Indo-Pacific pact row
France says it expects clarifications from the US on its new Indo-Pacific security pact with Britain and Australia, known as Aukus. A spokesman for the French president said Paris needs concrete measures in order to rebuild trust with Washington. Gabriel Attal noted the US is expected to acknowledge that the necessary consultations did not take place and that Aukus poses questions to the mutual trust. Last week, London, Canberra and Washington announced a pact under which Australia will be provided with technology and means to build nuclear-powered submarines. As a result of the trilateral cooperation, a similar Franco-Australian deal worth 40-billion dollars was scrapped. Paris reacted with fury, calling the agreement a stab in the back. The country even recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia.
Covid-19 in Iran
Iran has reported 286 new Coronavirus fatalities, the lowest since the fifth wave of the pandemic hit the country. The new figure brings the total number of Covid-related deaths to over 118,000. Health Ministry officials say over 17,000 new cases were also registered in the past day, bringing the total caseload to nearly five and a half million. The vaccination drive in the country is also gathering momentum as almost 47 million doses have been administered so far. Iran experienced the fifth peak of Covid-19 in mid-August, with the number of daily infections then standing at over 50,000 and related deaths at over 700. The Delta variant of Covid-19 was blamed for the surge.
Australian police have detained more than 200 people in Melbourne during the third consecutive day of protests against COVID-19 restrictions and mandatory vaccinations. The arrests followed clashes between protesters and the police in the capital of Victoria State. A temporary no-fly zone has been declared over Melbourne as police beef up security and pledge to prevent more violent protests. The protests began after the government mandated vaccinations for construction workers in the state. Authorities also ordered a two-week closure of building sites to rein in Covid infections, which left tens of thousands of people out of work. Melbourne has been under lockdown for seven weeks as authorities struggle to curb an outbreak of the delta variant of Covid-19.