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FOREIGN NEWS 11

Saturday, 11 August, 2018

CHINa SaYS paCIfIC aId HaS No poLITICaL STrINGS BEIJING

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agencies

HINA's aid to countries in the Pacific has no political strings attached and is not aimed at any third party, the country's foreign ministry said on Friday, after a think-tank said China has become the second-largest aid donor in the South Pacific. China's $1.3 billon-worth of donations and concessionary loans since 2011 trails Australia's $6.6 billion, figures compiled by Australia's Lowy Institute show, but it is more than New

Zealand's $1.2 billion. Spending by China, criticized by many of its neighbors for island building in the South China Sea, is almost 9 percent of total aid donations in the South Pacific. If pledged aid is included, China's promises total $5.9 billion, or nearly a third of all aid pledged to the region's 14 countries by 62 donors. "As a developing country, China fully understands the special difficulty Pacific island countries face in achieving sustainable development," the ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters. China "provides what aid it can on the basis of respecting the wishes of the

Gaza ceasefire holds after twoday flare-up, protests expected GAZA/JERUSALEM: The Israel-Gaza border was quiet on Friday after an Egyptian-brokered truce ended a surge in violence that had shaken southern Israel and the Gaza Strip for two days. But the ceasefire will face its first test later in the day, as Palestinians in Gaza planned on resuming weekly border protests, which at times have become violent. After a quiet night, Israel's military told residents in the south, who had spent much of the past two days in rocket shelters, they could return to their daily routines. A rise in crossborder rockets and air strikes in recent weeks has prompted the United Nations and Egypt to try to broker a truce to prevent another all-out conflict. Since the escalation on Wednesday, Palestinian militants fired scores of rockets including a long-range missile deep into Israel and Israeli aircraft struck more than 150 targets in Gaza. A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child were killed in the Israeli attacks, as was a Hamas militant. Seven people were wounded by Palestinian rockets and mortars that struck Israel. Palestinian officials said a truce had been reached with Egyptian mediation. There was no formal comment from Israel, which rarely acknowledges reaching any such agreement with Hamas. Hamas, an Islamist group designated by most Western countries as a terrorist organization, has fought three wars with Israel in the past decade. With the ceasefire holding, organizers of border protests against Israel drove through streets of Gaza with loudspeakers, calling for a massive attendance. agencies

Nationalist cleric Sadr wins Iraq vote recount

island nations without attaching any political conditions, vigorously promoting socio-economic development", it added. "China's aid is aimed at promoting the well-being of the people of the island nations, and strengthening their ability to develop sustainably, without seeking any personal gain, and it is also not aimed at any third party," the ministry said. The Lowy numbers, which do not include New Zealand contributions since March 2017, also show China jostling with Taiwan to use aid money as a means of cultivating diplomatic ties in region home to a third of Taiwan's allies. China considers self-ruled and dem-

ocratic Taiwan to be merely a wayward province, with no right to diplomatic relations. China "hopes the relevant side abandons 'zero sum thinking' and unprovoked suspicion, and does more to benefit peace, stability and development for Pacific island nations", the ministry added, without elaborating. Australia and the United States have begun a new campaign to counter China's rising influence in the Pacific. Australia on Thursday promised radio gear and help to build parliament offices in Samoa's capital of Apia, the latest pledge of aid in the Pacific Islands where China and Australia have been ramping up tit-for-tat donations.

North Korea will preserve knowhow despite denuclearisation: FM

TEHRAN: North Korea will preserve its nuclear know-how despite its promise of denuclearisation to the United States, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said during a visit to Tehran, Iranian media reported on Thursday. Despite the agreement to denuclearise the Korean peninsula struck during a landmark summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and US President Donald Trump, "we preserve our nuclear science as we know that the Americans will not abandon their hostility toward us," Ri said, according to the conservative Mehr news agency.

"Dealing with Americans is difficult, and as our main goal is total disarmament of the whole Korean Peninsula, it is necessary that the Americans also abide by their commitments but they refuse to do so." At the June summit with Trump, Kim made a vague commitment to denuclearisation -- far from the longstanding US demand for the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of Pyongyang's atomic arsenal. Ri was meeting with Iran's influential parliament speaker Ali Larijani on the third day of an official visit.

