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Japan to Recruit New Astronauts for First Time in 13 Years

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Japan to Recruit New Astronauts for First Time in 13 Years

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on Friday announced the recruitment of new astronauts who are their first intake in 13 years. JAXA said the recruitment was part of the nation’s ambitious plan to participate in the United States lunar exploration project.

It said applications would be running from December 20, 2021, to March 4, 2022. The agency also said that only Japanese citizens with normal vision, hearing and color perception were allowed to apply adding that height restrictions are 58.8 inches through 75 inches.

According to the agency, convicted offenders or those associated with extremist groups and parties are not allowed to participate in the competition.

In March 2022, the identity check shortlisting would take place, followed by an interview and tests for first stage winners. The recruitment results will be announced in February 2023 after a four stage-competition.

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Astronaut recruitment in Japan has been carried out five times so far, 11 people have passed the competition, seven of them are on active duty. The competition was last held in 2008 when three out of 963 candidates were shortlisted.

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Iran Chief Negotiator Says Nuclear Proposals ‘Cannot Be Rejected’

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Iran Chief Negotiator Says Nuclear Proposals ‘Cannot Be Rejected’

Iran’s chief negotiator has said the draft proposals his country submitted during talks with world powers aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear deal “cannot be rejected”.

Representatives of Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom convened this week in Vienna for the seventh round of talks to restore the landmark accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The United States, which unilaterally withdrew from the pact in 2018 when it also reimposed punishing sanctions against Iran, is only participating indirectly as Iran refuses to hold direct negotiations with it.

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In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera in the Austrian capital, Ali Bagheri Kani said on Friday Iran would deliver a third proposal once the first two it submitted the previous day were accepted.

On Thursday, the lead negotiator had said the two proposals were related to “the lifting of sanctions” and “Iran’s nuclear actions”, both main issues facing the JCPOA.

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UAE Buys Record 80 French Rafale Jets in $19bn Arms Deal

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UAE Buys Record 80 French Rafale Jets in $19bn Arms Deal

The United Arab Emirates and France have signed a $19bn arms deal that will see the Gulf state acquire 80 Rafale fighter jets and 12 military helicopters.

The largest-ever overseas sale of Rafale jets was sealed on Friday as French President Emmanuel Macron began a two-day trip to the Gulf, during which he will also visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Macron’s visit comes at a time when Gulf Arab states have voiced uncertainty about the United States’s focus on the region even as they seek more weapons from their key security ally. The French leader has forged a good relationship with MBZ with investments flowing between the two countries.

The deal will directly support 7,000 jobs in France and guarantee the supply chain of the Dassault Aviation-made aircraft until the end of 2031, a French official told journalists.

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He also said the UAE contract, which follows deals in Greece, Egypt and Croatia this year, would lead to an increase of the monthly Rafale production. Shares in Dassault Aviation SA, the Rafale’s maker, rose more than 9 percent.

 

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EU Launches €300bn global plan to Challenge Chinese Influence

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EU Launches €300bn global plan to Challenge Chinese Influence

The EU has revealed details of a €300bn global investment plan, described as a “true alternative” to China’s Belt and Road strategy.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Global Gateway scheme should become a trusted brand.

China has funded rail, roads and ports but has been accused of leaving some countries saddled with debt.

The Commission chief said countries need “trusted partners” to design projects that were sustainable.

The EU is looking at how it can leverage billions of euros, drawn from member states, financial institutions and the private sector. This will largely take the form of guarantees or loans, rather than grants.

von der Leyen said the EU wanted to show that a different, democratic approach could deliver on projects that focused on tackling climate change as well as global health security and sustainable development for developing countries.

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Projects had to be of high quality, with a high level of transparency and good governance, and had to deliver tangible results for the countries involved, she explained. One EU official told the BBC that Africa would be a major focus of the scheme.

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