• PM Sanchez expects Spain, Britain to reach deal on Gibraltar status by October

    Madrid hopes to reach a deal with London on the status of Gibraltar by October, ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday. He made the statement at a European Union summit in Salzburg, Reuters reports. Spain needed a transitional period alongside Britain to reach agreements on matters relating to environmental, fiscal and tobacco trading laws on the British territory in the south of Spain, he said. “We need to have an agreement on Gibraltar by October,” Sanchez said.

  • Pakistan PM writes to India’s counterpart to resolve disputes – officials

    Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has written to his Indian counterpart, seeking to resolve outstanding disputes between the two nuclear-armed nations, including issues such as the divided region of Kashmir, officials said. The Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Mohammad Faisal, tweeted Thursday that Khan’s letter reciprocated Indian Premier Narendra Modi’s sentiments earlier this month for a “meaningful and constructive engagement,” AP reports. Khan also asked in his letter that the two countries’ foreign ministers hold a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month. India’s external affairs ministry has responded positively about that meeting.

  • US offer to reach new Iran treaty ‘mocks calls’ for peace – FM Zarif

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday that the US cannot seek to negotiate a new treaty with Tehran while it has violated its treaty obligations by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, Reuters reports. “US calls [the nuclear deal] JCPOA a personal agreement between two governments, claiming it seeks a treaty. Wrong,” Zarif tweeted. “US has violated its treaty obligations too… Apparently, US only mocks calls for peace.” US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook said on Wednesday that Washington is seeking to negotiate a treaty with Iran that will cover both its ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

  • Australia ‘plans to build’ new naval base in PNG as China strengthens Pacific influence

    Australia is planning to build a new naval base in Papua New Guinea, an apparent move to curb China’s influence in the Pacific, AFP said, citing media reports. Canberra was aiming to finalize an agreement on the joint facility – to be built on the Pacific nation’s Manus island – ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby in November, The Australian said. “The Pacific is a very high-priority area of strategic national security interest for Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday, refusing to deny the report. China has been showering billions of dollars in infrastructure loans to tiny island nations across the Pacific Ocean. The region is considered strategically important as a maritime gateway to Asia.

  • Militarization of Central, E. Europe by US, NATO is threat to CSTO member states – commander

    Consecutive militarization of Central and Eastern Europe with the participation of the US and NATO is threatening member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the chief of the CSTO Joint Staff, Col. Gen. Anatoly Sidorov, said Thursday. High conflict potential remains in the Caucasus region, he said. The CSTO, however, has biggest concerns about the situation in the Central-Asian region, where Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) presents the main threat, according to Sidorov. Four CSTO states – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – will hold military exercise Combat Brotherhood 2018 on October 1–November 2 on their territories.

  • Kremlin receives Assad’s telegram with condolences over downing of military plane – spokesman

    The Kremlin confirmed on Thursday that it had received a telegram, from Syrian President Bashar Assad, expressing condolences over the downing of the Russian Il-20 military plane off the Syrian coast on September 17. The telegram addressed to President Vladimir Putin “has been received,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. Assad sent condolences and blamed “Israeli arrogance and depravity” for the incident, SANA news agency reported on Wednesday, posting the message of condolence on its website. “We express our deep condolences over the fall of the Russian jet on the Mediterranean, causing the martyrdom of the Russian heroes who were doing their noble duties along with their colleagues of the Russian military forces in the fight against terrorism in Syria,” Assad said. He also expressed hope that “such painful acts would sway neither you nor us from continuing the fight against terrorism.”