G20 gathers in India with Xi absent

G20 gathers in India with Xi absent
The G20 was conceived in the throes of the 2008 financial crisis as a way of managing the global economy. (AFP)
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Updated 08 September 2023
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G20 gathers in India with Xi absent

G20 gathers in India with Xi absent
  • The G20 was conceived in the throes of the 2008 financial crisis as a way of managing the global economy

NEW DELHI: G20 leaders began to descend on New Delhi Friday, hoping to make progress on trade, climate and a host of other global problems despite the Chinese and Russian president’s skipping the summit.
The G20 was conceived in the throes of the 2008 financial crisis as a way of managing the global economy.
But as presidential and prime ministerial jets began landing in the Indian capital, the pointed absence of China’s Xi Jinping raised questions about what, if anything, the disparate bloc can still agree on.
As the summit was set to begin, officials had yet to achieve the normally routine task of smoothing over disagreements and finalizing a joint communique for leaders to sign off on.
No official reason has been given for Xi’s no-show, but China has been open about its desire to upend traditionally US-led groupings such as the G20 and replace them with something more amenable to Beijing’s interests.
Xi will instead host the leaders of Venezuela and Zambia in Beijing.
Diplomatic opprobrium and war crimes charges are also keeping Russian leader Vladimir Putin away, although Moscow continues to press allies to water down international condemnation of its invasion of Ukraine.
“Once again, Vladimir Putin is failing to show his face at the G20,” said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“He is the architect of his own diplomatic exile, isolating himself in his presidential palace and blocking out criticism and reality.”
“The rest of the G20, meanwhile, are demonstrating that we will turn up and work together to pick up the pieces of Putin’s destruction.”
Heading to the summit, US President Joe Biden also insisted that the meeting would still “deliver”, even as markets fretted that a trade war between the world’s two largest economies was poised to escalate.
Rumours have swirled that China may be poised to ban Apple’s ubiquitous iPhone.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, speaking on Air Force One bound for the summit, parried queries about those rumors.
Questions such as “what’s motivating them, what the scope of this will be, and what they think the net effect of that will be” were for Beijing to answer, he said.
Many G20 leaders fear their economies are already at risk of being collateral damage as the big beasts of world trade lock horns.
Economists say US restrictions on the transfer of sensitive technologies to China have deepened a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.
They also point, however, to serious structural problems in China such as a shrinking labor force, slower productivity and an overheated real estate market.
Speaking in Delhi on Friday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned a Chinese slowdown carried risks for the entire globe.
“China faces a variety of both short- and longer-term global challenges, economic challenges that we’ve been monitoring carefully,” she said.
“That said, China has quite a bit of policy space to address these challenges”.
The summit’s host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — sensing an opportunity to burnish his credentials as a statesman ahead of a re-election tilt early next year — has thrust himself into the political void.
Motorcades roaring in from New Delhi’s international airport — named after the once all-powerful ever-present prime minister Indira Gandhi — can be in no doubt who is in charge today.
From posters, placards and billboards, Modi’s image gazes down as the very public face of the two-day summit.
In some, Modi simply welcomes delegates. In others, he delivers domestically bankable slogans about development, jobs and “giving voice to the global south”.
Sumedha Dasgupta, senior Asia analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit, believes that “India will try to be a credible voice that can facilitate dialogue between the global north and south”.
Modi looks set to secure at least one concrete step in that direction — with several leaders expressing support for expanding the bloc into the “G21” and including the African Union as a permanent member.
Modi’s efforts to get the G20 to tackle global debt restructuring and commodity price shocks following Russia’s Ukraine invasion have been less successful.
A G20 energy ministers’ meeting in July also failed to agree on a roadmap to phase down the use of fossil fuels — or even mention coal, the dirty fuel that remains a key energy source for economies like India and China.


Syrian asylum-seeker describes detention as struggle with ‘constant nightmare and insomnia’

Syrian asylum-seeker describes detention as struggle with ‘constant nightmare and insomnia’
Updated 14 June 2024
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Syrian asylum-seeker describes detention as struggle with ‘constant nightmare and insomnia’

Syrian asylum-seeker describes detention as struggle with ‘constant nightmare and insomnia’
  • “After surviving a challenging journey, the reality of my situation was hard to grasp. I kept questioning why I was being detained for deportation,” said Mohammed Al-Kharewsh
  • He is reportedly scheduled to be deported on one of the first flights from the UK to Rwanda

