Current Affairs in Short: 9 June 2020
The world leaders will not travel to New York for the annual UN General Assembly session in September 2020 for the first time in 75 years.
World leaders won't travel to New York for UNGA for first time in 75 years
• The world leaders will not travel to New York for the annual UN General Assembly session in September 2020 for the first time in 75 years. The President of the UNGA Tijjani Muhammad-Bande made the announcement.
• The historic 75th session of the UN General Assembly is expected to begin on September 15. World leaders will not be able to come to New York because they cannot come as single individuals, as a President doesn't travel alone.
• Tijjani Muhammad-Bande further stated that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in-person meetings at the UN headquarters will be highly unlikely in the coming months. The General Debate will not be shifted and will be held as scheduled but not in-person as it happened in the last 74 years.
• The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had suggested the last month that the General Assembly President may consider using pre-recorded messages provided by Heads of States.
• The UN General Assembly session this year commemorates 75 years of the existence of the United Nations. It would have seen high participation from leaders from 193 Member States to mark the anniversary had there been no COVID-19 crisis.
North Korea cuts off hotlines with South Korea
• North Korea has said that it is cutting communication hotlines with South Korea. At least 49 hotlines have been set up between the two nations for diplomatic talks, discussions over economy and military operations and for coordination of air and sea traffic.
• For South Korea, the hotlines are an important source of communication channels to prevent misunderstandings in the event of a crisis.
• The hotlines have been cut off in the past when the relations between the two nations turned sour. They were last cut in 2016 and restored in 2018.
• When North Korea stops communicating, South Korean officials still try to call every day at the same time, even if there is no answer from the other side.
US President Donald Trump plans to withdraw US troops from Germany
• US President Donald Trump has ordered to reduce the number of US troops in Germany by more than a quarter. Trump’s order has taken the US allies by surprise, who haven’t been officially informed yet.
• Trump’s decision has also reportedly blindsided a number of senior national security officials in the United States.
• Trump has decided to remove 9,500 troops from Germany, one of America’s strongest allies, reducing the number of US troop strength there to 25,000 from 34,500.
• According to officials, Pentagon had not received a formal order to cut troops and that the decision caught some Defense Department officials off guard. Germany was also reportedly not consulted before the decision was first reported.
Iran to execute CIA agent who helped US target General Qasem Soleimani
• Iran announced on June 9, 2020 that it will execute the Iranian agent who spied for the United States and Israel and helped the US locate top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani.
• Mahmoud Mousavi Majd was convicted of spying on Iran's armed forces, especially the Quds Force and on the whereabouts of late General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by the United States in a drone strike early in January 2020.
• Majd was found guilty of receiving large sums of money from both the US Central Intelligence Agency and Israel's Mossad. His sentence was upheld by Iran's supreme court and would be "carried out soon.
Coronavirus may have spread in Wuhan in August: Harvard research
• The COVID-19 virus may have been spreading in China since early August 2019, as per latest Harvard Medical School research. The research is based on satellite images of hospital travel patterns and search engine data. China has dismissed the report, terming it as “ridiculous”.
• The research used satellite imagery of hospital parking lots in Wuhan, where the disease is said to have originated, and data for symptom-related queries on search engines for things such as “cough” and “diarrhea”.
• As per official records, the first trace of coronavirus was detected in Wuhan in December 2019. However, Harvard research shows that increased hospital traffic and symptom search data in Wuhan precedes the documented start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in December 2019.
• However, the research cannot confirm if the increased volume was directly related to the new virus.