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Iran lauds trilateral prisoner swap

The Minister said that the swap was the result of intensive diplomatic work between Iran, Thailand and Australia for more than one year, with hundreds of hours of consultations…reports Asian Lite News

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has praised the efforts leading to the liberation of three Iranians imprisoned in Thailand and one Australian-British citizen jailed in Tehran.

“I was honoured to welcome the three freed compatriots released, and upon their arrival and assurances of their health, the order was given to release the Australian prisoner,” Xinhua news agency quoted Araghchi as saying to the media on Friday.

The Minister said that the swap was the result of intensive diplomatic work between Iran, Thailand and Australia for more than one year, with hundreds of hours of consultations.

The swap took place at the Tehran Airport, where the three Iranians arrived on a private Australian airplane, Araghchi further said.

According to a report on state TV, the Iranian prisoners were arrested for “trying to circumvent extraterritorial embargoes” imposed unilaterally on Tehran by the US.

As reported by Press TV, the Australian prisoner was detained in September 2018 and later sentenced to jail for “spying for Israel”.

Also read:‘Global arrogance’: Iran blames Israel after top nuclear scientist assassinated

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Palestine warns of ‘illegal settlement outposts’

According to the PLO’s report, about 124 Israeli settlement outposts have been built in the West Bank since the 1990s without any official Israeli approval…reports Asian Lite News

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has warned against the Israeli government’s plan to legalize dozens of “illegal settlement outposts” built in the West Bank.

In an official report sent to Xinhua news agency on Saturday, the PLO’s National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements noted that the Israeli plan aims to seize and control more lands in the West Bank, referring to the remarks of Israeli Minister of Settlement Affairs Tzachi Hanegbi last week.

“Israel tries to use the remaining period in the administration of (US President Donald) Trump to expand its settlements to annex larger areas of the West Bank, and to impose facts on the ground,” the report said.

Nablus (Palestine): A Palestinian protester throws stones at Israeli soldiers during a protest against the expanding of Jewish settlements in Kufr Qadoom village near the West Bank city of Nablus on December 5, 2014.(Xinhua/Ayman Nobani/IANS)

According to the PLO’s report, about 124 Israeli settlement outposts have been built in the West Bank since the 1990s without any official Israeli approval.

Palestinian rights groups said about 700,000 settlers have been living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967.

The Israeli settlements built on the Palestinian territories are regarded as illegal by the international community.

However in 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington no longer considered Israeli settlements as inconsistent with international law.

Also read:Palestine to exclude US from Mideast Quartet

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Myanmar extends Covid-19 measures till Dec 15

According to a statement from the Health and Sports Ministry on Saturday, Myanmar reported 1,344 new cases and 22 deaths in the past 24 hours…reports Asian Lite News

Myanmar’s national-level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment for Covid-19 has extended the period of preventive measures until December 15.

The extension will be applied to all orders, announcements, directives issued by respective union level government organizations and ministries which will expire on Monday, as part of the preventive measures to curb the spread of the disease, reports Xinhua news agency reported.

According to a statement from the Health and Sports Ministry on Saturday, Myanmar reported 1,344 new cases and 22 deaths in the past 24 hours.

The country’s overall caseload has increased to 87,977, while its death toll stood at 1,887, the ministry’s figures said.

A total of 67,588 recovered patients have been discharged from hospitals so far.

The virus was first detected in Myanmar on March 23 this year and over 1.13 million samples have been tested for the disease.

Meanwhile, the Road Transport Administration Department announced on Saturday to resume new vehicle registrations starting December 1 at its branches in Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay.

According to the announcement, the registration operations for new vehicles will be carried out with daily limited numbers of vehicles in order to avoid mass gatherings.

