Prince William and wife Kate see impact of climate change at Pakistan glacier

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Britain's Prince William and his wife chat with members of the Kalash tribe during their visit to the Bumburate Valley in Pakistan. (Reuters)
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Kalash girls presents traditional hats to Britain's Prince William and his wife Britain's Catherine during their visit to the Bumburate Valley in Pakistan northern Chitral District on October 16, 2019. (Reuters)
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Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit the Chiatibo glacier in the Hindu Kush mountain range in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province in Pakistan. (Reuters)
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Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit the Chiatibo glacier in the Hindu Kush mountain range in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province in Pakistan. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2019

Prince William and wife Kate see impact of climate change at Pakistan glacier

  • Britain's Prince William and Kate heard how the Chiatibo glacier was retreating by climate change expert
  • It is one of Pakistan's 7,200 glaciers that meteorological officials say show signs of melting

ISLAMABAD: Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate on Wednesday visited a melting glacier in the Hindu Kush mountain range not far from Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, witnessing first hand the impact of climate change their trip is seeking to highlight.
They flew by helicopter to the northern tip of the Chiatibo glacier, where a climate change expert explained how it was retreating.
It is one of the around 7,000 of Pakistan's 7,200 glaciers that meteorological officials say show signs of melting, citing data gathered over the last 50 years.
Earlier, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had stopped at an airport in Chitral and been given a traditional feathered mountain hat, similar to one gifted to William's mother Princess Diana during her visit to the area in 1991. They were also given an album of photos of Diana during her visit.
William highlighted the visit to the glacier and the challenge of climate change, a major theme of their five-day trip, in a speech the previous evening at a reception hosted by the British High Commission at Pakistan's national monument in the capital, Islamabad.
Pakistan's northern glaciers and those throughout the Hindu Kush and Himalaya region, are an important water store for 250 million people, and another 1.6 billion rely on rivers originating in the mountains, putting many communities at risk as global temperatures rise.
"This could lead to a loss of over a third of these vital glaciers in less than a century, with enormous impacts not only on the availability of water, but on agriculture and hydropower generation," William said in his speech.
He said he hoped Wednesday's visit to Chitral would help the couple better understand the challenges residents were facing first hand. "I hope to learn what more we all can do to help prevent and mitigate this impending global catastrophe."
Kate and William later observed damage and emergency response drills in a village in Chitral that had been hit by floods due to glaciers melting.
They also vistaed a settlement of the Kalash people, a small indigenous group living in the Chitral region where they met with young people and wore colourful local scarves and headwear while being treated to song and dance.


Russia rules out military pact with Philippines

Updated 33 min 14 sec ago

Russia rules out military pact with Philippines

  • Russia seeks ‘equal partnership’ after Duterte scraps US troops deal

MANILA: Russia has ruled out the possibility of a military alliance with the Philippines despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to end a major defense pact with the US.

Instead, Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev said on Monday that Moscow’s aim was to build a “robust, equal partnership” with Manila.

“The goal of our common work here is not trying to contain someone or to create some sort of alliance,” he told senior Philippine defense officials and diplomats at a reception for Russian Armed Forces Day.

Early in February, the Duterte administration announced it would end a visiting forces agreement signed with Washington in 1998 that sets the terms for joint exercises with US troops in the Philippines.

According to Khovaev, Russia has no interest in further military alliances because “they provide security for a selected few member states at the expense of others.”

“The Russian Federation proceeds from the premise that security has to be indivisible. This is why we are not in the habit of entering into alliances,” he said.

“Equal partnerships” are necessary for stability and prosperity in the region, he added.

Asked if this ruled out a Russia-Philippines alliance similar to that between Manila and Washington, Khovaev said: “Yes. Our aim is to build a strong, robust partnership, not a military alliance. We have no military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region,” he told Arab News.

He also reiterated the importance of military cooperation between Russia and the Philippines, which was highlighted by President Vladimir Putin and Duterte during their meetings in Moscow in May 2017 and in Sochi in October 2019.

The two nations have organized joint military exercises, and the exchange of visits by Russian and Philippine navy ships in Manila and Vladivostok.

“But to tell you the truth, the full potential of our cooperation has yet to be explored,” Khovaev said. “It is indispensable because we have common threats and challenges, including terrorism, international drug trafficking, piracy and other kinds of transnational crime that we need to overcome together.”