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Russia expels 59 diplomats from 23 countries, crisis expands



Russia expels 59 diplomats from 23 countries, crisis expands

Moscow close US consulate in St Petersburg

In a tit-for-tat response in kind, Russia has, on Friday, ordered expulsion of 59 diplomats from 23 countries as the diplomatic fallout spreads after the alleged murder attempt by nerve-gas-poisoning of a former double-agent Skripal and his daughter in UK in early March.

So far UK and Russia have expelled 23 diplomats each, US and Russia have sent back 60 diplomats from each others’ soil. Now Russia has reacted on the countries, mostly NATO members and other allies by expelling 59 diplomats. However, Russia has acted with patience avoiding immediate reaction.

According to Reuters TV, Ambassadors of the 23 countries, ranging from Netherlands to Australia were handed over protest note on Friday morning at foreign office in Moscow as soon they arrived at Foreign Ministry and were asked to send back certain numbers of diplomats.

Read More: US, EU and allies expel 113 Russian diplomats

On Thursday, Russia had also ordered closing of the US consulate in St Petersburg and issued a protest note to the US Ambassador to Moscow, Jon Huntsman, regarding what it called “outrageous and unwarranted” diplomatic action against Russia.

Skripal is the former official of Russian military intelligence who had allegedly worked for UK agencies. He was sentenced for imprisonment after conviction by Russian court. However, he was released in a swap deal with US and was settled in UK.Russia expels 59 diplomats from 23 countries, crisis expands

UK and its allies alleged that Skripals were poisoned by a nerve agent in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Read More: Russia retaliates: expels 23 British diplomats, close British Council

On Thursday, Moscow had ordered the expulsion of 60 US diplomats in response to a similar move by Washington.

Russia has already responded to UK’s move of expelling its 23 diplomats over the first known use of a military-grade nerve agent in Europe since World War II.

In an unprecedented diplomatic move, 25 European countries – along with the US, Canada, and Australia – expelled more than 120 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with the UK withing last few days.

On Friday, senior envoys from most of the countries that have expelled Russian diplomats were summoned to the Russian foreign ministry.  Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Moscow, said.

Read More: UK, US together against Russia on nerve gas attack in London

Challands, while reporting from Moscow on Friday, said, “One after another, black ambassadorial cars have been pulling up here outside the Russian foreign ministry and the ambassadors have been walking in to essentially get a dressing-down from the foreign ministry staff and be told how many of their personnel has to be packing their bags to leave.”

He further said,  “Its catalyst has been the Skripal affair but, of course, there is so much else behind all this, so much that’s gone on over the last few years – with the Russian campaign in Syria, with what’s been going in Crimea and Ukraine, that has worsened relations between the West and Russia.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has claimed that she has evidence of Russian involvement in the poisoning case. British government says the nerve agent used in the attack, Novichok, was developed in Russia.  However, Moscow has denied its involvement, instead says that UK might have done this.

According to reports, Sergei Skripal remains critical but stable while his daughter Yulia is improving rapidly. A large number of police officials and other investigative agencies were working day and night to ascertain about each minute detail behind the incident.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Friday that the British authorities have barred the crew of a Russian Aeroflot plane bound for Moscow from being present during the search of their plane.

She reportedly told state Rossiya-24 television channel while the search was continuing, “The British authorities asked the Russian crew, including the captain, to leave the aircraft. The captain suggested the search be conducted in his personal presence as in line with the instructions he cannot leave the plane. As of now, the Britons have begun the search, keeping the captain inside the cockpit, not letting him be present during the search.”

The report did not mention if some of the Russian expelled diplomats were travelling in the said Aeroflot flight from London to Moscow.


India News

PM Modi proposes to host COP33 in India in 2028

The 28th conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC), refered as COP28, is currently taking place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12.



Prime Minister Modi was addressing the COP28 climate summit in Dubai on Friday, he proposed hosting COP33 in India in 2028. PM Modi said  India is committed to UN framework for climate change process. That is why, from this stage, he proposed to host COP33 Summit in India in 2028.

The 28th conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC), refered as COP28, is currently taking place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12.

As a special gesture by the UAE, PM Narendra Modi was given the honour of speaking at the Ceremonial opening of the summit, in which discussion will held on issues regarding climate change in the coming days. He said he announced one more pro planet, pro active and positive initiative- green credit initiative.

PM Modi said India’s goal is to bring down the emissions intensity by 45 % till 2030 and also said the country has decided to increase the share of non fossil fuel to 50%. He said India will keep going ahead towards the goal of net zero by 2070.

PM Modi will also attend three other high level events on the sidelines of the summit. Bilateral meetings with World Leaders like Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Israeli President Issac Herzog.

The COP28 conference brings together the heads of the state, climate activists, government ministers, scientists and other stake holders from all over the world so that discussion can take place and action can be taken on climate change. The key themes of the conference include slashing energy emissions before 2030 and fast tracking the energy transition, transforming climate finance, putting nature, lives, people and livelihood at the heart of climate action and mobilizing for more inclusive COP ever.

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US looks forward to seeing results, says Antony Blinken as India probes Pannu murder plot

White House spokesperson John Kirby earlier echoed Blinken’s remarks, but cushioned the statement by stressing the importance of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.



Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State on Thursday said that Washington takes very seriously the allegations that an Indian government official was involved in a foiled plot to murder Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil. Speaking to the media at Tel Aviv, the US top diplomat said that he couldn’t comment in detail on the matter as it was under judicial consideration, but welcomed the investigation launched by India into the alleged plot to kill Pannu.

He added that a number of them have raised this directly with the Indian government in past weeks. He mentioned that the Indian government announced that it was conducting an investigation, adding that it is good and appropriate, and that they look forward to seeing the results.

White House spokesperson John Kirby earlier echoed Blinken’s remarks, but cushioned the statement by stressing the importance of the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Addressing a press conference, he said that India remains a strategic partner, and they are going to continue to work to improve and strengthen that strategic partnership with India. He noted that at the same time, they take the aforesaid allegations and investigation very seriously.

John Kirby was responding to a question about the US Justice Department’s indictment of Indian citizen Nikhil Gupta, which accused him of working with an Indian government agency employee to hire a hitman to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a US citizen and founder of the Khalistani outfit, Sikhs for Justice.

Kirby further acknowledged India’s responsiveness to the matter, stating that they are glad to see that India is also taking it seriously by announcing their own efforts to investigate this. He added that the US has been clear that they want to see anybody that’s responsible for these alleged crimes to be held properly accountable.

Meanwhile, India has already constituted an investigation team to probe the allegations relating to the foiled plot to kill Pannun. The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday described it as a matter of concern and also contrary to government policy the US linking an Indian official to the man charged with the alleged conspiracy.

As per reports, Nikhil Gupta, 52, has been charged with two counts of murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire for allegedly participating in the Pannun murder plot. He can be sentenced to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, if convicted.

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Afghanistan shuts its embassy in Delhi, says persistent challenges from Indian government

The statement claimed that efforts have been made to tarnish their image and hinder diplomatic efforts in order to justify the presence and work of Taliban-appointed and affiliated diplomats.



The Afghanistan embassy on Thursday has announced its permanent closure in New Delhi. Issuing an official statement, the Afghan embassy noted that effective from November 23, 2023 due to persistent challenges from the Indian government they have decided the closure of its diplomatic mission in New Delhi. 

The statement further mentioned that the decision follows the embassy’s earlier cessation of operations on September 30, a move made in the hope that the Indian government stance will favourably change to let the mission operate normally. In addition, the embassy said it was cognisant that some may attempt to characterise this move as an internal conflict, allegedly involving diplomats who switched allegiance to the Taliban, adding that this decision is a result of broader changes in policy and interests.

The statement further stated that the embassy extends its sincere gratitude to the Afghan citizens in India for their understanding and support throughout their mission’s tenure. The Afghan embassy further mentioned that despite limitations in resources and power it has worked tirelessly for their betterment and in the absence of a legitimate government in Kabul.

In the statement, the Afghan embassy noted that over the past two years and three months, the Afghan community in India has witnessed a significant decline, with Afghan refugees, students, and traders leaving the country, adding that the number has nearly halved since August 2021, with very limited new visas being issued during this period.

It added that they assure the Afghan community that the mission operated with transparency, accountability, and a commitment to fair treatment based on the goodwill and interests of Afghanistan considering historic ties and bilateral relations with India.

The statement claimed that efforts have been made to tarnish their image and hinder diplomatic efforts in order to justify the presence and work of Taliban-appointed and affiliated diplomats. In the face of these challenges, our committed team worked diligently in the most difficult circumstances, prioritizing the interests of the 40 million Afghans in every possible sphere from securing humanitarian aid and online education scholarships to facilitating ease in trade and advocating for the formation of a broad-based government, the Afghan embassy added.

As per reports, the Afghan embassy announced the closure of its operations on November 1, citing lack of resources and failure to meet Afghanistan’s interests by the Taliban regime.

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