United Nations General Assembly
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said there is no scope now for anyone to grab power illegally in Bangladesh and the violators have to face the music. “If anyone comes to power, creating trouble and violating the constitution, then s/he will face punishment. It should not be forgotten,” she said. The prime minister made the remarks while addressing a press conference at Bangladesh Permanent Mission in UN here. She is now in New York to participate in the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Will continue to promote democracy as per constitution: PM Hasina says in UNGA She said if anyone other than only elected representatives wants to come to power through an alternative way, they will have to face punishment. “It will have to be kept in mind. They will have to face the music,” she said. The PM said she has been in power facing many obstacles emerging from inside of the country. If the people vote for Awami League, the party will come in power again. Don’t forget the Rohingyas: PM Hasina urges Int’l community Pointing to those who are saying that they would impose sanctions, if an attempt is made to thwart the election, she said, “I would like to say that this attempt to thwart the election should not be made from outside the country as well.” She said if it is spoiled (the election) from outside the country, the people of Bangladesh will also impose sanctions. “We would like to see that no attempt is made from outside the country as well,” she said. Noting that she introduced the slogan that ‘I cast my vote on my choice’ in the country, she said her party was able to establish it. The people are now conscious enough over their voting rights, she added. PM will address UNGA on Friday Focusing on the electoral reforms made by her government, the premier said now the ballot boxes are transparent and there is no scope for filling the boxes with fake votes. The electoral rolls are made including photographs. These (the electoral system) were reformed, she added. She said the law regarding constitution of the Election Commission was made by none other than Awami League. “We’ve made the electoral process transparent. We’ve given the Election Commission the absolute financial freedom,” she said. She said the EC was once under the control of the Prime Minister’s Office. “The Election Commission is now completely independent. It is the Awami League government that made it. It’ll have to be kept in mind,” she went on. Hasina said she would like to tell those who are becoming worried about the election of Bangladesh that the people are the source of power and the owners of the state as per the article-7 of its constitution. In reply to another question about the new visa policy announced by the USA in case of undermining the election in Bangladesh, the PM said the people voted spontaneously in many elections, by-elections and local body elections held during the regimes of Awami League. She said AL came in power, getting the mandate of the people in the election. “So, we also want the election to be free and transparent,” she added. Noting that opposition (parties) was also mentioned in today's announcement, she said it is good from one perspective that BNP can’t go for thwarting the election like they unleashed arson violence to obstruct the 2014 election and resorted to violence and attacked police to spoil the 2018 election. The PM said they should impose sanctions, considering who starts undermining the election first. “If only the Awami League is targeted, I’ve nothing to say,” she said. Responding to a question if Saima Wazed would be picked for the next leadership position, Sheikh Hasina said, “The possibility is very slim. The people of Bangladesh and my party (Awami League) will decide who will come to the leadership or not in future.” In reply to a question over corruption, she said many people now try to tarnish the image of Bangladesh by publishing news exaggerating tiny things. This evil-attempt is very harmful for the image of the country, she added. She said her government doesn’t spare anyone in case of even any small corruption. She questioned how Bangladesh would have been able to witness such a huge development if such corruption had taken place. The PM asked the Bangladeshi expatriates to send remittance through legal channels and not pay heed to rumours.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has left Washington DC for Dhaka wrapping up her 18-day official visit to the UK and the USA. A VVIP chartered flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines carrying the premier and her entourage left Washington at about 6:30 pm (local time). Read: Hasina invites MBS to visit Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh Ambassador to USA Muhammad Imran and Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the UN Muhammad Abdul Muhith saw the PM off at the airport. She will have a stopover in London before reaching Dhaka early Tuesday. Hasina went to London on September 15, on an official visit to the United Kingdom mainly to attend Queen Elizabeth II's funeral and a reception hosted by King Charles III. Read:PM in NY: Rohingyas living in Myanmar’s Arakan since 8th century On September 19, she left London for New York. During her stay in the USA, Sheikh Hasina addressed the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 23. She also took part in several events on the sidelines of the UNGA.
The United Nations General Assembly returns to its full, in-person, i.e. pre-pandemic format restored for the first time in three years this week. That doesn’t mean the frictions and even the fault lines in the international community that the dreaded Coronavirus exposed, or some might say exploited, have gone away of course. In fact, they are providing the flavour to the exchanges taking place, whether in the cavernous General Assembly Hall where leaders take the lectern to address upto 200 country delegations, or any of the countless sideline events that have sprung up to form an important, vibrant ecosystem for the ideas that seek a better world, there has been an edge to this year’s early exchanges that no seasoned observer will have missed. Take the traditional state-of-the-world address that the secretary-general delivers each year, formally commencing the session. Usually this can come off as a dose of milktoast, and most years they tend to be forgotten even before they’re finished. Now it is true that the current secretary general, who used to be the elected head of government of a UN member state in his past life, has seemed prepared to challenge such conventions, since taking up the position in 2017. Yet it was the no-nonsense language, the gloomy tone and the focus not only on the breadth of challenges confronting what he called “the splintering world,” but also the stark and often controversial solutions he offered that made this year’s secretary-general’s address a landmark, a marker in the sand. Read: What PM said on Russia-Ukraine war, Rohingya issue, climate action, terrorism at 77th UNGA Admonishing “the international community” – of which he could be asserted as first citizen – as “unready or unwilling” to tackle the big, global challenges of our times, he would go on to depict this as an abdication of responsibility, for which any castigation would be well-deserved. Drawing the attention of the world leaders, Gutierres listed the war in Ukraine, the spreading of conflicts that can be contained, climate change of course, ending extreme poverty and achieving quality education for all children as the most pressing issues of our time, for which solutions are still available, as long as the leadership is ready to steer us there. David Scheffer, a former U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues who is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has already called it “the most consequential speech by a secretary-general in the history of the United Nations.” Although that may sound a bit hyperbolic, you could see how the spirit of the secretary-general’s speech could come across as a real clarion call, at a time when the world is hungering for some real leadership. Read: PM Hasina in New York to attend UNGA Meanwhile over at the Security Council, the UN’s highest decision-making body, you had some real fireworks as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken came face-to-face with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, for the first time since the start of the war. A phone call in July was the only other contact they had in this period – this is where the potential of UNGA week makes your eyes light up. The meeting was called to discuss allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses by Russian forces. But Lavrov turned up 90 minutes late, was in a foul mood while he was there – which was understandable given that almost everyone else was rounding on Moscow – and walked out when the Ukrainian ambassador was called on to make a statement. “Insults, accusations and talk of war crimes and nuclear holocaust dominated the world’s premier diplomatic stage,” wrote the New York Times in its recap of the meeting. It seems the forum, no matter how hallowed, can only take you so far, when even leaders fail to see eye-to-eye. Read: UNGA lauds Bangladesh’s leadership in promoting culture of peace
Australia will provide lethal military equipment to Ukraine to help the Ukrainians resist the Russian invasion. The Australian government's announcement Monday gave no details on what material it may be sending. The move follows an offer on Friday of non-lethal military equipment, medical supplies and a $3 million contribution to a NATO trust fund for support of the besieged country. Australia has imposed sanctions on more than 350 Russian individuals, including Russian President Vladimir Putin since Thursday. Australia has also targeted with sanctions 13 individuals and entities in Belarus, including that country's defense minister, Viktor Khrenin. Belarus is supporting Russia in its war with Ukraine. ___ TORONTO — The two largest media companies in Canada are dropping Russian state TV channel RT from their cable offerings. Rogers spokesman Andrew Garas says Russia Today will no longer be available on its channel lineup as of Monday. The Bell media company also is removing RT. Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is commending the action, saying Russia has been conducting warfare in Ukraine since 2014 and information warfare across the world. He says RT is the propaganda arm of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime that spreads disinformation. Read:Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert, escalating tensions ___ FRANKFURT, Germany — An Austria-based subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned Sberbank has been ruled likely to fail after depositors fled due to the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The European Central Bank said early Monday that the bank had 13.6 billion euros in assets at the end of last year, but has experienced “significant deposit outflows” due to “geopolitical tensions.” The ECB says Vienna-headquartered Sberbank Europe AG “is likely to be unable to pay its debts or other liabilities as they fall due.” The bank is a fully owned subsidiary of Russia’s Sberbank, whose majority shareholder is the Russian government. Europe’s bank resolution board separately says it has imposed a payments ban on money owed by the bank and a limit on how much depositors can withdraw. The board will decide on further steps, which could include restructuring, selling or liquidating the bank. Sberbank Europe operates 185 branches and has more than 3,933 employees. ___ KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s Interior Ministry says 352 Ukrainian civilians have been killed during Russia’s invasion, including 14 children. It says an additional 1,684 people, including 116 children, have been wounded. he ministry’s statement Sunday does not give any information on casualties among Ukraine’s armed forces. Russia has claimed that its troops are targeting only Ukrainian military facilities and says that Ukraine’s civilian population is not in danger. Russia has not released any information on casualties among its troops. The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged on Sunday only that Russian soldiers have been killed and wounded, without giving any numbers. ___ RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says his government will remain neutral regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Bolsonaro said he had a two-hour long conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to talk about the war and assured Russia’s leader that Brazil will keep a neutral position. However, Brazil's foreign ministry later said Bolsonaro did not speak to Putin on Sunday, but rather was referring to his two-hour meeting with the Russian during a visit to Moscow earlier this month. Brazil’s ultra conservative president said Sunday that he does not want to “bring the consequences of the conflict” to Brazil. Bolsonaro says that Russia has no intention of carrying out any massacres and that in some regions of Ukraine “90% of the people want to get closer to Russia.” The Brazilian president also criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying people “entrusted the fate of the nation to a comedian.” ___ WASHINGTON — The U.S. for the first time has approved the direct delivery of Stinger missiles to Ukraine as part of a package approved by the White House on Friday. The exact timing of delivery is not known, but officials say the U.S. is currently working on the logistics of the shipment. The officials agreed to discuss the development only if not quoted by name. The decision comes on the heels of Germany’s announcement that it will send 500 Stinger missiles and other weapons and supplies to Ukraine. The high-speed Stingers are very accurate and are used to shoot down helicopters and other aircraft. Ukrainian officials have been asking for more of the powerful weapons. The Baltic states have also been providing Ukraine with Stingers since January, and in order to do that had to get U.S. permission. ___ TORONTO — Canada will send an additional $25 million worth of defensive military equipment to Ukraine in an effort to help the country defend against Russia’s invasion. Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says the equipment includes helmets, body armor, gas masks and night-vision gear. She says it will be routed through Poland to get there as quickly as possible. Anand says Canada will offer up cybersecurity experts who can help Ukraine “defend its networks against cyber attacks that are increasingly forming part of modern-day warfare.” ___ UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council has voted for the 193-member General Assembly to hold an emergency session on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Monday. The vote on Sunday to authorize an emergency meeting was 11 in favor, Russia opposed, and China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining. That was the exact same vote on a resolution Friday demanding that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops. But in that case, Russia used its veto and the resolution was defeated. Ukrainian U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya asked for the General Assembly meeting to be held under the so-called “Uniting for Peace” resolution, initiated by the United States and adopted in November 1950 to circumvent vetoes by the Soviet Union during the Korean War. That resolution gives the General Assembly the power to call emergency meetings when the Security Council is unable to act because of the lack of unanimity among its five veto-wielding permanent members -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France. —— MOSCOW — The U.S. Embassy in Moscow urged American citizens in Russia to think about leaving the country immediately on Sunday, as some airlines halt flights there and some countries close their skies to Russian aircraft. “U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available,” the Embassy said in a statement on its website. U.S. officials in recent weeks have urged Americans not to travel to Russia, and warned that the U.S. government could not help in any evacuation of Americans from there. An earlier alert recommended Americans develop contingency plans about how to leave the country if necessary. The European Union was among those announcing Sunday they were closing their airspace to Russian flights —- NEW YORK CITY — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order on Sunday forbidding her state from doing business with Russia. The order includes canceling its investments in Russia. During a press conference in Albany, the governor said her state would also welcome refugees from the besieged country. Hochul said New York is home to the largest Ukrainian population in the United States. “If you need a place to stay, you want to come over here, we will help you become integrated into our community,” she said. The economic sanctions follow those issued by President Joe Biden to help siphon resources from the Russian government, which launched its long-expected invasion of Ukraine last Thursday. It remains to be seen how Hochul’s move will aid the effort to severely squeeze the Russian economy in the global effort to get Russian President Vladimir Putin to retreat. ___ KYIV, Ukraine — As Russian troops draw closer to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv’s mayor is both filled with pride over his citizens’ spirit and anxious about how long they can hold out. In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, after a grueling night of Russian attacks on the outskirts of the city, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said there were no plans to evacuate civilians if Russian troops managed to take Kyiv. “We can’t do that, because all ways are blocked,” he said. “Right now we are encircled.” When Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Thursday, the city of 2.8 million people initially reacted with concern but also a measure of self-possession. However, nerves started fraying when grocery stores began closing and the city’s famously deep subway system turned its stations into bomb shelters. The mayor confirmed to the AP that nine civilians in Kyiv had been killed so far, including one child. ___ NEW YORK — Some early signs are emerging of significant economic consequences to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine three days ago. While official quotes for the Russian ruble were unchanged at roughly 84 rubles to the dollar, one online Russian bank, Tinkoff, was giving an unofficial exchange rate of 152 rubles over the weekend. Videos from Russia showed long lines of Russians trying to withdraw cash from ATMs, while the Russian Central Bank issued a statement calling for calm, in an effort to avoid bank runs. Reports also showed that Visa and Mastercard were no longer being accepted for those with international bank accounts. “Banks and credit card companies dealing with Russia are going into lock down mode given the fast pace and increasing bite of the sanctions,” said Amanda DeBusk, a partner with Dechert LLP. Russia may have to temporarily close bank branches or declare a national bank holiday to protect its financial system, analysts said. “If there’s a full-scale banking panic, that’s a driver of crisis in its own right,” said Adam Tooze, a professor of history at Columbia University and Director of the European Institute. “A rush into dollars by the Russian general population moves things into an entirely new domain of financial warfare.” ___ MOSCOW — The Russian military said Sunday that some of its troops were killed and some were wounded in Ukraine -- admitting for the first time that it had suffered casualties since the Russian invasion. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Sunday “there are dead and wounded among our comrades,” without offering any numbers, but adding that Russia’s losses were “many times” fewer than those of Ukraine’s forces. It was the first time Russian military officials mentioned casualties on their side. Ukraine has claimed that its forces killed 3,500 Russian troops. Konashenkov also said that since the start of the attack Thursday, the Russian military have hit 1,067 Ukrainian military facilities, including 27 command posts and communication centers, 38 air defense missile system and 56 radar stations. Konashenkov’s claims and Ukraine’s allegations that its forces killed thousands of Russian troops can’t be independently verified. ___ KYIV, Ukraine — Hundreds of people protested Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Belarus on Sunday. The protests came despite the fact that the authoritarian Belarusian government has sided with Moscow. The anti-war rallies spanned at least 12 Belarusian cities, and human rights advocates reported that more than 170 people have been arrested. In the capital of Minsk, demonstrators marched in different parts of the city carrying Ukrainian flags. A large pile of flowers kept growing at the building of Ukraine’s Embassy. ___ JERUSALEM — Around 2,500 Ukrainian Jews have asked to immigrate to Israel and take citizenship since the onset of Russia’s invasion, a quasi-governmental organization says. The Jewish Agency for Israel, which handles immigration matters, said that it has received over 5,000 inquiries about immigration to Israel. Around half have requested to immigrate immediately, the agency said. Ukraine is home to a Jewish community of around 43,000. But approximately 200,000 Ukrainians are eligible for immigration under Israel’s Law of Return, which extends the right to citizenship to anyone with one Jewish grandparent. ___ TORONTO — Canada is joining many European countries in closing its airspace to all Russian aircraft as the West ramps up pressure on Russia for invading Ukraine. