- The Guardian
- Issue #2045
IRAN, SAUDI ARABIA: The two countries reached an agreement that includes the resumption of diplomatic relations and re-opening of diplomatic missions within two months. They also agreed to hold talks between foreign ministers to arrange the exchange of ambassadors and explore ways to strengthen bilateral relations. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran expressed their appreciation and gratitude to Iraq and Oman for hosting several rounds of talks between 2021 and 2022, and especially to the Chinese leaders and government for hosting, supporting and contributing to the success of the talks. “As a reliable friend of the two countries, China will continue to play a constructive role,” said Wang Yi, director of the Office of Foreign Affairs Commission. He pointed out that the improvement of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran paved the way for regional peace and stability in the Middle East and was an example of resolving differences between countries through dialogue and consultation. There is hope that this welcome development at the diplomatic level will also result in bringing peace to Yemen and Syria.
MEXICO: Mexico was the host country for peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN). The two sides reached a bilateral ceasefire agreement. “The bilateral ceasefire and the secession of hostilities in order to create the conditions for overcoming the cruel conflict” is one of the points of the agreement. It also includes the recognition of the political status of the ELN as an “armed rebel organisation” by the government. Among other points is the building of a political and social alliance that will lead to a national agreement. “We were able to begin to address the most urgent, heartfelt and sensitive issues, such as the ceasefire, and we also opened the doors wide to citizen and community participation,” said Otty Patino, chief negotiator for the Colombian government. For his part, Pablo Beltran, chief negotiator for the ELN, stressed that “the first steps have been taken to achieve a bilateral, national and temporary ceasefire” and said that “we all have to change to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace, we all have to participate in its design and realisation.” Peace negotiations began in 2017, but were interrupted for four years and resumed in 2022 in Venezuela, a guarantor of the peace process along with Cuba, Norway, Mexico, Chile and Brazil, with Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Spain as accompanying countries. Cuba will be hosting the next round of the peace talks. Both parties expressed their gratitude to the Cuban government and people, stating that “Cuba is a beacon of hope and peace for the rest of the continent.”
RUSSIA: Russia’s foreign trade surplus surged nearly 20 per cent despite Ukraine-related western sanctions. According to the Federal Customs Service, total exports in 2022 reached $591.4 billion, up 19.9 per cent from 2021. Imports slid 11.7 per cent against the previous year of $259.1 billion. This brought Russia’s trade surplus to a record of $332.38 billion, up 67 per cent from $199.5 billion in 2021. Energy products made up the bulk of foreign exports despite the western sanctions as Moscow actively re-directed them to Asian partners.
BULGARIA: A demonstration was held in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on 9th March 2023. The demonstrators were protesting against the city council’s decision to relocate the monument to the Red Army soldiers who liberated the city from Nazi rule. The placards read “Death to fascism,” and the council building was pelted with eggs, with one woman in the crowd angrily promising that “next time it won’t be eggs either …”