The US-Russia blame game: Afghan Diplomacy Needs to be Active
The Khaama Press | 2nd July
 
US and Russia agreed on not accepting or supporting the restoration of the Taliban regime what is so-called “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”, expressed in a joint statement just a week after the US-Taliban peace deal was inked.[1] But still the “blame game” did not over between US and Russia concerning issues related to Afghanistan.
However, very recently, on 30th June, many popular American media such as The NY Times and The Washington Post reported on the existence of a Russian bounty program that pays Taliban fighters who kill any American military-man/service-member, as it is claimed by US government.

 

Over 100 freight trains run between Bangladesh, India in June
Dhaka Tribune | 2nd July
 
Railway authorities in Bangladesh and India have achieved a record by running more than 100 trains in June to transport essential commodities amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
A press release was issued in this regard by the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh.
“Indian Railways have handed over a total of 103 freight trains carrying essential commodities such as onion, ginger, chilies, maize, turmeric, rice seed, sugar, finished products, and raw materials for industries to Bangladesh Railways in June 2020,” said the release.

 

India assures medical treatment for second batch of Maldivian patients
The Edition | 1st July
 
The Indian government, assured that a second batch of Maldivians will be given the opportunity to travel to India for urgent medical treatment.
During a meeting held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ambassador from India to Maldives Sunjay Sudhir assured Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid that the government of India will make the necessary arrangements for additional patients.
The first batch of patients requiring advanced medical treatment, consisting of 28 individuals, landed in India on June 30.

 

AFGHANISTAN

 
Taliban frees 732 govt. inmates
Afghanistan Times | 1st July
The Taliban group claimed that they have released 732 members of the Afghan security forces since the start of the prisoner swap process to facilitate the intra-Afghan talks.
Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban Qatar based political office’s spokesman said the group had released 20 Afghan security forces in northern Baghlan province.
But the Afghan government had earlier said that many of the prisoners released by Taliban, are civilians and that tens of the Afghan security forces taken hostage by the Taliban have gone missing.
 
Khalilzad departs for Doha, Islamabad and Tashkent in support of Afghan peace talks
The Khaama Press | 29th June
The U.S. envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad left for Doha, Islamabad and Tashkent as part of Washington’s ongoing efforts to help the Afghan peace talks.
“U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad departed on June 28 for travel to Doha, Islamabad, and Tashkent. At all three locations, Ambassador Khalilzad will urge support for all Afghans to meet their remaining commitments ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations, specifically reduced violence and timely prisoner releases,” the State Department said in a statement.
 
 

BANGLADESH

 
Bangladesh virus cases cross 150,000
Prothom Alo | 2nd July
Thirty eight more patients died of coronavirus and 4,019 people were newly diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
Additional directorate general of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Nasima Sultana disclosed this while presenting the regular health bulletin on coronavirus situation.
She also said as many as 1,926 people have died of coronavirus while 153,277 people have been infected so far.
 
 
Dhaka seeks UN’s ‘strong’ support over Covid-19
Bangladesh Post | 2nd July
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has stressed “close collaboration and strong partnership” between Bangladesh and the UN to manage the COVID-19 impact.
He mentioned it during a call on by a five member UN country team led by Mia Seppo, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, held at the State Guest House Jamuna, the foreign ministry said.
During the meeting, Dr. Momen highlighted the impressive economic growth of Bangladesh including our spectacular progress in the areas of poverty reduction, improvement in the life expectancy, reduction of maternal and child mortality, women empowerment and other socio-economic sectors.

 

BHUTAN

 
BHUTAN-1 orbiting the Earth for two years
Kuensel | 2nd July
At about 330 kilometres above the earth’s surface, Bhutan’s first satellite BHUTAN-1 is orbiting the earth. Last Friday, on June 29, it was the second anniversary of launching the satellite to the International Space Station (ISS), located at about 400 km altitude above the earth’s surface.
From the ISS, BHUTAN-1 was released into earth’s orbit on August 10, 2018. The satellite is placed at around longitude of 51.5 degrees with respect to equator in earth’s orbit. BHUTAN-1 orbits the earth 15 to16 times a day and passes around the country four to five times a day.

 

MALDIVES

 
COVID-19: Maldives surpasses 2,400 total cases
The Edition | 3rd July
Health Protection Agency (HPA), announced that 21 more individuals tested positive for COVID-19 in Maldives, while 15 patients made full recoveries, surpassing a total of 2,400 confirmed infections.
According to the agency, the new cases include seven Maldivians and 11 Bangladeshi nationals.
Maldives presently a total of 416 are active cases of COVID-19. Thus far, the country records 1,969 recoveries and 10 deaths.
As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Maldives' capital Malé recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the first weeks following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15.
 
WHO donates GeneXpert cartridges to Maldives
Maldives Times | 1st July
World Health Organisation (WHO), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), donated cartridges used in GeneXpert machines for COVID-19 testing to the Maldives.
The GeneXpert cartridges were handed over by WHO Representative to Maldives Dr Arvind Mathur and received on behalf of the Maldivian government by Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen at a special ceremony held at the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC).

