The UN Security Council will hold an open meeting on Sunday to discuss the escalation of tensions between Israel and Palestine.
Zhang Jun, China's Permanent Representative to the UN, tweeted that the meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday, reports Xinhua news agency.
"China is deeply concerned about escalation of tensions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. UNSC should act now and send a strong message. Regret a Friday meeting was blocked by one member," said the tweet.
Diplomats said the proposal for a Friday meeting was blocked by the US.
The Norwegian Mission to the UN tweeted that Sunday's meeting was proposed by Norway, Tunisia and China.
China holds the Security Council presidency for the month of May.
Two rounds of closed-door consultations on the issue have been held by the Security Council.
Since the violence erupted on Monday, the Hamas militants in Gaza have so far fired more than 1,700 rockets at northern, central and southern Israeli towns.
Israeli troops, meanwhile, have struck 750 different targets in the Gaza Strip.
The tension between Israel and Gaza militants threatens to further escalate as the Israeli government is reportedly drafting a plan for a possible large-scale ground offensive in Gaza, similar to the one waged in 2014.
The latest wave of violent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians, the worst since 2014, was sparked by an Israeli plan to evict some Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
An earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scaled rocked Indonesia's North Sumatra province on Friday, but did not have the potential to trigger a tsunami, the meteorology and geophysics agency said here.
Earlier the agency said the quake had a magnitude of 7.2 before revising it, Ali Imran, an official in charge at the agency, told Xinhua news agency.
The quake occurred at 1:33 p.m., with the epicentre at 141 km southwest of Nias Barat district and 19 km under sea bed, he said.
"For this quake, no tsunami alert was issued as it was not potential for a tsunami," said Imran.
The intensity of the quake was felt at III to IV MMI (Modified Mercalli Intensity) at Gunungsitoli town, Nias district, Nias Barat district and Nias Selatan district, the official said.
The tremors were also felt at a nearby province of Aceh at III MMI, he added.
An earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale struck off Japan's Fukushima prefecture on Friday, according to authorities.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said that temblor occurred at 8.58 a.m., with its epicentre at a latitude of 37.7 degrees north and a longitude of 141.8 degrees east, and at depth of 40 km, reports Xinhua news agency.
The quake logged 4 in some parts of Fukushima prefecture on the Japanese seismic intensity scale which peaks at 7.
So far no tsunami warning has been issued.
Kolkata, May 9 (IANS) China has started reaping rewards for backing the February 1 military takeover in Myammar. The military regime-controlled Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) this week approved 15 projects, including a Chinese $2.5-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) power project, easily the biggest single investment since the new military takeover.
The MIC, headed by Lt General Moe Myint Tun, did not specify details of the mega project but IANS reliably learned from Myanmarese Planning Department sources that the LNG project approved on Friday is likely to be the Chinese-backed Mee Lin Gyaing power project in the country's Irrawaddy Delta.
The nature and cost revealed by Lt Gen Tun's office matches the Mee Lin Gyaing project first discussed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to Myanmar in 2020.
At that time, Beijing and the National League for Democracy (NLD) government ousted by the February 1 coup signed a letter of intent to speed up implementation of the project under the countries' Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement. At the time of the coup, the Mee Lin Gyaing project was one of two LNG projects awaiting official approval. The other is worth $2 billion.
The 1,390 MW Mee Lin Gyaing project is to be developed jointly by Yunnan Provincial Energy Investment Group Co Ltd, the UREC, Zhefu Holding Group Co Ltd, and thee Supreme Group. The project is expected to be complete in 2023; 35 per cent of the power produced will be distributed to Ayeyarwady Region, with the rest going to Yangon via the national grid.
Myanmar's Supreme Group's Deputy CEO U Htu Htu Aung told IANS that the joint venture company has been awaiting approval for the Mee Lin Gyaing project and is yet to be formally intimated . However, the company has picked up information about the project clearance, Aung said.
Asked about possible delays due to the aftershocks of the coup, Aung said: "It all depended on the foreign investor." "As a local company, we will not say that. It would depend on the main foreign investors," he said.
The MIC said 100 per cent power from these new approval LNG projects would be sold domestically, in pursuit of power self-reliance target set for 2030. The MIC said that it has also approved new projects for livestock, manufacturing and other sectors, and increases in the capital of two existing projects.
The World Bank's latest forecast reveals that Myanmar's economy is on a nose dive projected to contract by 10 per cent this year due to the impact of the military takeover.
Recently, the United Nations Development Programme warned that all financial reports since the coup indicated Myanmar is approaching economic collapse. The number of new registered companies declined nearly 87 per cent following the coup compared to the same period last year.
Washington, May 9 (IANS) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that some US actions in recent years have undermined the rules-based world order.
"I know that some of our actions in recent years have undermined the rules-based order and led others to question whether we are still committed to it," Blinken made the remarks at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Multilateralism, Xinhua reported.
During the administration of former US President Donald Trump, the US announced its exit from some international agreements, such as its withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, a landmark agreement signed in 2015 between Iran and six major countries.
The US decided to quit the Paris Agreement in June 2017 and formally withdrew from the climate change deal on November 4, 2020, making it the only nation among nearly 200 signatories that has abandoned this global agenda on combating climate change.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif has been barred from flying to the UK on Saturday by the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), a day after the Lahore High Court (LHC) removed his name from the 'blacklist'.
FIA immigration officials reportedly offloaded the opposition leader from a flight to Doha after his name was found to be present on the blacklist, which prevents him from leaving the country, The Express Tribune reported.
He was scheduled to leave Lahore for Doha, after which he was to leave for London after 10 days quarantine in Qatar.
After being denied permission to travel, Sharif returned to his residence in the city.
Speaking to an immigration official at the airport, PML-N leaders informed that the oppostion leader has been granted conditional permission to travel abroad for medical treatment by the LHC, to which the official responded that he was barred from leaving the country until the clearance on the immigration system is updated.
On Friday, LHC granted permission to Sharif to travel abroad once for medical treatment after he filed a petition with the court, seeking directions to the quarters concerned for the removal of his name from the travel blacklist.
Visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Saturday have affirmed their commitment to fortify the 'upward trajectory' in bilateral relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Islamabad said.
The Prime Minister and the Crown Prince met in Jeddah and held wide-ranging talks on bilateral, regional and international issues, The Express Tribune quoted the Ministry as saying.
"The talks were marked by exceptional cordiality and a commitment to fortify the upward trajectory in the bilateral relationship.
"The two leaders reaffirmed the strong and historic bonds between the two countries rooted firmly in shared beliefs, common values, mutual trust and longstanding tradition of mutual support," it added.
During the meeting, special emphasis was laid on increasing Saudi investments in Pakistan, collaboration in the field of energy, and increased job opportunities for Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, according to the MoFA.
The two leaders also signed an agreement on the establishment of the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council (SPSCC).
Khan also extended an invitation to Crown Prince Salman to visit Pakistan, stated the MoFA.
Besides Foreign Minister Qureshi, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, Senator Faisal Javed and other senior officials are also part of the official delegation, reports The Express Tribune.
On May 4, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Riyadh to meet Saudi civil and military leadership in what seemed to be part of the preparation of the prime minister's visit.
Kolkata, May 6 (IANS) Chasing a lead generated by SIGINT interception, Bangladesh counter-terrorism officials have nabbed a militant of radical Islamist group Ansar-al-Islam, who has admitted to planning an attack on Jatiya Sangsad (parliament).
Ansar radical Sakib has confessed to his plans to attack the parliament after his arrest from Dhaka's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area on Wednesday evening.
Ali Hasan Osama, a radical preacher known as 'Banglar Osama' for his intemperate speeches, was also arrested from Rajbari district early on Thursday, Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit Deputy Commissioner, Saiful Islam, told media persons.
Ali Hasan Osama is seen as a spiritual leader like Mufti Jasim Uddin Rahmani, who was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison in connection with secular blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider's murder.
Ansar use Osama's provocative speeches and books among their rank and file.
CTTC has reasons to believe that Sakib was member of the Ansar secret hit cell which was planning an attack on the Jatiya Sangsad. Other members of the cell and its leader are still at large, but CTTC has "useful leads" it does not want to reveal at this moment.
"The operation to foil the threat is still on and we are going for other members of the cell who are absconding," a CTTC official said.
It seems a Pakistani Islamist group, possibly Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e Mohammed was the mastermind behind the attack and the Ansar-al-Islam in Bangladesh was their preferred choice in the country to carry it out, they said.
They were operating in Bangladesh under cover of a Islamist humanitarian group working in Rohingya camps, the officials said.
Officials privy to Sakib's disclosure point to a plan in which a small cell would infiltrate the Jatiya Sangsad building and storm the hall during the session, lobbing grenades and firing indiscriminately to kill maximum number of lawmakers.
Since most of them are from ruling Awami League, they would be "legitimate targets".
Sakib has hinted that their Pakistani handlers were interested in a high kill rate rather than hostage taking, which seemed the target of the attack on Indian parliament on December 13, 2001.
A similar max-kill strategy went into the August 2004 grenade attack on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's rally in Dhaka. BNP leader Tareque Rahman, believed to be close to Pakistan's ISI, is said to have commissioned the attack and his cronies planned with cooperation from ISI 'covert station' in Dhaka , according to Bangladesh intelligence sources.
"Essentially, the 1975 coup strategy of total elimination has influenced all these terror attack plans and this one would no different. The target is complete elimination of Awami League leadership to the extent possible, " said Bangladesh watcher Sukhoranjan Dasgupta, author of a book on the 1975 coup that wiped out almost all of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's family.
Kolkata, May 3 (IANS) China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is for the first time forming exclusive military formations manned by ethnic Tibetans. India's external and military intelligence officials told IANS that senior PLA officials are touring specific areas of Tibet to raise the Tibetan-only force.
But they said that most of the recruits are mixed Tibetans -- mostly children of Tibetan mothers and Han Chinese fathers or otherwise. Most of them are children of ex-PLA Han Chinese soldiers who got married to Tibetans, intelligence officials said.
PLA officers based in Lhasa have been to Ngari Prefecture in the far west of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and then to the border county of Zanda or Tsamda County to recruit for the Special Tibetan Army Unit.
The recruitment rallies began in February and are still continuing.
"It is a fairly long process because the security vetting process after the initial selection on the basis of a tough physical and IQ test is very extensive," said an intelligence official monitoring the process. He said the Chinese authorities are keen to ensure that no anti-Beijing Tibetan sneaks into the force.
"So not only are Tibetan localities with a history of protest against Beijing's rule scrupulously avoided, but past records of individual recruits even in the most secure places are screened extensively," the official said, but on condition of anonymity for obvious reasons.
The PLA also carried out a phased recruitment drive in Lhasa to induct many Tibetans. The plan is to raise a four battalion force initially for special operations on the lines of India's secretive Tibetan force, the Special Frontier Force or SFF.
The SFF was raised in 1960s by Major General Sujan Singh Uban, a legendary expert in irregular warfare, for special operations inside Tibet in the event of a conflict with China.
During last year's Ladakh standoff, the SFF commandoes unleashed take-and-hold operations on some unoccupied heights around Pangong Tso which finally forced the Chinese to settle on a mutually agreed pullback.
The SFF's success and the ease with which these Tibetans negotiated the icy heights on the Himalayas convinced PLA commanders they would do better than Han Chinese troops.
"These new recruitment drives are happening because units with Han Chinese troops are suffering serious health problems such as severe mountain sickness and high altitude pulmonary edema," said an Indian medical service expert in high altitude sickness.
According to PLA Daily, China's military has framed guidelines to help troops serving in Tibet save themselves from altitude sickness. In the 2 million plus PLA, only 3,000 to 4,000 Tibetans serve at the moment. "So this recruitment is significant," said Lt Gen J.R. Mukherjee, former Chief of Staff in India's Eastern Army. He told IANS the Chinese have been looking to recruit both Tibetans and Nepali Gurkhas.
"They have failed to get Gurkhas because they are tied to the Indian army for historical and emotional reasons, so they have to find Tibetans because an average Chinese soldier cannot match our boys in the high Himalayas physically," Mukherjee said.
With nearly 100 million Americans fully vaccinated and new coronavirus cases at their lowest level since last October, the US might have attained or will reach the crucial inflection point, the media reported.
While some researchers argue it's still too soon to say, a growing number of epidemiologists, infectious disease researchers and public health experts think that the vaccination campaign may be helping the country win the race against the coronavirus, according to a report in NPR.org.
"I think we've hit a tipping point. We've really turned a corner on this latest wave. And I think that the worst days of the pandemic really are now behind us," Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, was quoted as saying.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 34 per cent proportion of the US population already have some immunity to the virus from having been exposed to the virus.
Added to this is the vaccination campaign, the report said. More than 43 per cent of the population has now gotten at least one shot, and a third are fully vaccinated. That's getting very close to where other countries, such as Israel, started to turn the corner and experience a precipitous drop in infections, it added.
The combination of natural immunity from people who were exposed and vaccination "means we may be closer to 60 per cent population immunity already," Jha said. "That's why I'm pretty confident we have turned the corner."
After months of rising, the number of daily infections in the US has begun to fall again. It has on average dropped 27 per cent in the last two weeks.
However, in places, such as Oregon, Washington state, and parts of Colorado and Arizona, the infections are spreading fast, leading experts to warn people of letting down their guard too soon.
"There was a fourth surge, whether it's already receding isn't yet knowable. It didn't feel so bad because it was so much smaller than the third. It has been a bit larger than the second, and may not be over yet," Thomas Frieden, a former director of the CDC, was quoted as saying.
Ethnic Karen rebels, now training nearly 300 Burmese for urban insurgency, have unleashed a fresh offensive in eastern Myanmar near the Thailand border, capturing a military base and withstanding air strikes.
A rebel spokesman said fighters of the Karen National Union stormed the Tatmadaw (Burmese army) camp west of the Salween River, which demarcates part of the Thai-Myanmar border after four hours of fierce fighting on Tuesday.
"Our troops captured the Burmese military camp around 5 am after a midnight attack," Karen National Union (KNU) head of foreign affairs Padoh Saw Taw Nee told IANS.
He said Karen fighters chased down stragglers from the Burmese army camp into the Salween river and shot many of them.
"The Tatmadaw was routed. It was a great victory," Nee said.
Myanmar's military staged air strikes for several hours later in villages in territory controlled by the Karen rebels, said Nee.
There was no immediate comment from Myanmar's military on the incident.
Though the KNU spokesman does not yet officially admit training ethnic Burmese protesters who have formed groups like 'Federal Army' and 'Burma Resistance', that IANS was the first to report, it is reliably learnt that the KNU offensive was aimed at providing 'safe passage' to the Burmese protesters.
The KNU however admits to sheltering 2000 anti-coup dissidents.
"If KNU manages to occupy this camp west of Salween River, it is easy for us to reach them and train and arm ourselves to fight the military junta," said Nay Lin, 28.
He joined the 'Federal Army' in March after military mowed down friends during street protests and headed southeast towards Karen province. Lin said over a messaging app that his group has now merged with two other hurriedly-formed groups in early April to form the United Defence Front (UDF).
"We will hit the Tatmadaw hard and also their Chinese backers," he said.
Lin says most recruits for UDF were students and youths in 20-30 age group but some were between 35 and 40.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since Feb 1 military takeover in which elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted.
The anti-coup movement has received broad support in the country and some protesters have got together to form groups to hit back at the military and Chinese business interests, because Beijing is perceived as the main backer of the Tatmadaw.
Some of Myanmar's armed insurgent groups, which have for decades been fighting the military for greater autonomy, have backed the popular uprising and the KNU has started arming and training ethnic Burmese to raise an urban insurgent force to take on the Tatmadaw.
The KNU agreed to a ceasefire in 2012, ending their insurgency for autonomy that began shortly after Myanmar's independence from Britain in 1948.
But their forces have clashed with the army since it seized power on Feb 1.
Last month, after the KNU overran a military base, the junta responded with multiple air strikes at night, the first use of air power in Karen state in over 20 years.
Some villagers had already left their homes for other towns in fear of retaliation from the Myanmar military.
Clashes have intensified in the Karen state in recent weeks, displacing more than 24,000 civilians, including some 2,000 who crossed the river to seek brief refuge on the Thai side.
The KNU has condemned the military takeover and admitted to sheltering at least 2,000 anti-coup dissidents who fled urban centres of unrest.
Security forces have killed more than 750 civilians since February 1, according to a local monitoring group tracking the death toll.
The junta has a much lower figure and blames the violence on "rioters".