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Biden to visit Israel on Wednesday

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US President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday to be briefed on its plans for war against Hamas militants.

The announcement that President Biden will visit Israel was made at the US embassy in Jerusalem after a marathon seven hour meeting between top US diplomat Antony Blinken and PM Netanyahu on Monday. Biden will “receive a comprehensive brief on Israel’s war aims and strategy” while visiting the country, Blinken told reporters.

He will also “hear from Israel how it will conduct its operations in a way that minimises civilian casualties” and allows aid to reach Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Biden will also work to create “some sort of safe passage” for civilians to leave Gaza if they wish.

Biden’s visit comes at the invitation of Netanyahu.  After visiting Israel he will travel to Amman, Jordan.

There, he will meet with Jordanian King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Al-Sisi and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

The decision for the US president to travel to Israel was “not taken lightly” says National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby. He did not share many details but said: “It’s a very short trip”. Biden will first visit Tel Aviv before flying to Amman.

Visiting US diplomats and lawmakers have been forced to shelter from Hamas rockets landing in Israel over the past few days.

Earlier on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to shelter in a Tel Aviv bunker for several minutes.

“Obviously we would not be making the trip if we did not believe proper security measures were in place,” says Kirby, of Biden’s visit.

The situation is very different from the Russia-Ukraine war, Kirby says, adding that Kyiv is being “constantly bombarded” by Russia. Biden travelled to Kyiv in a surprise visit that was kept a secret earlier this year

(BBC)



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Navy intercept multi-day fishing trawler carrying 200kg of narcotics

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It has been reported that the Sri Lanka Navy has intercepted a multi-day fishing trawler carrying around 200kg of narcotics suspected to be heroin and crystal methamphetamine (‘Ice’) off the southern coast of the island.

The boat and crew  were to be brought to the Galle Harbour,

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Advisory for Severe Lightning issued to Western, Southern, Sabaragamuwa, Northern and North-western provinces and in Monaragala district today (12)

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Advisory for Severe Lightning issued by the natural hazards early warning center at 01.30 p.m. to 11.30 p.m. on 12 April 2024

Thundershowers accompanied by severe lightning are likely to occur at several places in Western, Southern, Sabaragamuwa, Northern and North-western provinces and in Monaragala district.

There may be temporary localized strong winds during thundershowers.

General public is kindly requested to take adequate precautions to minimize damages caused by lightning activity.

ACTION REQUIRED:

The Department of Meteorology advises that people should:
• Seek shelter, preferably indoors and never under trees.

• Avoid open areas such as paddy fields, tea plantations and open water bodies during thunderstorms.

• Avoid using wired telephones and connected electric appliances during thunderstorms.

• Avoid using open vehicles, such as bicycles, tractors and boats etc.

• Beware of fallen trees and power lines.

• For emergency assistance contact the local disaster management authorities.
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US restricts travel for employees in Israel amid fears of Iran attack

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A view of the Tel Aviv skyline (BBC)

The United States has restricted travel for its employees in Israel amid fears of an attack by Iran.

The US embassy said staff had been told not to travel outside the greater Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Beersheba areas “out of an abundance of caution”.

Iran has vowed to retaliate, blaming Israel for a strike on its consulate in Syria 11 days ago, killing 13 people.

UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has phoned his Iranian counterpart to urge against further escalation.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the consulate attack but is widely considered to have been behind it.

(BBC)

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