The Department had suspended all operations in early September due to a spike in the number of new case

Also read:EU urges swift establishment of Afghan Peace Council

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N. Korea steps up border measures

In a separate report, the Korean Central Broadcasting Station said that the country is building a “blockade wall” deep inside the border area and near the Military Demarcation Line…reports Asian Lite News

North Korean authorities have stepped up anti-virus measures along the inter-Korean border and at the sea, state media reports said on Sunday.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in the report that Pyongyang is “firmly establishing a blockade wall in the areas near the border and the Military Demarcation Line and asking workers and residents to keep established system of action and immediately gain control of and respond to even the slightest abnormal situations”.

In a separate report, the Korean Central Broadcasting Station said that the country is building a “blockade wall” deep inside the border area and near the Military Demarcation Line, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Both outlets also reported that the country is taking strong measures in coastal areas to prevent the inflow of the novel coronavirus.

Last week, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) told a parliamentary intelligence committee that Pyongyang was taking measures that “go against common sense” to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

For example, the North has neglected food aid arriving from China despite its economic difficulties, the NIS said.

North Korea is yet to report a confirmed Covid-19 case.

Also read:Xi arrives in North Korea

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Volcano flares up in Indonesia

The ash column is thick and gray, moving to the east and the west, Xinhua news agency quoted the Agency for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation as saying in a statement…reports Asian Lite News

The Ili Lewotolok volcano in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province erupted on Sunday, spewing a column of ash 4,000 metres to the sky, authorities said.

The ash column is thick and gray, moving to the east and the west, Xinhua news agency quoted the Agency for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation as saying in a statement.

Seismograph records showed that the eruption, which took place at around 10.45 a.m., occurred for 10 minutes, with a maximum amplitude of 35 mm.



The agency has recommended that residents or tourists should nt carry out any activity in the danger zone within a radius of two km from the summit.

The volcano with a height of 1,018 metres above sea level is now under alert status.

Also read:UAE, Indonesia ink AEO Action Plan

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Chinese Defence Minister lands in Nepal

Wei’s agenda and objectives for his day-long visit to the Himalayan nation is yet to be disclosed by either of the two governments…reports Asian Lite News

Two days after Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla concluded a successful trip to Nepal, Chinese Defence Minister and State Councillor Wei Fenghe arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday.

Wei’s agenda and objectives for his day-long visit to the Himalayan nation is yet to be disclosed by either of the two governments.

He is the senior most Chinese official to visit Nepal in the last one year after President Xi Jinping’s trip to the Himalayan nation in October 2019.

According to media reports, after completing the Nepal visit, Wei will leave for Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Nepal’s Foreign Ministry termed the trip as a “working visit” and during his one-day stay in Kathmandu, Wei will meet President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who is also the Defence Minister, and General Purna Chandra Thapa, Chief of Army Staff, Nepali Army.

He will leave Kathmandu on Sunday evening.

Nepali experts and foreign policy observers have said that Wei’s visit is “very meaningful” at a time when dispute and discord in the ruling Nepal Communist Party has reached an all time high; slow implementation of China’s Belt and Road Initiative; and Beijing quest to know the position of South Asian nations towards recent India-US strategic pacts among others.

Also read:SCCI, China to boost economic and investment ties

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Turkey under 2nd weekend lockdown as cases surge

Despite the measures however, the number of coronavirus cases has been following an upward trend in the nation, prompting additional restrictions…reports Asian Lite News

Turkey observed the second weekend as part of a partial curfew imposed across the country in an effort to to curb the increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

In the largest city of Istanbul with a population of 16.5 million, markets and groceries were filled with customers who were doing some final shopping before the lockdown started at 8 p.m. on Saturday, reports xinhua news agency.

The curfew will end at 10 a.m. on Sunday before starting again at 8 p.m. and running until 5 a.m. on Monday.

Videos aired by some media outlets showed crowd gatherings in several locations of the city, especially along the seaside, and ignoring the coronavirus-related rules.

In mid-November, the government reimposed partial lockdowns on weekends, closed restaurants and cafes, and introduced new working hours for the businesses, suspending all activities of local gaming halls, clubs, tea gardens, as well as football fields across the country.

Despite the measures however, the number of coronavirus cases has been following an upward trend in the nation, prompting additional restrictions.

