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Harris hails ‘new era’ with Mexico during Lopez Obrador meeting

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Kamala Harris hails ‘new era’ with Mexico during Lopez Obrador meeting. US Vice President Kamala Harris has said the United States’ relationship with Mexico is entering “another time”, as Harris met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico City on Tuesday to discuss immigration from Central America, among other issues.

Harris and Lopez Obrador were on-hand for the marking of a memorandum of understanding on the work the countries’ development agencies intend to undertake in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

They then met for talks billed as focused on “root causes” of migration.

“I strongly believe that we are embarking on another time that clarifies the interdependence and interconnection between nations,” Harris said at the start of the meeting.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the discussion had been “very fruitful”. The economy, security cooperation and development in southern Mexico and Central America were addressed, Ebrard said in a tweet, without going into further detail.

Lopez Obrador, who built a working relationship with Donald Trump despite the former US president’s economic threats and insults against Mexico over migration, said his government was very interested in maintaining good relations with its northern neighbor.

The administration of President Joe Biden has been struggling to respond to high numbers of migrant families and children showing up at the US-Mexico border, basically from Central America, in recent months.

Al Jazeera’s John Holman said from Mexico City that migration from Mexico to the US is “obviously a long-standing phenomenon” and though it ebbs and streams, many people appear to be leaving.

Since Biden took office in January, the number of migrants taken into custody by US officials at the border has risen to the highest levels in 20 years.

“(US) Customs and Border Protection say that in the last fiscal year they’ve seen more than 300,000 Mexicans at the border,” Holman reported.

Holman said he was recently in the Mexican state of Michoacan, where residents said “there was no other option but to escape”.

Mexico’s government is going to have to show that it can provide security for people in those parts of the country,” Holman concluded.

The administration sees Mexico as an important partner both on slowing the progression of northern migration and improving development in Central America.

“The United States joined Mexico in another strategic partnership to share information and strategies and co-manage new programs to foster economic opportunity through agricultural development and youth empowerment,” the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The two leaders (Harris and Lopez Obrador) also agreed to increase cooperation to further secure our borders and ensure orderly immigration,” it said.

The US and Mexico have largely agreed that they need to tackle the underlying causes of poverty and violence to stem migration from Central America. Migrants and haven seekers have said socioeconomic conditions, unemployment, gang violence and recent devastating storms continue to push them to leave their home countries, among other things.

Harris, tasked by Biden to help stem migration to the US, has promised an additional $310m in aid to Central American nations to try to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s hurricanes.

For its part, Mexico has extended domestic money for-tree-planting and youth unemployment benefit programs to El Salvador and Honduras on a limited scale and plans to offer them in Guatemala, also, Ebrard said on Tuesday before the Harris meeting.

The White House also announced that it will spend $130m during the next three years to promote Mexican workers’ protections and the implementation of labor reforms in the country.

The meeting on Tuesday came after Harris met Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei a day earlier. After that meeting, Harris said the two leaders had “robust” talks on fighting corruption to deter migration from Central America.

During a joint news conference, Harris tried to deter potential migrants from traveling to the US, telling them “don’t come” – a blunt statement that immigration advocates said went against the administration’s commitment to taking a more humane approach to migration than under Trump.

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized Harris’ statement, calling it “disappointing” and pointing out that seeking refuge is a legal methods for entry into the US.

The White House sought to explain Harris’ comments on Tuesday.

“What the vice president was basically conveying is that there’s more work to be done, that we don’t have these systems in place yet,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a news briefing.

“It’s still a dangerous excursion … and we need more time to get the work done to ensure that refuge processing is where it ought to be.”

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With 9,056 fresh infections, Moscow Covid cases soar to pandemic high

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New coronavirus infections hit a pandemic high in Moscow on Monday, tripling in just weeks and forcing Russia’s capital to close its Euro fan zone and extend other curbs.

Some 9,056 new cases were recorded in the megapolis of 12 million in the past 24 hours, up from 3,000 fourteen days ago and another every day record since the Covid-19 pandemic began in mid 2020, according to official statistics.

Faced with the spike, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who has been rolling out restrictions for almost seven days, said that the city would limit gatherings and close the Euro 2020 fan zone outside of the Luzhniki stadium.

“I didn’t want to do this, but we have to,” Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his website.

“Starting today, we will limit mass events to a maximum of 1,000 people.”

“We are temporarily stopping all mass entertainment events and we’ll also have to close ballrooms and fan zones,” he wrote.

The move came a day after he warned that the city was facing another wave of infections, likely because of new Covid variants.

