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Boeing-Airbus trade dispute ends

Washington: The US and the European Union agreed to end their 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies to Airbus SE and Boeing Co that saw the allies impose tariffs on $11.5 billion of each other’s exports, EU officials said.

The European Commission discussed the accord with member states to get the deal over the line before an EU-US summit in Brussels with President Joe Biden, according to officials familiar with the deliberations, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

The landmark accord turns the page on a key conflict in former President Donald Trump’s trade war and sets the stage for a new era of transatlantic cooperation over state aid at a time when China is vying to displace the Boeing-Airbus civil aircraft duopoly.

The agreement was driven, in part, by a growing awareness among policy makers in Brussels and Washington that China’s state-sponsored aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, or Comac, is on track to become a legitimate rival in global plane making by the end of the decade.

In 2019, the World Trade Organization authorized the US to level tariffs against $7.5 billion of EU exports annually over government support for Airbus, while the EU won permission to hit back with levies on $4 billion of US goods.

The levies were suspended by both sides in March as negotiators worked toward an agreement. They cover items ranging from airplanes and parts to tractors, wine and cheese. The UK unilaterally suspended its tariffs with the US in December as it broke from the EU.

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Travel restrictions to Canada extended to June 21

Toronto: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the border closure between Canada and the United States will remain in place until at least until June 21, 2021.

The Canadian border closed for non-essential travel more than one year ago.

However, essential travel, which includes trade shipments, essential workers and approved temporary foreign workers, will be allowed.

“To protect your health and limit the spread of COVID-19, we’re extending the measures currently in place by another 30 days. Non-essential travel between our two countries remains restricted until June 21st,” Trudeau tweeted.

“To fight #COVID19 spread and protect our citizens, the US is continuing restrictions on non-essential travel at land borders through June 21, while allowing essential trade & travel. We’re working closely with Canada & Mexico to safely ease restrictions as conditions improve,” the US State Department tweeted to announce the extension.

According to the COVID-19 tracker website, developed by a University of Saskatchewan student, more than 46 per cent of Canadians have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Travelers coming to Canada are required to show a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours before arriving in Canada.

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Israel-Gaza violence erupts for first time since ceasefire

Gaza City: The Israeli air force launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip early on June 15 after militants in the Palestinian territory sent incendiary balloons into southern Israel, security sources and witnesses said.

The airstrikes and balloons marked the first major flare-up between Israel and Gaza since a ceasefire on May 21 ended 11 days of heavy fighting that killed 260 Palestinians, according to Gaza authorities, and 13 people in Israel, the police and army there said.

According to Palestinian sources, Israel’s air force targeted at least one site east of the southern Gaza city of Khan Younes.

Around 1,000 apartments, offices and shops were destroyed in the latest round of fighting in May in Gaza, an impoverished enclave of two million controlled by the Hamas Islamist group.

The strikes were Israel’s first against Gaza since a new coalition government took over recently, ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years in power.

The US and UN had called for restraint before the march, which the government of new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had authorized.

Medics said 33 Palestinians were wounded and police said two officers were injured and 17 people were arrested. (NDTV)

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China accuses G7 of political manipulation

Beijing: China accused the G7 nations of “political manipulation” after the foreign leaders criticized the dragon over its human rights record in Xinjiang and noted the alleged abuses against Uyghur Muslims, minorities in the region.

China said the foreign leaders are interfering in the country’s internal affairs, based on “lies, rumors and baseless accusations”.

The G7 nations had also called out the repression of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, with US president Joe Biden asking Beijing to “start acting more responsibly in terms of international norms on human rights”.

The Chinese embassy in London put out an official statement saying, “The Group of Seven (G7) takes advantage of Xinjiang-related issues to engage in political manipulation and interfere in China’s internal affairs, which we firmly oppose.”

The leaders of Group of Seven richest democracies also demanded a second transparent science-based study into the origins of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), according to a draft communiqué.

In recent times, Beijing has drawn the ire of the West over its alleged human rights violations and forced labor practices in the Xinjiang region, largely inhabited by Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority group in China.

Several global human rights groups have accused China of hounding an estimated one million Uyghur Muslims in internment camps in the Xinjiang region.

