them to workers at big Indian technology firms.

The warning comes as trade tensions between the US and India have resulted in tit-for-tat tariff actions in recent weeks. From Sunday, India imposed higher tariffs on some US goods, days after Washington withdrew a key trade privilege for New Delhi.

Two senior Indian government officials said on Wednesday they were briefed last week on a US government plan to cap H-1B visas issued each year to Indians at between 10 percent and 15 percent of the annual quota. There is no current country-specific limit on the 85,000 H-1B work visas granted each year, and an estimated 70 percent go to Indians.

Both officials said they were told the plan was linked to the global push for “data localisation,” in which a country places restrictions on data as a way to gain better control over it and potentially curb the power of international companies. US firms have lobbied hard against data localization rules around the world.

A Washington-based industry source aware of India-US negotiations also said the US was deliberating capping the number of H-1B visas in response to global data storage rules. The move, however, was not solely targeted at India, the source said.

Two oil tankers catch fire, evacuated after reported attack in Gulf of Oman

The crews of two oil tankers were evacuated off the coast of Iran on Thursday after they were reportedly attacked and caught fire in the Gulf of Oman, sending world oil prices soaring.

The mystery incident, the second involving shipping in the strategic sea lane in only a few weeks, came amid spiraling tensions between Tehran and Washington, which has pointed the finger at Iran over tanker attacks inMay.

Iran said its navy had rescued 44 crew members after the two vessels caught fire in “accidents” off its coast.

The Norwegian Maritime Authority said three explosions were reported on board the Norwegian-owned tanker Front Altair after it was “attacked” along with the Singapore-owned cargo carrier Kokuka Courageous.

Iranian state media said the first incident occurred on board the Front Altair at 8:50 am 25 nautical miles off Bandar-e-Jask in southern Iran.

The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker was carrying a cargo of ethanol from Qatar to the island of Taiwan, official news agency IRNA reported.

“As the ship caught fire, 23 of the crew jumped into the water and were saved by a passing ship and handed over to the Iranian rescue unit,” it said.

“An hour after the first accident the second ship caught fire at 9:50 am 28 nautical miles off the port.”

The Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous was headed to Singapore from Saudi Arabia with a cargo of methanol, and 21 of its crew jumped and were rescued, according to IRNA.

Singapore-based BSM Ship Management, which owns the Kokuka Courageous, said it had “launched a full-scale emergency response following a

security incident.”

“The 21 crew of the vessel abandoned ship after the incident on board which resulted in damage to the ship’s hull starboard side,” it said.

Tehran said it has dispatched a helicopter from the port of Bandar-e-Jask to the ships’ location for “further investigation.”

Zambian president congratulates South Africa’s Ramaphosa on re-election

Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Saturday congratulated South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on his re-election and inauguration as that country’s fifth president since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Malanji, who represented Lungu at the inauguration ceremony and delivered the congratulatory message, said the Zambian leader was happy with the way elections were conducted in South Africa.

Lungu, he said, has paid glowing tribute to South Africans for conducting a peaceful and democratic election, adding that South Africa had demonstrated that its multi-party democracy was growing.

According to the Zambian leader, South Africa had set a good example to other countries in the southern African region in the conduct of elections.

The Zambian leader however expressed happiness that most of the elections held recently in the region have been peaceful and successful, according to a release.

Putin, Trump to hold talks at G20 summit: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump will hold a meeting on Friday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit, during which they will discuss a number of bilateral and regional issues, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said Wednesday.

He said the meeting is scheduled to be held after the first session of the summit, which is slated for Friday to Saturday in the Japanese city of Osaka.

“The issues (on the agenda) are logical: the general state of bilateral relations, strategic stability and numerous regional conflicts, including Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Venezuela, obviously Iran and so on,” Ushakov was quoted by Sputnik news agency as saying.

In particular, the leaders will discuss the general situation in Syria and the joint work by the two countries on normalizing the situation there, he said.

The meeting is expected to last for about one hour and will be held in the presence of Russian and US national delegations with four or five people on both sides, according to Ushakov.

Putin’s trust rating surges to 72.3 pct, new poll shows

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the 5th International Arctic Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 9, 2019. (Xinhua/Evgeny Sinitsyn)

A new polling method showed that 72.3 percent of Russians trusted the country’s President Vladimir Putin, the government-owned research center VTSIOM said Friday.

According to the new methodology, respondents were asked to answer the question “Do you trust or do not trust this politician?”

The survey data on the VTSIOM’s website showed that 72.3 percent of those polled between May 20 and May 26 answered the question positively, while 23.7 percent said they did not trust Putin.

To a question not directly specifying concrete politicians, but asking “Who of the politicians do you trust,” 30.5 percent of those polled mentioned Putin, ranking the first in the list.

In the previous poll published by the VTSIOM last week, 31.7 percent of the polled chose Putin out of Russian politicians as a whole when it came to the rating of trust.

At the same time, 65.8 percent of those polled between May 13 and May 19 stated that they generally approved of the president’s activities.