US-Russia agree to hold talks for first time since Ukraine war began



Kylie Atwood and Michael Conte
US-Russia agree to hold talks for first time since Ukraine war began

US-Russia agree to hold talks for first time since Ukraine war began

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

The US and Russia have agreed to hold talks on the single existing nuclear treaty between the two countries in the near future, State Department spokesperson Ned Price informed.

The New START treaty limits all deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons by Russia and the US.

The treaty – the only one left regulating the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world – was extended by five years in February 2021 during the first weeks of Joe Biden’s presidency.

It requires both countries to allow on-site inspections of its nuclear weapons-related facilities by the other. Those inspections were paused in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A resumption of the inspections is expected to be a topic of discussion at the upcoming meetings, US officials said.

Diplomatic relations between Russia and the US are in the doldrums following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine with no end to the war in sight but US officials have viewed it as a positive development that Moscow has continued to express interest in the treaty, despite Putin’s alarming nuclear threats as the conflict rages on.

Russia has expressed a willingness to discuss extending the treaty and the US has said that negotiations would only happen once the on-site inspections resume.

Complications arose earlier this year after the US attempted to resume the inspections, but Russia rebuffed the efforts, citing alleged efforts by the US to “deprive the Russian Federation of the right to conduct inspections on American territory.” Price said at the time that the “US sanctions and restrictive measures imposed as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine are fully compatible” with the New START treaty.

The treaty’s meetings occur under the title of the bilateral consultative commission, the BCC.

“We have agreed that the BCC will meet in the near future under the terms of the New START treaty. The work of the BCC is confidential but we do hope for a constructive session,” Price said.

The last time a BCC was convened was more than a year ago in October 2021.

The treaty limits both nations to deploying 1,550 nuclear warheads on delivery systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bombers.

Last week CNN reported Russian military officials have discussed how and under what conditions Russia would use a tactical nuclear weapon on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to a US intelligence assessment described to CNN by multiple sources who have read it.

The assessment, drafted by the National Intelligence Council, is not a high confidence product and is not raw intelligence but rather analysis, multiple people who have read it told CNN. For that reason, some officials believe the conversations reflected in the document may have been taken out of context, and do not necessarily indicate that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon.

The US has still not seen any signs that Putin has decided to take the drastic step of using one, officials said, and Putin is not believed to have been involved in the discussions described in the intelligence assessment.

(Kylie Atwood and Michael Conte, Independent Annalists working for CNN)

Protests in China over Covid restrictions



News Desk, Barta24.com
Protests in China over Covid restrictions

Protests in China over Covid restrictions

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Police in Shanghai on Sunday (November 27) dragged and detained demonstrators who were protesting strict coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. Protesters were seen singing the national anthem as they gathered in the streets of Shanghai.

China has been marred by rare protests against Covid measures that are part of the nation's strict zero-Covid policy. Police face the unusual task of maintaining law and order as people express anger over recent restrictions.

Amid the protests, demonstrators were seen clashing with the police in Shanghai on Sunday as the protests continued for a third day, further spreading to several cities. This comes after the deadly apartment fire in the country's far west.

On Thursday, a fire at a residential high-rise building in the city of Urumqi, reportedly led to the death of at least 10 people. Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang region.

China has implemented stringent policies, including lockdowns, mass testing, etc. in order to curb the spread of the deadly virus, which was first reported in China in late 2019.

Now, nearly three years into the pandemic, the authorities in China are still imposing the zero-Covid policy that has caused frustration among people.

Besides Shanghai, protesters also took to the streets in the cities of Wuhan and Chengdu on Sunday. Peaceful vigils were held in Beijing. Meanwhile, the students on several university campuses around China demonstrated over the weekend.

;

President signs off on top military appointments; Lt Gen Asim Munir to be next army chief



News Desk, Barta24.com
President signs off on top military appointments; Lt Gen Asim Munir to be next army chief

President signs off on top military appointments; Lt Gen Asim Munir to be next army chief

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday formally approved Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s nominations for the next army chief and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), hours after receiving a summary in this regard.

Lt Gen Asim Munir has been named as the chief of army staff and Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza has been named as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The confirmation of the president’s approval was given by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, putting an end to weeks’ long speculation. However, an official handout from the President’s office is still awaited.

Talking to media persons in Islamabad, Asif said that the advisory sent to President Alvi by the government has been approved. “The president has signed [the summary],” he said, calling it a “good omen”.

