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DHAKA, 26 June 2022, (TON): US president Joe Biden has been invited to visit Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s ambassador to the United States, M Shahidul Islam, has met the US president at the White House and conveyed prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s invitation to president Biden.

During the meeting, Biden said that Bangladesh was an important country.

The Bangladesh ambassador said “honoured to have an audience with the US president in the Oval Office.”

By Nasriya Naffin, TON Sri Lanka

Currently, Sri Lanka’s economy is at an unstable stage where it can collapse at any given moment. The country is facing its worst financial crisis where the public has started spending most of their productive time in long lasting queues for their essentials like LP gas, fuel for vehicles, milk powder and kerosene oil.

Furthermore, never ending price hikes on essentials like rice, vegetables, fruits, and medicine has made the nation frustrated. As a consequence protests are taking place in public areas all over the country demanding for daily needs, reasonable price for essentials and mostly importantly demanding for the existing government to resign.

Violence has been repeatedly reported in these anti-government protests where the country police try to control the protesters using teargas and water cannons. Many have been injured and several deaths have been reported.

The unstable political background has already made many parliament members to resign including the former prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksha. Resignation of some members of the parliament has so far done little to calm public anger. Things became far worse after the prime minister stepped down when the president had requested the opposition to join hands with him for a collaborative government.

President Gotabaya requested the opposition leader to take up the duties as the country's prime minister after his elder brother’s resignation. But Sajith refused the position at that time pointing out that he would not work with the present corrupted government. However later he sent a letter of interest to the president for the post of Prime Minister but by that time the president had already selected Ranil Wickramasinghe for the post.

With a new cabinet and the prime minister, the government has not shown any progress on the ongoing crisis.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Sajith Premadasa has individually requested some developed countries and the international community to support Sri Lanka to overcome this situation. He even met some ambassadors to discuss the ongoing crisis and requested these countries to continue provinding help. Sajith urged India and China to extend their support as well. Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently held a discussion with him on the problems faced by children due to the current crisis. During a discussion with the European Union Delegation held recently the opposition leader did not forget to request foreign countries to lift adverse travel advisories imposed on Sri Lanka to boost tourist arrivals and the EU to extend the loan concessions that were provided to rebuild the tourism industry.

Sajith’s strong bonds with the international community and the respect he has gained from many developed countries can bring many benefits and opportunities to the country. Combination of the President, prime minister and opposition leader will give an extra strength to face this crisis. Such a combination will bring back the country's unity and enhance the image of Sri Lanka, which is vital for more foreign assistance. Bringing Sajith into the system can improve the political stability of the country, which is crucial at this point. Sri Lanka needs immediate assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and political stability is a key point they would investigate before they take any further step.

On the Contrary, President Gotabaya has decided to finish his remaining two years in the term despite all the protesters demanding him to go home. “I can’t go as a failed president,” he said at an interview held recently at his residence in Colombo. President has now realized the mistake he has made by completely cutting down the chemical fertilizers in the country to make it 100 percent organic farming which led to a severe food shortage and a drastic price hike in food.

The new Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has formally requested Sajith Premadasa to join hands with the government to resolve the crisis in the country and Premadasa has replied saying he will support any correct decisions made by the government to resolve the problems faced by the people. The PM even sought support from Sajith to assist in raising funds to procure at least one out of 14 essential drugs that are currently in short supply. Sajith has agreed to extend his support in this regard.

Now, is the best time for the President to hold a discussion with him and come up with new strategies to overcome the situation, and get Sajith more involved in the current issues. His experience, knowledge and influence cannot be forgotten at this moment.

The situation has gone out of hand and has become impossible for a single political party to resolve the crisis alone. To survive and overcome the crisis the country needs critical thinking, leadership, and strategies. So far none of the politicians or a political party has demonstrated these traits. Hence, a collective collaboration is the only way forward.

UNITED NATIONS, 25 June 2022, (TON): There is a real risk of multiple famines this year, UN chief Antonio Guterres said and urged ministers meeting on food security to take practical steps to stabilize food markets and reduce commodity price volatility.

Guterres told the meeting in Berlin “we face an unprecedented global hunger crisis.”

He said “the war in Ukraine has compounded problems that have been brewing for years: climate disruption; the pandemic; the deeply unequal recovery.”

More than 460,000 people in Somalia, Yemen and South Sudan are in famine conditions under the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification a scale used by UN agencies, regional bodies and aid groups to determine food insecurity.

This is the step before a declaration of famine in a region.