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Sunday that Canada will hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked attacks. Most European countries have either announced they are closing their airspace or said they intend to do so. So far Spain, Greece, Serbia and Turkey are among the few left that haven't joined in the move against Russia. ___ BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top migration official says more than 300,000 Ukrainians fleeing war have entered the 27-nation bloc in recent days and is warning that Europe must be ready for millions to arrive. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson is urging the bloc’s interior ministers meeting on Sunday to trigger a special protection mechanism set up 20 years ago to help deal with influxes of refugees. “We have to prepare for even bigger numbers, and we have to prepare for the support that we need to give to the Ukrainians fleeing,” she told reporters at the EU meeting in Brussels. The protection system was set up in the wake of the wars in former Yugoslavia and Kosovo, when thousands of people were forced to flee their homes. It has never been used. It provides residence permits for a fixed time, the possibility of jobs, accommodation, social welfare, medical treatment and education for children. ___ ATHENS — Authorities say Greece is sending ammunition, assault rifles and missile launchers to Ukraine in response to a request by Ukraine's government. The military aid was decided at a meeting Sunday morning between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and senior defense officials. A C-130 plane with the equipment has arrived in Poland, and a second one will arrive later, a Defense Ministry official said. Two more planes carrying humanitarian aid such as blankets and food have also left Athens International Airport for Poland, the spokesman said. ___ GENEVA — The World Health Organization is warning that oxygen supplies – important for the fight against COVID-19 and other illnesses – are reaching a “very dangerous point” in Ukraine due to transportation difficulties in the wake of Russia’s military invasion, jeopardizing thousands of lives. “The majority of hospitals could exhaust their oxygen reserves within the next 24 hours. Some have already run out. This puts thousands of lives at risk,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Europe regional director Dr. Hans Kluge in a joint statement Sunday afternoon in Europe. They said electricity and power shortages, and the danger of ambulances getting caught in the crossfire, were increasing the risks to patients. Read:Ukraine, Russia diplomats to meet on Belarus border ___ TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says Japan has decided to join the United States and European nations in cutting key Russian banks from the SWIFT international financial messaging system to step up sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Japan will also freeze assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials, while sending $100 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Kishida told reporters. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a unilateral attempt to change the status quo and the act shakes the foundation of the international order. It’s an outright violation to international law and we strongly denounce the act,” Kishida said. In a statement welcoming new sanctions from Japan, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US and its allies “will continue working closely together to impose further severe costs and make Putin’s war of choice a strategic failure.” ___ MOSCOW — From Moscow to Siberia, Russians have taken to the streets again on Sunday to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Demonstrators marched in city centers, chanting “No to war." Protests against the invasion started on Thursday and have continued for four days in a row, despite police swiftly moving to detain hundreds of people each day. In St. Petersburg, where dozens gathered in the city center, police in riot gear grabbed protesters and dragged some to police vans, even though the demonstration was peaceful. According to the OVD-Info rights group that tracks political arrests, by Sunday afternoon police detained at least 356 Russians in 32 cities over anti-war demonstrations. ___ KYIV, UKRAINE — The office of Ukraine’s president has confirmed that a delegation will meet with Russian officials as Moscow’s troops draw closer to Kyiv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy office said Sunday on the Telegram messaging app that the two sides would meet at an unspecified location on the Belarusian border and did not give a precise time for the meeting. The meeting news came shortly after President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces put on high alert in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers. ___ BERLIN — Approximately 100,000 people have turned out in Berlin to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and show solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Police said large crowds have filled the area originally planned for the demonstration, around the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin, and that they were allocating additional space to accommodate the protesters. Sunday's protest was peaceful, including many families with children. People waved yellow and blue Ukrainian flags to show their support. Some carried placards with slogans such as “Hands off Ukraine" and “Putin, go to therapy and leave Ukraine and the world in peace.” ___ MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian nuclear deterrent forces put on high alert amid tensions with the West over his invasion of Ukraine. Putin asserted at a meeting with his top officials on Sunday that leading NATO powers had made “aggressive statements” along with the West imposing hard-hitting financial sanctions against Russia, including the president himself. The alert means Putin has ordered Russia’s nuclear weapons prepared for increased readiness to launch. He told the Russian defense minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty.” ___ WARSAW, Poland -- While countries like Poland and Hungary have welcomed fleeing Ukrainians, some