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Biden says he was clear Putin would pay for a Ukraine invasion

President Joe Biden said the US and some of its NATO allies plan a meeting with Russia aimed at de-escalating tensions over Ukraine, where they’ll consider Russian President Vladimir Putin’s concerns about the alliance.

Biden said that he hopes by Friday to announce the meeting, which will include “at least four of our major NATO allies. The subject will be Putin’s issues with the alliance “writ large and whether or not we can work out any accommodation as it relates to bringing down the temperature along the eastern front, the US president told reporters on Wednesday.

Biden’s announcement of plans for the meeting followed a two-hour video conference call with Putin on Tuesday intended to head off a feared Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin has massed more than 100,000 troops on Russia’s borders with its neighbor, along with tanks, artillery and other heavy equipment.

Biden’s remarks on Wednesday signal that his administration wants to calm the increasing tensions on Ukraine’s border by taking seriously Putin’s concerns, but is also ready to punish Russia without engaging US troops if that effort is unsuccessful.

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Putin has warned that Ukraine’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the Western deployment of offensive weaponry in the country are “red lines and has demanded binding security guarantees from the US and its allies. After Tuesday’s video call, Russian officials highlighted the US willingness to discuss the proposal as a sign of progress.

“We proceed from the assumption that our concerns will be heard, at least this time, Putin said Wednesday in Sochi. Hinting at the same meeting mentioned by Biden, the Russian president said the two sides agreed during their Tuesday call to set up a body to examine the issues in detail and that Russia would submit its proposals within a week.

While Ukraine’s leadership has made moves to try to make NATO membership possible, by appointing a civilian defense minister, for example, the alliance has long signaled that full membership is unlikely anytime soon. Corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency have bedeviled Ukraine well before Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Those issues, along with Russia’s partial occupation of the country, remain concerns for NATO.

Biden said he warned Putin during the call that he’d face “severe consequences for attacking Ukraine.

“Economic consequences like none he’s ever seen or ever have been seen in terms of being imposed, Biden told reporters Wednesday as he departed the White House for a trip to Kansas City, Missouri. “He knows. His immediate response was he understood that.

Biden said the US also would “probably reinforce its military footprint in NATO countries in response to an invasion, particularly those in eastern Europe. And he said he told Putin that the US “will provide defensive capability to the Ukrainians, as well.

But he said American forces would not fight on Ukraine’s behalf.

“The idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not in the cards right now, he said.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters the administration is “preparing for all contingencies. She declined to elaborate specifically on military steps, but said preparations include “specific robust responses to Russian escalation.

Some Republicans have argued for a more robust response to the threatened Russian invasion of Ukraine, including supplying Kiev with more weaponry or even holding out the possibility of American air support for the country’s military.

US intelligence suggests the Kremlin has prepared a plan for an offensive against Ukraine beginning as soon as early 2022 with as many as 175,000 personnel. But Russian officials have repeatedly denied that they’re preparing for war.

The US is weighing a package of sanctions in the event of a Russian invasion that would target the country’s biggest banks and its ability to convert rubles into dollars, euros or British pounds, according to people familiar with the matter. The sanctions may also restrict investors from buying Russian debt on the secondary market, they said.

“I am absolutely confident that he got the message, Biden said of Putin.

Read more:

Biden told Putin he’d send Ukraine more weapons if it’s attacked

Russia dismisses US media reports about possible Ukraine offensive

Russia will invade Ukraine in new year, says Kiev’s chief of defense intelligence

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Almarai signs an MoU with the Authority of People with Disabilities to train and employ them.

Almarai Company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Authority of People with
Disabilities to train, qualify and employ persons with disabilities. This came on the sidelines of
the First International Labor Market Conference, organized by the Ministry of Human Resources
and Social Development on December 13 – 14, 2023, at the King Abdulaziz Convention Center
in Riyadh.

The memorandum was signed by the Chief Human Resources Officer of Almarai Company,
Fahad Mohammed Aldrees, and the CEO of the Authority of People with Disabilities, Dr.
Hisham bin Muhammad Al-Haidari.

“This agreement comes within the framework of the company’s social responsibility program, as
Almarai employs more than 500 people with disabilities, which is one of the most suitable work
environments for them.” Fahad Aldrees said. Pointing out that Almarai has the “Silent Line”,
which is one of its production lines that is designated for people with hearing disabilities.

It is worth mentioning that Almarai supports over 300 charity organizations annually across the
kingdom that operate in the field of community development.

