MOSCOW – Converting Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia monument from a museum to a mosque would be “unacceptable”, a senior official in the Russian Orthodox Church said on Saturday. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a sixth century building at the heart of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and now one of Turkey’s most visited monuments. “We can’t go back to the Middle Ages…"Russian Orthodox Church says ‘unacceptable’ to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque: Ifax"
WINNIPEG, Manitoba – China fired back at Canada on Saturday for criticising Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong, the second rebuke in a week that has added to strains on their bilateral ties. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Canada was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong due to the law and Canada’s foreign minister called the legislation “a significant step back” for liberty. China’s embassy in Ottawa said in a…"China rebukes Canada over criticism of Hong Kong security law"
MOSCOW – Russia is not in talks with Washington about its potential role at an expanded Group of Seven summit later this year, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Saturday, insisting that China should also be included in the event. His comments to TASS news agency countered those of John Sullivan, U.S. ambassador to Russia, who told RBC TV on Friday that Washington was “engaged with the Russian Foreign Ministry and with the other…"Russia says China would be needed in expanded G7 summit: TASS"
– The United States is sending two aircraft carriers into the South China Sea at the same time as China is conducting military exercises in the contested waterway, the Wall Street Journal reported. The USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz would be in the South China Sea from Saturday, the U.S. news outlet quoted the strike group commander as saying. “The purpose is to show an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we…"U.S. sends carriers to South China Sea during Chinese drills – WSJ"
WASHINGTON – Global coronavirus cases exceeded 11 million on Friday, according to a tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months. The number of cases is more than double the figure for severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organization. Many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus while making…"Global coronavirus cases exceed 11 million"
MOSCOW – A senior Russian defence official accused former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton on Friday of distorting facts in his memoir about talks with the Russian authorities about the U.S. withdrawal from a Cold War-era arms control treaty. Washington last year withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), accusing Moscow of deploying cruise missiles throughout Russia in violation of the pact. Russia has denied violating the agreement. In his book entitled…"Russia says Bolton’s account of INF treaty talks distorted"
ISTANBUL – A Turkish court on Friday sentenced a former local head of Amnesty International to more than six years in jail and convicted three other activists on terrorism-related charges for holding a meeting about digital security, the rights group said. Amnesty Turkey said on Twitter that seven other defendants, detained three years ago during a crackdown following an attempted coup in July 2016, were acquitted in a case which fuelled concern over Ankara’s human…"Turkish court convicts four rights activists on terrorism-related charges"
OTTAWA – Canada is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in the wake of China’s move to impose national security legislation on the former British colony, top officials said on Friday. In a statement, Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne also said Ottawa would not permit the export of sensitive military items to Hong Kong, which is home to around 300,000 Canadians. The new legislation came into effect this week despite protests from Hong Kongers and…"Canada says it will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong"
GENEVA – The World Health Organization expects initial results within two weeks from clinical trials it is conducting of drugs that might be effective in treating COVID-19 patients, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on Friday. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, said it would be unwise to predict when a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for mass distribution. While a vaccine candidate might show its effectiveness by year’s…"WHO sees first results from COVID drug trials within two weeks"
MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russian society had shown unity by voting to back reforms allowing him to stay in power until 2036 and that Russians had felt the need for the changes in their hearts. Putin, 67, also decreed the constitutional amendments would enter force on July 4 after they were backed by almost 78% of Russians, according to official results, in a week-long vote that ended on Wednesday. The Kremlin…"Putin says Russians voted ‘with their hearts’ to let him extend rule"