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  • Belgrade blocks flights from ‘coronavirus-free’ Montenegro as Podgorica doesn’t welcome Serbians

    The Serbian government has banned inbound flights by Montenegro’s flag carrier Montenegro Airlines after Podgorica refused to open its borders to people from Serbia, where coronavirus persists. Serbia’s Directorate for Civilian Aviation said it decided to act as Montenegro’s move affect reciprocity in air transportation.

    Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic on Monday declared his country free of coronavirus. The PM said Montenegro would open borders to travelers from countries reporting no more than 25 cases of infection per 100,000 people. Serbia, where the infection rate is higher, was not on the list.

    So far, Serbia, with a population of 7.2 million, has reported 11,227 cases of coronavirus infection and 239 deaths. Montenegro, another Balkan republic of 620,000 people, has reported 324 cases and nine deaths.

    As the coronavirus infection rate dropped, Serbia earlier this month opened borders with most of its neighbors, including Montenegro, Croatia and Hungary. Serbia’s PM Ana Brnabic told Serbians, who visit Montenegro in large numbers, that “they should not go where they are undesirable,” Reuters reported.

  • China will act against foreign interference over Hong Kong security law – Foreign Ministry

    China will take necessary countermeasures to combat foreign interference amid deliberations over the new Hong Kong security legislation, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said on Wednesday.

    Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the remarks in response to a question about US President Donald Trump’s comments on Tuesday that Washington is working on a strong response to the legislation that will be announced before the end of the week.

    Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, called Beijing’s actions “very disturbing,” adding that Washington would welcome back any American companies from Hong Kong or China’s mainland. “We will do what we can for full expensing and pay the cost of moving if they return their supply chains and their production to the US,” he said.

  • Russia backs immediate Libyan ceasefire & talks, Lavrov tells Haftar ally in phone call

    Moscow backs an immediate ceasefire and political talks in Libya, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday. He made the statement during a phone call with Aguila Saleh Issa, speaker of eastern Libyan House of Representatives, according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

    Issa is aligned to General Khalifa Haftar who controls eastern Libya and opposes the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

    During the conversation, Lavrov supported the speaker’s initiative which was announced on April 23. That plan proposed “an immediate ceasefire and stepping up inter-Libyan talks with the aim of developing compromise solutions to existing problems and forming united governing authorities.”

  • Kosovo leader Thaci rejects EU mediator for Serbia talks as Pristina wants increased US role in dialogue

    Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Tuesday he would not take part in talks on normalizing ties with Serbia that are led by a European Union special mediator. In March, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell appointed Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak as special mediator for the breakaway Serbian province.

    Slovakia is one of five EU member countries – along with Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Spain – that decline to recognize Kosovo’s independence. “In front of us we will have two negotiators from the countries that do not recognize Kosovo’s independence,” Thaci said in Pristina, referring to Lajcak and Borrell, a former Spanish foreign minister.

    Thaci said he would join any meetings organized by Germany and France. He said only the US, which brokered Bosnia’s peace accord 25 years ago and led NATO’s 1999 airstrikes against Serbia, could really advance dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, according to Reuters.

  • Syria cancels night-time curfew & allows travel between provinces

    Syrian authorities loosened its coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Tuesday by canceling a night-time curfew, allowing travel between provinces and announcing a reopening of mosques, according to state media.

    Damascus has announced 121 coronavirus cases –including four deaths– in government-held areas. In the Kurdish-run northeast, the UN has recorded six cases, including one death. The government is completely canceling night-time curfews starting on Tuesday. It also allows travel between provinces and allow shops and malls to open from 8am to 7pm during summer, SANA reported.

    The endowments ministry announced that mosques would be allowed to fully reopen starting on Wednesday, after a temporary ban on public prayers.

    Damascus started to gradually loosen restrictions last month to help salvage an economy strangled by Western sanctions and nine years of war. The government is grappling with soaring inflation, high unemployment and a hefty depreciation of the Syrian pound, AFP said.

  • UN to discuss with world leaders support for developing states hit hard by pandemic

    UN officials said that, on Thursday, they and more than a dozen world leaders will discuss shoring up financial support for emerging economies hit hard by the pandemic’s economic fallout. The online meeting comes amid surging coronavirus infections in developing countries, and warnings it will cost more than the initially forecast $2.5 trillion if they are to weather the crisis, Reuters said.

    The meeting was convened by Canada, Jamaica, and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres. UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said many developing countries, including middle-income nations, lacked sufficient funds to fight the pandemic and invest in their recovery.

    An offer by the Group of 20 major economies and Paris Club creditors to suspend payments on official bilateral debt for the poorest countries through the end of 2020 was a critical start, but further efforts would be needed, Mohammed said.

    Thursday’s meeting will include participants from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, African Union, Institute of International Finance and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The goal is to deliver concrete proposals in eight weeks.