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Crisis: Sudan to be evacuated of British embassy staff ‘as soon as feasible’

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Crisis: Sudan to be evacuated of British embassy staff ‘as soon as feasible’

Sudan will be evacuated of British embassy staff “as soon as feasible” due to safety fears following increasing attacks on diplomatic missions, a British Government source has said.

Ministers are keen to help British officials to exit the African country, which is currently into a second week of bloody internal fighting between the Sudanese army and a powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces.

But a British Government source said any evacuation would be “incredibly limited” and focused on the small number of British civil servants based in the capital Khartoum.

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Any military effort to help airlift people out of the country is not expected to be on the same scale as seen in Afghanistan in 2021, especially given Britain does not have a substantial diplomatic or military footprint in Sudan.

Britons in the warring nation are continuing to be advised to ensure they have registered their presence with the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) and to stay indoors.

“Due to the increasing attacks on diplomatic missions, we will be evacuating our HMG staff as soon as feasible,” a British Government source said.

“It’s likely any evacuation will be incredibly limited due to the small number of UK staff in the country, and British nationals should remain in a place of shelter.

“There is currently no suggestion British nationals are being actively targeted by armed factions.”

The source said British options were “likely to be extremely limited for the foreseeable”.

They added: “We do not expect any major change in our travel advice to Sudan for British nationals in the coming days.”

The comments come after the Sudanese army said it is co-ordinating efforts to evacuate foreign citizens and diplomats from Sudan on military aircraft, including Britons, Americans, French and Chinese.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) would not confirm whether it was assisting with the suggested plans.

A source in the department said it was planning for a wide range of scenarios, alongside the Foreign Office, on how it could assist in Sudan.

With reports suggesting the British Army is on standby to help with a potential evacuation, the MoD pointed out that a high-readied armed forces unit is always on hand to be deployed should they be required.

Prospects of airlifting people out of Sudan have been complicated by the fact most major airports in the country have become battlegrounds and movement out of the capital has proven dangerous.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday chaired the fourth emergency Cobra meeting on the Sudan situation.

He was joined by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Africa minister Andrew Mitchell for the discussions.

A government spokesman said: “We recognise that the situation is extremely concerning for British nationals trapped by the fighting in Sudan.

“We are doing everything possible to support British nationals and diplomatic staff in Khartoum, and the Ministry of Defence is working with the Foreign Office to prepare for a number of contingencies.”

Battles continue to rage in and around Khartoum between the Sudanese army led by Army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Burhan and his rival paramilitary group.

The clashes have killed more than 400 people so far, according to the World Health Organisation.

Even as the warring sides said on Friday that they had agreed to a ceasefire for the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, explosions and gunfire rang out across Khartoum on Saturday.

Two ceasefire attempts earlier this week also rapidly collapsed.

Britain has historic ties to Sudan. In an unusual arrangement, Britain and Egypt jointly ruled Sudan from 1899 until it gained independence in 1956, but Sudan is not among the group of 56 Commonwealth nations.

Crisis: Sudan to be evacuated of British embassy staff ‘as soon as feasible’

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Biden Vows to Maintain NATO Strength Amid Election Concerns

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Biden Vows to Maintain NATO Strength Amid Election Concerns
Biden Vows to Maintain NATO Strength Amid Election Concerns

Biden Vows to Maintain NATO Strength Amid Election Concerns

U.S. President Joe Biden closed a three-day NATO summit in Washington on Thursday by reaffirming his commitment to a robust NATO, amid a press conference that also touched on U.S. politics and concerns about his mental fitness.

Biden, 81, is facing calls to step aside for another Democratic candidate in the upcoming presidential race due to fears of mental decline. The Republican Party is expected to nominate former President Donald Trump, 78, at its convention starting Monday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Biden criticized Trump’s stance on NATO, stating, “My predecessor has made it clear he has no commitment to NATO. He’s made it clear that he would feel no obligation to honor Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which commits all allies to respond if one is attacked. But I made it clear a strong NATO is essential to American security. And I believe the obligation of Article 5 is sacred.”

