Top foreign stories at 17.40 hrs

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FGN19 PAK-LD JADHAV Pakistan's National Assembly passes bill to give right of appeal to Kulbhushan Jadhav Islamabad: The Pakistan government has rushed through the National Assembly a bill to provide the right of appeal to Indian death-row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav amidst ruckus and boycott by the Opposition.

FGN26 VIRUS-UK-DELTA Delta variant 60 per cent more transmissible, reduces vaccine effect: UK experts London: The Delta variant of COVID-19, or the B1.617.2 variant of concern (VOC) first identified in India, is about 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha strain identified in the UK and also reduces the effectiveness of vaccines to some extent, UK health experts report on Friday. By Aditi Khanna FGN31 CHINA-SCS-DRILLS China denounces US-Australian navy drills as muscle flexing Beijing: China on Friday said the US and Australia were 'flexing their muscles” with recent naval drills in the South China Sea, underscoring Beijing's sensitivity over the strategic waterway it claims as its own. By K J M Varma FGN16 US-CHINA-LD AUSTIN China's 'aggressive behaviour' in Indo-Pacific can spark 'crisis': US defence secretary Washington: Describing China as a 'pacing challenge' to the US, Defence Secretary Llyod Austin has told American lawmakers that Beijing's 'aggressive behaviour' in the Indo-Pacific could spark a 'crisis' in the strategically vital region.

FGN33 CHINA-MILITARY-DEFAMATION-LD LAW China adopts new law banning defamation of military personnel Beijing: China has passed a new legislation that bans 'defamation' of military personnel, adding an array of legal tools to its 2018 law under which a Chinese popular blogger was punished recently for 'defaming' PLA soldiers killed in last year’s clash with the Indian Army at the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh. By K J M Varma FGN24 US-H1B USCIS reverses Trump-era policy denying certain immigrant visa applications Washington: The US' immigration agency has said that it would rescind a 2018 Trump-era policy that allowed immigration officers to reject H-1B visa applications instead of first issuing a notice of intent to deny to the applicants, a decision which will reduce barriers to 'legal immigration' and would be a positive step for Indian professionals. By Aditi Khanna FGN30 UK-JOHNSON-G7-VACCINE G7 Summit: UK PM pledges to donate 100 mn COVID vaccine doses London: The UK will donate 100 million surplus coronavirus vaccine doses to the world within the next year, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday at the start of the G7 Summit in Cornwall. By Aditi Khanna FGN32 CHINA-MARATHON-PUNISHMENT 27 face punishment for hosting 'unprofessional' ultramarathon race that killed 21 runners Beijing: Twenty-seven people, including several senior municipal government officials, faced disciplinary punishment or criminal charges after being held responsible for hosting an 'unprofessional' ultramarathon race in Gansu province last month in which 21 runners died, local authorities announced on Friday. By K J M Varma FGN28 LANKA-RBI-CURRENCY Sri Lanka reverts to foreign currency swap with RBI Colombo: Sri Lanka on Friday said that its Central Bank will return to a USD 400 million foreign currency swap with the Reserve Bank of India as part of measures to boost the country's foreign reserves hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

FGN27 VIRUS-NEPAL-INDIA-EQUIPMENT India hands over medical equipment worth over Rs 18 crore to Nepal Kathmandu: India on Friday handed over medical equipment, including ventilators and ambulances, worth over Rs 18 crore to Nepal as a gesture of solidarity and close cooperation with the Himalayan nation in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

FGN23 KUWAIT-INDIA Kuwait foreign minister hails depth of ties with India Kuwait City: Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Al-Nasser Al-Sabah has hailed the depth of his country’s ties with India, saying bilateral relations remain on an upward trajectory.

FGN22 CHINA-SATELLITES China launches four satellites Beijing: China on Friday successfully sent four satellites into planned orbits that will be used for ecological environment monitoring, asteroid resource exploration, disaster prevention and mitigation among others. By K J M Varma FGN14 PAK-BUS-LD CRASH 18 people killed in bus crash in Pakistan Karachi: An over-speeding passenger bus overturned in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province on Friday, killing at least 18 people and injuring 30 others, according to media reports. IND