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Central Phuket Shopping Center Prepared Surprises This Christmas & New Year 2024

Central Phuket Shopping Center, the luxury lifestyle landmark o Phuket, invites everyone to celebrate Christmas and New Year 2024 in The Great Celebration 2024 Campaign. Joining hands with global partner ‘The Pokémon Company’, Central Phuket bring over Pokémon, the super cute character popular around the world, for all locals and international fans. The special campaign launch presents a procession of cute ‘Pikachu’ alongside with the giant Christmas tree for the first time in Thailand.
This December, Central Phuket prepared many activities for shoppers when visiting Phuket! Experience the “Surprise of the Day” with free Cotton Candy for our little ones, a sweet and fluffy treat, a special gift from Central Phuket. Bring your kids to enjoy this sweet treat every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of December. Don’t miss the Christmas Carol that
everyone loves, little Santas spread freshness by singing together in the Christmas Carol activity. Plus, Christmas Live Music, the festival of joy is back! Celebrate Christmas in a luxurious and classy atmosphere, enjoying the music that will bring us joy. Also, there will be Christmas Troop, Santa Claus is coming to town! The Santa troop will spread happiness throughout Central Phuket. Lastly, Cake Workshop, workshop activity with Chef Sebastien’s IRON CHEF Thailand teaching how to make Christmas Vanilla Cake. A special activity for the Christmas season. Moreover, Central Phuket provides special promotion exclusively for international tourists throughout December 23 – January 24 including:

1) Get Free! Tourist welcome discount package valued up to THB 10,000.
2) Receive THB 100 Gift voucher when spending up to THB 2,500 per receipt.
3) Get to buy ‘Happy Holiday Collections’ special price: Pokémon 2-in-1 pillow blanket, tumbler, travel bag set, and keychain. Visit redemption counter for the price.
4) Exclusive for Grab Users get discount code up to 25% off* when traveling to participating Central Shopping Centers.
5) Receive famous Elephant Pants when spending over THB 5,000 in shopping center.
6) Get Free! H&M THB 100 gift voucher when booking any accommodations in Phuket with Agoda. Terms and conditions apply.

Central Phuket is a home of global luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent. Exclusive for this season, Louis Vuitton launches a pop-up store located at Central Phuket. The design is inspired by the story of Damier or Checkerboard, the brand’s signature pattern. This classic pattern was created by Louis
Vuitton and his son Georges Vuitton in 1888 and has always been part of the design of Maison’s iconic items and concepts. Find clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories for men at the Pop-up Store from Louis Vuitton at Central Phuket, 1st floor, from today until 31 March 2024. And with over 500 renowned fashion brands and lifestyle shops ranging from local to international
well-known brands covering all categories, international shoppers will be able to find what they are looking for in Central Phuket.
Central Phuket is located in the heart of one of the world’s most famous beach cities, Phuket and await to welcome both locals and international visitors this holiday. Also, don’t miss one of the most joyful New Year Count Down events in Phuket city at Central Phuket Shopping Center on December 31, 2023.

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Saudi Fund for Development Provides $100 Million Development Loan for the Rogun Hydropower Project

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Chief Executive Officer, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, signed a new development loan agreement with the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Kahhorzoda Fayziddin Sattor, through which SFD is contributing $100 million USD to fund the Rogun Hydropower Project, a landmark initiative that will enhance energy,
food, and water security, and foster sustainable development in the country. The signing was attended by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Waleed Al-Reshiadan, and the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Akram Karimi, alongside other officials from both sides. SFD’s development loan will help contribute towards a more sustainable and equitable food and water future for Tajikistan, while driving the country’s energy transition and climate resilience. The project aims to contribute to the national energy security and will help advance sustainable
development in the Republic of Tajikistan, by providing the renewable electricity supply to meet local demand and expand electricity production domestically and regionally, producing 3600 MW of energy. The loan agreement will also finance the construction of a 335-meter-tall dam, which will enhance irrigation capabilities and bolster agricultural activities across the country. Additionally, the project will improve flood protection through the construction of four hydraulic
tunnels for diversion and drainage. It will also provide clean and drinkable water to people through desalination, and help advance socio-economic development, by creating both direct and indirect jobs.
Importantly, this project also supports the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); specifically, SDG 2, Zero Hunger, SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy.
On this occasion, the CEO of SFD, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, said: “Today’s signing marks a major milestone in our shared journey towards a more sustainable future. With this landmark development loan, SFD is not just supporting Tajikistan’s energy future, but also its sustainable development and the well-being of its people. The Rogun Hydropower Project is a beacon of
hope for a bright future that is powered by clean, renewable energy. It will propel Tajikistan towards environmental stewardship and prosperity.”

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