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Iran military drills 

The Iranian army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps are holding a joint air defense drill for a second day. The exercises are being staged in Semnan, a central province of Iran. Several domestically-made air defense systems have been successfully tested. The drills also feature home-made missiles, radars, reconnaissance and electronic warfare as well as communications systems. Troops are conducting tactical and defense operations, using detection and combat systems against mock enemy aircraft. Iran says the drills aim to boost domestic air defense capability.

COVID-19 fallout 

The International Monetary Fund says the coronavirus pandemic and inequitable vaccine distributions are worsening the economic divide and darkening prospects for developing nations. The IMF chief economist also warned that a prolonged pandemic downturn could reduce global GDP by a cumulative 5.3 trillion dollars over the next five years. The IMF has predicted 5.9 percent growth output this year, which is lower than its July projection. It said, advanced economies could regain their pre-pandemic trend next year and exceed it by 0.9 percent in 2024. However, in developing economies excluding China, the output is expected to remain 5.5 percent, below the pre-pandemic forecast.

China stance on Taiwan

Beijing is seeking to ease concerns about its military exercises near Taiwan. It says the drills are meant to counter foreign interference, and deal with forces seeking to separate the island from mainland China. China's office for Taiwan affairs said the purpose of the drills is to promote peace and stability. The current tensions, it added, stem from the island’s collusion with foreign forces, and separatist activities. Recently, China has flown a record number of military jets over Taiwan’s airspace, after Britain sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait. Also, Taipei's growing military reliance on Washington has upset Beijing. Still, Chinese and Taiwanese presidents offered a more conciliatory tone in their weekend speeches. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan.

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