LONDON: A Syrian asylum-seeker facing deportation from London to Rwanda has described his detention at Gatwick detention center as a struggle with “constant nightmares and insomnia,” the Independent reported on Friday.
After arriving in the UK from his war-torn country in 2022, 25-year-old Mohammed Al-Kharewsh, who was recently released on bail from the immigration removal center near Crawley, said: “The environment was overwhelming, and I struggled with constant nightmares and insomnia.
“After surviving a challenging journey, the reality of my situation was hard to grasp. I kept questioning why I was being detained for deportation.”
Describing the 25 days of his detention at the center, Al-Kharewsh, who is reportedly scheduled to be deported on one of the first flights to Rwanda, said that he became depressed and experienced “anxiety and despair” as he repeatedly questioned why he was among the first chosen for deportation.
The 25-year-old claims that the idea of being separated again from his brother, who was granted asylum in the UK as a minor, is “extremely intimidating.” They were separated the first time by the war in Syria.
On May 1, Al-Kharewsh was apprehended during a routine reporting visit to immigration, taken to Gatwick and put in a room with a fellow Syrian refugee with mental health problems. He had been living in Acton with his brother, who rents a flat and works in construction.
The Independent’s report added that many asylum-seekers had been released on bail after Rishi Sunak said that flights would only go ahead if he won the July 4 election. Labour have pledged to scrap the £290 million scheme if they win power.
The 25-year-old said that he was forced to leave Syria two years ago after being pressured to either join the Syrian army or resistance fighters.
Anyone who came to the UK irregularly after Jan. 1, 2022, such as Al-Kharewsh who arrived via small boat, is in line for removal to Rwanda under Sunak’s scheme.
Speaking about his detention, Al-Kharewsh said: “In the rooms, I was housed with another inmate in a shared room. Beds were provided, but the environment itself was far from comfortable. There was a shopping area and a gym available for us, but I was too preoccupied with the constant thought of deportation and my low mood to make use of these facilities.
“We were provided with food, but I only ate enough to survive. My mind was preoccupied with the hopes of a better future. And that hope seemed to slip further away each day. The looming threat of deportation hung over me, adding to my stress and anxiety, and the detention center was incredibly difficult.”
Al-Kharewsh said that he left Syria for the “safety of myself and my family.” He said that his child and wife remained in Syria and are now safer since he left without being forced to pick a side in the armed conflict. He hopes that they could join him one day in the UK.
His younger brother supports him, and a second brother who arrived in the UK earlier this year. Al-Kharewsh only found out that his brother was living in the UK once he arrived, and he is anxious that they are not separated again.
“In the UK I managed to reunite with my siblings for the first time. So going through the trauma of displacement again is extremely intimidating. Also relocating to a country like Rwanda — given their history of conflict and violence and having no support network there — would make me more vulnerable,” he said.
Al-Kharewsh has been told his asylum claim is inadmissible and that the Home Office intends to deport him to Rwanda, but his second brother has yet to hear anything about his asylum claim.
Asylum-seekers are told that Rwanda is known as “the land of a thousand hills,” and that Rwandans are friendly to visitors.
One page of a leaflet that is given to asylum-seekers in detention, titled “Is Rwanda safe?” says that the country is a “generally safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum-seekers.”
In November, the UK Supreme Court ruled that UNHCR should be trusted in their assessment that Rwanda is not a safe country for asylum-seekers.
The UNHCR warned High Court judges only this week that it may have new evidence from 2024 that Rwanda has endangered asylum-seekers. The UK parliament passed a law declaring Rwanda to be a safe country this year despite the Supreme Court’s decision.
The Home Office did not comment.


Britain’s Kate says she is making good progress with cancer treatment, will attend event

In a personal written message released on Friday, Kate said she had been “blown away” by thousands of kind messages.
In a personal written message released on Friday, Kate said she had been “blown away” by thousands of kind messages.
Updated 14 June 2024
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Britain’s Kate says she is making good progress with cancer treatment, will attend event

In a personal written message released on Friday, Kate said she had been “blown away” by thousands of kind messages.
  • “I am making good progress, but as anyone going through chemotherapy will know, there are good days and bad days,” Kate’s statement said