“I will not bow down to Putin. I will not walk away from Ukraine. I will keep NATO strong,” Biden emphasized.

The summit concluded with NATO leaders announcing increased military support for Ukraine, including air-defense systems and a pledge to spend 40 billion euros ($43 billion) next year. They also affirmed Ukraine’s irreversible path to NATO membership.

Additionally, the U.S. and Germany announced the deployment of long-range cruise missiles to Germany to bolster NATO’s deterrence in Europe.

Despite these announcements, Biden’s closing press conference was dominated by questions about the upcoming presidential election and his candidacy. When asked if he could still handle Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the future, Biden replied, “I’m dealing with Xi right now and (I’m in) direct contact with him. I have no good reason to talk to Putin right now. There’s not much that he is prepared to do in terms of accommodating any change in his behavior. I’m not ready to talk to Putin unless Putin’s ready to change his behavior.”

During the hour-long press conference, Biden occasionally struggled with his speech, at one point confusing Trump with Vice President Kamala Harris. When asked about Harris’ ability to beat Trump, he mistakenly said, “Look, I wouldn’t have picked Vice President Trump to be vice president, did I think she was not qualified to be president” (sic). He later asserted, “I think I’m the most qualified person to run for president.”

This followed an earlier gaffe where Biden introduced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “President Putin,” before quickly correcting himself.

British Prime Minister Keir Starmer, in a separate press conference, defended Biden’s leadership, saying, “We have a bigger NATO, and more countries; we have a stronger NATO. We have a real sense of resolve. President Biden led through all of that.”

Finnish President Alexander Stubb also expressed confidence in Biden’s capabilities, stating, “I have absolutely no concerns about the capacity of the current president of the United States to lead his country and to lead our fight for Ukraine and to lead NATO. We human beings, when we’re treated in the public eye, we’re never as good as we sometimes look, and we’re never as bad.”

Biden Vows to Maintain NATO Strength Amid Election Concerns

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Iraqi court sentences former IS leader’s wife to death

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Iraqi court sentences former IS leader’s wife to death

Iraqi court sentences former IS leader’s wife to death

An Iraqi court on Wednesday sentenced the wife of the former top leader of the Islamic State (IS) group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to death.

According to Supreme Judicial Council statement, the Karkh Criminal Court issued the death verdict for the wife of the terrorist over joining the IS group and detaining the kidnapped Yazidi women in her house in west Mosul.

In 2019, the U.S. forces conducted a raid targeting al-Baghdadi in Syria’s northern province of Idlib, killing the IS leader.

Al-Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, established the IS in 2014.

The extremist militant group, which once captured large swathes of land in western and northern Iraq, was defeated in late 2017.

Iraqi court sentences former IS leader’s wife to death

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Iran’s late president Raisi to be buried in home city of Mashhad

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Iran’s late president Raisi to be buried in home city of Mashhad

Iran’s late president Raisi to be buried in home city of Mashhad

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash at the weekend, is to be buried in his home city of Mashhad on Thursday.

Raisi is to be laid to rest at the city’s shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth imam of Shia Islam.

High-ranking representatives of friendly states are expected to attend, including Russian parliamentary leader Vyacheslav Volodin.

Iran’s state railway company has organised special trains to take mourners from Tehran to the north-eastern city.

There have been several ceremonies and public displays of mourning for Raisi, late foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of Sunday’s crash.

Millions of mourners flocked to a funeral procession in Tehran on Wednesday.

Raisi and Amirabdollahian were killed in the crash with seven other occupants of the ill-fated helicopter.

They went down in dense cloud in the mountains while travelling back from a meeting with Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan.

Iran’s religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered five days of national mourning, and a nationwide holiday was held on Wednesday.

Raisi’s death has provoked mixed reactions in Iran.

While supporters of the country’s Islamic regime have mourned the loss of an important political figure, critics have highlighted the heightened repression his administration oversaw.

Iran’s late president Raisi to be buried in home city of Mashhad

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