Talks with the Iranian delegation on compensation over the crashed Ukraine International Airlines passenger plane were “constructive” and have yielded results, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Friday.
Kuleba said during a briefing that one of the main successes of yesterday’s 11-hour negotiations was that the Iranian side got involved in the negotiation process to establish all the circumstances of the plane crash, bringing those responsible to justice and having them pay the necessary compensation.
Iran has agreed to fulfill its obligations under international aviation conventions, said the minister, noting that the investigators, technical experts, and lawyers of the two countries would continue talks to determine all circumstances and all the legal and technical nuances of the situation.
Later, the information will be used to calculate the amount of compensation, Kuleba added.
The Boeing-737, en route from Tehran to Kiev, was shot down by two rockets shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on Jan. 8. The tragedy resulted in the deaths of all 167 passengers and nine crew members on board, who were citizens of Ukraine, Iran, Canada, Sweden, Afghanistan, and Britain.
Later, Iran’s armed forces confirmed that an “unintentional” launch of a military missile by the country was the cause of the incident.
The transcript of the black boxes from the plane confirmed the fact of illegal interference with the plane. Earlier this month, Kuleba said it was too soon to blame human error for the downing of the airliner and that many questions remained unanswered.
Lebanese foreign minister resigns to protest government’s poor performance
Lebanese Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti submitted his resignation on Monday to protest the government’s poor performance, warning that Lebanon could become a “failed state.”
Hitti said he wished government members would reconsider many policies and practices to prioritise the interests of the citizens and the country.
If those in power did not work towards the interests of the Lebanese people “to rescue them, then the boat, God forbid, will sink with everyone,” Hitti said in a statement.
“Lebanon today is not the same that we cherished and wanted as a beacon and a model. Lebanon today is slipping into becoming a failed state,” Hitti added.
Hitti submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Hassan Diab.
A Lebanese government source said that Hitti’s resignation was also the result of Diab undermining the foreign minister’s position during last month’s visit by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“Hitti felt he was being marginalized regarding certain regional issues,” the source, who requested anonymity, told dpa.
Diab, supported by the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and their main ally Lebanese President Michel Aoun was appointed to form a government on Dec. 19 amid nationwide mass protests against corruption and for economic reforms.
In January, Diab formed his 20-member cabinet which vowed to tackle an ongoing economic crisis, which has been the worst to hit the country since the 1975-90 civil war.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Israeli army says it hit squad placing explosives along Syria border
The army said it “thwarted an attempt by 4 terrorists” to place the explosives.
“Our troops and aircraft fired toward the squad & a hit was identified,” the IDF said in a tweet, adding that they were “ready for any scenario & hold the Syrian regime responsible for all events in Syria.”
“We understand that they are killed,” a senior IDF officer later told dpa, speaking on the four armed men.
An engineering force was in the area and was about to “neutralise” the bomb, he said.
He was unable to say to which organisation the group belonged.
Throughout the week soldiers on lookout posts with a view of the border had been aware of “suspicious” activity and seen men dressed as shepherds approaching the border fence, the officer said.
On Sunday evening, they again spotted suspects approaching the border at around 8 pm (1700 GMT).
At around 11 pm (2000 GMT) they spotted four armed men approaching the fence, placing an explosive device near the fence.
“After they placed the improvised explosive device, we opened fire at them,” the senior officer, who declined to be named, told dpa, first from the ground, and subsequently also from an Israeli aircraft.
The bomb was placed at an Israeli outpost that “wasn’t manned at the moment, but can be manned when necessary.”
The squad had crossed the so-called alpha line separating the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and Syria.
However, they had not crossed the fence securing the border, built by Israel several metres inwards from the alpha line.
Israel for the past weeks has been on heightened alert along the borders with Lebanon and with Syria, after it reportedly unwittingly killed a member of the Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah movement in an airstrike outside the Syrian capital of Damascus, destroying an arms depot.
Israel has not confirmed or denied the airstrike, but admitted it was being “active” in both countries to prevent Iran from widening its influence in the region, whether through its proxies such as Hezbollah, or its own Revolutionary Guards.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syrian in the 1967 Six-Day War.
It applied its sovereignty over the strategic plateau overlooking the Sea of Galilee in 1981.
The heavily secured border has largely been quiet in recent years and incidents of this sort have been rare.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Canada’s economy up 4.5 percent in May
Canada’s gross domestic product grew 4.5 percent in May because businesses reopened after unprecedented economic lockdowns due to the COVID-19 spread in March and April, according to Statistics Canada on Friday.
May saw rebounds across multiple industries with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, including retail trade that registered a 16.4 percent surge to mark its largest monthly increase since 1961.
May’s gains offset some of the March and April declines, economic activity remained 15 percent below February’s pre-pandemic level.
In May, 17 of 20 industrial sectors posted increases.
Both goods-producing industries rose 8 percent while the services-producing sector was up 3.4 percent.
Preliminary information indicates an approximate 5 percent increase in GDP for June and an approximate 12 percent decline in real GDP in the second quarter of 2020.
Owing to their preliminary nature, these estimates will be revised on Aug. 28 with the release of the official GDP for June and the second quarter.
Iraqi PM says early elections to be held on June 6, 2021
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Friday set June 6, 2021, as a date for the early elections, which is part of his government’s political program.
“I announce that June 6, 2021, will be the date for the early parliamentary elections and we will do our best to give success to this elections by protecting it and provide its needs,” al-Kadhimi said in a televised speech.
“I ask the parliament to send the electoral law to the presidency for approval, and that the electoral commission to enjoy full independence, in addition to that the elections to be held under international observers,” al-Kadhimi said.
Al-Kadhimi’s comments came after he held a meeting on Thursday with the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), during which he confirmed that the government “is proceeding with the early elections, which is one of the main goals of the government program.”
Late last year, the Iraqi parliament passed most of the elections draft, but differences remained on a few articles due to political row among the political blocs.
On May 6, al-Kadhimi was sworn in as the new prime minister in Iraq, following the approval of the parliament on most of his cabinet members.