The Interior Ministry announced on Friday that the meetings and activities of non-governmental organizations, associations, professional organizations, unions, and cooperatives are suspended for three more months.

Turkey has so far reported more than 578,000 confirmed cases, with 13,373 deaths.

Also read:Turkey sees highest single-day jump in Covid-19 cases

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Turkey sees highest single-day jump in Covid-19 cases

Turkey has reintroduced several restrictions to curb the rapid rise of coronavirus cases, including a partial curfew from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. imposed nationwide on weekends…reports Asian Lite News

Turkey reported 30,103 new Covid-19 cases, the highest single-day spike since the onset of the pandemic in the country earlier this year, the Health Ministry said.

Saturday’s cases increased the overall infection tally to 578,347, reports Xinhua news agency.

The death toll rose by 182 to 13,373, while the total recoveries climbed to 396,227 in the last 24 hours, said the Ministry.

The rate of pneumonia in Covid-19 patients is 3.4 per cent and the number of seriously ill patients is 4,903 in Turkey.

A total of 174,443 tests were conducted over the past day, it added.

Turkey has reintroduced several restrictions to curb the rapid rise of coronavirus cases, including a partial curfew from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. imposed nationwide on weekends. S

chools will remain closed till the end of the year, with students switching to online education.

Turkey reported its first confirmed Covid-19 case on March 11.

Also read:Turkey, Russia call for global support for Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire

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Khamenei urges ‘punishment’ of scientist’s murderers

He also called on the country’s authorities to “seriously probe this crime and punish the perpetrators”…reports Asian Lite News

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday called for the “punishment” of the ones involved in the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the country’s top nuclear scientist.

In a statement posted on Khamenei’s website, the Supreme Leader said that the prominent defence and nuclear scientist was “martyred by the criminal mercenaries”, reports Xinhua news agency.

He also called on the country’s authorities to “seriously probe this crime and punish the perpetrators”.

Khamenei further urged the “continuation of scientific and technological efforts” of Fakhrizadeh’s.

A professor of physics at Imam Hussein University of Tehran, Fakhrizadeh, dubbed the “father of the Iranian bomb”, was assassinated near the capital city on Friday by “armed terrorists”, the country’s Ministry of Defence announced.

The Ministry’s media office said Fakhrizadeh “was severely wounded in the course of clashes between his security team and terrorists, and was transferred to hospital”, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Fakhrizadeh also headed the Defence Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND).

The Iranian government suspects that the assassination was conducted by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, though Tel Aviv has neither confirmed nor denied the allegation, according to media reports.

Also read:‘Global arrogance’: Iran blames Israel after top nuclear scientist assassinated

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Aus PM mulls action against top army officers

Morrison revealed that he has advised that senior officers face disciplinary action for allowing the “warrior culture” identified by the inquiry to develop in the special forces…reports Asian Lite News

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for senior defence officers to be held accountable for war crimes allegedly committed by soldiers in Afghanistan.

The government on November 19 released the findings of a landmark four-year war crimes inquiry, which found “credible evidence” that Australian soldiers murdered 39 prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016, recommending criminal proceedings against the soldiers, reports Xinhua news agency.

Morrison revealed that he has advised that senior officers face disciplinary action for allowing the “warrior culture” identified by the inquiry to develop in the special forces.

“In each case, it’s important that not only is there accountability in the defence forces for individual alleged acts, but also in the chain of command about those who had responsibilities and accountabilities in that chain of command,” he said.

“That’s what I expect to be done. That’s what I’ve made very clear through the Defence Minister, who has made that point to both the Chief of the Defence Force as well as the oversight panel,” the Prime Minister added.

Morrison’s comments came as Army Chief Rick Burr confirmed that 13 soldiers who were “accessories” or “witnesses” of alleged murders have been issued show cause notices, giving them 14 days to show why they should not be dismissed from the Australian Defence Force.

“This whole process will take time, and we will do this work methodically, deliberately, and in accordance with established process,” Burr told reporters.

Also read:Australia’s oldest museum to reopen