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New buildings skyline in Changjon area, Pyongan Province, Pyongyang, North Korea

Eric Lafforgue via Reuters

Putin to visit North Korea and Vietnam

Russian state media reported Monday that President Vladimir Putin will travel to North Korea and Vietnam in the coming weeks as Moscow tries to build influence among middle powers in Asia.

This will be Putin’s first trip to Pyongyang in 24 years, and he’ll find the city much changed. In 2000, the massive unfinished Ryugyong Hotel loomed skeletally over Stalinist-era apartment blocks, in an almost-too-on-the-nose metaphor for the country’s paranoid and feeble state two years after the 1994-1998 mass famine. Putin was in town to officially reestablish relations with North Korea, which had ruptured following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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XIÁN, CHINA- In the photos, people visit the scenic place of the city wall of Xi'an in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, northwest China, on March 4, 2020.

Liu Xiaoming / Xinhua / Latin America News Agency

Hard Numbers: Chinese cities lift home-buying restrictions, Humanitarian aid ship sets sail, Car gun theft triples, Opposition wins in North Macedonia, Malaysia introduces orangutan diplomacy

230 million: On Thursday, officials in Hangzhou and Xi’an, cities with a combined population of more than 25 million people, lifted all restrictions on buying new homes. The moves are part of a push by many Chinese cities to bolster the country’s sagging property market. The announcements drew more than230 million views on the social media site Weibo.

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A crane moves humanitarian aid for Gaza in a joint mission between NGOs Open Arms and World Central Kitchen at the port of Larnaca, Cyprus, March 8, 2024.

Santi Palacios/Open Arms-World Central Kitchen/Handout via REUTERS

Aid trickles into Gaza – but how’s it getting there?

Amid warnings that close to 600,000 Gazans face famine, the World Food Programme said six of its trucks managed to enter northern Gaza for just the first time in three weeks on Wednesday.

What aid is actually getting into the enclave, and by what routes?

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Palestinians are carrying injured victims to the hospital following an Israeli airstrike on a residential building in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, on March 7, 2024, as battles continue between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement.

Majdi Fathi via Reuters Connect

No Gaza truce by Ramadan

The Hamas delegation left Cairo Thursday after four days of fruitless talks that Israel boycotted, meaning there will be no cease-fire in Gaza ahead of Ramadan.

The impediments: Israel boycotted the talks because Hamas refused to provide a list of living hostages in advance. Hamas, for its part, said it could not agree to any cease-fire without Israel committing to withdrawing its troops in a phased pullout.

The nightmare for Gazans: A quarter of the population is reportedly "one step away" from famine conditions — with 575,000 on the verge of starvation.

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FILE PHOTO: Palestinians carry bags of flour they grabbed from an aid truck near an Israeli checkpoint, as Gaza residents face crisis levels of hunger, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza City, February 19, 2024.

REUTERS/Kosay Al Nemer/File Photo

As Gazans face starvation, aid organizations struggle to help

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas war is dire, and it’s being exacerbated by the convoluted array of logistical and political obstacles that aid organizations are facing.

With nearly two million people displaced from their homes and the specters of starvation and disease looming, here’s a look at the challenges aid organizations face to save lives.

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FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as they attend a joint press conference, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada September 22, 2023.

REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

Canada shows Kyiv the money

Defense officials say Ottawa will inject CA$30 million into a push to buy ammunition, working with Czechia, aka the Czech Republic, to get artillery shells into the hands of Ukrainian soldiers. Allies are being urged to step up since US funding lapsed – and in the wake of Ukraine’s withdrawal from Avdiivka amid heavy losses.

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Sep 21, 2023; Washington, DC, USA; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits President Joe Biden at the White House. Zelenskyy is slated to pitch to lawmakers and President Biden on continuing aid to Ukraine as it battles in an ongoing war from the invasion by Russia.


Ukraine’s about the economy, stupid

Over the past 20 months, Joe Biden has framed US backing for Ukraine as, variously, a struggle for the future of freedom, as a deterrent against Chinese designs on Taiwan, and even as part of a fight to tame inflation.

But as polls show waning interest among US voters for sending weapons to Ukraine, the White House is taking a different tack: job creation?

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File Photo: U.S. soldiers stand next to a Patriot anti-missile battery (not seen) west of Jerusalem, during "Austere Challenge 2012", a joint Israeli-hosted exercise October 23, 2012.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Hard Numbers: US prepares troops to support Israel, heartbreak for gay Indians, a massive missing statue, Mexico’s end-run around Panama, Algeria steps up for Palestinian soccer

2,000: The US military has ordered 2,000 soldiers to prepare to be deployed to Israel, where they may provide medical and advisory support to Israeli forces. This potential deployment is in addition to the 2,000-strong force of sailors and Marines the Pentagon said was sailing toward the Eastern Mediterranean on Monday.

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