Merkel, Putin to meet in Moscow amid growing Middle East tensions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Saturday to discuss ‘current international questions.’ (AFP)
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Updated 06 January 2020

Merkel, Putin to meet in Moscow amid growing Middle East tensions

  • German chancellor will discuss ‘current international questions’ with Vladimir Putin
  • Germany and Russia are among the world powers trying to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Moscow on Saturday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin amid growing tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Monday that the chancellor will discuss “current international questions” with Putin. Those will include Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Ukraine and bilateral issues.
Seibert said that “Russia is an important player on the world stage and as a permanent member of the (UN) Security Council it’s indispensable when it comes to solving conflicts in the world.” Germany is currently a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
Germany and Russia are among the world powers that have been trying to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran after the US withdrew from the agreement unilaterally in 2018.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will accompany Merkel to Moscow, Seibert said.


Pakistan couple arrested for allegedly murdering seven-year-old maid

Updated 20 sec ago

Pakistan couple arrested for allegedly murdering seven-year-old maid

  • Hassan Siddiqui and his wife employed Zohra Bibi at their home in a middle-class suburb of Rawalpindi
  • Some 8.5 million people — including many children — are employed as domestic workers in Pakistan
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: A Pakistan couple have been arrested for allegedly murdering their seven-year-old maid after she was blamed for letting a pet bird escape, police said, the latest case of violence against child domestic workers in the country.
Hassan Siddiqui and his wife employed Zohra Bibi at their home in a middle-class suburb of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, to care for their son of a similar same age.
“The poor girl was subjected to torture by Siddiqui and his wife who accused her of freeing one of the four pet Macao parrots,” investigating officer Mukhtar Ahmad said on Thursday.
“Siddiqui kicked her in the lower abdomen which proved fatal.”
Some 8.5 million people — including many children — are employed as domestic workers in Pakistan, according to the International Labour Organization.
Theoretically it is illegal to employ anyone under the age of 15, but it remains common practice.
Zohra was taken to hospital by the couple on Sunday, but died the following day. The incident was reported to the police by staff at the hospital.
The young girl’s body was handed over to her parents, who live in Muzaffargarh, near the city of Multan, more than 500 kilometers away from where she was working.
Human rights minister Shireen Mazari confirmed the arrests in a tweet and said the ministry was in touch with police.
“Violence and physical torture against children will not be tolerated and all those involved in such incidents will be dealt with,” city police chief Muhammad Ahsan Younus added.
Domestic workers frequently face exploitation, violence and sexual abuse, with Pakistan’s patriarchal and rigid social-class structure leaving them without a voice.
Children are particularly vulnerable, and Bibi’s case is the latest in a growing number of incidents involving minors.
In December 2018, the rising number of abuse cases led the provincial legislature in Punjab to set regulations for the employment of domestic workers, which theoretically grants them rights such as sick leave and holidays.