MADRID: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez defended his government’s energy policy and challenged Elon Musk to put his money where his mouth is on Tuesday after the world’s richest man said Spain should build a massive solar power plant.
“Spain should build a massive solar array. Could power all of Europe,” Tesla founder Musk, who has a net worth of some $219 billion according to Forbes, tweeted to his 80.5 million followers on Monday.
Sanchez responded in kind, touting his country’s plans to transition toward a more efficient and sustainable energy system and inviting Musk to be a part of it.
“Time is now. Let’s get it right. Come and see. We welcome investors in Spain,” he tweeted.
With its sunny plains, fast-flowing rivers and windy hillsides, Spain targets getting 67 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2026.
Data from national grid operator Red Electrica showed renewables accounted for 45 percent of generation in March, with solar photovoltaic contributing around 6.4 percent.
As part of its COVID-19 economic recovery plan, Spain will allocate some 6.9 billion euros ($7.8 billion) to renewables, green hydrogen and energy storage by 2023 and aims to attract another 9.45 billion euros in private funding.
Former Science Minister Pedro Duque, an aeronautical engineer who was a European Space Agency astronaut before taking up his ministerial post, also replied to Musk’s tweet, challenging him to make his idea a reality.
“We welcome investments in Spain to boost our already large production of renewables. All our legal framework is prepared for it. Know any investors?“
TOKYO: Japan plans to ease COVID 19-related border restrictions by lifting its entry ban for foreign nationals from 106 countries including the United States, Britain and France on Friday, the government said.
Tokyo has been gradually relaxing pandemic-induced curbs but the loosened border regime does not mean a full reopening to tourists.
The foreign ministry said in an update on Wednesday that foreigners from the 106 countries would not be subject to denial of permission to enter Japan from Friday, but foreigners with tourist purposes were still not allowed into the country.
Japan closed its borders to most foreign travelers from the early days of the pandemic in 2020 and only recently accepted a trickle of students and business people into the country. Many other developed countries have reopened to tourists.
After the planned lifting, Japan will still keep its doors closed to 56 countries, another government statement said.
The government has said it will raise the daily quota on overseas visitors to Japan to 10,000 this month, from 7,000.
LONDON: A man has admitted vandalizing a memorial to the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing of 2017.
Anwar Hosseni, 24, caused £10,000 ($13,000) worth of criminal damage to the tribute, a white marble halo inscribed with the names of all 22 victims.
Hosseni vandalized the memorial on Feb. 9, just weeks before it was due to open, by scratching white lines across the monument.
Manchester City Council said the damage was “minor” at the time, but Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett was killed in the bombing, said the perpetrator must have “dark hearts to do such a thing.”
Murray said the monument, called Glade of Light, was important not just to the families of the victims, but also to everyone psychologically or physically injured by the bomb.
Hosseni’s case has been passed up to Manchester’s crown court, with local magistrates saying that it was out of their jurisdiction. He will appear in court on May 4 but has strict bail conditions preventing him from visiting the scene of the crime.
Terrorist Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb packed with nails at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017.
The monument was designed as a living memorial. It was created with flowers from throughout Britain, so it would change with the seasons. The white flowers of a hawthorn tree in the monument would blossom around the time of the anniversary of the attack.
The memorial is set to officially open ahead of the fifth anniversary of the terror attack, with a local choir performing.
NEW DELHI: India’s foreign minister condemned the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha and called for an independent investigation on Wednesday amid international calls for further sanctions against Russia.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, its troops have repeatedly hit civilian sites with airstrikes and artillery, raising international concerns over war crimes.
As Russian forces retreat from the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital, some of the strongest evidence of atrocities came to light this week from the Kyiv suburb of Bucha: mass graves and dead civilians on the streets — some corpses with bound hands and gunshot wounds to the head, others apparently mowed down by heavy vehicles.
Following the accounts from Bucha, the EU proposed new sanctions against Russia and several more European states have expelled Russian diplomats.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told lawmakers during Wednesday’s parliamentary address that India was “deeply disturbed by the reports.”
He said: “Many honorable members (of Parliament) brought up the incidents, the happenings in Bucha. We strongly condemn the killings which have taken place there. This is an extremely serious matter, and we support the call for an independent investigation.”
Moscow has since denied targeting civilians, despite overwhelming evidence shown by Ukrainian authorities, the international media and rights groups. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have said they had documented “apparent war crimes” by Russian forces in Bucha and other sites.
India has repeatedly called for an end to the violence in Ukraine but has abstained from various UN resolutions on the war as it attempts to balance diplomatic ties with the West and Moscow — its main supplier of defense technology.
Neither Jaishankar nor India’s permanent representative to the UN, who on Tuesday evening also called for an independent probe into the Bucha killings, have directly condemned Russia.
Indian officials have also avoided using the terms “invasion” or “war” in reference to Russia’s assault on Ukrainian territory.
“This is keeping the Russian sensitivities in mind because Russia is not calling it a war,” Prof. Harsh V. Pant, head of strategic studies at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, told Arab News.
“From India’s vantage point, keeping Russia in good humor is important for its own operational requirement, which is defense,” he said, adding that India wanted to balance the position of another superpower: China.
India-China ties have significantly deteriorated since April 2020, when tensions on the border in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh led to a continuing standoff and the deployment of tens of thousands of extra troops to the area.
“India wants a channel of communication opened with Russia,” Pant said. “There are certain things India will have to do to make sure that Russia does not feel completely isolated and marginalized, because that would mean the Russia-China axis would grow even stronger.”
However, he added that recent developments are demonstrating an evolution in India’s position.
Facing Western pressure, Jaishankar last week called for respect for the UN Charter during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in New Delhi.
“Gradually, India is moving towards a position where it is saying that all countries, including Russia, have to follow the UN Charter, international law and territorial integrity,” Pant said. “Once this massacre has unfolded, it made it difficult for India to take any other position.”
BUDAPEST: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Wednesday he had urged Vladimir Putin to put in place an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine, and invited the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine to meet the Russian leader in Budapest.
“I suggested to President Putin that he declare an immediate cease-fire,” Orban told a press conference, saying he had spoken to the Russian president. “His response was positive, but with conditions,” Orban said, without elaborating.
The Hungarian leader, re-elected on Sunday, added that he had invited Putin to Budapest along with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for talks.