PUTIN HOSTS ‘DEAR FRIEND’ XI IN RUSSIA
Moscow : Russian President Putin warmly welcomed Chinese leader Xi Jinping to the Kremlin on Monday, a visit that sent a powerful message to Western leaders allied with Ukraine that their efforts to isolate Moscow have fallen short.
The two major powers have described Xi’s three-day trip as an opportunity to deepen their “no-limits friendship. ” China looks to Russia as a source of oil and gas for its energy-hungry economy, and as a partner in standing up to what both see as US domination of global affairs. The two countries also have held joint military drills. Beijing’s leap into Ukraine issues follows its recent success in brokering talks between Iran and its chief Middle Eastern rival, Saudi Arabia, which agreed to restore their diplomatic ties after years of tensions. Following that success, Xi called for China to play a bigger role in managing global affairs.
“China has made acolossal leap ahead in its development in recent years,” Putin said, adding that “it’s causing genuine interest all around the world, and we even feel a bit envious,” as Xi smiled. He welcomed China’s proposals for a political settlement in Ukraine and noted Russia is open for talks. “We will discuss all those issues, including your initiative that we highly respect,” Putin said. “Our cooperation in the international arena undoubtedly helps strengthen the basic principles of the global order and multipolarity. ” Xi, for his part, praised Putin and predicted Russians would re-elect him next year. “Under your strong leadership, Russia has made great strides in its prosperous development,” he said.
“We hope that the strategic partnership between China and Russia will on the one hand uphold international fairness and justice, and on the other hand promote the common prosperity and development of our countries,” Xi said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that over dinner, Putin will likely offer Xi a “detailed explanation” of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. Broader talks are scheduled for Tuesday, he added. For Putin, Xi’s presence is a diplomatic triumph amid Western efforts to isolate Russia over Ukraine.
US: CHINA GIVING RUSSIA DIPLOMATIC COVER TO COMMIT MORE CRIMES
Washington on Monday denounced China President Xi’s visit to Russia, saying the timing showed Beijing was providing Moscow with “diplomatic cover” to commit further crimes. “That President Xi is travelling to Russia days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Putin suggests that China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine,” US secretary of state Antony Blinken said. “Instead of even condemning them it would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit those grave crimes,” he added. Russia, China and the US are not among the 123 countries that are ICC members, obliged to arrest Putin if he arrives on their territory.
SHEHBAZ SHARIF SLAMS 'SMEAR CAMPAIGN' AGAINST ARMY CHIEF
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday slammed his predecessor Imran Khan for what he described as a "disgusting smear campaign" against Army chief General Asim Munir launched at the behest of the cricketer-turned-politician.
Earlier Sharif's office issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the "intolerable campaign" against Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) overseas before urging Pakistani nationals to voice their opposition on such matters.
"The campaign against the army chief is intolerable and a continuation of the conspiracy against the institutions," a statement from the Pakistan Prime Minister's Office (PMO) read.
The Pakistani PM has requested interior minister Rana Sanaullah to take strict action against anyone who is instigating people to take to the streets against state institutions.
Sharif's scathing remarks against Khan came a day after scores of Pakistani Americans protested at the gates of the White House in Washington, demanding the Sharif-led government stop legal proceedings against Khan.
NEPAL PM WINS CONFIDENCE VOTE, SET TO FORM A NEW COALITION
Kathmandu : Nepal’s PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal won a vote of confidence in parliament on Monday after securing the support of the opposition centrist Nepali Congress party and other smaller groups who are now expected to join his new cabinet. His old coalition allies pulled out of the government last month after he chose an opposition candidate to become the next president. PMs have to face confidence votes after any ally withdraws support. Dahal is expected to unveil a coalition this week with the Nepali Congress party and nine other smaller groups including his Maoist Centre party. He got 172 votes in his favour on Monday and 89 against in the 275-seat parliament, parliamentary speaker Devraj Ghimire said. “I promise to work for social justice, good governance and prosperity, turning the trust you have given into energy,” Dahal said on Twitter after the result.
The 68-year-old became PM in December for the third time, heading a coalition with the liberal Communist Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) party and royalists. The allies left amid differences over his support for Ram Chandra Paudel, a nominee of the Nepali Congress party, for president. Paudel was elected on March 9 as the third president of the republic of 30 million people nestled between China and India.
FRANCE PENSION REFORM: MACRON'S GOVERNMENT SURVIVES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE
The French government has narrowly survived a vote of no-confidence, which was triggered when it forced through an increase in the pension age to 64.
It sparked new anti-government protests in Paris, where 101 people were arrested after stand-offs with police.
The vote, tabled by centrist MPs, had 278 votes in favour, falling short of the 287 votes needed.
Had it been successful, President Emmanuel Macron would have had to name a new government or call new elections.
A second no-confidence motion, tabled by Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally party, also did not pass.
Now both votes have failed, the controversial bill to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 will become law.
The votes were held after Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne used a special constitutional power, called Article 49:3, to push the bill through without a vote last week.
It sparked angry protests at the weekend, with some demonstrators clashing with police and blocking streets with debris fires in central Paris, as well as cities around the country.
Monday's failed votes saw fresh protests in the capital, with a tense standoff between protesters and anti-riot police.
The first motion, which had the backing of several left-wing parties including the Green Party and the Socialist Party, was the only one likely to succeed.
When that vote failed, members of the left-wing contingent that voted for it held placards reading "continue" and "we'll meet in the streets", and shouted that the prime minister should resign.
SRI LANKA: $3BN IMF BAILOUT FOR STRUGGLING ECONOMY
Sri Lanka has secured a $3bn (£2.4bn) bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as it faces its worst economic crisis since independence.
The deal has been nearly a year in the making and a lifeline for the country that has billions of dollars in loans.
Foreign minister Ali Sabry told the BBC the government will raise funds by restructuring state-owned enterprises and privatising the national airline.
However, analysts warned Sri Lanka still faces a tough road ahead.
The country's economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, rising energy prices, populist tax cuts and inflation of more than 50%.
As a result the country defaulted on its debts with international lenders last May for the first time in its history.
"We have lived beyond our means. Whether we like it or not, these difficult measures which may be very unpopular need to be taken," Mr Sabry said in an interview before the funding was announced.
"Luckily, most [people] other than politically-motivated unions have understood that. I know they are not happy, but they also understand we have no choice," Mr Sabry added.
Andrew Wood, analyst at the S&P Global Ratings agency, said: "Sri Lanka still faces a long road toward consolidation of its government balance sheet, consistent economic growth, and external stability.
"We expect the economy to contract again in 2023, albeit at a more modest pace, before returning to growth in 2024."
FINLAND HAPPIEST COUNTRY, KINDNESS IN UKRAINE GROWS: UN
Helsinki : For the sixth year running, Finland was named the world’s happiest country in an annual UN-sponsored index Monday that saw acts of kindness grow in Ukraine despite the Russian invasion.
With thousands of lakes and near endless forests, the Nordic country is known for its extensive welfare system, high trust in authorities and low levels of inequality among its 5. 5 millioninhabitants.
While Ukraine’s ranking improved from 98 to 92 this year, despite the Russian invasion, its overall score fell from 5. 084 to 5. 071, on a scale of zero to10.
Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, an editor of the report, said therehad been an “extraordinary rise in fellow feeling across Ukraine” despite what the report called a “magnitude of suffering and damage in Ukraine” since the 2022 invasion.
Last year “benevolence grew sharply in Ukraine but fell in Russia,” the report found, referring to acts like helping strangers or makingdonations.
The report also cited a “much stronger sense of common purpose, benevolence and trust in Ukrainian leadership” than after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Northern Europe once again dominated the top spots— with Denmark in second place followed by Iceland. Israel occupied fourth position, up five spots from last year. While the same countries typically top the list each year, Baltic countries are rising rapidly towards Western European levels, the authors said.
Knocking France off the 20th spot, Lithuania became the only new country in the top 20 with Estonia in at number 31, up from 66 in 2017.
UN CLIMATE REPORT: SCIENTISTS RELEASE 'SURVIVAL GUIDE' TO AVERT CLIMATE DISASTER
UN chief Antonio Guterres says a major new report on climate change is a "survival guide for humanity".
Clean energy and technology can be exploited to avoid the growing climate disaster, the report says.
But at a meeting in Switzerland to agree their findings, climate scientists warned a key global temperature goal will likely be missed.
Their report lays out how rapid cuts to fossil fuels can avert the worst effects of climate change.
In response to the findings, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres says that all countries should bring forward their net zero plans by a decade. These targets are supposed to rapidly cut the greenhouse gas emissions that warm our planet's atmosphere.
"There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all," the report states.
The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the scientific body that advises the UN on rising temperatures - is agreed on by all governments involved.