foreign citizens seeking to leave Ukraine have reported difficulties at the Polish border. An Indian volunteer in Poland said Sunday some Indian citizens seeking to flee Ukraine into Poland are stuck at the border leading into Medyka, Poland, and unable to cross. The Indian Embassy in Kyiv said Sunday that Indian citizens are being evacuated from Ukraine to Romania and Hungary. But some have arrived at the border with Poland apparently unaware of this and are stuck. Ruchir Kataria, the volunteer, told The Associated Press that the Indians seeking to cross at Medyka were told in broken English: “Go to Romania.” But they had already made long journeys on foot to the border, and have no way to reach the border with Romania hundreds of kilometers away. ____ BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Germany is committing 100 billion euros ($112.7 billion) to a special fund for its armed forces, raising its defense spending above 2% of its GDP. Scholz told a special session of the Bundestag in Berlin on Sunday that it was clear “we need to invest significantly more in the security of our country, in order to protect our freedom and our democracy.” Germany had come under criticism for not investing adequately in its defense budget and not doing enough to respond to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. On Saturday evening, the German government announced it would be sending weapons and other supplies directly to Ukraine to help troops against invading Russia forces. ___ BUDAPEST, Hungary — Russia's President Vladimir Putin has temporarily lost his most senior official position in world sports. The International Judo Federation on Sunday cited “the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine” for suspending Putin’s honorary president status. The Russian president is a keen judoka and attended the sport at the 2012 London Olympics. The judo federation is rare among Olympic sports bodies for using the word “war” to describe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ordered by Putin since Thursday. Others have used phrases such as “escalation of conflict.” A Kremlin-supporting oligarch and longtime friend of Putin, Arkady Rotenberg, remains on the IJF executive committee as development manager. ___ TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s prime minister says the country is sending 100 tons of humanitarian aid to assist civilians caught up in the fighting in Ukraine. Naftali Bennett told a meeting of his Cabinet Sunday that the aid includes medical equipment and medicine, tents, sleeping bags and blankets. Bennett did not comment on a report by Israeli public broadcaster Kan which said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the Israeli leader to mediate talks on ending the crisis with Russia. Bennett’s office confirmed there had been a call but declined to comment on the report. The Ukrainian embassy could not immediately be reached for comment. Bennett has treaded carefully in his public comments on Russia’s invasion. He has voiced support for Ukrainian civilians but has stopped short of condemning Russia. Israeli relies on Russia for security coordination in Syria, where Russia has a military presence and where Israel frequently strikes hostile targets. ___ KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president says his country is ready for peace talks with Russia but not in Belarus, which was a staging ground for Moscow’s 3-day-old invasion. Speaking in a video message Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy named Warsaw, Bratislava, Istanbul, Budapest or Baku as alternative venues. He said other locations are also possible but made clear that Ukraine doesn’t accept Russia’s selection of Belarus. The Kremlin said Sunday that a Russian delegation had arrived in the Belarusian city of Homel for talks with Ukrainian officials. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the delegation includes military officials and diplomats. “The Russian delegation is ready for talks, and we are now waiting for the Ukrainians,” Peskov said. ___ MOSCOW — The Kremlin says a Russian delegation has arrived in the Belarusian city of Homel for talks with Ukrainian officials. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the delegation includes military officials and diplomats. “The Russian delegation is ready for talks, and we are now waiting for the Ukrainians,” Peskov said. There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials, who previously expressed their own readiness for peace talks with Russia but haven’t mentioned any specific details on their location and timing. Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, and its troops are closing in on the capital, Kyiv, and making significant gains along the country’s coast. ___ KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian authorities say Russian troops have entered Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv and fighting is underway in the streets. Oleh Sinehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said Sunday that Ukrainian forces were fighting Russian troops in the city and asked civilians not to leave their homes. Russian troops approached Kharkiv, which is located about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) south of the border with Russia, shortly after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. But until Sunday, they remained on its outskirts without trying to enter the city while other forces rolled past, pressing their offensive deeper into Ukraine. Videos on Ukrainian media and social networks showed Russian vehicles moving across Kharkiv and a light vehicle burning on the street. ___ KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian president’s office said Russian forces blew up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city. The State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection warned that the explosion, which it said looked like a mushroom cloud, could cause an “environmental catastrophe” and advised residents to cover their windows with damp cloth or gauze and to drink plenty of fluids. Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, said the Russian forces have been unable to take Kharkiv, where a fierce battle is underway. The city of 1.5 million is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border. ___ GENEVA — The United Nations says it has confirmed at least 240 civilian casualties, including at least 64 people killed, in the fighting in Ukraine that erupted since Russia’s invasion on Thursday — though it believed the “real figures are considerably higher” because many reports of casualties remain to be confirmed. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs relayed the count late Saturday from the U.N. human rights office, which has strict methodologies and verification procedures about the toll from conflict.