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Russian planes conduct ‘aggressive’ passes of US warship in Baltic Sea

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Two Russian warplanes have flown simulated attack passes near a US guided missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea, the US military says, with one official describing the incident as one of the most aggressive interactions in recent memory.

The US military released recordings and photographs indicating Russian Sukhoi SU-24 attack aircraft flying across the bow of the destroyer in the latest of many recent cases the White House said were unsafe and unprofessional.

The US military said the action had the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death.

“There have been repeated incidents over the past year where the Russian military, including Russian military aircraft, have come close enough … to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns,” spokesman Josh Earnest said.

“This incident … is entirely inconsistent with the professional norms of militaries operating in proximity to each other in international water and international airspace.”

The repeated flights, which also happened near the ship a day earlier, were so close they created wake in the water, with 11 passes, a defence official said.

The planes carried no visible weaponry, the official said.

A Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter also made seven passes around the USS Donald Cook, taking pictures.

The nearest Russian territory was about 70 nautical miles away in its enclave of Kaliningrad, which sits between Lithuania and Poland.

Agencies

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Tourist arrivals jumped 73.5 percent in July

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KATHMANDU — Tourist arrivals to Nepal jumped 73.5 percent in the month of July, according to statistics released by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

The NTB said that this increment is because of a sharp increase in the number of travellers from countries like India, China, the US and the UK. The growth in the numbers has also been attributed to Indian pilgrims visiting Mount Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet, via Nepal.

The statistics show that Nepal received a whopping 73,285 international tourists in July—a time of the year that is considered to be an off-season for tourists due to the monsoons. With July’s figures, the number of foreign tourists visiting Nepal in the first seven months (January–July) of 2018 reached 593,299, which is an increase of 18 percent as compared to the same period last year.

Total 18,385 Indian tourists visited Nepal via air transport, which is up 80.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

After India, Nepal received the highest number of visitors from China. The Chinese tourist numbers have more than doubled to 13,123 in the month of July. This is a 125.4 percent growth in comparison to the arrivals in the same month last year.

Overall arrivals from SAARC countries registered a growth of 66 percent, in comparison to the same month last year. However, arrivals from Bangladesh declined by nine percent. Arrivals from rest of the Asian countries have also recorded a robust growth of 86.2 percent.

Visitors from Japan and South Korea to Nepal also increased by 36 percent and 21.9 percent respectively.

Likewise, an overall increase of 54.1 percent in July has been recorded from European source markets. However, arrivals from Austria declined by 72.6 percent.

The number of visitors from the US and Canada have also grown by 79.6 percent and 73.3 percent respectively.

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