WASHINGTON, 03 January 2023, (TON): The United States reopened its embassy in the Solomon Islands after a 30-year hiatus, part of a bid to counter China’s growing influence in the South Pacific.
Re-establishing the diplomatic outpost was a renewal “of our commitment to the people of Solomon Islands and our partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region”, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The US closed its embassy in the capital Honiara in 1993 after the end of the Cold War led to a reduction in diplomatic posts and a shift in priorities.
Washington signalled its intent to re-establish a Honiara embassy in early 2022 before the Solomons signed a secret security pact with China.
WASHINGTON, 03 January 2023, (TON): Kevin McCarthy is spearheading an effort to prevent Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from serving on the chamber’s Foreign Affairs Committee due to her prior criticism of Israel, reported Al Jazeera.
This is one of his first actions as speaker of the US House of Representatives.
The proposal to dismiss Omar from the panel was advanced on Wednesday by the House’s Republican majority. Democrats rejected the move and charged McCarthy with racism for focusing on the legislator, one of just two Muslim women serving in the US Congress and a former refugee of Somali heritage.
The resolution against Omar was initially challenged by a few Republicans, who questioned McCarthy’s ability to carry it given the GOP’s slim majority.
KYIV, 03 January 2023, (TON): With the United States expected to send a new longer-range weapon to Ukraine, it has answered President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s plea for rockets that can strike deep behind the front lines of the nearly year-long conflict with Russia.
Now Russian forces will need to adapt or face potentially catastrophic losses.
The new weapon, the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), will allow Ukraine’s military to hit targets at twice the distance reachable by the rockets it now fires from the U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.
If included as expected in an upcoming weapons-aid package first reported by Reuters, the 151 km (94 mile) GLSDB will put all of Russia’s supply lines in the east of the country within reach, as well as part of Russian-occupied Crimea.
DUBAI, 03 January 2023, (TON): Iran blamed Israel for a drone attack on a military factory near the central city of Isfahan, the semi-official news agency said, vowing revenge for what appeared to be the latest episode in a long-running covert war.
The attack came amid tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear activity and its supply of arms including long-range “suicide drones” for Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as months of anti-government demonstrations at home.
In a letter to the UN chief, Iran’s UN envoy, Amir Saeid Iravani, said “primary investigation suggested Israel was responsible” for Saturday night’s attack, which Tehran had said caused no casualties or serious damage.
YEMEN, 03 January 2023, (TON): French naval forces seized thousands of assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles earlier this month in the Gulf of Oman coming from Iran heading to Yemen’s Houthi militia, officials said, the latest such interdiction amid the Mideast nation’s long-running war.
While Iran did not immediately acknowledge the seizure, images of the weapons released by the US military’s Central Command showed them to be similar to others captured by American forces in other shipments tied back to Tehran.
The announcement comes as Iran faces increasing Western pressure over its shipment of drones to arm Russia during its war on Ukraine, as well as for its violent monthslong crackdown targeting protesters. Regional tensions also have heightened after a suspected Israeli drone attack on a military workshop in the central Iranian city of Isfahan.
Previous cycles of violence since the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers have seen the Islamic Republic launch retaliatory attacks at sea.
PARIS, 03 January 2023, (TON): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, hoping to gain support against Iran’s nuclear program but shadowed by an upsurge of violence in the region.
Israel’s Paris embassy said “the international effort to stop the Iranian nuclear program.”
Netanyahu hopes that Iran’s role supplying drones to Russian invaders in Ukraine as well as the crackdown on protests at home will prompt Western allies to drop any pursuit of a revival of the 2015 deal over its atomic drive.
The prime minister has also said Israel is considering sending military aid to Ukraine, apparently dropping its previously more neutral stance over the conflict.
LONDON, 01 February 2023, (TON): British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended his record on integrity and decisiveness, amid criticism of the way he has handled ethics scandals involving senior Conservatives.
Sunak said he acted “pretty decisively” to fire party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi after the government’s standards adviser found that he’d breached ministerial conduct rules by failing to come clean about a tax dispute.
The adviser, Laurie Magnus, found that Zahawi hadn’t told the prime minister that he’d settled a multimillion-pound (dollar) unpaid tax bill, and paid a penalty to the tax office, while he was in charge of the UK Treasury.
Magnus said Zahawi’s failure to tell officials about the tax investigation was “a serious failure to meet the standards set out in the ministerial code.”
SEOUL, 01 February 2023, (TON): The defence chiefs of the United States and South Korea will hold talks in Seoul as Washington seeks to reassure a key Asian ally over its nuclear commitment amid growing threats from North Korea.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Seoul on Monday and is set to meet South Korean Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup, following their annual security talks in November in Washington.
The latest meeting comes as South Korea pushes to bolster confidence in American extended deterrence – its military capability, especially nuclear forces, to deter attacks on its allies.
Nuclear-armed North Korea launched an unprecedented number of missiles last year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
PARIS, 01 February 2023, (TON): The Battle of Stalingrad, which turned the tide of World War II 80 years ago when German forces capitulated to the Red Army, remains a powerful symbol of patriotism in Russia as it presses its war in Ukraine.
One of the largest battles in history, the fighting raged for more than six months in 1942 and 1943 before the Russians defeated Nazi soldiers trapped in the ruined city in the depths of winter.
By the time it was over, on February 2, 1943, between one and two million people had died.
The first-ever surrender by the Nazis was glorified in Russia as the event that rescued Europe from Adolf Hitler.
SANTIAGO, 01 February 2023, (TON): German Chancellor Olaf Scholz s bid this week to rally support for Ukraine in the face of Russia s invasion during his first South American tour fell flat, with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reiterating his view both parties shared blame.
Scholz has sought to project unity on Ukraine during his whistlestop three-day tour, thanking all three countries he has visited – Argentina, Chile and Brazil – for condemning Russia s invasion at the United Nations General Assembly last year.
But the fallout of the war and harsh sanctions on Russia, such as soaring food and energy prices, have hit the region particularly hard, raising questions over the West s approach. Skepticism also abounds about interventionism and sanctions given its own past.