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home on Friday night from her journey to attend the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA. A VVIP chartered flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines carrying the Prime Minister and her entourage landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 11:13pm, said PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim. On Thursday afternoon (local time), she left Washington for home wrapping up her two-week official foreign tour. Bangladesh Ambassador to the USA M Shahidul Islam and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations Rabab Fatima saw her off at Dulles International Airport there. On her way to Dhaka, the aircraft reached Helsinki, the Finish capital at 9:00am (local time) and then departed the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport for Dhaka after a two-hour stopover there. Read: PM opens Bangladesh House in Maryland, USA On September 17, the Prime Minister left Dhaka to attend the 76th UNGA in New York. She reached New York on September 19 after a two-day stopover in Finland. During her stay in New York from September 19 to 24, Sheikh Hasina addressed the UNGA general debate (September 24), attended high-level events and bilateral talks with heads of governments, states and organisations. She also planted a honey locust tree and unveiled a bench at the UN gardens dedicating these to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the occasion of his birth centenary. Later, the Prime Minister went to Washington DC on September 25. During her stay in Washington, Sheikh Hasina opened the newly constructed ‘Bangladesh House’ and planted a fringe tree on its premises.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will return home on Friday night wrapping up her two-week official tour to attend the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. She is scheduled to leave Washington DC Thursday afternoon (local time) by a VVIP flight of Biman Bangladesh Airline for Helsinki, the Finish capital, PM’s Assistant Press Secretary MM Emrul Kayas told UNB. Bangladesh Ambassador to the USA M Shahidul Islam and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations Rabab Fatima will see off her at the airport in Washington. The aircraft carrying the Prime Minister will reach Helsinki-Vantaa Airport on Friday morning (local time) and then the flight will depart the airport for Dhaka after a two-hour stopover there. Read: Bangladesh’s UNGA participation shows its stronger presence in multilateral forum: Officials The aircraft is scheduled to land at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 10:15 pm on Friday. On September 17, the Prime Minister left Dhaka to attend the 76th UNGA. She reached New York on September 19 after a two-day stopover in Finland. During her stay in New York from September 19 to 24, Sheikh Hasina addressed the UNGA general debate (September 24), attended high-level events and bilateral talks with heads of governments, states and organisations. She also planted a honey locust tree and unveiled a bench at the UN gardens dedicating these to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the occasion of his birth centenary. Read: PM opens Bangladesh House in Maryland, USA Later, the Prime Minister went to Washington DC on September 25. During her stay in Washington, Sheikh Hasina opened the newly constructed ‘Bangladesh House’ and planted a fringe tree on its premise.
The dispute between Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers and its former government over who should speak at the United Nations’ annual meeting of world leaders finally has an answer: no one. The Taliban had challenged the credentials of the ambassador from Afghanistan’s former government, and asked to represent the country at this year’s General Assembly summit, which began Sept. 21 and ends Monday. But all challenges to credentials must be heard by the assembly’s credentials committee, which generally meets in November and did not convene earlier to hear the challenge. Read: World should recognise us as leaders of Afghanistan: Taliban U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that as of Friday, Afghanistan’s currently recognized U.N. ambassador, Ghulam Isaczai, was listed as speaking for the country. But, Dujarric told The Associated Press on Monday morning: “We were notified Saturday by the Afghan Mission that they would no longer be speaking.” Afghanistan was scheduled to deliver the final address of the gathering of presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and ministers on Monday afternoon. But it was not on the list of speakers issued Monday morning. A phone message seeking comment was left with Afghanistan’s U.N. mission. The Taliban overran most of Afghanistan last month as U.S. and NATO forces were in the final stages of their chaotic withdrawal from the country after 20 years and argue that they are now in charge and have the right to represent the country at the United Nations. Isaczai represents former president Ashraf Ghani’s government. Read:US, Pakistan face each other again on Afghanistan threats In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Taliban’s newly appointed foreign minister, Ameer Khan Muttaqi, said Ghani was “ousted” as of Aug. 15 and that countries across the world “no longer recognize him as president.” Therefore, Muttaqi said, Isaczai no longer represents Afghanistan and the Taliban was nominating a new U.N. permanent representative, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen. He was a spokesperson for the Taliban during peace negotiations in Qatar. “We have all the requirements needed for recognition of a government,” Shaheen told the AP last Wednesday. “So we hope the U.N., as a neutral world body, recognize the current government of Afghanistan.” When the Taliban last ruled from 1996 to 2001, the U.N. refused to recognize their government and instead gave Afghanistan’s seat to the previous, warlord-dominated government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was killed by a suicide bomber in 2011. It was Rabbani’s government that brought Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11, to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996. Read: Afghanistan’s Taliban want to address General Assembly: UN The Taliban have said they want international recognition and financial help to rebuild the war-battered country. But the makeup of the new Taliban government poses a dilemma for the United Nations. Several of the interim ministers — including Muttaqi — are on the U.N.’s so-called blacklist of international terrorists and funders of terrorism. When the credentials committee members do meet, they could use Taliban recognition as leverage to press for a more inclusive government that guarantees human rights, especially for girls who were barred from going to school during their previous rule, and women who weren’t able to work. The committee’s members are the United States, Russia, China, Bahama, Bhutan, Chile, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Sweden.
