US buys Iran oil after 30 years
US Department of Energy has reportedly imported crude oil from Iran for the first time since 1991. It comes even as US sanctions on Iran continue. It is a crucial step by the US to lift sanctions on Iran, which may eventually lead to the restoration of the Iran nuclear deal. US is said to have purchased 33,000 barrels per day of crude from Iran in the month of March. Just a week back Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had said that the United States was ready to lift sanctions on Iran's oil, banking and shipping sectors. Although the US had then avoided to confirm anything in this regard, this step appears to be in line with it.
US President Biden had signaled readiness to restart the nuclear deal if Iran returns to full nuclear compliance. However, Iran had said it would start complying with the nuclear deal only after the US lifts the sanctions. With US's purchase, Biden administration appears affirmative to Iran's demands.
Philippines steps up resistance to China
Philippines has lodged a diplomatic protest with China calling the intrusion of Chinese fishing militia vessels near it's Thitu Island as 'incessant deployment, prolonged presence and illegal activities'. Also, Philippines has drastically stepped up patrols in the South China Sea recently. It appears that public pressure forcing Philippine President Duterte to resist China. However, earlier, President Duterte had banned his cabinet ministers from commenting on the South China Sea dispute with China after a strong tweet from Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana upset the CCP. Besides this, the US is mulling troops withdrawal from Philippines in absence of renewal of agreement for the same. Duterte's reluctance has been blamed for it, which many consider could hurt Philippines in the longer run.