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Military detain Mali’s president, prime minister and defence minister

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2021)

Military officers in Mali detained the president, prime minister and defence minister of the interim government on Monday, deepening political chaos just months after a military coup ousted the previous president, multiple sources told Reuters.

President Bah Ndaw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and defence minister Souleymane Doucoure were all taken to a military base in Kati outside the capital Bamako, hours after two members of the military lost their positions in a government reshuffle, the diplomatic and government sources said.

Their detentions followed the military ouster in August of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The development could exacerbate instability in the West African country where violent Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State (Daesh) control large areas of the desert north, Reuters reported.

Political instability and military infighting have complicated efforts by Western powers and neighbouring countries to prop up the impoverished nation, contributing to regional insecurity.

The United Nations’ mission in Mali called for the group’s “immediate and unconditional” release and said those who hold the leaders would have to answer for their actions, Reuters reported.

A delegation from the top regional decision-making body ECOWAS will visit Bamako on Tuesday to help resolve the “attempted coup”, ECOWAS, the U.N., African Union, European Union and several European countries said in a joint statement.

“The international community rejects in advance any act imposed by coercion, including forced resignations,” the group said.

The U.S. State Department called in a statement for the “unconditional release of those currently being held”.

Ndaw and Ouane had been tasked with overseeing an 18-month transition back to civilian rule after the August takeover, but they appear to have moved against the military’s control over a number of key positions, Reuters reported.

“The sacking of the pillars of the coup was an enormous misjudgement,” a senior former Malian government official told Reuters. “The actions are probably aimed at getting them back in their jobs.”

The military’s ultimate goal was not immediately clear. One military official in Kati said this was not an arrest. “What they have done is not good,” the source said, referring to the cabinet reshuffle. “We are letting them know, decisions will be made.”

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Macron says French forces killed ISIS leader in Sahara

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that French military forces had killed Islamic State (ISIS) militant Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the leader of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

“It’s another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel,” Macron said in a tweet, without disclosing the location of the operation.

Sahrawi was the historic leader of ISIS in the Sahel region of West Africa and his group targeted U.S. soldiers in a deadly attack in 2017, Macron’s office said.

In August 2020, Sahrawi personally ordered the killing of six French charity workers and their Nigerien driver, it added.

Macron said in July that France would soon begin reshaping its force in the Sahel, where it has been on the front line of the fight against ISIS, and would ultimately halve its military presence, Reuters reported.

With no apparent end in sight to France’s operations and political turmoil especially in Mali, Paris had grown frustrated.

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North Korea tests first ‘strategic’ cruise missile with possible nuclear capability

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(Last Updated On: September 13, 2021)

North Korea carried out successful tests of a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend, state-run television KRT said on Monday, seen by analysts as possibly the country’s first such weapon with a nuclear capability.

The weapons system “holds strategic significance” and the missiles flew 1,500 km before hitting their targets and falling into the country’s territorial waters during the tests on Saturday and Sunday, the KRT news presenter said.

The latest test highlighted steady progress in Pyongyang’s weapons program amid a gridlock over talks aimed at dismantling the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in return for U.S. sanctions relief. The talks have stalled since 2019.

South Korea’s military did not disclose whether it had detected the North’s latest tests, but said on Monday it was conducting a detailed analysis in cooperation with the United States. The U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) said it was aware of the reports and was coordinating with its allies and partners.

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Biden and China’s Xi discuss managing competition, avoiding conflict in call

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(Last Updated On: September 10, 2021)

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke by phone with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for about 90 minutes on Thursday, a senior U.S. official said, with both leaders discussing the need to avoid letting competition between the world’s two largest economies veer into conflict.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have been at their lowest point in decades and it was only the second call between the leaders since Biden took office in January.

A White House statement said the two leaders had “a broad, strategic discussion,” including “areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge.”

The conversation focused on economic issues, climate change, and COIVD-19, the senior U.S. official said.

Chinese state media said the conversation was “candid” and “in-depth”, adding that President Xi said U.S. policy on China imposes great difficulties on relations between the two.

The Chinese report added that both sides agreed to maintain frequent contact and to ask working-level teams to increase communications.

Occasional high-level meetings since Xi and Biden’s first call in February have yielded scant progress on a slew of issues, from climate change to human rights, and transparency over the origins of COVID-19.

During the ensuing months, the two sides have lashed out at each other on an almost constantly, often resorting to vitriolic public attacks, slapping sanctions on each other’s officials and criticizing the other for not upholding their international obligations.

“President Biden underscored the United States’ enduring interest in peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world and the two leaders discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict,” the statement said.

The Biden administration, preoccupied by a chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, has signaled that ending America’s longest war will give U.S. political and military leaders the space to focus on more pressing threats stemming from China’s rapid rise.

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