The Taliban’s takeover of Kabul has deepened the mutual distrust between the U.S. and Pakistan, putative allies who have tangled over Afghanistan. But both sides still need each other. As the Biden administration looks for new ways to stop terrorist threats in Afghanistan, it probably will look again to Pakistan, which remains critical to U.S. intelligence and national security because of its proximity to Afghanistan and connections to the Taliban leaders now in charge. Over two decades of war, American officials accused Pakistan of playing a double game by promising to fight terrorism and cooperate with Washington while cultivating the Taliban and other extremist groups that attacked U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Islamabad pointed to what it saw as failed promises of a supportive government in Kabul after the U.S. drove the Taliban from power after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as extremist groups took refuge in eastern Afghanistan and launched deadly attacks throughout Pakistan. But the U.S. wants Pakistani cooperation in counterterrorism efforts and could seek permission to fly surveillance flights into Afghanistan or other intelligence cooperation. Pakistan wants U.S. military aid and good relations with Washington, even as its leaders openly celebrate the Taliban’s rise to power. Read:Russia says it’s in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban “Over the last 20 years, Pakistan has been vital for various logistics purposes for the U.S. military. What’s really been troubling is that, unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of trust,” said U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat who is on the House Intelligence Committee. “I think the question is whether we can get over that history to arrive at a new understanding.” Pakistan’s prime minister, in remarks Friday to the U.N. General Assembly, made clear there is a long way to go. Imran Khan tried to portray his country as the victim of American ungratefulness for its assistance in Afghanistan over the years. Instead of a mere “word of appreciation,” Pakistan has received blame, Khan said. Former diplomats and intelligence officers from both countries say the possibilities for cooperation are severely limited by the events of the past two decades and Pakistan’s enduring competition with India. The previous Afghan government, which was strongly backed by India, routinely accused Pakistan of harboring the Taliban. The new Taliban government includes officials that American officials have long believed are linked to Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence. Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, said he understood “the temptation of officials in both countries to try and take advantage of the situation” and find common ground. But Haqqani said he expected Pakistan to give “all possible cooperation to the Taliban.” “This has been a moment Pakistan has been waiting for 20 years,” said Haqqani, now at the Hudson Institute think tank. “They now feel that they have a satellite state.” U.S. officials are trying to quickly build what President Joe Biden calls an “over the horizon” capacity to monitor and stop terrorist threats. Without a partner country bordering Afghanistan, the U.S. has to fly surveillance drones long distances, limiting the time they can be used to watch over targets. The U.S. also lost most of its network of informants and intelligence partners in the now-deposed Afghan government, making it critical to find common ground with other governments that have more resources in the country. Read: Don't isolate the Taliban, Pakistan urges Pakistan could be helpful in that effort by allowing “overflight” rights for American spy planes from the Persian Gulf or permitting the U.S. to base surveillance or counterterrorism teams along its border with Afghanistan. There are few other options among Afghanistan’s neighbors. Iran is a U.S. adversary and Central Asian countries north of Afghanistan all face varying degrees of Russian influence. There are no known agreements so far. CIA Director William Burns visited Islamabad this month to meet with Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s army chief, and Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, who leads the ISI, according to a Pakistani government statement. Burns and Hameed have separately visited Kabul in recent weeks to meet with Taliban leaders. The CIA declined to comment on the visits. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi noted this past week that Islamabad had cooperated with U.S. requests to facilitate peace talks before the Taliban takeover and that it had agreed to U.S. military requests throughout the war. “We have often been criticized for not doing enough,” Qureshi told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “But we’ve not been appreciated enough for having done what was done.” Qureshi would not directly answer whether Pakistan would allow the basing of surveillance equipment or overflight of drones. “They don’t have to be physically there to share intelligence,” he said of the U.S. “There are smarter ways of doing it.” The CIA and ISI have a long history in Afghanistan, dating to their shared goal of arming bands of mujahedeen — “freedom fighters” — against the Soviet Union’s occupation in the 1980s. The CIA sent weapons and money into Afghanistan through Pakistan. Read: Afghanistan’s Taliban want to address General Assembly: UN Those fighters included Osama bin Laden. Others would become leaders of the Taliban, which emerged victorious from a civil war in 1996 and gained control of most of the country. The Taliban gave refuge to bin Laden and other leaders of al-Qaida, which launched deadly attacks on Americans abroad in 1998 and then struck the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. After 9/11, the U.S. immediately sought Pakistan’s cooperation in its fight against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Declassified cables published by George Washington University’s National Security Archive show officials in President George W. Bush’s administration made several demands of Pakistan, from intercepting arms shipments heading to al-Qaida to providing the U.S. with intelligence and permission to fly military and intelligence planes over its territory. The CIA would carry out hundreds of drone strikes launched from Pakistan targeting al-Qaida leaders and others alleged to have ties to terrorist groups. Hundreds of civilians died in the strikes, according to figures kept by outside observers, leading to widespread protests and public anger in Pakistan. Pakistan continued to be accused of harboring the Taliban after the U.S.-backed coalition drove the group from power in Kabul. And bin Laden was killed in 2011 by U.S. special forces in a secret raid on a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, home to the country’s military academy. The bin Laden operation led many in the U.S. to question whether Pakistan had harbored bin Laden and angered Pakistanis who felt the raid violated their sovereignty. For years, CIA officials tried to confront their Pakistani counterparts after collecting more proof of Pakistani intelligence officers helping the Taliban move money and fighters into a then-growing insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan, said Douglas London, who oversaw the CIA’s counterterrorism operations in South Asia until 2018. “They would say, ‘You just come to my office, tell me where the location is,’” he said. “They would just usually pay lip service to us and say they couldn’t confirm the intel.” London, author of the forthcoming book “The Recruiter,” said he expected American intelligence would consider limited partnerships with Pakistan on mutual enemies such as al-Qaeda or Islamic State-Khorasan, which took responsibility for the deadly suicide attack outside the Kabul airport last month during the final days of the U.S. evacuation. The risk, London said, is at times “your partner is as much of a threat to you as the enemy who you’re pursuing.”