WASHINGTON, 25 June 2022, (TON): The US Supreme Court ruled “Americans have a fundamental right to carry a handgun in public, a landmark decision with far-reaching implications for states and cities across the country confronting a surge in gun violence.”

The 6-3 decision strikes down a more than century-old New York law that required a person to prove they had a legitimate self-defense need to receive a permit to carry a concealed handgun outside the home.

Five other states, including California, and Washington, the nation’s capital, have similar laws and the ruling will curb their ability to restrict people from carrying guns in public.

Democratic President Joe Biden denounced the decision, saying “it contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.”

Biden said “we must do more as a society not less to protect our fellow Americans.”

KYIV, 25 June 2022, (TON): The European Union’s decision to make Ukraine a candidate for EU membership offered war-weary Ukrainians a morale boost and hope of a more secure future Friday as the country’s military ordered its fighters to retreat from a key city in the eastern Donbas region.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the decision of EU leaders as vindication for his nation’s fight against Russia’s aggression and said “he was determined to ensure Ukraine retained the ability to decide if belonged in Europe or under Moscow’s influence."

Zelensky told the nation in a televised address “this war began just when Ukraine declared its right to freedom. To its choice of its future. We saw it in the European Union.”

“That is why this decision of the EU is so important, motivates us and shows all this is needed not only by us.”

Others recalled the 2014 revolution that ousted Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president, sparked in part by his decision not to complete an association agreement with the EU.

LONDON, 25 June 2022, (TON): UK ministers visited Turkey to discuss NATO policy and possible sales of military equipment ahead of a major summit of the alliance next week.

Days after the high-level trip by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss visited Ankara in the hopes of swaying Turkey to abandon its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

Turkey opposes Swedish and Finnish admission to the alliance because of what it claims is Stockholm’s support for outlawed Kurdish groups.

Earlier in June, Kurdish activists at a rally in Sweden showed images of Abdullah Ocalan, a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is banned by Turkey as a terrorist organization.

In response to the protests, Ankara said “it would block Swedish admission to NATO, a move that angered US lawmakers, who have threatened to halt a deal to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.”

UNITED NATIONS, 25 June 2022, (TON): The agency’s chief said “donors pledged about $160 million for the UN agency helping Palestinian refugees, but it still needs over $100 million to support education for more than half a million children and provide primary health care for close to 2 million people and emergency cash assistance to the poorest refugees.”

Briefing reporters on the outcome of Thursday’s donor conference, Philippe Lazzarini said the pledges when turned into cash will enable the UN Relief and Works Agency known as UNRWA to run its operations through September.

He said “I do not know if we will get the necessary cash to allow us to pay the salaries after the month of September.”

Lazzarini said “we are in an early warning mode.”

TEHRAN, 25 June 2022, (TON): Iran said European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will travel to Tehran for discussions on efforts to revive the country’s 2015 nuclear deal.

Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement “Borrell would arrive in the Iranian capital at night before meeting Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials.”

The statement said “the visit, which is part of ongoing consultations between Iran and the European Union, will focus on bilateral relations, some regional and international issues, as well as the latest status of negotiations to lift sanctions.”

News of the previously unannounced visit comes after Amir-Abdollahian said last week that Iran still believes the negotiations can succeed.

LONDON, 25 June 2022, (TON): King Abdullah II of Jordan said “he supports the idea of a Middle East military alliance built on the same lines as NATO.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, the king said such a grouping could work with like-minded countries, but stressed its mission statement would need to be clear from the outset.

Abdullah said “I’d like to see more countries in the area come into that mix. I would be one of the first people that would endorse a Middle East NATO.”

He added “the mission statement has to be very, very clear. Otherwise, it confuses everybody.”

The king said he already saw his country as a partner of NATO, with Jordan having worked closely with the organization and its troops having fought shoulder to shoulder with NATO forces in the past.

KYIV, 25 June 2022, (TON): A senior Ukrainian official said “Ukrainian forces will retreat from Severodonetsk in the face of a brutal Russian offensive that is reducing the battleground city to rubble.”

The news came shortly after the European Union made a strong show of support for Ukraine, granting the former Soviet republic candidate status, although there is still a long path ahead to membership.

Capturing Severodonetsk, in the Donbas region, has become a key goal of the Russians as they focus their offensive on eastern Ukraine after being repelled from Kyiv following their February invasion.

The strategically important industrial hub has been the scene of weeks of street battles as the outgunned Ukrainians put up a fierce defense.

But Sergiy Gaiday governor of Lugansk, which includes the city said “the Ukrainian military would have to retreat.”

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