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UN Declines Russia’s call for biological weapons probe

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UN

The Security Council on Wednesday, 2 November, declined a resolution drafted by Russia calling for an investigation into its accusations of Washington’s involvement in the alleged development of biological weapons in Ukraine.

Russia had officially requested last week a UN investigation into the accusations, which it has regularly made since the start of its offensive in Ukraine.

The resolution it put to the vote on Wednesday received two votes in favor (Russia and China), three against (France, US and UK, which have veto power) and the 10 non-permanent members of the Council all abstained.

The text provided for the “establishment of a commission composed of all members of the Security Council to investigate the allegations against the US and Ukraine” regarding their obligations under the convention that prohibits the development, production and use of biological weapons.

Deputy Russian Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy regretted the outcome of the vote, saying “Western countries demonstrated in every way that the law does not apply to them.”

“This is a usual colonial mentality that we’re used to and we’re not even surprised by it,” he added, promising to return to this issue at the review conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, from November 28 to December 16 in Geneva.

“The US voted against this resolution because it is based on disinformation, dishonesty, bad faith and a total lack of respect” for the Security Council, responded US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

This resolution is “a milestone for Russia’s deception and lies” and “no one is buying it except China,” she added.

US and Ukraine had already flatly rejected Russia’s accusations last week, with the Americans calling them “pure fabrications.”

The UN’s Deputy High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Adedeji Ebo, reiterated at the time that the UN had no knowledge of such programs, and had neither the mandate nor technical capacity to investigate the claims.

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US Advocates for Palestinian Access to Al-Aqsa

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Al-Aqsa

On Wednesday, the United States called on Israel to permit Muslims to worship at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem during Ramadan. This plea comes in response to a proposal by a far-right minister suggesting the exclusion of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank from praying at the site.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller addressed reporters, stating, “As it pertains to Al-Aqsa, we continue to urge Israel to facilitate access to Temple Mount for peaceful worshippers during Ramadan consistent with past practice.” The statement emphasizes the importance of maintaining historical practices that have allowed peaceful worship during the holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount.

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Bangladesh Delegation Eyes WTO MC13 to Safeguard Developing Nations’ Interests

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WTO World trade organization

The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is scheduled to take place from February 26 to 29, 2024, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ministers from around the world will gather to assess the performance of the multilateral trading system and address the future agenda of the WTO. A delegation from Bangladesh, led by State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam Titu, comprising eight members, will participate in the conference.

This edition of the ministerial conference holds particular significance for Bangladesh as the country is set to transition from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a developing nation by 2026. Typically held every two years, the conference will focus on critical global issues, including subsidies in agriculture and fisheries, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, and global food security.

Senior Secretary of the Commerce Ministry, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, expressed Bangladesh’s commitment to safeguarding the interests of LDCs and other developing nations. While not highlighting specific issues for Bangladesh, he emphasized the country’s desire to maintain duty-free market access, intellectual property rights, and other trade facilities during the post-LDC graduation period.

Tapan highlighted Bangladesh’s advocacy for the continuation of technical facilities, such as training programs for officials and dispute settlement mechanisms, even beyond the LDC graduation. He affirmed that Bangladesh would play a robust role in these discussions. Additionally, he underscored Bangladesh’s priority on providing subsidies in the fisheries sector during the post-LDC graduation period.

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Saudi Imposes Tk15 lakh Fine for Unauthorized Hajj Performances

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Saudi Arabia

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia has declared a fine of SR50,000 (equivalent to Tk15 lakh) for individuals, whether tourists or local residents, who perform Hajj without official permission. According to Gulf News, the ministry emphasized the illegality of undertaking Hajj without the necessary approvals. Additionally, hefty fines of up to Tk15 lakh will be imposed on those found transporting Hajj pilgrims without the required documents.

Furthermore, the ministry outlined severe consequences for foreigners involved in such violations, including a six-month imprisonment and subsequent deportation from Saudi Arabia. Those deported will also face a 10-year ban on reentering the country. This stringent announcement aims to ensure the proper implementation of the Hajj process and deter any potential breaches of laws and regulations.

The penalties will be enforced through collaboration between the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports.

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