LONDON: Kate, Britain’s Princess of Wales, has said she is making good progress as she undergoes preventative chemotherapy but is “not out of the woods” ahead of her first public appearance on Saturday since surgery revealed the presence of cancer.
In a personal written message released on Friday, Kate said she had been “blown away” by the thousands of kind messages from across the globe that followed her cancer announcement in March.
She said they had made a world of difference to her and her husband, heir-to-the-throne Prince William.
“I am making good progress, but as anyone going through chemotherapy will know, there are good days and bad days,” her statement said.
“On those bad days you feel weak, tired and you have to give in to your body resting. But on the good days, when you feel stronger, you want to make the most of feeling well.”
Her improved health means she will be able to appear in public for the first time since last December, when she joined other senior royals for an annual Christmas Day church service.
On Saturday morning, Kate, 42, will accompany her three children, Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte, in a carriage during “Trooping the Color,” an annual military parade held in central London to mark the monarch’s official birthday.
She will also join King Charles, Queen Camilla and the other senior family members on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, the high-profile pinnacle of the event.
While Kate said she was hoping to take part in other events this year, aides cautioned that Saturday did not mark a return to a full schedule of work.
“My treatment is ongoing and will be for a few more months,” she said. “I’m looking forward to attending The King’s Birthday Parade this weekend with my family and hope to join a few public engagements over the summer, but equally knowing I am not out of the woods yet.”
Abdominal surgery
Kate spent two weeks in hospital in January after she underwent major abdominal surgery, and two months later she announced in a video message that tests had revealed the presence of cancer, and she would begin preventative chemotherapy.
Her office, Kensington Palace, has declined to give further details about the type of cancer or about her treatment, other than to say the preventative chemotherapy had begun in February.
In her message, Kate said on days when she felt well it was “a joy to engage with school life, spend personal time on the things that give me energy and positivity.” As part of that, she was starting to do work from home, and was able to hold some meetings.
“I am learning how to be patient, especially with uncertainty,” said the princess, who is often known by her maiden name Kate Middleton. “Taking each day as it comes, listening to my body, and allowing myself to take this much needed time to heal.”
A new photo of the princess was also released to coincide with her message, showing Kate looking well dressed in a jacket and jeans, standing under a tree on the Windsor estate to the west of London, where the family home is located.
Her illness has coincided with that of Charles, 75, who has also been undergoing treatment for cancer. He returned to public duties in April, and has remained busy, although his diary commitments are being limited to minimize risks to his recovery.
“His Majesty is delighted that the Princess is able to attend tomorrow’s events, and is much looking forward to all elements of the day,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said.
Kensington Palace also said William was pleased to see Kate starting to return to the work and projects that were so important to her.
“He will continue to focus his time on supporting his wife and children, while continuing to undertake his public duties,” a spokesperson said.


Philippines launches first halal travel and trade expo

Philippines launches first halal travel and trade expo
Updated 14 June 2024
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Philippines launches first halal travel and trade expo

Philippines launches first halal travel and trade expo
  • 10,000 visitors expected to attend the three-day SALAAM exhibition in Quezon City
  • Event features workshops, networking sessions, and culinary demonstrations

MANILA: The Philippine Department of Tourism launched on Friday the Halal Tourism and Trade Expo, SALAAM, to promote halal-certified and Muslim-friendly tourism products and services.

Tourism is a key sector for the Philippines, and its government has lately been trying to attract more Muslim visitors by ensuring that they have access to halal products and services.

The three-day event, inaugurated in Quezon City, is the first such exhibition fully hosted by the Department of Tourism and aims to expand the Philippines’ “halal tourism offerings, ensuring our country maintains its reputation for hospitality, inclusivity, and cultural sensitivity,” Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said during the launch.

“Aligned with our National Tourism Development Plan, we have placed halal tourism high on our priority agenda to strengthen our halal tourism portfolio, raise awareness among tourism stakeholders about the values and practices important to Muslim travelers, and ensure our competitiveness in the global tourism market.”

There are some 12 million Muslims in the nearly 120 million, predominantly Catholic population of the Philippines, according to the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos.

They live mostly on the island of Mindanao and in the Sulu archipelago in the country’s south, constituting the third-largest Muslim community in Southeast Asia after Indonesia and Malaysia.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco, center, and other Philippine officials pose for a photo during the launching of the SALAAM Halal Tourism and Trade Expo in Quezon City. (AN Photo)

“Islamic influence in the Philippines is deeply rooted in our history and culture, particularly in the southern region of Mindanao. This region, rich in natural beauty and cultural diversity, is a testament to the harmonious coexistence of various cultures and traditions. Mindanao, with its lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and vibrant communities, is integral to our nation’s identity,” Frasco said.

“Our efforts towards becoming a more Muslim-friendly destination are not only an invitation for Muslim travelers to visit the Philippines but also a recognition of the significant contributions of our Muslim communities across the country. These Islamic influences enrich our heritage as a nation, adding to the vibrant tapestry of Filipino culture.”

Last month, the Philippines was recognized as an Emerging Muslim-friendly non-Organization of Islamic Cooperation Destination by Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index.

The index is an annual report benchmarking destinations in the Muslim travel market.

In 2023, the Philippines also won the award and has since boosted efforts to attract visitors from the Middle East.

The country has welcomed more than 2 million international travelers since the beginning of 2024 and marked a 10 percent increase in visitors arriving from Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have been among the Philippine government’s key emerging-market targets.

The Department of Tourism expects to welcome an estimated 10,000 visitors to the SALAAM exhibition, particularly foreign tourists, halal business owners, and entrepreneurs.

The event features exhibits, workshops, networking sessions, and culinary demonstrations by renowned chefs.

“The theme of this year’s expo, ‘Celebrating Excellence in Philippine Halal Tourism, Innovation, and Culture,’ perfectly encapsulates the celebration of our rich heritage, innovative spirit, and dedication to building an inclusive environment for all,” Quezon City Mayor Josefina Belmonte said during the event’s opening ceremony.

“As we navigate the path forward, let us recognize the value of collaboration among government agencies, private sectors, local communities, and international partners in achieving our goal of inclusive prosperity. Together, we can create a thriving halal ecosystem that benefits everyone.”


Japan eyes sanctions against groups in UAE for aiding Russia

Japan eyes sanctions against groups in UAE for aiding Russia
Updated 14 June 2024
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Japan eyes sanctions against groups in UAE for aiding Russia

Japan eyes sanctions against groups in UAE for aiding Russia
  • “I think it is important to rigorously respond to attempts to circumvent sanctions against Russia,” Kamikawa stated
  • Kamikawa said the new sanctions package against Russia is being drawn up and Japan will make an announcement soon

TOKYO: Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko on Friday said Japan is considering imposing sanctions against organizations in several countries, including the United Arab Emirates.
Following a decision by the United States to reimpose sanctions on over 300 firms and individuals in countries such as China, South Africa, and Turkiye for aiding Russia in its war against Ukraine, Kamikawa said Japan would follow suit.
“I think it is important to rigorously respond to attempts to circumvent sanctions against Russia,” Kamikawa stated. “Japan conveyed to the (G7) leaders that we are considering new sanctions packages, including against organizations in third countries, namely the United Arab Emirates, China, India, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.”
“We are considering sanctions against targeted organizations in these countries that are engaged in contravening sanctions. We are not specifically targeting any specific state in this way.”
Kamikawa said the new sanctions package against Russia is being drawn up and Japan will make an announcement soon.
When asked about imposing sanctions against Israel for its mass killings in Gaza, its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and the annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights, Kamikawa was evasive in her answer.
“Regarding the critical humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, we are deeply concerned about it,” she responded. “I have been urging Israeli Foreign Minister Katz repeatedly to abide by international law, including international humanitarian law, and to bring about a sustainable ceasefire, as well as improving the humanitarian situation.”
“To reduce tensions, improve the humanitarian situation and realize a two-state solution, we are going to continue to make tenacious and active diplomatic efforts going forward.”


Italy arrests suspect over flight of Russian wanted in US

Italy arrests suspect over flight of Russian wanted in US
Updated 14 June 2024
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Italy arrests suspect over flight of Russian wanted in US

Italy arrests suspect over flight of Russian wanted in US
  • The US Justice Department said some of the equipment had been “discovered on the battlefields of Ukraine“
  • The suspect allegedly arranged for Artyom Uss to leave Italy in March 2023, the day after an Italian court ordered his extradition to the US

ROME: Italy arrested on Friday a suspect accused of helping a Russian governor’s son flee to his home nation while facing US extradition over alleged illegal export of military technology, authorities said.
The US Justice Department said some of the equipment had been “discovered on the battlefields of Ukraine.”
The suspect allegedly arranged for Artyom Uss to leave Italy in March 2023, the day after an Italian court ordered his extradition to the United States.
Artyom Uss, son of Siberian region governor Alexander Uss, was detained at Milan Malpensa airport on a US warrant in October 2022.
Washington accuses Uss of being involved in illegal schemes to export US military technology to Russia.
Despite wearing an electronic tracking bracelet, Uss went missing from his residence and several days later announced he was back in Russia.
The suspect arrested Friday, also a Russian, is suspected of having followed the decisions of the Milan court which ordered Uss’s extradition and preparing a plan for his escape.
The suspect, a Swiss resident, is also accused of “contacting the members of the gang who subsequently carried out the escape,” according to a statement from the Milan public prosecutor’s office.
Prosecutors said the 54-year-old, whose name they have not made public, was in constant contact with Uss’s family “in order to control the organization and execution of the exfiltration.”
Italian media identified the suspect as entrepreneur Dmitry Chirakadze, co-founder of the Pravo.ru group, which provides assistance to Russian court websites.
While not naming the suspect, the prosecutor’s office described the man as an aristocrat descended from a grand duke of Georgia.
He is also a shareholder in “numerous Russian companies with the involvement of members of the Uss family,” it added.
The five men who carried out the escape by car across the Balkans have all already been arrested.