Myanmar: junta seeks a deal with ethnic armed groups, not pro-democracy forces

Other news of the day: Hong Kong reopens to non-resident foreign visitors. Russo-Japanese deal is reached on fishing rights. New attack occurs in Afghanistan. Palestinians and Israelis continue to clash in Jerusalem. Official Russian death toll in Ukraine tops 13,000.


Yesterday, the head of Myanmar’s ruling military junta, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, proposed a meeting with the leaders of ethnic armed groups to end the long conflict along the country’s border areas. The invitation did not include representatives of the country’s democratically-elected government ousted by the military last year nor anyone from the People’s Defence Forces, a pro-democracy opposition group that emerged in the wake of the coup.


For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020, May Hong Kong will allow non-resident foreigners into the city, starting in May. Foreign travellers will be subject to the same quarantine measures applied to residents. After a peak of cases on 3 March (70,000), the former British colony is now reporting an average of 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.


Despite tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Tokyo and Moscow signed the annual agreement on Japanese fishing quotas in Russian maritime waters, Japan’s fisheries agency announced this morning. The issue between the two sides is always delicate since they concern the Kuril Islands, which are under Russian control but are partly claimed by Japan.


Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, saw its second terrorist attack in two days. A bomb exploded yesterday at the Mawlawi Sekandar Sufi Mosque killing 33 people and wounding 43. On Thursday, four attacks, two claimed by the Islamic State, were reported in Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul as well as Kunduz.


The Al Aqsa Compound continues to be the scene of clashes between Muslim worshippers and Israeli police. Health authorities in Jerusalem report that 57 injured Palestinians were treated yesterday. Israeli authorities also reported that two rockets were fired from Gaza, one of which crossed the border without causing damage. This is the third missile attack from the Strip in the past week.


After a long silence on losses in Ukraine, Readvoka, an official news website linked to Defence Ministry, admitted that 13,414 Russian soldiers died fighting in Ukraine while at least 7,000 are missing. The accident (or sinking) of the Moskva cruiser cost the lives of 116 sailors, while another 100 are missing.


The town of Kashkadarya welcomed President Shavkat Mirziyoyev with great solemnity. Locals paved dirt roads, painted sidewalks in white, placed plants and flowers worth hundreds of millions of soʻm on roadsides, and worked overnight to tidy Amir Temur Park.