Johnson urged not to cut foreign aid

Johnson urged not to cut foreign aid
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the weekly question-time debate at the House of Commons in London, Britain. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 November 2020

Johnson urged not to cut foreign aid

Johnson urged not to cut foreign aid
  • The two former prime ministers warned Johnson risked undermining the UK’s presidency of the G7 before it begins next year

LONDON: Two former British prime ministers have warned the country’s current leader Boris Johnson against cuts to foreign aid spending.

David Cameron and Tony Blair urged Johnson not to commit to a proposed 0.2 percent cut to the UK’s £15 billion ($20 billion, EUR17 billion) international development budget.

The UK has proposed the cuts to pay for coronavirus costs but Cameron and Blair cautioned the move would jeopardize Britain’s “soft power” status around world, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The two former prime ministers also warned Johnson risked undermining the UK’s presidency of the G7 before it begins next year.

Blair praised the impact of British spending abroad in recent decades which he said was “measured literally in millions of lives.”

“This has been a great British soft power achievement. It isn’t about charity. It’s enlightened self-interest,” he said.

Cameron called abandoning Britain’s overseas aid spending a “moral, strategic and political mistake.”

“I hope the PM will stick to his clear manifesto promise, maintain UK leadership and save lives,” he added.

Blair, a former prime minister from the UK’s left of centerLabour Party, led his country from 1997 until 2007. He committed Britain to meeting a UN target of 0.7 percent in spending on foreign aid in 2005.

Cameron, from Johnson’s own center-right Conservative Party, served in the office from 2010-2016, and delivered on the overseas spending pledge made by his predecessor in 2013.

General Lord David Richards, UK chief of defense staff until 2013, said it was in the UK’s interest “to be as generous as possible,” adding that spending on aid was “much cheaper than fighting wars.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is due to address the UK’s spending in a Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday. 

The review is expected to be heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK has already cut £2.9 billion from its foreign aid budget for the rest of 2020 to avoid exceeding the 0.7 percent target.


Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal

Updated 37 min 23 sec ago

Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal

Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has rejected talk of reopening the 2015 deal

BERLIN: Germany said Friday that a new broader Iran nuclear accord must be reached to also rein in Tehran’s ballistic missile program, warning that the 2015 deal was no longer enough.
“A form of ‘nuclear agreement plus’ is needed, which also lies in our interest,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told Spiegel magazine in an interview.
“We have clear expectations for Iran: no nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic rocket program which threatens the whole region. Iran must also play another role in the region.”
“We need this accord because we distrust Iran,” he added.
The 2015 nuclear deal — known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
The European Union and the United States were key signatories in the deal but US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and has reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
President-elect Joe Biden has signalled that Washington could rejoin the deal as a starting point for follow-on negotiations if Iran returned to compliance.
But Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has rejected talk of reopening the 2015 deal, saying on Thursday: “We will not renegotiate a deal which we negotiated.”
He added that Western powers should look to their own behavior before criticizing Iran.
He also complained at what he characterised as a lack of European outrage at the assassination of one of Iran’s leading nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside Tehran last week — an attack Tehran has blamed on Israel.
Decades old US-Iranian tensions dramatically escalated after Trump walked out of the deal.
In recent months, alarm has also grown over Iran’s regional activities through proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, which the West says destabilizes the region.