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2023: Arab Ministers To Meet Over Syria’s Return To Arab League

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CAIRO, Egypt – An official said Friday that Arab diplomats are arranging an emergency summit in Cairo over the weekend to discuss the conflict in Sudan and the possibility of Syria rejoining the Arab League more than a decade after its membership was suspended.

According to the Arab League’s spokesperson Gamal Rushdy, the meeting will take place on Sunday. In recent weeks, some Arab nations, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have established contacts with Syrian President Bashar Assad and sent foreign ministers to Damascus. Syria’s foreign minister also visited Cairo and Riyadh in April, the first such visit in over a decade.

Syria’s membership in the 22-member Arab League suspended early in the war 12 years ago, and Arab countries subsequently imposed economic penalties. Since March 2011, the violence has killed almost 500,000 people and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

On May 19, Saudi Arabia will host the next Arab League meeting, during which Syria’s membership is generally expected to be discussed. Some members, primarily Qatar, oppose Damascus’ return to the organization.

In November 2011, 18 of the Arab League’s 22 members backed suspending Syria’s membership. Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria all voted no, while Iraq abstained.

According to Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, there are enough votes among Arab League members for Syria to rejoin the organization.

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According to Rushdy, the Arab League’s spokesman, the meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Sunday would focus on reinstating Syria’s membership at the request of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

When queried about the vote count, Rushdy stated that Arab League decisions are normally reached through consensus, although each country can raise reservations.

An Iraqi official, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to speak to journalists, said that, in addition to Syria and Sudan, recent developments in Israel and the Palestinian territories would be discussed.

Syria’s neighbors have begun to take measures towards rapprochement in recent years, as Assad has cemented authority over most of the nation with the support of his primary allies, Russia and Iran. The overtures have accelerated since the enormous February 6 earthquake in Turkey and Syria and the Chinese-mediated reestablishment of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which had backed opposite sides in the Syrian crisis.

Last month, Syria and Saudi Arabia announced plans to restore embassies and resume flights between the two nations for the first time in over a decade.

According to Syria’s pro-government Al-Watan daily, a foreign ministry group recently visited the Syrian embassy in Riyadh in preparation for the mission’s reopening in the coming weeks.

The foreign ministers will also examine Sudan, which has been in upheaval since the conflict between the country’s two opposing senior generals erupted in mid-April, killing over 400 people. After months of escalating hostilities between the military under Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and a rival paramilitary force known as the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, under Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the conflict started on April 15.

The fighting turned cities into battlegrounds, and international countries hastened to evacuate ambassadors and thousands of foreign people from Sudan.

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SOURCE – (AP)

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Ukraine War: Zelensky Says 31,000 Troops Killed Since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion

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Volodymyr Zelensky claims 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers were killed during Russia’s full-scale invasion.

The Ukrainian president stated that he would not disclose the number of wounded because it would facilitate Russian military plans.

Typically, the Ukrainian government do not release casualty counts, and other estimates are significantly higher.

The defence minister said half of all Western aid to Ukraine had been delayed, costing lives and land.

Mr Zelensky said on Sunday that he would provide an updated death toll in reaction to Russia’s inflated estimates.

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Ukraine War: Zelensky Says 31,000 Troops Killed Since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion

“31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have killed in this conflict. Not 300,000, 150,000, or whatever Putin and his dishonest circle claim. But each of these losses is a significant loss to us.”

Speaking about the war’s overall losses, Mr Zelensky stated that tens of thousands of civilians had been killed in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, but the exact figure was unknown.

“I don’t know how many of them died, how many were killed, how many were murdered, tortured, how many were deported.”

Ukraine rarely reports a military death toll, and other estimates suggest a far higher figure.

In August, US officials estimated that 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed, with up to 120,000 injured.

In terms of Russian losses, Mr Zelensky stated that 180,000 Russian soldiers were killed and tens of thousands more injured.

BBC Russian, in collaboration with the Mediazona website, has identified the names of more than 45,000 Russian servicemen who have perished. However, it thinks that the total number is larger than that.

In February, the UK military ministry claimed that 350,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or injured.
President Zelensky’s speech came after his defence minister, Rustam Umerov, chastised the country’s

Western partners for delays in military assistance.

