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International news brief: Biden writes letters to PM Modi on I-Day, Chinese vessel Yuan Wang 5 arrives in SL

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Washington, Aug 16: President Joe Biden has written separate letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Droupadi Murmu on India's Independence Day, a senior US administration official said.

The letters were hand-delivered to India's Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu by Brian P McKeon, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, who attended an Independence Day reception hosted at the India House here on Monday.

International news brief: Biden writes letters to PM Modi on I-Day, Chinese vessel Yuan Wang 5 arrives in SL & more

"I should say at the outset, when I got here, I gave the ambassador two letters from the President, one to Prime Minister Modi and one to President Murmu. I should have kept them and just read the letters because they're probably more eloquent than what I'm gonna to say here," McKeon said in his remarks at the reception.

Ukrainian military says it repelled more than dozen attacks
The Ukrainian military has said that it had repelled more than a dozen Russian attacks in the country's east and north, including attempts to advance on key cities in the eastern industrial heartland known as the Donbas. In its regular Facebook update, the military's general staff said Russian troops had attempted to push towards Kramatorsk, one of two major cities in the eastern Donetsk province that remain under Ukrainian control, but "they failed completely and chaotically retreated to their previous positions."

In the same post, the military said Russian forces had staged an unsuccessful assault on Bakhmut, a strategic town in the Donetsk region whose capture would pave the way for Russia to take Kramatorsk and the de facto Ukrainian administrative capital, Sloviansk. The Donetsk region is one of two provinces that make up the Donbas, where the fighting has largely been focused in recent months, since Kremlin forces retreated from around the capital, Kyiv.

Germany won't back call to end Russian tourist visas
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Monday that Berlin would not back several fellow European countries that have called for an EU-wide move to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens. The nations backing such a ban say that Russians should not be able to take vacations in Europe while Moscow wages war in Ukraine. Finland and Denmark want an EU decision and some EU countries bordering Russia already no longer issue visas to Russians.

"This is not the war of the Russian people. It is (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's war and we have to be very clear on that topic," Scholz said. "It is important to us to understand that there are a lot of people fleeing from Russia because they are disagreeing with the Russian regime," he told a press conference on the sidelines of a one-day meeting of the five Nordic leaders in Oslo to which the German chancellor was invited.

Chinese vessel Yuan Wang 5 arrives in SL, docks at Hambantota Port
Chinese research ship Yuan Wang 5 on Tuesday morning arrived and docked at Sri Lanka's Hambantota Port, according to local media. The vessel is capable of tracking satellites and intercontinental missiles.

The research and survey vessel was earlier scheduled to dock at the Chinese-leased Hambantota Port on August 11 but was deferred for a while after India raised its concerns. This morning the ship docked at the Sri Lankan Port, Daily Mirror reported. Sri Lanka confirmed that it has communicated to China to defer the visit of the Yuang Wang 5 vessel to Hambantota Port. The Chinese Embassy requested the Sri Lankan government to provide necessary assistance and positive consideration for the ship to dock.

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