Iran's Raisi to Be Laid to Rest in Home Town

Mourners attend the funeral of Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Mourners attend the funeral of Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran. ATTA KENARE / AFP
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Iran's Raisi to Be Laid to Rest in Home Town

Mourners attend the funeral of Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Mourners attend the funeral of Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash, will be buried Thursday in his hometown after two days of funeral processions attended by thousands of mourners.
Raisi, 63, died on Sunday alongside his foreign minister and six others when their helicopter crashed in the country's mountainous northwest while returning from a dam inauguration, said AFP.
His final resting place will be at the holy shrine of Imam Reza, a key Shiite mausoleum in the northeastern city of Mashhad, where the ultra-conservative president was born.
Images published by Iranian media on Wednesday showed officials in Mashhad preparing for the final day of funerary rites.
Large photos of Raisi, black flags and Shiite symbols were erected throughout the streets of Iran's second city, particularly around the Imam Reza shrine.
Massive crowds had gathered for a funeral procession on Wednesday in the capital Tehran to pay their final respects to the president, whom officials and media dubbed a "martyr".
Supreme leader Ali Khamenei -- whom Raisi had been widely expected to succeed -- led prayers for the late president, kneeling before the coffins of the eight people killed in the crash.
Among them was foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who will also be buried Thursday in the shrine of Shah Abdol-Azim in the town of Shahr-Rey south of the capital.
June 28 election
An afternoon ceremony for Raisi was held on Wednesday in which around 60 countries took part, said state news agency IRNA.
Member countries of the European Union were among the absentees of the ceremony, while some non-member countries, including Belarus and Serbia had their representatives.
Khamenei, who wields ultimate authority in Iran, has declared five days of national mourning and assigned vice president Mohammad Mokhber, 68, as caretaker president until a June 28 election for Raisi's successor.
A presidential election in Iran had not been expected until next year, and Sunday's crash has caused some uncertainty as to who will succeed Raisi, with some expressing concern about the upcoming president.
"How do I find someone like him? I'm really worried about that," said 31-year-old cleric Mohsen at Wednesday's funeral in Tehran. "As far as I know, we don't have anyone of his stature."
Raisi was elected president in 2021, succeeding the moderate Hassan Rouhani at a time when the economy was battered by US sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear activities.
The ultra-conservative's time in office saw mass protests, a deepening economic crisis and unprecedented armed exchanges with arch-enemy Israel.
After his death, Russia and China sent their condolences, as did NATO, while the UN Security Council observed a minute's silence.
Messages of condolence also flooded in from Iran's allies around the region, including the Syrian government as well as Hamas and Hezbollah.



US, Ukraine Ink 10-year Defense Agreement

US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
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US, Ukraine Ink 10-year Defense Agreement

US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

US President Joe Biden and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement on Thursday aimed at bolstering Ukraine's defense against Russian invaders.

The agreement, signed on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy, is meant to be a step towards Ukraine's eventual NATO membership, according to the text of the deal.

"The parties recognize this agreement as supporting a bridge to Ukraine’s eventual membership in the NATO alliance," the text says, according to Reuters.

Zelenskiy has long sought NATO membership but the allies have stopped short of taking that step. The Western alliance regards any attack launched on one of its 32 members as an attack on all under its Article Five clause.

In the event of an armed attack or threat of such against Ukraine, top US and Ukrainian officials will meet within 24 hours to consult on a response and determine what additional defense needs are required for Ukraine, the agreement says.

Under the agreement, the United States restates its support for Ukraine's defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, amid a renewed push by Russia on Ukraine's eastern front.

"To ensure Ukraine’s security, both sides recognize Ukraine needs a significant military force, robust capabilities, and sustained investments in its defense industrial base that are consistent with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)standards," the text says.

"The United States intends to provide long-term materiel, training and advising, sustainment, intelligence, security, defense industrial, institutional, and other support to develop Ukrainian security and defense forces that are capable of defending a sovereign, independent, democratic Ukraine and deterring future aggression," it says.