US immigration; Nepal COVID crisis; Lebanon-Israel talks.

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Today on The Leaders' Brief -

  • Two weeks after US President Joe Biden’s administration took further steps in halting funds for former President Donald Trump’s signature border wall at the US-Mexico border, the US government reunited four migrant families in a small but firm step towards reversing Mr Trump’s hardline immigration policies. In the first month of his presidency, Mr Biden had formally terminated the erstwhile administration’s two-year-old declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border and halted the flow of government funds toward the construction of the border wall in line with one of his major campaign promises.

  • Nepal has urged foreign donors to supply COVID vaccines and critical care drugs as the landlocked Himalayan country is seeing an increase in the number of COVID infections. Last week, Nepal, which shares a porous border with India, recorded over seven thousand cases in a single day, its highest daily surge since the start of the pandemic, while its neighbour recorded over 300,000. But unlike India, which is one of the largest economies in the world, Nepal has a GDP of only $20 million and has been struggling to repair its economy for the last five years due to its political instability.

  • Lebanon and Israel have resumed US-brokered indirect talks over their disputed maritime border after a gap of nearly six months. After over three decades of dispute over a triangular area of the Mediterranean Sea constituting about 2% of Israel’s economic waters, the two Arab countries finally sat on the negotiating table to discuss a framework in October, last year, with talks ending inconclusively in November after four rounds. Israel and Lebanon share no diplomatic relations and each claim about 850 square kilometres of the Mediterranean Sea as being within their own exclusive economic zones.

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