;

Anwar Ibrahim sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister



News Desk, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister on Thursday, ending a 24-year wait to lead the country.

In a black baju melayu, with gold sampin, Mr Anwar wore a wide smile as he was called upon to take his oath of office and secrecy.

Datuk Seri Anwar, 75, was appointed after the king, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, made the decision following a conference with other rulers in a special meeting of the nation’s nine state monarchs.

“After going through the views of the Malay rulers, His Majesty has consented to appointing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister,” said Royal Comptroller Fadli Shamsuddin on Thursday afternoon.

The ceremony was attended by top officials such as the chief secretary to the government, the chief justice, attorney-general, speakers of both houses of Parliament and leaders from both his PH and Barisan Nasional (BN).

Mr Anwar was seated next to his wife and former deputy premier Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, with their six children including former MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in attendance.

“After going through the views of the Malay rulers, His Majesty has consented to appointing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister,” said Royal Comptroller Fadli Shamsuddin on Thursday afternoon.

The ceremony was attended by top officials such as the chief secretary to the government, the chief justice, attorney-general, speakers of both houses of Parliament and leaders from both his PH and Barisan Nasional (BN).

Mr Anwar was seated next to his wife and former deputy premier Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, with their six children including former MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in attendance.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar and his rival Perikatan Nasional (PN) chief Muhyiddin Yassin, also 75, had been deadlocked and unable to gather the 112 MPs needed for a simple majority in the legislature.

After Umno confirmed early on Thursday that it would join a unity government, departing from the BN coalition’s earlier stance of remaining in opposition, other parties across the country followed suit.

Even PN said on Thursday that it would consider unity government discussions with like-minded parties.

Markets surged upon the end of the political deadlock. The ringgit currency posted its best day in two weeks and equities rose 3 per cent, hitting a 15-month high.

The Straits Times has learnt that a deal struck between PH and BN – which found itself in the role of kingmaker with 30 MPs despite the Umno-led coalition being humiliated at Saturday’s vote – will see Umno gaining several senior portfolios, with the party’s No. 2 Mohamad Hasan set to be installed as deputy premier.

Mr Anwar’s ascension to the top office, having been sacked as deputy premier in 1998 amid controversial allegations of sodomy and abuse of power, marks a remarkable triumph following a journey that included two stints in prison.

He was appointed deputy prime minister under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Umno-led government in 1993, but his prospects dimmed after he was jailed for corruption in 1999. His imprisonment sparked street protests and the birth of his PKR, which now leads PH.

Mr Anwar was again imprisoned in 2015 for sodomy, but was given a royal pardon and released in May 2018 after PH won the general election that year. Dr Mahathir, who had left Umno and joined hands with Mr Anwar to secure PH’s victory, became the prime minister.

The PKR chief was then widely expected to ascend to power as part of an agreement within PH for him to take over as prime minister in two years from Dr Mahathir. But his progress was again thwarted when the PH government collapsed in February 2020 following defections.

Mr Anwar and Tan Sri Muhyiddin both staked their claim after their respective coalitions won 81 and 73 seats, respectively, in Saturday’s general election, which also saw Dr Mahathir fall from grace in a thumping defeat.

Sultan Abdullah stepped in on Tuesday to surface the idea of a unity government.

Mr Muhyiddin’s decision to reject the proposal, claiming he had a simple majority with backing from other parties, proved fatal to his hopes.

;

Malaysia's King Names Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister



Newsdesk, barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

After last week's election, the country risked ending up with a political impasse, since no bloc or alliance could secure a majority of votes in the parliament.

Malaysian King Abdullah of Pahang named Anwar Ibrahim, the chairman of the Pakatan Harapan (the Alliance of Hope) the country's new prime minister on Thursday, resolving an ongoing cabinet crisis.

After taking into the consideration the views of Their Royal Highnesses the Malay Rulers, His Majesty has given consent to appoint Anwar Ibrahim as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia," an official statement said.

During a general election on Saturday, Ibrahim's alliance managed to secure 82 seats in the 222-member parliament. Ex-PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s Malay-based Perikatan Nasional (PN) got 73 seats, and the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition only managed to attract 30 votes. The blocs were not able to form any coalition over the past days, with the cabinet, headed by Barisan Nasional stating they would go into opposition.

Source: Sputnik

;