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

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.

Fears grow as ‘chamki’ fever kills 100 children in Bihar

Updated 17 June 2019

Fears grow as ‘chamki’ fever kills 100 children in Bihar

  • Multi-disciplinary institute planned to identify reason behind disease
  • Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, caused by viruses. Symptoms include high fever, vomiting

NEW DELHI: When Arun Ram took his four-year-old daughter Sandhya Kumari to hospital in late May, he thought she was suffering from fever brought on by a seasonal virus.

But within 12 hours of her admission his daughter had died.

The initially mild fever had run out of control, causing mental disorientation, seizures and delirium.

Kumari was among more than 100 children who fell victim to acute encephalitis syndrome in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

The state’s central districts of Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran are worst affected. Official estimates suggest a death toll of 130, with 15 children under the age of 10 dying on Sunday alone.

Locally, the syndrome is known as “chamki” fever.

“In my hospital, 291 patients have been admitted, 91 have been discharged and 83 have lost their lives up until Monday,” said Dr. Sunil Kumar Sahi, medical superintendent of Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur.

“The cause of the death is not known,” he told Arab News.

“This is matter of research. We follow a medical protocol in treating such patients because all the children are suffering from inflammation of brain or encephalopathy.

“We are telling the people that they should not come out in the heat, and they should eat on time. If there is a fever, they should take a cold bath and take medicine.” 

Sanjay Kumar, Bihar government’s principal secretary, said that the disease had affected 222 blocks in 12 districts in central Bihar.

On Sunday, a five-year-old girl died in front of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan while he was visiting the hospital.

“The situation is really grim in the area adjoining Muzaffarpur. The death toll has reached 127, but government data is still not giving a clear picture,” Raj Kumar, a local reporter, said.

The government has announced it will set up a 100-bed hospital to ease the growing concern in the region. 

A team of doctors has been deployed in central Bihar’s main hospitals to handle the growing number of cases.

“A multi-disciplinary institute will be set up here in the next year to identify the reason behind this disease,” the health minister said.