Beijing says the move will eradicate Islamic extremism, but Western nations have expressed apprehension over what they call a gross violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

China a global security challenge: NATO leaders

Brussels: NATO leaders declared that China poses a constant security challenge and is working to undermine global order.

The leaders said they’re worried about how fast the Chinese are developing nuclear missiles.

In a summit statement, the leaders said that China’s goals and “assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security.”

While the 30 heads of State and the government avoided calling China a rival, they expressed concern about what they said were its “coercive policies,” the opaque ways it is modernizing its armed forces and its use of disinformation.

They called on Beijing to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system.

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Muslim family run over in a targeted deadly attack in Canada

Ontario: A Pakistani-Canadian family out on a stroll on a warm weekend evening was murdered in a horrific act of Islamophobic violence in London, Ont. A nine-year-old boy, hospitalized with serious injuries, is the only survivor of a terror attack that killed his sister, father, mother and grandmother.

A driver plowed a pickup truck into a family of five, killing four of them and seriously injuring the other in a deliberate attack that targeted the victims because they were Muslims, Canadian police said Monday.

Authorities said a young man was arrested in the parking lot of a nearby mall after the incident Sunday night in the Ontario city of London. Police said a black pickup truck mounted a curb and struck the victims at an intersection.

“This was an act of mass murder perpetuated against Muslims,” Mayor Ed Holder said. “It was rooted in unspeakable hatred.”

The extended family issued a statement identifying the dead as Salman Afzal, 46; his wife Madiha, 44; their daughter Yumna, 15; and a 74-year-old grandmother whose name was withheld. The hospitalized boy was identified as Fayez.

“Everyone who knew Salman and the rest of the Afzal family know the model family they were as Muslims, Canadians and Pakistanis,” the statement said. “They worked extremely hard in their fields and excelled. Their children were top students in their school and connected strongly with spiritual their identity.”

A fundraising webpage said the father was a physiotherapist and cricket enthusiast and his wife was working on a PhD in civil engineering at Western University in London. Their daughter was finishing ninth grade, and the grandmother was a “pillar” of the family, the page said.

The family said in its statement that the public needs to stand against hate and Islamophobia.

“This young man who committed this act of terror was influenced by a group that he associated with, and the rest of the community must take a strong stand against this, from the highest levels in our government to every member of the community,” the statement said.

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World Bank’s $500 M program to help boost India’s MSME sector

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a $500 million program to support India’s nationwide initiative to revitalize the MSME sector, which has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

According to a statement released last Friday, the program targets improvements in the performance of 555,000 MSMEs and is expected to mobilize financing of $15.5 billion, as part of the government’s $3.4 billion MSME Competitiveness – A Post-COVID Resilience and Recovery Program (MCRRP).

The $500 million Raising and Accelerating Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Performance (RAMP) Program is the World Bank’s second intervention in this sector, the first being the $750 M MSME Emergency Response Program, approved in July 2020 to address the immediate liquidity and credit needs of millions of viable MSMEs severely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“To date, 5 million firms have accessed finance from the government program. With the program approved today, the World Bank’s financing towards improving the productivity and financial viability of the MSME sector amounts to $1.25 billion over the past year,” the statement said.

“Having supported the immediate liquidity and credit needs of viable MSMEs in the first phase, the RAMP Program will support the Government of India’s efforts to increase MSME productivity and financing in the economic recovery phase, crowd in private sector financing in the medium term, and tackle long-standing financial sector issues that are holding back the growth of the MSME sector,” it added.

According to the release, the MSME sector is the backbone of the country’s economy, contributing 30 percent of India’s GDP and 40 percent of exports. Out of some 58 million MSMEs in India, more than 40 percent lack access to formal sources of finance.

“The MSME sector, a critical backbone of India’s economy, has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “The RAMP program will intensify efforts to support firms to return to pre-crisis production and employment levels, while laying the foundations for longer-term productivity-driven growth and generation of much-needed jobs in the MSME sector.”

The RAMP program will provide better access to finance and working capital for MSMEs by strengthening the receivable financing markets; and scale up online dispute resolution mechanisms to address the problem of delayed payments. Such efforts are expected to improve the cost-effectiveness, quality, accessibility, impact, and outreach of such schemes.

