Tensions flare as world leaders fly to G20 forum

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US President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs for travel to the G20 summit in Argentina from the White House in Washington on November 29, 2018. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
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Demonstrators play drums and shout slogans, ahead of the Group 20 summit, in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 29, 2018. (REUTERS/Pilar Olivares)
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Demonstrators pose for a photograph ahead of the Group 20 summit, in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 29, 2018. (REUTERS/Pilar Olivares)
Updated 30 November 2018
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Tensions flare as world leaders fly to G20 forum

BUENOS AIRES: Global trade and geopolitical tensions grew at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires even as world leaders flew into the Argentine capital for the annual summit of the biggest nations.

US President Donald Trump, en route to the summit, tweeted that he would not hold planned talks with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, as a result of the continuing confrontation between Russia and Ukraine.

“I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting,” he wrote from US Air Force One on the way to Argentina. “I look forward to a meaningful summit again as soon as this situation is resolved.”

However, Trump did nothing to tone down the rhetoric in the confrontation looming at G20 between the US and China over tariffs imposed by the two countries on each other’s products.

“Billions of dollars are pouring into the coffers of the US because of the tariffs being charged to China, and there is a long way to go,” he tweeted.

That dashed earlier reports that Trump was “very close” to a deal with China on trade, and that US officials were preparing to delay the introduction of tariffs.

Trump is due to meet with President Xi Jinping of China over dinner in Buenos Aires. Trade and finance dominated the day before official meetings begin between the 20 leaders and their invitees today. 

Marisa Bircher, Argentina’s international trade secretary, said that her country was committed to free and open trade, and would do all it could to facilitate dialogue between the US and China at the summit.

Away from the main summit center, the World Bank organized an investment forum to discuss financial issues and cross-border investment flows. Several big companies from Saudi Arabia are believed to have taken part in the event, which was held behind closed doors.

Security concerns continued to dog the summit in the buildup to the opening day. Patricia Bullrich, the Argentine security minister, said in the first of what are expected to be daily briefings that she had held talks with the leaders of social opposition groups who had been planning demonstrations, and that the security situation was under control.


South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

Updated 10 December 2018
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South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

  • The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule

NAIROBI: South Sudan will vaccinate key health workers against Ebola close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which faces a new epidemic, the World Health Organization said Monday.
The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule, the UN agency said in a statement.
South Sudan is one of several countries bordering the vast DRC, where the new outbreak of the highly contagious viral disease had since August claimed 271 lives by December 6, according to Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga.
A total of 2,160 doses of the experimental vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV have been allocated to South Sudan for a program starting on December 19. This trial vaccine is not yet licensed but is considered safe and provided “under the compassionate-use guidelines in response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC,” the WHO said.
Like neighboring Uganda, where similar measures have been taken for health personnel, South Sudan has declared a state of alert because of the risk that Ebola may be carried into its territory. At present, no cases have been reported, according the WHO.
The experimental vaccine first went on trial during the terrible epidemic of Ebola that ravaged parts of West Africa between the end of 2013 and 2016, at a cost of more than 11,300 lives. The disease spreads through contact with bodily fluids from other people or infected animals.
The vaccine was created by Canadian public health specialists at the National Microbiology Laboratory and is considered highly effective by the WHO, but it works only against the Ebola virus-Zaire strain, confirmed in the outbreak in the DRC.
South Sudan has been torn by civil war for five years in a conflict that has left nearly 400,000 dead. More than four million people — about a third of the population — have fled.
The main belligerents signed a peace accord in September, but the work of humanitarian organizations remains complicated and dangerous.
Participants in the vaccination program have been trained on rVSV-ZEBOV and undertaken a simulation exercise. Meanwhile, the Ebola preparedness contingency plan covers measures ranging from screening travelers, community engagement and provision for safe and dignified funerals, the WHO said.