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US, Russia in bid to end fighting in Syria`s Aleppo

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GENEVA — US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Sunday in Geneva in a bid to restore an across the country truce in Syria, as Russia said it was attempting to stop fighting in Aleppo.

Kerry arrived Sunday night in Geneva, where he will hold talks with UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura and the Saudi and Jordanian foreign ministers on reviving the ceasefire.

Over a week of fighting in Syria`s second city has killed many civilians and left an UN-upheld peace process hanging by a string.

Concern has been growing that the fighting will lead to the complete collapse of a landmark ceasefire between President Bashar al-Assad`s regime and non-jihadist rebels that was brokered by Moscow and Washington.

On Saturday, Russia said it would not urge Assad`s forces to halt air raids on the war-ravaged city as they were targeting jihadist groups not covered by the truce, which took effect in late February.

But on Sunday, after Washington called on Russia to push its Syrian ally to end the strikes, the head of Moscow`s coordination centre in Syria said talks on a freeze had begun.

“Currently active negotiations are underway to establish a `regime of silence` in Aleppo province,” Lieutenant General Sergei Kuralenko was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

He said that a freeze in fighting in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, had been extended by another 24 hours to the end of Sunday and that another freeze was holding in northern Latakia province.”We are calling on all sides interested in establishing peace in Syria to support the Russian-American initiative and not to allow a regime of silence to be disrupted,” Kuralenko said from Russia`s Hmeimim air base in Syria.

Before leaving Riyadh for Geneva, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir accused the Assad regime of committing “war crimes” in Aleppo.

At least 253 civilians — including 49 children — have died in shelling, rocket fire and air strikes in both sides of the divided city since April 22, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor says.

Early on Sunday the provincial capital`s rebel-held east was eerily quiet, an AFP correspondent said, with the last air strike there at around 1:00 am (2200 GMT Saturday) local time.

There were no reports of fighting in the regime-controlled west, the Observatory said.

Air strikes did hit several rebel areas on Aleppo`s northwestern outskirts, after rebel shelling of the west and regime bombing north of the city in the night, the Observatory said.

And a raid on Wednesday hit a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross as well as nearby housing, killing 30 people and sparking an international outcry.

On Saturday, many terrified residents fled a new wave of air strikes on the city`s east, saying the violence had become unbearable.

Syria`s conflict erupted in 2011 after the brutal repression of anti-government protests and has since escalated into a complex, multi-faceted war.

AFP

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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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