Lavrov Says Russian Government Not Involved in Mali Deal With Private Russian Military Company

UNITED NATIONS—Mali has asked a private Russian military company to help it fight against terrorists, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday at the United Nations. Mali’s year-old military junta is close to a deal to recruit the Russian private military contractors the Wagner Group, sources have told Reuters, triggering opposition from France, which has said it was “incompatible” with a continued French presence in the West African state. “They are combating terrorism, incidentally, and they have turned to a private military company from Russia in connection with the fact that, as I understand, France wants to significantly draw down its military component which was present there,” Lavrov said of Mali’s junta during a news conference. Lavrov said the Russian government had nothing to do with any deal between the private military company and Mali. The French defence ministry declined to comment. Paris has started reshaping its 5,000-strong Barkhane …

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NSW Premier Wants Overseas Travel Restart

Australia’s most populous state, NSW, will in the coming week reveal its roadmap for 80 percent vaccination coverage, with the premier wanting international travel to resume “at the earliest opportunity.” The state recorded nine additional deaths in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. local time on Saturday. None of the nine people, aged from their 40s to their 80s, were double jabbed. The death toll for the state’s current outbreak now stands at 297. There are currently 1,146 COVID-19 cases in hospital in NSW, with 222 people in intensive care and 117 on ventilators. The number of people infected on average by each positive case in that week—known as the average growth factor—dipped to 0.98, falling below one for the first time since the outbreak began in mid-June. Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday told reporters the government’s plans for 80 percent double-dose vaccination coverage—expected in roughly late October—will be revealed …

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Volcanic Ash Cloud Closes La Palma Airport, New Vent Emerges

MADRID—The airport on the Spanish island of La Palma shut down Saturday because of an ash cloud spewing out of a volcano that has been erupting for a week, and scientists said another volcanic vent opened up, exposing islanders to possible new dangers. The intensity of the eruption that began Sept. 19 has increased in recent days, prompting the evacuation of three additional villages on the island, part of Spain’s Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean off northwest Africa. Almost 7,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes. The recent volcanic eruption is the first since 1971 on La Palma, which has a population of 85,000. La Palma Airport operator Aena said the airport was “inoperative” due to the accumulation of ash. Other airports in the Canary Islands were still operating Saturday but some airlines were suspending flights, Aena said. Emergency crews pulled back from the volcano Friday …

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