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The Capitals: No Gaza truce breakthrough in Cairo; Tories lose London to Sadiq Khan yet again; and more

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About seven months into the war in Gaza, the hopes for a ceasefire appeared slim as various regional stakeholders met in the Egyptian capital Cairo over the weekend. 

The two sides blamed each other for the impasse and the Hamas delegation said it would leave Cairo truce talks on Sunday night to consult with its leadership. 

In their second day of talks with Egyptian and Qatari mediators, Hamas maintained that any truce agreement must end the war fully, Palestinian officials said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his country was willing to pause fighting in Gaza in order to secure the release of hostages still being held by Hamas, believed to number more than 130.

“But while Israel has shown willingness, Hamas remains entrenched in its extreme positions, first among them the demand to remove all our forces from the Gaza Strip, end the war, and leave Hamas in power,” Netanyahu said. 

“Israel cannot accept that.”

Read more in The Capitals this weekend.

London, Britain

In London, the doors of 10, Downing Street showed a brief moment of closure for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Conservative Party. The Labour Party won mayoral polls in London and central England on Saturday, in crushing defeats for unpopular Conservatives ahead of a national election due later this year.

Also watch | Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London again

While the Labour politician Sadiq Khan’s re-election as London mayor was widely expected, Labour also pulled off a surprise, narrow victory in the central West Midlands region that is home to Britain’s second-largest city of Birmingham.

New Delhi, India

New Delhi termed the preliminary investigation findings in Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing row as an “internal matter” of Canada while repeating its request for “specific and relevant evidence” related to any alleged involvement of the Indian government. The development followed recent arrests by Canadian authorities of three Indian nationals linked to the killing of the Khalistani terrorist last year.

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said that he had seen news of the arrests and that the suspects “apparently are Indians of some kind of gang background… we’ll have to wait for the police to tell us.”

“But, as I said, one of our concerns which we have been telling them is that, you know, they have allowed organised crime from India, specifically from Punjab, to operate in Canada,” said Jaishankar.

Last year, India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) had released a list of 43 gangsters that New Delhi maintains continue to find refuge and operational support in Canada.

Madrid, Spain

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this week said that he was staying in the office, after a five-day pause from public duties that he took to purportedly weigh in if or not he should resign in response to corruption accusations against his wife. 

Opposition People’s Party (PP) leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo described Sanchez’s five-day pause for reflection as a “piece of theatre”. 

The speculations over his future caused turmoil in Spanish politics, where the parliament has struggled to form coalition governments after a series of close elections. In case of Sanchez’s resignation and consequent new election, it would have been the fourth in five years.

Panama City, Panama

The Central American nation, famous as a transit country due to strategically important Panama Canal, is holding its presidential election. The elections that could reset Panama’s seat of power holds importance due to Panama City’s notable pro-China tilt since 2017, when President Juan Carlos Varela announced that it wanted his country to be Beijing’s commercial arm in Latin America. 

Since then, Xi Jinping’s China has developed regional headquarters of 18 Chinese companies in the Colon Free Zone, the largest free-trade zone in the Western Hemisphere. 

In return, Panama has secured nearly $1 bn stock from Chinese direct investment. But the suspension of mining of copper — which accounted for over 95 per cent of total Panamanian shipments to China — have already altered the trade balance in Chinese favour. 

There are a total of eight presidential contenders. 

Jose Raul Mulino, a former minister who replaced popular ex-president Ricardo Martinelli on the ballot after Martinelli was barred from office due to a money laundering conviction, is leading in opinion polls. Mulino has promised to usher in prosperity and to keep Martinelli out of jail. Romulo Roux, in his second bid to win the presidency, and ex-president 

Martin Torrijos have alternated between second and third place. Trailing closely behind is Ricardo Lombana, who also ran in the past election.

Panama’s electoral rules do not require a run-off, making Sunday’s result final.

Mukul Sharma

Mukul Sharma is a New Delhi-based multimedia journalist covering geopolitical developments in and beyond the Indian subcontinent. Deeply interested in the affairs

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