Russia, China, Pakistan and the United States are working together to ensure that Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers keep their promises, especially to form a genuinely representative government and prevent extremism from spreading, Russia’s foreign minister said Saturday. Sergey Lavrov said the four countries are in ongoing contact. He said representatives from Russia, China and Pakistan recently traveled to Qatar and then to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, to engage with both the Taliban and representatives of “secular authorities” — former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who headed the ousted government’s negotiating council with the Taliban. Lavrov said the interim government announced by the Taliban does not reflect “the whole gamut of Afghan society — ethno-religious and political forces — so we are engaging in contacts. They are ongoing.” The Taliban have promised an inclusive government, a more moderate form of Islamic rule than when they last ruled the country from 1996 to 2001 including respecting women’s rights, providing stability after 20 years of war, fighting terrorism and extremism and stopping militants from using their territory to launch attacks. But recent moves suggest they may be returning to more repressive policies, particularly toward women and girls. Read: Don't isolate the Taliban, Pakistan urges “What’s most important ... is to ensure that the promises that they have proclaimed publicly to be kept,” Lavrov said. “And for us, that is the top priority.” At a wide-ranging news conference and in his speech afterward at the U.N. General Assembly, Lavrov criticized the Biden administration including for its hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. He said the U.S. and NATO pullout “was carried out out without any consideration of the consequences ... that there are many weapons left in Afghanistan.” It remains critical, he said, that such weapons aren’t used for “destructive purposes.” Later, in his assembly speech, Lavrov accused the United States and its Western allies of “persistent attempts to diminish the U.N.’s role in resolving the key problems of today or to sideline it or to make it a malleable tool for promoting someone’s selfish interests.” As examples, Lavrov said Germany and France recently announced the creation of an Alliance For Multilateralism “even though what kind of structure could be more multilateral than the United Nations?” Read: Afghanistan’s Taliban want to address General Assembly: UN The United States is also sidestepping the U.N., he said, pointing to the recent U.S. announcement of a “Summit for Democracy” despite, Lavrov said, U.S. President Joe Biden’s pledge this week “that the U.S. is not seeking a world divided into opposing blocs.” “It goes without saying that Washington is going to choose the participants by itself, thus hijacking the right to decide to what degree a country meets the standards of democracy,” Lavrov said. “Essentially, this initiative is quite in the spirit of a Cold War, as it declares a new ideological crusade against all dissenters.” Lavrov was asked for Russia’s reaction to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ warning last week that the world could be plunged into a new Cold War potentially more dangerous than the lengthy one between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union unless the United States and China repair their “totally dysfunctional” relationship. He replied: “Of course, we see the tension tightening in relations between China and the United States.” He expressed “great concern” at the rising tensions, pointing to the Biden administration’s recently proclaimed Indo-Pacific strategy — whose objectives, he said, include “deterring China’s development,” disputes over the South China Sea, and the recent U.S.-Britain deal to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. More broadly, Lavrov said, relations among the big powers must be “respectful.” He emphasized that Russia was “keen to ensure that never will these relations morph into nuclear war.” Read: Islamic State militants claim attacks on Taliban The major powers have a “great responsibility,” he said, to negotiate and make compromises on the critical issues facing the world and that Russia is now “revitalizing” its proposal for a summit of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Russia, China, U.S., UK and France. He said discussions are under way on specific questions for an agenda, and “we may perhaps begin with an online meeting.” On other global issues, the United States has been pressing for Iran to resume nuclear negotiations, but Lavrov said it was then-President Donald Trump who pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement, so to declare that “time is running out, anybody could say this — but not Washington.” In his first speech to the General Assembly earlier this week, new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi criticized the United States but appeared not to rule out a return to the negotiating table for the nuclear accord, saying Iran considers talks useful if their ultimate outcome is the lifting of all sanctions. Still, he stated: “We don’t trust the promises made by the U.S. government.” Lavrov said Russia would like to see the resumption of negotiations to restore the original agreement as soon as possible. “We have a very serious hope -- and I think this is well-founded optimism -- that we will achieve results,” he said, because “this is something everybody wants.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will deliver her speech at the General Debate session of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday night, Bangladesh time. The following is the schedule of speakers: Friday, September 24. Read: PM joins opening session of 76th UNGA general debate Morning: Cyprus, Nigeria, Lebanon, Senegal, Nicaragua, Germany, Slovenia, State of Palestine, European Union, Gambia, Armenia, Mauritius, Sweden, Barbados, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Japan, Malta, Ireland. Read: PM arrives in New York to attend UNGA At the time of posting, the first four speakers, till Senegal, have delivered their speech already.