 

MYANMAR

 
EU States Suspend US$100 M of Myanmar’s Debt Payments During COVID-19
The Irrawaddy | 2nd July
Six European Union states have deferred debt payments from Myanmar worth nearly US$100 million for the rest of this year to help the country’s efforts to focus on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, the ambassadors of the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Austria and Poland announced that the EU has agreed to Myanmar’s request to its bilateral creditors to defer payments totaling US$98 million (134.5 billion kyats), constituting 20 percent of Myanmar’s debt payments due during the May-December 2020 period.
 
Myanmar to Go to the Polls on Nov. 8, Election Commission Announces
The Irrawaddy | 2nd July
Myanmar’s Union Election Commission (UEC) has fixed Nov. 8 as the date for the general election, which will be the first held under a civilian government in six decades.
The last time Myanmar (then known as Burma) had a poll supervised by a civilian government was in 1960. The quasi-civilian government led by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which governed the country from 2011 to 2015, held the last general election on Nov. 8, 2015. 
 
 

NEPAL

 
Nepal’s Covid-19 tally hits 14,519 as 473 new cases surface on Thursday
The Himalayan Times | 2nd July
The Ministry of Health and Population has recorded 473 new cases of the coronavirus infection taking the country’s total infection count to 14,519.
Of the newly infected, 364 are males and 109 females. In total, 12,636 males and 1,883 females have contracted the disease.
In the last 24 hours, 664 people have been discharged from health facilities following recovery, taking the total cases to recovery to 5,320.
 
Asian Development Bank approves $3 million grant to support Nepal in fight against Covid-19
The Kathmandu Post | 1st July
The Asian Development Bank has approved a $3 million grant from its Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund to further support Nepal in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The grant, which is financed by the government of Japan, will be used for emergency support for the improvement of quarantine facilities to effectively manage the inflow of returning migrants, especially in the border areas, the bank said in a press statement.
It will also support the procurement of laboratory and medical equipment, medicines, and infection control supplies.
 
EU, UNICEF to prevent malnutrition in Nepal
The Himalayan Times | 2nd July
European Union and UNICEF have expanded their partnership on nutrition to prevent malnutrition in children due to the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
Socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis has pushed many vulnerable families across Nepal into deeper poverty and has resulted in more children becoming malnourished. Female community health volunteers are no longer able to regularly visit families to monitor nutrition and health status of babies, young children and mothers in the COVID-19 physical distancing context. 
 
 

PAKISTAN

 
Confirmed COVID-19 cases surge to 221,896
The Nation | 3rd July
Pakistan on Friday has confirmed 78 deaths in a single day by novel coronavirus as the number of positive cases has surged to 221,896. The nationwide tally of fatalities has jumped to 4,551. 
According to the latest figures by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), 4,087 persons have been tested positive for COVID-19 in 24 hours.
Sindh remains the worst-hit province by the pandemic in terms of cases followed by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
 
Reports of Pakistan exporting virus ‘false’
The Express Tribune | 2nd July
Special Assistant to the PM on National Security Division Dr Moeed Yusuf denied UK media reports about Pakistani passengers exporting coronavirus to other countries.
“Pakistan has been one of the most responsible countries in the world,” the SAPM said while addressing a news conference at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19.
 
Probe into ‘illegal’ licences of 236 pilots still on: govt
Dawn | 3rd July
With the matter of Pakistani pilots’ credentials snowballing, the federal government on Thursday said that an inquiry into the issuance of ‘illegal’ licences issued to some 236 pilots between 2012 and 2018 was in progress and that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) would complete the scrutiny process of suspected pilots and verification of the credentials of other aviation staff in a few days.
At a joint press conference addressed by Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Haider Zaidi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Barrister Shahzad Akbar and Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz an assurance was made that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government was committed to ensuring merit and transparency in all national institutions.
 
 

SRI LANKA

 
Sri Lanka receives US$ 252 million foreign assistance for COVID-19 response
Colombo Page | 2nd July
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has informed the Cabinet of Ministers that foreign countries and organizations have provided US$ 252 million (Rs. 70 billion) in loans, grants and materials as the initial assistance to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic.
According to a statement on cabinet decisions, the Cabinet of Ministers considered the information furnished by the Prime Minister as the Minister of Finance, Economy and Policy development in relation to the contributions received during the period up to 12th June 2020 as loans, grants and material donations by the government of Sri Lanka from several countries and international organizations for the initial steps to be taken in relation to the control of the global pandemic conditions of COVID- 19.
 
NPP urges Govt. to refrain from selling Eastern Terminal to India
Daily Mirror | 2nd July
While claiming that the government was delaying to install the three gantry cranes at the Eastern Terminal of the Colombo Port, as a part of the plan to sell it to India, the National Peoples’ Power (NPP) today urged the government to stop such moves.
NPP General Secretary Tilvin Silva told a news conference that the government had to pay Rs.100 million as demurrage for not installing the gantry cranes anchored at the port.
 
COVID-19; KOICA provides USD $600,000 to UNICEF supporting Sri Lanka’s education sector
Colombo Page | 2nd July
The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have formally signed a grant agreement that will see KOICA provide a USD $600,000 (LKR 111.4 million) grant, funding and supporting the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) critical response to COVID-19 in the education sector.
The USD $600,000 grant will support activity that will enable the safe operation of schools and the learning recovery of all children, in line with the planned phased return to school. 

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