“It’s tripling, there’s an enormous powerful that we have not seen during the previous waves,” he said, adding that cases jumped from 3,000 to 7,000 in just days and predicting they would pass the 9,000 mark on Friday.

Over the past week, the mayor has introduced a progression of new restrictions in an effort to contain the wave of infections, including declaring a “work-free” week, shutting settings, and ordering mandatory vaccinations of people working in the service industry in the city.

Also on Friday, Sobyanin extended until June 29 a few measures that were announced last weekend, similar to the closure of food corridors in shopping centers, zoos, playgrounds, and the closure of bars and restaurants between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am.

Curbs tightened in Euro host St Pete –

Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg, the country’s worst Covid hotspot after Moscow, is hosting seven Euro 2020 matches – including a quarter-final – and is expected to see thousands of football fans from Europe.

On Monday, Saint Petersburg also announced a tightening of restrictions, including no food deals in its fan zones.

The increase in cases in Russia comes as the country struggles to encourage Russians to get vaccinated, despite the fact that the country launched a mass campaign of free jabs in December and has developed and approved four vaccines – Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona, CoviVac and the one-portion Sputnik Light.

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Chinese, Indian workers among 11 killed in Nepal floods; 25 missing

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Landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy downpour across Nepal this week killed 11 people including one Indian and two Chinese workers at a development project, while 25 people were missing elsewhere, officials said on Friday.

The bodies of the three workers were recovered close to the town of Melamchi in Sindhupalchowk district, northeast of Kathmandu, which was hit by flash floods on Wednesday that also forced many people from their homes, district administrators said in a statement.

“The foreign nationals were working for a Chinese organization that is building a drinking water project,” district official Baburam Khanal told Reuters.

The Home Ministry said late on Thursday that 25 people were missing in floods in Sindhupalchowk, a mountainous district bordering the Tibet region of China, and other parts of the country.

The monsoon downpours, which normally begin in June and last until September, kill hundreds of people in mostly mountainous Nepal every year.

Heavy downpour since Tuesday have damaged roads, destroyed bridges, washed away fish ranches and livestock, and wrecked homes.

Hundreds of people have been forced to move to community shelters, including schools, sheds and tents, authorities said.

Aid agencies said the crisis this year could add to the social and economic troubles of a country hard hit by COVID-19. Nepal has been reporting among the highest coronavirus test positivity rates in the world.

“Those who have lost homes are resting in community centers,” said John Jordan of the U.S.- based charity World Neighbors.

“This forced density raises risks for a community that has been recovering from COVID-19.”

Israel to send 1 million Covid vaccine dosages to Palestinians

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Courts cannot appoint PM, says Nepal PM KP Oli as he defends dissolution of House of Representatives

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Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Thursday defended his government’s controversial decision to dissolve the House of Representatives and told the Supreme Court that it isn’t up to the legal executive to appoint a premier as it cannot undertake the legislative and the executive functions of the state, according to a media report.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari, at the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Oli, dissolved the House for the second time in five months on May 22 and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19.

Prime Minister Oli is heading a minority government after losing a trust vote in the House.

In his written response to the Supreme Court, Oli said that it isn’t up to the legal executive to appoint a Prime Minister as it cannot undertake the legislative and the executive functions of the state.

The Supreme Court on June 9 issued a show-cause notice to the Office of the Prime Minister and the President’s Office to outfit a written response within 15 days.

The Apex Court received Oli’s response by means of the Office of the Attorney General on Thursday, The Himalayan Times reported.

“The Court’s duty is to interpret the Constitution and the existing laws, it cannot assume the part of the legislative or the executive bodies,” Oli said.

“Appointment of a Prime Minister is absolutely a political and an executive process,” the 69-year-old embattled leader underlined.

The Prime Minister also defended the involvement of the President in this entire issue, saying that Article 76 of the Constitution grants the sole right to appoint a Prime Minister to the President only.

“According to Article 76 (5), there is no such provision of a person acquiring or losing a vote of confidence in the House being examined by the legislative or the legal executive,” he said.

Upwards of 30 writ petitions, including by the Opposition partnership, have been filed in the Supreme Court against the dissolution of the House, which they said was “unconstitutional”.

The Supreme Court has started hearing on the case. Regular hearings on the case will resume from June 23.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the decision Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

In February, the pinnacle court reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives, in a setback to embattled Prime Minister Oli who was preparing for snap polls.

Oli repeatedly defended his transition to dissolve the House of Representatives, saying some leaders of his party were attempting to form a “equal government”.

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