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Iraq not to allow US military bases to save sovereignty

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Iraq not to allow US military bases to save sovereignty

Washington worried over Baghdad growing ties with Moscow

In a major setback to Washington, Iraq has denied permission to US for setting up its permanent military bases on its territory under “any circumstances” as it would be a violation of its sovereignty.

Iraq’s foreign minister Ibrahim Jaafari, while talking to journalists in Moscow during his extended visit on Friday said, “Baghdad firmly rejects the construction of US military bases on its soil”. He asserted that Iraq will “not stand on ceremony” when it comes to the protection of its sovereignty.

Jaafari told that Moscow and Baghdad exchange information on a regular basis and Iraq is receiving assistance from Russia in ensuring security.

TASS had quoted Iraqi foreign minister saying on Wednesday that “It is difficult for a country to be restored after the war alone. Russia is also providing assistance in security area”.

During his interaction with media in Moscow, Iraq’s foreign minister said that in 2014, when Baghdad asked for international help in fighting against Daesh terrorists, it said the potential contribution had to meet the requirements of Iraq’s sovereignty and independence. “Iraq’s sovereignty is our red line” he said.

Iraq not to allow US military bases to save sovereignty

Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari further said that the presence of permanent US military bases in “South Korea, Turkey, Japan and many other countries” long after the end of World War II were in violation of those countries’ sovereignty.

Earlier on Tuesday, Jaafari told reporters in Moscow that Baghdad was thoroughly considering  to purchase Russia’s surface-t—air S-400 missile defense systems.

A report from Baghdad said on Thursday that Iraq’s parliament had voted to urge the government to set a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country, two months after it declared victory over Daesh (IS) militants.

Earlier in February, Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesperson of the Iraqi cabinet, said that it was logical that (the US-led) coalition would reduce the number of its troops in Iraq after the victory was declared over Daesh (IS) in December.

According to US government there are about 9000 American troops in Iraq. However Department of Defense puts the number far lower. Recently there were reports of moving US troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. However, exact figures about the forces’ redeployment are no clear.

In 2003, US invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein regime under the false pretext of Baghdad possessing weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is the first country in the history of US military presence worldwide where Baghdad virtually forced Washington to withdraw its forces from its territory in December 2011, the first announced withdrawal schedule.

Nuri al-Maliki, the then PM had made it clear that Iraqi parliament could not evolve consensus for their longer stay and asked Washington to withdraw their troops as announced earlier.  Maliki had to leave the office after persistent pressure build up by media campaign projecting him to be responsible for so-called mass killings of Sunni Muslims.

In Late February, Heather Neuert, the spokeswomen of US State Department had warned Iraq for the consequences of extending military cooperation with Russia and striking deals to purchase advanced weapons, especially the S-400 missile systems.

Observers believe that generally US administration succeeds in ‘convincing the host government’ to formally request for extension of their stay. But due to irrevocable Iranian influence in Baghdad no extension was given to the US military presence.

In the recent years Tehran has build up its influence in Iraq and Syria by sending its military advisors and weapons in their fight against Daesh and other armed groups.

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Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda says statements on reclaiming Katchatheevu island from Sri Lanka have no ground

Devananda told the media on Thursday that it is not unusual to hear such claims and counterclaims about Katchatheevu as elections are taking place in India.

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Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda has said the statements from some political leaders in India on reclaiming Katchatheevu from the island nation have no ground. He told the media on Thursday that it is not unusual to hear such claims and counterclaims about the strategic island as elections are taking place in India.

The Sri Lankan Minister said he thought India is acting on its interests to secure this place to ensure Sri Lankan fishermen would not have any access to that area and that Sri Lanka should not claim any rights in that resourceful area. According to the 1974 agreement, Devananda said Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen can go fishing in the territorial waters of both countries until the pact was reviewed and amended in 1976.

The amended agreement resulted in fishermen from both countries being barred from fishing in neighboring waters. India’s ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday steered clear of the row surrounding Katchatheevu island. To a volley of questions on the Katchatheevu issue, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal reffered to External affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s recent comments on the matter.

He said he would like to talk about the issue that has been raised. He added the External Affairs minister has spoken to the press here in Delhi and also in Gujarat and has clarified all the issues. He said everyone should look into the press engagements and they would find the answers to their questions there.

The remarks from Devananda, a Sri Lankan Tamil, came days after the Narendra Modi government accused the Congress and its ally DMK in Tamil Nadu of overlooking national interests by handing over Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka in 1974. The BJP has also been slamming the 2 parties for not ensuring the rights of the fishermen wanting to fish in waters around the island.

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US reiterates its call for fair, transparent, legal process for Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, speaks on Congress frozen accounts

The US spokesperson said that they are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections.

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A day after India summoned an US diplomat over their remarks on the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the liquor policy case, the US reiterated its call for fair, transparent, timely legal processes on Wednesday.

Responding to questions on India summoning Gloria Berbena, the US Acting Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that they will continue to follow these actions closely, including the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Notably, the meeting at the foreign ministry’s South Block office lasted nearly 40 minutes yesterday with India objecting strongly to the US remarks on the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal.

Matthew Miller also responded to a question on the Congress party’s frozen bank accounts. The US spokesperson said that they are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections. He added that the US encourages fair, transparent and timely legal processes for each of the issues.

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested last week by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection to the Delhi liquor policy scam. Earlier, AAP leaders Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Sanjay Singh were arrested in the same case.

The External Affairs Ministry had earlier stated that states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others, and this responsibility is even more so in case of fellow democracies, adding that it could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents.

The Ministry further emphasized that India’s legal processes are based on an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes. It mentioned that casting aspersions on India’s legal procedure is unwarranted.

The United State’s remarks followed days after Germany’s Foreign Office stressed that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is entitled to a fair and impartial trial. The Indian government labelled their remark as blatant interference in internal matters.

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5 Chinese nationals killed in suicide bomb attack in Pakistan

This is the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

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Nearly five Chinese nationals were killed in an explosion during an attack on their convoy by a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday. Reportedly, the suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a convoy of Chinese engineers travelling from Islamabad to their camp in Dasu, situated in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Regional police chief Mohammad Ali Gandapur said that five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in the attack. As yet, none has claimed responsibility for the attack. Bisham Station House Officer (SHO) Bakht Zahir asserted that the incident was a suicide blast and the authorities concerned were collecting the evidence.

The Station House Officer further added that security arrangements were tightened at the spot and the bodies were being shifted to a hospital. He added that they will investigate from where and how the vehicle of a suicide bomber came and how it happened. Notably, this is the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

Previously, two attacks hit an airbase and a strategic port in the southwest province of Balochistan where China is investing billions in infrastructure projects. Several Chinese engineers and Pakistani construction workers have for multiple years been working on hydroelectric projects as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative in the western province of Khyber-Paktunkhwa.

Notably, Dasu is home to a significant dam project, has been a target of previous attacks. Earlier in 2021, the attack in Dasu resulted in the deaths of nine Chinese nationals, along with two Pakistani children. The incident occured when a bus carrying Chinese engineers and workers to the Dasu Hydropower Project site was targeted.

There was confusion surrounding the nature of the attack initially, with some reports suggesting it was a bus accident. Nonetheless, subsequent investigations revealed that it was indeed a terrorist attack. The bus was hit by a blast, leading it to plunge into a ravine.

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