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Sino-US tensions

The United States says it has shot down what it calls a Chinese spy balloon that had been flying across America in the past week. The US military said its fighter jets downed the balloon with a missile when it floated off the southeastern coast. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the balloon was being used by China to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States. China’s foreign ministry expressed strong dissatisfaction, saying it was opposed to use of force to attack its airship. Beijing had previously said that the balloon was for civilian meteorological purposes and that it had strayed into US airspace. The incident brought a new low to already tense relations between the two sides. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his visit to China over the incident. 

Iran-Cuba relations

Iran’s foreign minister says US bullying and sanctions policy are doomed to failure. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in a meeting with his Cuban counterpart in Havana. The top Iranian diplomat reaffirmed Tehran’s condemnation of foreign meddling in Cuba’s affairs and the US role in the 20-21 riots in the Caribbean country. Also referring to the recent unrest in Iran, Amir-Abdollahian said the US and some other Western states target sovereign countries by simultaneously imposing sanctions on them and provoking riots there. The Cuban foreign minister, for his part, also denounced unilateral sanctions and foreign interference. Bruno Rodriguez said enhancing ties with Iran is a priority for his country. Amir-Abdollahian also earlier met with the Cuban president. He is on a foreign tour, which has already taken him to Mauritania, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. 

Pervez Musharraf dies

Former Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf, has died at the age of 79 after a prolonged illness. Musharraf died in a hospital in Dubai after spending years in self-imposed exile. The chiefs of Pakistan's army have expressed condolences on his death. Musharraf ruled for nearly a decade after seizing power in a coup in 1999. In 2008, the country's first democratic elections in 11 years were held and Musharraf's party lost. Facing impeachment by parliament, he resigned and fled to London. Later in 2013, he returned to Pakistan to run for a seat in parliament but was immediately disqualified. Six years later, a court sentenced him to death in absentia for the 2007 imposition of emergency rule. The verdict was later overturned. Musharraf survived at least three assassination attempts.

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