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Russia/Ukraine War: US secretaries of State, Defence meet Zelenskyy as Ukraine calls for powerful weapons

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A United States delegation of secretaries of state and defense met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday in what has been described as the highest-level visit to the troubled country since Russia’s invasion in February.

The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had the meeting, which was highly classified and secretive had in attendance, as reporters who accompanied Austin and Blinken to Poland were barred by Pentagon and State Department officials from reporting the Kyiv visit until the two men physically left Ukraine.

Ukraine had pressed the West for more powerful weapons against Russia’s campaign in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Moscow’s forces sought to dislodge the last Ukrainian troops in the battered port of Mariupol.

“You can’t come to us empty-handed today, and we are expecting not just presents or some kind of cakes, we are expecting specific things and specific weapons,’’ he said.

Zelenskyy’s last face-to-face meeting with a top U.S. official was February 19 in Munich with Vice President Kamala Harris, five days before Russia’s invasion.

The visit however came with positives for Ukraine as the two US secretaries to president Zelenskyy, and his advisers that the United States would provide more than $300 million in foreign military financing and had approved a $165 million sale of ammunition.

While the West has funneled military equipment to Ukraine, Zelenskyy has stressed repeatedly that his country needs more heavy weapons, including long-range air defense systems and warplanes.

 

Musings From Abroad

Despite heavy security presence, Libyan protesters step up campaign, vow to continue demonstrations

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Libyan protesters have vowed to step up its campaign and continue with their demonstrations until all the ruling elites quit power and pave way for elections.

The protests which began on Friday, saw the burning of the country’s parliament building in Tobruk when a large crowd broke through the security and set the building on fire.

The incident prompted the government to release thousands of security personnel into the streets but the demonstrators were not deterred as they defied the presence of the forces on Saturday and Sunday by holding rallies in Tripoli, Tobruk, and Benghazi, and other major cities in the North African country.

While addressing the protesters, leaders of the movement said they would step up its campaign from Sunday, urging demonstrators to set up tents in city squares and practise civil disobedience until they achieve their goal of ousting political institutions and holding new elections.

Libyan Observer reports that the protesters held their biggest rally in Tripoli for years, chanting slogans against the feuding political elites, as demonstrators blocked off roads in Benghazi and Misrata and set fire to government buildings in Sebha and Qarabuli.

The media also reported that despite pleas by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the demonstrators are bent on going on with their daily protests until they force the ruling elites out.

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Musings From Abroad

US commends Kenya’s effort at resolving Rwanda/Congo tension

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The US has praised Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta for his effort at resolving tensions between East African neighbour, DR Congo and Rwanda.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with President Kenyatta in a phone call on Thursday describes Kenya’s move as the best approach to end armed conflict in the troubled east of the country.

The US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said of the phone call, that “Secretary Blinken expressed his appreciation for the Nairobi process, which has brought together the leadership of the DR Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan and Tanzania.

“The Secretary noted these heads of state meetings are instrumental for facilitating the de-escalation of regional tensions, and in particular between the DR Congo and Rwanda.”

The acrimony between the countries was pronounced last month when Rwandan military authorities accused the armed forces of neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo of cross-border attacks.

Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, last week called on the East African regional bloc to deploy East African force to the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to restore security following renewed fighting between government forces and the M23 rebels which has seen thousands killed and displaced since the resumption of hostilities.

Although the move to deploy the forces has been commended by the US, United Nations and the African Union, Congolese politicians and the public have expressed reservations about the proposed deployment of peace troops. They said the East Africa Standby Force (EASF) would be duplicating roles of the UN Mission (Monusco) as well as other existing interventions currently on the ground.

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