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Iran-China relations

Iran’s foreign minister, who is on an official visit to China, says strategic issues are on the agenda of his talks with the officials there. Hossein Amri-Abdollahian explained that the talks cover a range of issues, including international developments as well as political and economic issues. He made the remarks upon his arrival in the Chinese city of Wuxi earlier in the day. He said Iran and China have had good cooperation in recent months. He also noted that the two sides have made good progress in different areas, in line with their national interests. Amir-Abdollahian has already met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.

Russia-US tensions

Tensions heating up between Russia and the West. Moscow says sanctions against President Vladimir Putin would mean a complete breakdown of ties. The Kremlin spokesman has described as unsuccessful Wednesday’s talks with NATO in Brussels. Separately, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, says the talks led to no progress, and thus there is no need for further discussion in the coming days. The senior diplomat says the US and its allies rejected Russia’s key demands, including guarantees that NATO will not further expand eastwards. He has accused the Western side of lacking flexibility, and refused to rule out the possibility of Russian military deployment to Venezuela and Cuba in case of heightened tensions with the US over Ukraine. In recent months, Moscow’s ties with the West have taken a turn for the worse, with both sides warning about a new armed conflict in Europe.

Johnson in hot water

Another blow to Boris Johnson’s shaky premiership. Fresh reports say staff at the British prime minister’s office partied on the eve of the socially-distanced funeral of the queen’s husband Prince Philip. The UK-based Daily Telegraph says number 10 staff gathered on April 16 last year for two separate leaving events. One was for James Slack, the prime minister's departing director of communications. Another was for a personal photographer of Johnson. The events took place the day before Prince Philip was laid to rest. At that time, social gatherings were banned across the UK as part of COVID restrictions. Johnson himself was absent at those parties. But, he’s already facing calls to resign over several more parties held at Downing Street during lockdowns. Critics including those from Labour say Johnson is unfit to head the government and cannot be trusted.

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