“At the moment, commitment does not constitute delivery,” he added.

Ukraine is currently facing several setbacks in its efforts to expel Russia from its land.

Mr. Umerov stated that the lack of supplies put Ukraine at a greater disadvantage “in the mathematics of war”.

“We do everything possible and impossible but without timely supply it harms us,” he told reporters.
Germany warned in November that the European Union’s (EU) promise to provide a million artillery shells by March would not be met.

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Ukraine War: Zelensky Says 31,000 Troops Killed Since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion

In January, the EU stated that little over half of these would reach Ukraine by the deadline, but the promised total would arrive at the end of 2024.

President Zelensky stated that a lack of armaments was one of the reasons Ukraine’s much-anticipated counter-offensive last year began later.

That counter-offensive was mostly unsuccessful, one of several failures for Kyiv following early victories in repelling Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Last week, it was revealed that Ukrainian troops had withdrawn from the strategic eastern town of Avdiivka, Moscow’s largest victory in months.

Mr Zelensky further blamed the situation on dwindling Western military shipments.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has claimed that the hold-up in Congress over a $60 billion aid plan for Ukraine led to the town’s fall.

Western leaders travelled to Kyiv on Saturday to demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine as it marked two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

There was an announcement that Italy and Canada had inked security agreements with Ukraine, increasing support until the country could join NATO.

Canada’s agreement comprised more than three billion Canadian dollars (£1.7 billion) in financial and military assistance.

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Ukraine War: Zelensky Says 31,000 Troops Killed Since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion

It is not only Ukraine that is having difficulty funding its military activities. Western diplomats say Russia is also straining to send ammo and weaponry.

“Russia’s domestic ammunition production capabilities are currently insufficient for meeting the needs of the Ukraine conflict,” according to a Western diplomat.

They also stated that Moscow has only been able to augment its supply by exploring alternative sources of ammunition and weaponry, which provides a short-term answer.

Meanwhile, the director of Ukraine’s security service stated on Sunday that 47 Russian spy networks operating within Ukraine were discovered last year.

Vasyl Malik further stated that around 2,000 suspected “traitors” have been arrested since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

SOURCE – (BBC)

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Kenya Mourns As Marathon World Record-Holder Kelvin Kiptum Is Given A State Funeral

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NAIROBI, Kenya – Kelvin Kiptum, Kenya’s world marathon record holder, was accorded a state funeral Friday after being killed in a vehicle accident earlier this month, prompting many Kenyans to call on the government to do more to protect the country’s famed sportsmen.

Hundreds of dignitaries, including Kenyan President William Ruto and World Athletics Federation President Sebastian Coe, paid their final respects to Kiptum as he was interred in Naiberi, some 6 kilometres (4 miles) from his village of Chepkorio in western Kenya.

The 24-year-old runner and his Rwandan coach, Gervais Hakizimana, died in a collision two weeks ago near the town of Kaptagat in western Kenya, in the heart of a high-altitude region known as a training ground for Kenya’s and the world’s greatest distance runners.

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Kenya Mourns As Marathon World Record-Holder Kelvin Kiptum Is Given A State Funeral

Kiptum was one of the most promising road runners to emerge in recent years, breaking the world record in only his third competitive marathon outing. Just days before his death, the world track body World Athletics certified his record of 2 hours and 35 seconds achieved at the Chicago Marathon last October.

Kiptum intended to break the two-hour marathon record in Rotterdam in April and make his Olympic debut in Paris this year.

His death echoed throughout Kenya, where runners are the biggest sports heroes, and many people have become accustomed to tragedies involving their best athletes, with dozens dying in traffic accidents or as a result of domestic abuse.

According to officials, Kiptum was driving on the night of February 11 when the car went off the road into a ditch and collided with a huge tree. He and Hakizimana died instantly. Sharon Kosgei, another passenger, was also hurt in the incident.

Kiptum, an only child, leaves his wife, Asentah Cheruto, and their two children. A High Court on Thursday declined to postpone the funeral in response to a woman’s legal claim that Kiptum fathered her kid.