“The MSME sector in India faces several challenges. There is need to strengthen access to formal sources of financial and non-financial services, including of women headed MSMEs, and strengthen coordination in the national and state MSME support programs. Given the magnitude and geographical spread across the country, direct interventions can be prohibitively costly,” said Peter Mousley, Lead Private Sector Specialist and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the program.

“The RAMP program will support the Government’s MCRRP objective of providing a more comprehensive and coordinated Centre-State approach to improve MSME sector productivity, reduce the gender gap, and promote more environmentally sustainable investments.”

The $500 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 18.5 years including a 5.5-year grace period. (ANI)

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US to hand over 3 MH-60 Romeo choppers to India in July

After a wait of more than a decade, the Indian Navy is set to receive its first set of multi-role helicopters as America is set to hand over three MH-60 Romeo helicopters to the force in the United States in July.

The first batch of Indian pilots has also reached the US for training on the helicopters which would be arriving in India next year in July.

India and the US had signed over-Rs 16,000 crore deal to buy 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters from Lockheed Martin in 2020 under fast-track procedures on a government-to-government deal to hasten the process.

“The First batch of the Indian pilots has reached the US for training on the helicopters and we would be receiving three of these helicopters in the US in July,” Navy sources told ANI in New Delhi.

The training of the pilots would be first held in the American city of Pensacola in Florida after which they would move to San Diego in California, they said.

The 24 MH-60 Romeos would be equipped with multi-mode radars and night-vision devices as well as armed with Hellfire missiles, torpedoes and precision-guided weaponry.

The MH-60 would be replacing Sea Kings which would be on their way out of the force very soon.

The helicopters are designed to operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.

The choppers are designed for hunting submarines as well as knocking out ships and conducting search-and-rescue operations at sea.

India and the US are also working on finalizing a deal for buying 30 Predator drones to enhance the strike capabilities of the three defense forces. (ANI)

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‘Misunderstandings’ with India resolved: Nepal PM

Kathmandu: Nepal’s embattled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has said that misunderstandings with India have been resolved, and that the two countries should move forward looking at the future.

In a recent interview, Oli accepted the fact that once, there were misunderstandings between the two neighbors. However, he did not elaborate on those issues.

Oli stated in a recent interview with BBC Hindi Service that the outstanding issues relating to the border issue with India will be resolved through diplomatic channels on the basis of historical accords, maps, and factual documents.

“Yes, there were misunderstandings at one time, but now those misunderstandings are gone. We should not be stuck in past misunderstandings but move forward looking at the future. We have to pursue a positive relationship,” the 69-year-old Nepal Prime Minister, now heading a minority government said.

He further said that, unlike any other country. Neighbors share both love and problems. Don’t people in Nepal has a unique relationship with India Chile or Argentina have a problem? he asked.

Oli had approved Nepal’s new map featuring the Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura.  As per reports, Nepal’s new map has been drawn on the basis of the Sugauli Treaty of 1816 signed between Nepal and the then British Indian government and other relevant documents.

After this incident, the ties between India and Nepal soured. India reacted sharply, calling it a “unilateral act” and cautioning Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it. India said that Nepal’s action violated an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks.

 

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Junta to start court case against Suu Kyi next week

Naypyitaw: Myanmar’s military junta will begin presenting its case against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi in court starting June 14, her lawyers said.

The military arrested Suu Kyi in February when it overthrew her elected government. Public resistance to the coup remains strong and in recent months has taken the form of a low-level armed insurrection.

Government prosecutors will have until June 28 to finish their presentation in the court in Naypyitaw, the capital, where she is being tried on five charges, after which Suu Kyi’s defense team will have until July 26 to present its case, said Khin Maung Zaw, the team’s senior member.

Suu Kyi’s supporters say the charges against her are politically motivated and are meant to discredit her and legitimize the military’s takeover. If convicted of any of the offenses, she could be banned from running in an election promised by the junta within one or two years of its takeover.

She and her two co-defendants are charged with spreading information that could cause public alarm or unrest.

Suu Kyi also faces two counts of violating the Natural Disaster Management Law for allegedly breaking COVID-19 pandemic restrictions during the 2020 election campaign; illegally importing walkie-talkies that were for her bodyguards’ use; and unlicensed use of the radios.

A sixth charge, which is the most serious one: breaching the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a penalty of up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

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