"The Americans utter beautiful words when negotiating and promise a very bright future but they deliver on none of their commitments when it comes to action," Larijani said. Ri arrived in Tehran on the same day as the United States reimposed sanctions after abandoning a 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran. The other five parties to the deal agree with UN inspectors that Iran has been abiding by its commitments, but Trump has said repeatedly it is "a horrible deal" and announced he was abrogating it in May. agencies

BAGHDAD: Nationalist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr's alliance won Iraq's May parliamentary election according to a manual recount, the electoral commission said Friday, paving the way for a government to be formed nearly three months after the vote. Allegations of fraud prompted the supreme court to order a partial manual recount, but Sadr's joint list with communists will retain all 54 seats it won to become the biggest bloc in Iraq's 329-seat parliament. The only substantive change resulting from the recount will be an extra seat for the Conquest Alliance of pro-Iranian former paramilitary fighters at the expense of a local Baghdad list. The Conquest Alliance remains in second place but will have 48 seats instead of 47, Iraq's nine-member electoral commission said. Other changes were confined to a handful of alterations to the standings of candidates within party lists. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's bloc remains in third with just 42 seats. After the supreme court officially announces the final results, the outgoing president has 15 days to convene parliament, which must then elect a new head of state and begin the process of forming a coalition government and settling on a new prime minister. agencies

10 dead in ebola flare up in eastern dr Congo BENI: Ten people have died in an outbreak of Ebola in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a toll issued Friday that said 27 other deaths were suspected to be Ebola-related. Forty-four confirmed and probable cases have been recorded since the disease broke out in the province of North Kivu on August 1, the health ministry said. Two suspected cases in Goma, a city of about a million people, "turned out to be negative" on Thursday after lab tests, it said. The outbreak is the country's 10th since 1976, when the disease was first identified in the DRC near the Ebola River, a tributary of the Congo. The latest outbreak is centered in North Kivu's Beni region, which shares borders with Uganda and Rwanda. The area is plagued by violence -- a problem that the World Health Organization (WHO) has said will hamper the emergency response. Targeted vaccination, aiming primarily at front-line health workers, began on Wednesday. Ebola causes serious illness including vomiting, diarrhoea and in some cases internal and external bleeding. It is often fatal if untreated. In the worst Ebola epidemic, the disease struck the West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013-15, killing more than 11,300 people. The outbreak in North Kivu was declared a week after WHO and the Kinshasa government hailed the end of a flareup in northwestern Equateur province which killed 33 people. agencies

Combative Saudi foreign policy stirs international ire

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has sought to tame critics with an aggressive foreign policy, but a deadly air raid in Yemen following an acrimonious spat with Canada will only amplify international pressure

on the kingdom, analysts say. An air strike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a bus in rebel-held northern Yemen on Thursday, killing dozens of what aid groups said were school chil-

dren, with the United States and United Nations both calling for an investigation. The coalition insisted Huthi rebel combatants were aboard the bus, but international media have photographed dazed and bloodied children flooding into hospitals struggling to cope with a threeyear conflict that the UN has dubbed the world's worst humanitarian crisis. "The war is becoming increasingly unpopular with the international community, including in the US Congress," Sigurd Neubauer, a Middle East analyst in Washington, told AFP. "(This) attack has unfortunately become the norm and not the exception." The coalition has repeatedly been accused of striking civilians in Yemen since it launched an intervention in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised gov-

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ernment after the Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels drove it out of the capital Sanaa. The coalition called Thursday's strike a "legitimate military action" in response to a rebel missile attack on Saudi Arabia's southern Jizan city a day earlier that resulted in the death of a Yemeni national. But that did not quell the outpouring of global condemnation. "NO EXCUSES ANYMORE!!" tweeted Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF's regional director in the Middle East and North Africa. "Does the world really need more innocent children's lives to stop the cruel war on children in Yemen?" Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, tweeted: "Grotesque, shameful, indignant. Blatant disregard for rules of war when bus carrying innocent

school children is fair game for attack." - 'Shutting the door to criticism' The bombing raid, part of an intervention that reflects Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's increasingly assertive foreign policy, follows the kingdom's diplomatic rupture with Canada earlier this week. Saudi Arabia expelled Canada's ambassador, recalled its own envoy and froze all new trade and investments after Ottawa publicly demanded the "immediate release" of rights campaigners jailed in the kingdom. A furious Riyadh also moved to pull out thousands of Saudi students from Canadian universities, state airline Saudia suspended flights to Toronto, and the kingdom pledged to stop all medical treatment programmes in Canada. agencies

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