Venezuela's Interior Minister Says Detained Guaido Aide Part of Terrorist Cell

Venezuela's intelligence service had detained two associates of the country's opposition leader, Juan Guaido, a source in the Venezuelan police in Caracas told Russian news agency RIA Novosti on Thursday.

Venezuelan Minister of Interior Nestor Reverol, during an appearance on state television, said that Roberto Marrero, an aide to the country's self-declared "interim president" Juan Guaido, was part of a terrorist cell that planned attacks in the country and was linked with foreign mercenaries. The minister revealed an image of two rifles as evidence against the aide, who had been detained in an early-morning raid, acording to Sputnik.

A police source had told RIA Novosti that Marrero was one of two of Guaido's aides detained that day, and that one of them was found to have rifles and a grenade in their possession.

Shoigu: 8th Moscow Conference on International Security to Focus on Stability in Syria

MOSCOW, (ST)-The 8th Moscow Conference on International Security will discuss the situation in the Middle East with special focus on stability in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said in a speech, published on the Defense Ministry's website on Thursday, addressing particpants in the conderence.

"The Situation in the Middle East, with emphasis on stabilising the situation the Syrian Arab Republic, besides issues relating to peacekeeping, expanding military cooperation, regional security in Asia, Africa and Latin America, are main topics to be dicussed  during the annual confrence scheduled for April 23-25," Shoigu said.

Immediate Evacuation Is Only Option to Save Refugees in Rukban Camp: Reconciliation Center

MOSCOW- Immediate evacuation is the only option to save refugees at the Rukban camp from hunger and epidemics, Major General Viktor Kupchishin, chief of the Russian Center for reconciliation of the conflicting sides in Syria, told reporters on Wednesday.

"Due to the US inability to prevent the armed groups’ arbitrariness against refugees as well as due to impossibility by governmental and non-governmental agencies to provide humanitarian assistance on a systematic basis to inhabitants of the Rukban camp, evacuation remains the only option to save more than 40,000 people from the threat of hunger and epidemics," he said, according to Itar Tass.

Russia, China Stress Need to Completely Uproot Terrorism from Syria

MOSCOW, (ST)- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and the Chinese Special Envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan stressed during a meeting on Wednesday the need to completely uproot terrorism from the entire Syrian territory. They urged the international community to spare no effort as to help displaced Syrians return home, support the country's reconstruction and guarantee Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The two senior diplomats renewed their countries' firm support for speeding up the process of attaining political settlement of the crisis in Syria on the basis of international Resolution No. 2254, the statement said.

Russia's Top Diplomat Urges West to Resume Joint Arms Control Efforts

GENEVA - Russia is calling on the United States and other Western countries to resume joint efforts in the arms control sphere, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a plenary meeting at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament on Wednesday.

"I’m sure that all of us will have enough wisdom and strength to overcome the crisis, preserve and enhance modern system of international deals on arms control and nonproliferation, adding new agreements there," Lavrov stressed.

However, the statement made at the conference by the US representative has been "evidence to the contrary" so far, he noted.

Cyclone Kills over 300 in Mozambique, Zimbabwe

The death toll from a cyclone that smashed into Mozambique and Zimbabwe rose to more than 300 as rescuers raced against the clock to help survivors and the UN led the charge to provide aid.

"We already have more than 200 dead, and nearly 350,000 people are at risk," Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced Tuesday, while the government in Zimbabwe said around 100 people had died but the toll could be three times that figure.

The UN, meanwhile, said that one of the worst storms to hit southern Africa in decades had also unleashed a humanitarian crisis in Malawi, affecting nearly a million people and forcing more than 80,000 from their homes.

Four days after Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall, emergency teams in central Mozambique fanned out in boats and helicopters, seeking to pluck survivors from roofs and treetops in an inland sea of floodwater, sometimes in the dead of night.

Only Maduro Has the Right to Appoint Venezuela’s Ambassadors, Notes Lavrov

 

MOSCOW - Only the government of Nicolas Maduro can appoint Venezuela’s ambassadors, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday, commenting on the "appointment" of Venezuela’s representative to the US by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

"Ambassadors are appointed by the governments of the UN member-states, Nicolas Maduro’s government is such," Russia’s top diplomat said.

Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas on January 23.

New Zealand PM Says Mosque Attacker will Face ‘Full Force of Law’

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the terrorist who killed scores of Muslims at two mosques in the country last Friday will face “the full force of the law.”

In a condolence speech in parliament on Tuesday, Ardern said she would also never speak the name of the 28-year-old Australian attacker, who she said “sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety.”