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S. Korea to increase spending to build ‘independent’ defence capabilities



SEOUL: South Korea will increase defense spending by an average of 7.5 percent each year over the next five years with a focus on building “independent capabilities to counter threats from all directions,” Seoul’s defense ministry said Friday.

The ministry announced its defense blueprint for the 2019-2023 period, during which it wants to spend 270.7 trillion won (US$241.9 billion) — 94.1 trillion won on improving defense capabilities and the rest on managing troops, equipment and facilities.

Under the plan, the ministry seeks to increase the country’s defense budget, which stands at 46.7 trillion won this year, to 50.3 trillion won for 2020, 54.1 trillion won for 2021, 57.8 trillion won for 2022 and 61.8 trillion won for 2023.

During the five-year period, the average annual increase rate amounts to 7.5 percent, compared with an average of 4.9 percent over the last decade. The spending plan, which will go through an internal review by the finance ministry, is subject to parliamentary approval.

From this year through 2023, the ministry hopes to increase the annual budget for strengthening defense capabilities by an average of 10.8 percent and that for force management by an average of 5.8 percent.

The cost of enhancing defense capabilities accounts for 32.9 percent of this year’s total defense budget. The ministry seeks to expand that proportion to 36.5 percent in 2023.

“The ministry has decided to focus on building independent defense capabilities while reasonably adjusting the force management cost by redesigning the personnel management structure and enhancing operational efficiency,” the ministry said in a press release.





Is Uber buying Careem for $3.1b?



DUBAI: According to the rumors making rounds here today it seems that Uber is about to acquire Careem for $3.1b!

Sources privy to NPTV have insinuated that the deal will be announced tomorrow (Tuesday 26th March). Initially Uber will pay $1.4 billion in cash and the rest in notes convertible to Uber shares.

It comes as Uber prepares for its initial public offering — expected next month — which could see the rideshare giant’s value increase to $100 billion.

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British Shadow Justice Minister on climate change



BRADFORD: Climate/ecological change is one of the biggest challenges that humanity faces in the modern era. 

British Shadow Minister  Imran Hussain maintains: “With disaster awaiting if we do not make substantial changes to the way that we live our lives, and I was visited recently by school children from Bradford who came to talk to me about their campaign against climate change.

“It’s always positive to see young people get involved in a deeply important issue, and their actions should serve as a wakeup call to the Government that their views must no longer be ignored.

“They are also right to be worried about the kind of planet they will inherit and demand far-reaching action, for if we do not act over the next 12 years, we will forever miss the opportunity to do anything about it.”

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Egypt-Israel peace treaty lives on in troubled region



CAIRO: The US-mediated 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel may only have resulted in a “cold peace” but their ties have survived four decades in a turbulent region, analysts say.

The watershed treaty brought together late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli premier Menachem Begin for a 26th March, 1979 signing ceremony in Washington as a beaming Jimmy Carter, then-US president, looked on. The peace deal, the first ever between Israel and an Arab state, and which cost Sadat his life at the hands of an Islamist extremist, has kept Cairo out of any armed conflict with its neighbour.

The treaty has emerged unscathed from upheavals in Egypt, notably the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, proving its “stability”, said Amr al-Shobaki, political analyst with the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. The 40th anniversary comes as armed conflicts roil several countries across the Arab world, from Libya in the far west to Yemen in the south.  It also comes at a time of major US policy changes.

In 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, causing uproar in the Muslim world. He followed up on Friday with a pledge to recognise Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. Israel seized mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem, Syria’s Golan and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in the 1967 Six-Day War, when it also occupied the West Bank and Gaza. But under the 1979 peace treaty, Israel returned the Sinai to former enemy Egypt.


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