Joe Biden to press Xi Jinping on North Korea in G20 talks

Joe Biden to press Xi Jinping on North Korea in G20 talks
US President Joe Biden would not make demands on China but rather give Xi Jinping ‘his perspective.’ (AFP)
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Updated 13 November 2022

Joe Biden to press Xi Jinping on North Korea in G20 talks

Joe Biden to press Xi Jinping on North Korea in G20 talks
  • Meeting between two superpowers comes after a record-breaking spate of missile tests by Pyongyang
  • Leaders of the world’s two biggest economies have spoken by phone multiple times since Joe Biden became president in January 2021

PHNOM PENH: US President Joe Biden landed in Asia on Saturday vowing to urge Chinese leader Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea when they hold their first face-to-face meeting at next week’s G20 summit.
Biden touched down in Phnom Penh for meetings with Southeast Asian leaders ahead of his encounter with his Chinese counterpart on Monday in Bali.
The meeting between the two superpowers comes after a record-breaking spate of missile tests by North Korea sent fears soaring that the reclusive state would soon conduct its seventh nuclear test.
In Monday’s meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Biden will tell Xi that China — Pyongyang’s biggest ally — has “an interest in playing a constructive role in restraining North Korea’s worst tendencies,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
Biden will also tell Xi that if North Korea’s missile and nuclear build-up “keeps going down this road, it will simply mean further enhanced American military and security presence in the region.”
Sullivan said Biden would not make demands on China but rather give Xi “his perspective.”
This is that “North Korea represents a threat not just to the United States, not just to (South Korea) and Japan but to peace and stability across the entire region.”
Whether China wants to increase pressure on North Korea is “of course up to them,” Sullivan said.
However, with North Korea rapidly ramping up its missile capacities, “the operational situation is more acute in the current moment,” Sullivan said.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida added his voice to calls for concerted international action to halt Pyongyang’s missile program during talks with ASEAN, China and South Korea.
Tokyo and Seoul have been increasingly alarmed by the North Korean testing blitz, which included an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Biden and Xi, the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies, have spoken by phone multiple times since Biden became president in January 2021.
But the COVID-19 pandemic and Xi’s subsequent aversion to foreign travel have prevented them from meeting in person.
The pair are not short of topics to discuss, with Washington and Beijing at loggerheads over issues ranging from trade to human rights in China’s Xinjiang region and the status of the self-ruled island of Taiwan.
UN chief Antonio Guterres has urged the two sides to work together, warning Friday of “a growing risk that the global economy will be divided into two parts, led by the two biggest economies — the United States and China.”
Before the G20, Biden will push the US’s commitment to Southeast Asia in meetings with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), seeking to counter Beijing’s influence in the region.
China has been flexing its muscles — through trade, diplomacy and military clout — in recent years in a region it sees as its strategic backyard.
Biden flew into Phnom Penh with an agenda emphasising his administration’s policy of “elevating” the US presence in the region as a guarantor of stability, Sullivan said.
Biden will argue for “the need for freedom of navigation for lawful, unimpeded commerce, and for ensuring that the United States is playing a constructive role in maintaining peace and stability in the region.”
Biden and Xi both go into the G20 buoyed by recent domestic political success: Biden’s party having earned surprisingly strong midterm results and Xi having secured a landmark third term as China’s leader.
At last month’s Communist Party Congress, where he was anointed as chief again, Xi warned of a challenging geopolitical climate without mentioning the United States by name, as he wove a narrative of China’s “inevitable” triumph over adversity.
The G20 summit will be the latest step in a diplomatic re-emergence for Xi after the pandemic — it comes less than a fortnight after he hosted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing.
As well as Biden, Xi will also meet French President Emmanuel Macron before heading to Bangkok later in the week for the APEC summit.
Notably absent from the summit will be Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been shunned by the West over his invasion of Ukraine, and who is instead sending Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Lavrov will press Moscow’s view that the United States is “destabilizing” the Asia-Pacific region with a confrontational approach, the Russian TASS news agency reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to attend the G20 virtually, after his request to address the ASEAN gathering was turned down.


Herders in Ethiopia forced to give up their nomadic existence

Herders in Ethiopia forced to give up their nomadic existence
Updated 8 sec ago

Herders in Ethiopia forced to give up their nomadic existence

Herders in Ethiopia forced to give up their nomadic existence
  • Drought has plunged 12 million people into ‘acute food insecurity’ in Ethiopia, UN says

KELAFO: Mohammed Hassan Gureh has made up his mind: He’s going to sell the last of his goats and leave his village to find a new life.

Like many herders in the east of Ethiopia, he has been forced to give up his nomadic existence after seeing his livestock decimated by drought.

The 32-year-old says he can no longer bear seeing his animals die. Out of a herd of 250 goats, only 35 are left.

And in his village of El Gel, in a corner of the Somali region of Ethiopia not far from the border with Somalia, two-thirds of the animals have been wiped out.

Gureh, like other nomadic herders across the Horn of Africa, has been waiting desperately for more than two years for rains that have not come.

The last five rainy seasons since the end of 2020 have failed, triggering the worst drought in four decades in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. And the next rainy season, from March to May, is also expected to be below average.

According to the UN, drought has plunged 12 million people into “acute food insecurity” in Ethiopia alone, where a deadly conflict has also ravaged the north of the country.

More than 4.5 million livestock have died since 2021 and another 30 million “weakened and emaciated” animals are at risk, the UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA said in a January 18 report.

Gureh waited and prayed, but he has had to face the grim reality. “There is no sign of improvement. I think the drought will continue and get worse over time.” So he has decided to sell his goats before it is too late.

With the small amount of money he’ll make from a sale, he plans to leave El Gel and head to the nearby town of K’elafo, hoping he will finally be able to support his wife, his four children, his blind father and his crippled mother.

His plans are vague: He will probably try to eke out a living as a small-time trader selling charcoal, firewood or incense.

“I also want to start adult education and develop my skills in order to find employment opportunities,” he says.

“It’s a very difficult decision to move from a life as a goatherd to a new way of life that I don’t know ... But I have no other option.”


Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers

Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers
Updated 24 min 9 sec ago

Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers

Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers
  • Fartun Abdirashid, wife of Abdiqadir Mumin, head of the Daesh group, was sentenced on Monday at a military court

MOGADISHU: A military tribunal in Somalia has sentenced the wife of the head of a terrorist organization linked to Daesh to eight years in prison for passing on information and organizing financial transactions for the group, a military official said on Monday.

Fartun Abdirashid, wife of Abdiqadir Mumin, head of the Daesh group, was sentenced on Monday at a military court.

She has been under custody since her arrest in March last year in the capital, Mogadishu.

Abdirashid was accused of frequently transferring $100 to $200 to the group’s members, the public prosecutor’s office said.

She had a working relationship with Bilal Al-Sudaani, a senior Daesh official who was killed on Wednesday in a US raid in Somalia’s northern Bari region.

Mumin, a former Al-Shabab cleric, pledged his allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in 2015.

Daesh holds a smaller footprint in Somalia compared to the Al-Shabab terrorist group that has carried out numerous attacks in the country.

Somalia’s forces are carrying out an offensive against Al-Shabab that has been described at the most significant in more than a decade.

The first US Cabinet member to visit Somalia since 2015 urged the world’s distracted donors to give immediate help to a country facing deadly famine, which she calls “the ultimate failure of the international community.”


Young Palestinians and Israelis invited to Japan by Foreign Ministry

File photo of the Foreign Ministry building in Tokyo. (ANJ)
File photo of the Foreign Ministry building in Tokyo. (ANJ)
Updated 30 January 2023

Young Palestinians and Israelis invited to Japan by Foreign Ministry

File photo of the Foreign Ministry building in Tokyo. (ANJ)
  • Four Israelis and four Palestinians were invited to Japan as part of Japan’s efforts to realize a “two-state solution”

TOKYO: Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is hosting a group of Palestinians and Israelis as part of the 2022 Israeli-Palestinian Joint Youth Invitation Program.

Four Israelis and four Palestinians were invited to Japan as part of Japan’s efforts to realize a “two-state solution” by establishing a future “Palestinian state” alongside Israel.

The program with the youths “aims to provide a forum for building mutual trust and deepen understanding of Japan’s efforts toward peace in the Middle East, foreign policy, economy and culture.”

The invitation program is now in its 23rd year and more than 220 people have been invited from Israel and Palestine.

During their stay, the delegation will visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, exchange opinions with the students, and tour Tokyo and local cities, including Kyoto and Hiroshima.

This article originally appeared on Arab News Japan. Click here to read it.


Three injured in knife attack near EU Brussels headquarters

Emergency personnel arrive outside of a metro station near EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP)
Emergency personnel arrive outside of a metro station near EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP)
Updated 52 min 46 sec ago

Three injured in knife attack near EU Brussels headquarters

Emergency personnel arrive outside of a metro station near EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP)
  • The suspected attacker was known to police for “psychiatric problems,” a source close to the investigation said

BRUSSELS: Three people were injured, one seriously, in a knife attack Monday in a metro station near the European Union headquarters in Brussels, officials said, adding that the attacker had been arrested.
Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said the man was speedily detained due to coordinated police action at the Schuman metro station.
Police said one of the injured was in “critical condition.”
The suspected attacker was known to police for “psychiatric problems,” a source close to the investigation said.
The attack took place at rush hour around 6:00 pm.
European Union chief Charles Michel, a former Belgian prime minister, thanked the police in a tweet and said his thoughts were with the victims.
An AFP journalist at the site said a woman told people not to enter the station, saying there was a man inside armed with a knife as police rushed in.
Traffic was interrupted on the line.
 


Afghans urge international support amid Taliban bans

Afghans urge international support amid Taliban bans
Updated 30 January 2023

Afghans urge international support amid Taliban bans

Afghans urge international support amid Taliban bans
  • UN, aid organization officials have visited country this month
  • Needs of Afghanistan a ‘priority,’ top UN aid chief said last week 

KABUL: Afghans are calling for more international support following increasingly restrictive edicts issued by the Taliban administration, as the US special representative for Afghanistan began a trip on Monday aimed at refining an international response to support the country.

The Taliban has introduced a series of restrictions on Afghan women since taking control of the country in 2021, including barring women from university and secondary schools. Authorities in December ordered all NGOs to ban women employees, though those in health were allowed to return to work earlier this month.

The moves drew widespread condemnation, with high-ranking UN officials and leaders of major international organizations visiting Afghanistan this month to try and reverse the Taliban’s crackdown on women and girls.

Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West will travel to Pakistan, Germany and Switzerland on a mission to “consult with partners, Afghans and humanitarian relief organizations,” the US Department of State said in a statement, in one of the latest efforts to address the situation in the South Asian country.

“SRA West will work with counterparts to refine a unified regional and international response that reflects a collective commitment to Afghan women and girls’ rights, and access to vital aid,” the statement added.

Afghans are hopeful that West’s trip could benefit Afghanistan, with some urging the international community to increase pressure on the Taliban.

“No doubt this mission will help in the case of Afghanistan. I believe if this mission is implemented in a way to find a solution for the misery of Afghan people it will most definitely work,” Mohibullah Sharif, an Afghan political expert based in Kabul, told Arab News.

“However, if like previously, the mission is only for securing the interests of regional and international players, this will bring no good for Afghans and will worsen the situation.”

Life in Afghanistan has grown increasingly difficult for women, said Shamsia Hassanzadah, a member of the Afghan Women’s Network and former director of Star Education Center in Kabul, who was affected by the ban on women working for NGOs.

“Women in NGOs should be allowed to work because a woman’s work is very important for their family economy,” Hassanzadah told Arab News, adding that she was the breadwinner in her family.

“We want the international community to bring further pressure on the current government of Afghanistan and we believe such steps and measures will help to decrease the Taliban’s restrictions toward Afghan women,” she added.

“It will also prevent or even stop the Taliban from issuing further decrees against women’s education and employment in Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan needs more support from the UN and the global community, according to women’s rights activist Farimah Nikkhwah, who was also affected by the recent ban.

“In the current situation, Afghanistan needs the special attention of the UN and the international community to prevent the negative and illogical actions of the Taliban,” Nikkhwah told Arab News.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said last week following a Kabul visit that Taliban ministers are working on new guidelines to allow women more freedom in humanitarian work.

“The needs of Afghanistan, for us, are of the highest importance because of its people, because of its obvious, deserved priority for us in our humanitarian world. The need for Afghanistan to be properly serviced by humanitarian operations is also a global priority,” Griffiths told AFP in an interview.

When it comes to Afghan girls’ education, pleas are also coming from within the country, said Dr. Hatef Mokhtar, head of the Afghanistan International Strategic Studies Center.

“Afghans want Afghanistan to come out of isolation,” Mokhtar told Arab News.

“The opening of Afghan girls’ schools is not the voice of the world, but it is the voice of the Afghans themselves. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan should take this issue seriously and open the girls’ schools as soon as possible.”