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UN aims to expand, extend for a year Ukraine Black Sea grain export deal

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres & his team are working to expand and extend for a year an UN-brokered deal allowing Ukrainian Black Sea grain exports, which could expire in late November.

“We’re trying to remove the anxiety to verify that people are publicly saying that ‘yes, this will be extended a further year,’ but we’re not there yet,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, adding that UN authorities are also working to facilitate Russian grain and fertilizer exports.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths and senior UN trade official Rebeca Grynspan are set to travel to Moscow in about a week to discuss both issues with senior Russian officials, Dujarric told reporters.

“The Secretary-General and his team are involved in intense contacts on these issues. Guterres and the team are working hard on having an expanded and extended Black Sea Grain Initiative,” he said. “They’re working actively to remove also the last obstacles to facilitate the export of Russian grain and fertilizer.”

Facilitating Russia’s food and fertilizer shipments is a central aspect of a package deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey on 22 July that also restarted Ukraine’s Black Sea grain and fertilizer shipments.

Russia has criticized the deal, complaining that its exports were still restricted. Moscow could object to extending the pact allowing Ukraine’s exports beyond late November.

The deal included ammonia – a key ingredient in nitrate fertilizer. A pipeline transporting ammonia from Russia’s Volga region to Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Pivdennyi (Yuzhny) was shut down when Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 Feb.

The United Nations is now trying to broker a resumption of those ammonia exports.

Ukraine and Russia are both key global grain and fertilizer exporters. The United Nations said the agreement on Russian and Ukrainian exports is needed to tackle a global food crisis that it said had been worsened by Russia’s war in Ukraine, pushing some 47 million people into “acute hunger”.

 

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Fire in Mangaf Workers’ Accommodation Claims 41 Lives

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mangaf kuwait fire

A devastating fire broke out early Wednesday in a building housing workers in Mangaf, southern Kuwait, resulting in the deaths of at least 41 people, according to Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Fahad Yusuf Saud Al-Sabah.

During his visit to the site, Sheikh Fahad, who also oversees the interior and defense ministries, criticized real estate owners for their violations and greed, attributing these factors to the tragic incident.

“Unfortunately, the greed of real estate owners is what leads to these matters,” Sheikh Fahad stated.

The blaze was reported to authorities at 6:00 a.m. local time (0300 GMT), according to Major General Eid Rashed Hamad.

“The building was used to house a large number of workers. Dozens were rescued, but sadly, many succumbed to smoke inhalation,” a senior police commander informed state television.

He further emphasized the longstanding warnings against overcrowding in worker accommodations, though he did not specify the workers’ occupations or nationalities.

The fire has been contained, and authorities are currently investigating its cause, officials said.

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Baltimore shipping lane fully reopens after bridge collapse

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The Baltimore shipping lane blocked for more than two months after a cargo ship collided with a major bridge in
March, sending it crashing into the water, fully reopened on Monday, authorities said.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, along with Navy salvage divers, restored the channel to its original dimensions by removing about 50,000 tons of debris from the Patapsco River, a statement from the Key Bridge Response Unified Command said.

The riverbed was certified as safe for transit on Monday.

“We are proud of the unified efforts that fully reopened the Federal Channel to port operations,” said Lieutenant General Scott Spellmon, commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The partnerships that endured through this response made this pivotal mission successful.”

On March 26, the Singapore-flagged M/V Dali lost power and plowed into a support column of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to collapse and killing six road workers who had been filling potholes overnight.

The 106,000-ton ship had been headed for Sri Lanka at the time of the accident.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is investigating the incident along with the FBI, has said the ship had two electricity blackouts in the moments before the disaster.

The Dali was refloated last month and towed back into port.

The port of Baltimore is one of America’s busiest ports and a key hub for the auto industry, handling almost 850,000 autos and light trucks last year — more than any other US port, according to state figures.

The full reopening of the shipping channel will allow for two-way traffic, Monday’s statement said.

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PM Sheikh Hasina and Modi Exchange Pleasantries at Swearing-In

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Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh and her Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, exchanged pleasantries following Modi’s swearing-in ceremony this evening.

Foreign leaders, including the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, took turns approaching the podium to congratulate Modi on taking his oath as the Indian Premier for a third consecutive term.

Clad in light purple, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stepped forward to greet Modi, who extended his hand to her. They exchanged a warm handshake and brief pleasantries, inquiring about each other’s well-being.

Modi then escorted Prime Minister Hasina to the banquet hall, guiding her to the dinner hosted by President Smt. Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Prime Minister Hasina, accompanied by her daughter Saima Wazed, entered the Rashtrapati Bhavan as the third foreign leader to attend the oath-taking ceremony.

Top leaders from Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal, Mauritius, and Seychelles were also present at the swearing-in event, which saw a record attendance of over 8,000 dignitaries.

Prime Minister Hasina arrived in New Delhi on Saturday to participate in the ceremony. She is scheduled to depart for Dhaka tomorrow afternoon.

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