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Kenya Mourns As Marathon World Record-Holder Kelvin Kiptum Is Given A State Funeral

Kiptum ran the fastest as a marathon debutant in the 2022 Valencia Marathon. The next year, he won two of the world’s most prestigious marathons: London and Chicago. He set a new course record at the London Marathon in April; months later, he set the global record in Chicago.

He became the latest Kenyan celebrity to die in sad circumstances.

David Lelei, an All-Africa Games silver medalist, was killed in a car crash in 2010. Francis Kiplagat, a marathon runner, was among five individuals who died in a crash in 2018. Nicholas Bett, who won gold in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2015 World Championships, was also killed in a car accident in 2018.

Many Kenyans believe the government should do more to protect athletes who bring international attention to their country, such as providing them with security, drivers, and advisors.

Elizabeth Wairimu, a vegetable trader in the western Kenya town of Nakuru, said the number of athletes killed in road accidents was frightening.

“I am asking myself what is the problem with our athletes,” she said. “The government should look into this… figure out what is killing our athletes. Where are we headed?”

She expressed sadness that the government was rushing through the process instead of Kiptum, who had pledged to build a new house for his parents.

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Kenya Mourns As Marathon World Record-Holder Kelvin Kiptum Is Given A State Funeral

Others in the packed market agreed with Wairimu’s comments.

“The government should not wait until the legends are dead to start caring about their welfare,” said George Thuo, a market seller.

Jimmy Muindi, a six-time Honolulu Marathon winner from Kenya, believes young athletes who reach Kiptum’s level require assistance managing their newfound celebrity status. Former marathoner Isaac Macharia concurred, stating that a support system is required to develop stars.

Jack Tuwei, the president of Athletics Kenya, urged President Ruto and MPs to find a solution to secure the athletes’ well-being and “allow them to have everything they need to be safe.”

Ruto announced that an endowment fund would be established for athletes and that the government would provide Kiptum’s widow with another house and $34,000 in support.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Navalny: Body Returned To Mother, Spokeswoman Says

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The body of leading Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has been returned to his mother, according to his spokesman.

In a post on X, Kira Yarmysh thanked everyone who asked that the authorities hand over his remains.
“The funeral is yet to take place,” she wrote.

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Navalny: Body Returned To Mother, Spokeswoman Says

Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila, was reportedly told to agree to a “secret” funeral. If she refused, he would be buried in the penal colony where he had died.

She had spent the previous week in the town near the prison where he died, attempting to ascertain the whereabouts of his remains before requesting that they be delivered to her.

After signing a death certificate stating that he died of natural causes, she was allowed three hours to settle on a “secret” burial for her son.

Ms Yarmysh claims his mother was warned that if she did not consent, he would be buried on the grounds of the prison where he had died.

However, Lyudmila appears to have declined to engage with the authorities.

Ms Yarmysh stated that the funeral plans were still unclear.

“We don’t know whether the authorities will interfere with it being carried out in the way the family wants and as Alexei deserves,” she said.

Earlier on Saturday, Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny’s widow, accused Vladimir Putin of holding her late husband’s body “hostage” and demanded its unconditional release.

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Navalny: Body Returned To Mother, Spokeswoman Says

“Give us the body of my husband,” she pleaded in a video message.

“You tortured him living, and now you continue to punish him in death. “You mock the remains of the deceased.”

Ms Navalnaya again accused the Russian president of being responsible for her husband’s death.
The Kremlin has dismissed the charges, calling the Western outrage to the killing “hysterical”.

Navalny died on February 16 in a Russian prison located inside the Arctic Circle.
Details concerning what happened to him are scant. His team has offered security officers €20,000 ($22,000; £17,000) as a prize and aid in fleeing Russia in exchange for information concerning his death in custody.

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Navalny: Body Returned To Mother, Spokeswoman Says

For years, he was the most prominent critic of Russia’s leader.

In August 2020, a team of would-be assassins from the Russian secret services poisoned Navalny with the Novichok nerve agent.

He was airlifted to Germany and recovered before being imprisoned upon his return to Russia in January 2021.

Attempts to commemorate his death have been greeted with a heavy-handed response from Russian authorities, with improvised monuments removed and hundreds jailed.

SOURCE – (BBC)

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