India agrees to sell hydroxychloroquine to Malaysia to help fight COVID-19

Malaysian health workers prepare to conduct a COVID-19 test for residents at Kampung Baru, a traditional Malay village in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. (AP)
Updated 15 April 2020

India agrees to sell hydroxychloroquine to Malaysia to help fight COVID-19

  • India is the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine
  • Decision to sell the sought-after drug to Malaysia signals a turnaround in relations between the countries

NEW DELHI/KUALA LUMPUR: India has agreed to sell hydroxychloroquine tablets to Malaysia for use in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, a Malaysian minister said on Wednesday, with New Delhi partially lifting its bar on exports of the anti-malarial drug.
India is the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, sales of which have soared across the world including in the United States, especially after President Donald Trump touted it as a potential weapon against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
New Delhi had last month put a hold on exports of hydroxychloroquine to secure supplies for itself, before agreeing this month to supply it to some of its neighbors as well as “nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic.”
“On 14 April, India has given permission for Malaysia to import 89,100 tablets,” Malaysia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Kamarudin Jaffar said on Wednesday.
“We will try to get more hydroxychloroquine tablets from India, which is also subject to stock availability.”
India’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
Malaysia has been using hydroxychloroquine for mild to severe COVID-19 cases along with other drugs, according to its treatment protocol seen by Reuters.
It has the second highest number of infections of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia with nearly 5,000 cases, 82 of whom have died.
India’s decision to sell the sought-after drug to Malaysia signals a turnaround in relations between the countries that had soured because of repeated criticism of some Indian policies by Mahathir Mohamad, before he resigned as Malaysia’s prime minister in February.
Malaysia had asked for more than one million hydroxychloroquine tablets from India, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, requesting anonymity as they were not authorized to speak with the media.
“Broadly, nations will need each other to fight this pandemic,” said an Indian source with direct knowledge of the discussions with Malaysia. “Globally, there will be a new alignment of relationships.”
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, IPCA Laboratories and Cadila Healthcare are among India’s leading suppliers of hydroxychloroquine.
Cadila has increased production tenfold to 30 metric tons per month and is ready to produce more if needed, Managing Director Sharvil Patel had said last week.


Fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh goes on despite US mediation

Updated 24 October 2020

Fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh goes on despite US mediation

  • Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994
  • After failed attempts by Russia to broker a truce, Pompeo hosted the Armenian and Azerbaijan foreign ministers for separate talks

STEPANAKERT, Nagorno-Karabakh: Rocket and artillery barrage hit residential areas in Nagorno-Karabakh on Saturday hours after the United States hosted top diplomats from Armenia and Azerbaijan for talks on settling their decades-long conflict over the region.
The heavy shelling forced residents of Stepanakert, the regional capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, into shelters, as emergency teams rushed to extinguish fires. Local officials said the city was struck with Azerbaijan’s Smerch long-range multiple rocket systems, a devastating Soviet-designed weapon intended to ravage wide areas with explosives and cluster munitions.
Nagorno-Karabakh authorities said other towns in the region were also targeted by Azerbaijani artillery fire. There was no immediate information about casualties.
Officials in Azerbaijan claimed that the town of Terter and areas in the Gubadli region came under Armenian shelling early Saturday, killing a teenager. They also said 13-year-old boy died Saturday of wounds from an earlier shelling of Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second-largest city.
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. The current fighting that started Sept. 27 marks the worst escalation in the conflict since the war’s end and has killed hundreds, perhaps even thousands, according to official reports.
After two failed attempts by Russia to broker a truce, the US waded onto the scene on Friday, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosting the Armenian and Azerbaijan foreign ministers for separate talks.
“Both must implement a cease-fire and return to substantive negotiations,” Pompeo said in a tweet after the negotiations.
Those words were ignored on the ground.
“Just now a bomb exploded in my garden,” Georgiy, a resident of Stepanakert who only gave his first name amid the war jitters, said after the overnight attack. “If this is the so-called cease-fire, let the whole world see this cease-fire.”
Georgiy, who was born in Stepanakert, said he would stay home despite the fighting.
“This is my motherland, I’m not going to leave it,” he said. “All the people will stand until the last.”
According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 963 of their troops have been killed, and 37 civilians also have died. Azerbaijan hasn’t disclosed its military losses, but said that over 60 civilians were killed and about 300 were wounded in the four weeks of fighting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that according to Moscow’s information, the death toll from the fighting was significantly higher than officially reported by the warring parties, nearing 5,000.
Russia, the United States and France have co-chaired the so-called Minsk Group set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to mediate in the conflict, but they haven’t scored any progress after nearly three decades.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said that to end hostilities Armenian forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh. He has insisted that Azerbaijan has the right to reclaim its territory by force since international mediators have failed.
Turkey has thrown its weight behind Azerbaijan, vowing to support its ally “on the battlefield or the negotiating table.” It has trained Azerbaijani military and provided it with strike drones and long-range rocket systems that gave Azerbaijan a strong military edge on the battlefield.
Armenian officials say Turkey is directly involved in the conflict and is sending Syrian mercenaries in to fight on Azerbaijan’s side.
Turkey has denied deploying combatants to the region, but a Syrian war monitor and Syria-based opposition activists have confirmed that Turkey has sent hundreds of Syrian opposition fighters to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh.