Author: Lewis Fletcher

London (10/03 – 77.78)Up-and-down relations between Iran and Tajikistan in the past decade shot up again after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s official visit to Dushanbe on November 8-9, his second trip to the Tajik capital in 18 months. Raisi’s visit to Tajikistan was symbolically important amid a rapprochement between the countries that overshadowed the relatively standard batch of bilateral agreements that were signed. During the trip, Raisi and his Tajik counterpart, Emomali Rahmon, announced a historic visa-free travel agreement for their citizens and deals in trade, transportation, and culture, among others. High-ranking visits have become a regular occurrence between the…

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Colombo, Feb 21 (PTI) Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to ensure a peaceful solution to the raging conflict as he met here with the visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. Amir-Abdollahian is visiting Colombo at the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart Ali Sabry. The talks between the two leaders centred on key issues, including the ongoing Gaza conflict and opportunities for enhancing bilateral cooperation. “President Wickremesinghe reiterated the Sri Lankan government’s firm stance on the Gaza conflict, emphasising the immediate necessity for violence cessation and the urgent need for a peace…

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Sri Lanka, on Wednesday (Feb 21) said that it exported $20 million worth of tea to Iran to partially pay its $251 million oil debt. The first instalment of the tea-for-oil deal was sent years after it was agreed upon in 2021.  Tea-for-oil deal “So far $20 million worth of tea has been exported to Iran under the barter trade agreement,” Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena’s office said in a statement.  The statement also said that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who is currently in Sri Lanka for a visit, expressed “satisfaction” with the deal. In 2021, a tea-for-oil…

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On February 3, the INS Karanj, an Indian navy submarine, docked in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s main port, for a two-day visit. It was greeted with a ceremonial reception by the Sri Lankan navy. Commander Arunabh, the submarine’s commanding officer, paid a visit to Rear Admiral Saman Perera, the commander of the Sri Lankan Navy’s Western Naval Area. This response was in sharp contrast to the Sri Lankan government’s treatment of a recent request by the Chinese research ship Xiang Yang Hong 3 to visit the country. In January, the Wickremesinghe government announced a 12-month ban on all visits by research…

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Copenhagen (13/11 – 37.5) When Ranil Wickremesinghe took over as Sri Lanka’s president in July after a popular uprising ousted his predecessor, the South Asian island nation was engulfed in its worst economic meltdown in 75 years. Since then, President Wickremesinghe has managed to a keep a lid on mass protests, improve supplies of essentials and on Monday, secured a nearly $3 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that opens the door to restructuring about $58 billion of debt and receive funding from other lenders. He has done that despite a deeply unpopular government, his own party commanding just one…

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Sen. John Cornyn expressed doubts that ongoing Senate negotiations over border policy will lead to legislation that will be enacted. “This is a very delicate and difficult negotiation,” the Texas Republican told host Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday.” Cornyn suggested that even if leading Senate negotiators can reach an agreement on immigration in the coming days, other obstacles remain. “I’ve talked to a couple of key negotiators yesterday,” he said, “and they feel like they are making some progress, but I know Senator Schumer thinks there is going to be a deal cut behind closed doors and then jam…

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Brussels (3/12) Governments may be doing great while the people suffer. Bombing of the Nordstream 2 pipeline, carrying cheap Russian natural gas to industry and consumers in Europe, is exerting a cascading effect on companies and employment, eventually to be reflected in rising places and sharpening inflation. Russia is steadily experiencing price increases for a variety of goods and services, Russian media report. Is there obviously not a link to the sanctions placed on Russia and the seizure of Russian funds and savings abroad? Punishment for Russia’s “Special Military Operation” to purportedly protect Russian-speaking citizens in eastern Ukraine from state…

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Former President Trump took to Truth Social at 2:03am ET on Thanksgiving to attack people involved in the fraud case that threatens his real estate empire, along with his political opponents. Why it matters: The early-morning diatribe is hardly a traditional Thanksgiving message, but it is classic Trump — and it comes as court officials argue that a gag order restricting just these sorts of posts relating to the $250 million New York civil fraud trial should be reinstated. What he’s saying: In a post beginning “Happy Thanksgiving to ALL,” Trump called: Driving the news: A New York appeals court last week paused a gag order Engoron had imposed on Trump after the former…

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The city of Phoenix has successfully cleared out a massive downtown homeless encampment by Saturday’s court-ordered deadline by helping more than 500 people find beds in shelters and motels. The hundreds of tents that once lined blocks of streets in the area are now gone, with just a few people milling about or pushing shopping carts filled with their belongings. “I was staying with a friend in a tent but he’s now gone to a shelter,” said Lily Bitsui, 33, who looked a bit lost. Bitsui said she was not around when city workers were offering to help people find a place…

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PETALING JAYA: A shouting match erupted in the Dewan Rakyat today after Ahmad Marzuk Shaary (PN-Pengkalan Chepa) questioned Howard Lee (PH-Ipoh Timor) for citing Quranic verses in a viral video. Marzuk, who was debating the supply bill, had brought up the recent controversy surrounding Lee, who allegedly misinterpreted the Quran. “This wasn’t just a matter of translation or interpretation but rather an attempt to derive legal rulings from the Quran or Islamic texts.” He added that only scholars or muftis can interpret and explain Quranic verses. “I would like to ask where and from whom Ipoh Timor acquired this level…

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