British troops are likely to be deployed outside southern Iraq for the first time in support of US troops in some of the worst trouble spots in the country, including Baghdad, it emerged Friday night. \nThe UK Ministry of Defense confirmed that contingency plans are being drawn up to deploy a battle group of around 650 men to cover for US troops while they carry out offensive operations against insurgents in Fallujah and elsewhere. \nThe planned deployment -- understood to be the result of a formal request for assistance from US forces -- will be the first time British troops have operated inside the Sunni Triangle around Baghdad where the majority of attacks against the occupying forces have occurred. It is expected the troops will be under overall US command. \nIt would also mark a major escalation in Britain's involvement in the occupation of Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Blair, is thought to have flown back early from a conference in Budapest Friday morning to deal with the issue. \n"There are a series of contingency plans being worked up, but no decisions have been made," a spokesman for the ministry said Friday night. \nHowever, a military source, asked if he thought the deployment would happen, said: "If I was a betting man I would say yes." \nHe added: "There is contingency planning going on at the moment to assist the US in their future operations to try and create an environment for elections to go ahead. \n"They are going to give a severe slap to Fallujah -- that has been pretty well documented -- and a number of contingency plans are being looked at that would allow British troops to go and look after areas to allow US troops to mount offensive operations," the source said. \nBut the source categorically denied reports that the Black Watch -- the British regiment most likely to be sent in support of US troops -- would be used in any battle for Fallujah. \nThe source was also unable to put any timescale on the possible deployment. \n"If the decision is taken I would imagine it could happen very quickly," he said. \nA total of 68 British troops have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war, compared with 1,062 Americans. \nThe US has been threatening a major offensive against Fallujah and other insurgent strongholds for several weeks. \nIn a statement read at sermons in mosques in Baghdad and elsewhere, Fallujah's clerics called for civil disobedience across Iraq if the Americans try to overrun the insurgent bastion. \nIf that did not halt an offensive, the clerics said they would proclaim a jihad against multinational forces "as well as those collaborating with them." \nMeanwhile, the former UK ambassador to the UN, Jeremy Greenstock, has revealed for the first time that he did not believe the UN weapons inspectors were granted enough time to do their work inside Iraq before the US and the British decided to abandon the UN route and mount an invasion of Iraq.
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted
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Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo