Biden-Xi talks on sidelines of APEC summit agreed, but details still being worked out: US official

Biden-Xi talks on sidelines of APEC summit agreed, but details still being worked out: US official
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This photo taken on November 14, 2022, shows US President Joe Biden (R) and China's President Xi Jinping meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Arrangements are being made for another face-to-face meeting between the two leaders next month. (AFP/File photo)
Biden-Xi talks on sidelines of APEC summit agreed, but details still being worked out: US official
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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, listens during a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Oct. 27, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 28 October 2023
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Biden-Xi talks on sidelines of APEC summit agreed, but details still being worked out: US official

Biden-Xi talks on sidelines of APEC summit agreed, but details still being worked out: US official
  • Agreement in principle reached Friday during Chinese FM's meeting with Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken
  • The next leaders summit of APEC, a forum of 21 Pacific countries, will be held in San Francisco next month

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to meet on the sidelines of next month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, according to a US official familiar with the planning.

The two sides worked out an agreement in principle to hold a meeting during the summit as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Friday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, according to the official, who was not authorized to comment and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The official added that the two sides have still not worked out details on the exact day of the meeting, venue and other logistics.
The White House said in a statement following Friday’s meetings that the two sides were “working toward” a Biden-Xi face-to-face on the sidelines of APEC, a forum of 21 Pacific countries.
Earlier Friday, Biden met with Wang, holding an hourlong talk with the senior Chinese official in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. The meeting, with Blinken and Sullivan present, was the latest in a series of high-level contacts between the two countries as they explore the possibility of stabilizing an increasingly tense relationship at a time of conflict in Ukraine and Israel.

HIGHLIGHTS

Wang is in the midst of a three-day visit to Washington, where he’s been meeting with top US officials.

Wang came to Washington at a time when tensions between the two countries remain high, including over US export controls on advanced technology and China’s more assertive actions in the East and South China seas.

US officials had said they would press Wang on the importance of China stepping up its role on the world stage if it wants to be considered a responsible major international player.

The White House said Biden “emphasized that both the United States and China need to manage competition in the relationship responsibly and maintain open lines of communication,” and he “underscored that the United States and China must work together to address global challenges.”
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Biden viewed his meeting with Wang as “a positive development, and a good opportunity to keep the conversation going.”
Biden had been widely expected to talk with Wang, a reciprocal action after Xi met with Blinken in June.
Beijing has yet to confirm if Xi will travel to San Francisco for the annual APEC summit, which runs from Nov. 11 to Nov. 17.
Wang is in the midst of a three-day visit to Washington, where he’s been meeting with top US officials. He sat down with Blinken on Friday morning for the second time during his trip.
On Thursday, after their initial meeting, the Chinese side said “the two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on China-US relations and issues of common concern in a constructive atmosphere.”
In its readout, the US State Department said the two men addressed “areas of difference” and “areas of cooperation,” while Blinken “reiterated that the United States will continue to stand up for our interests and values and those of our allies and partners.”
Wang said before Thursday’s meeting that China’s goal was to “push the relationship as soon as possible back to the track of healthy, stable and sustainable development.”
US officials had said they would press Wang on the importance of China stepping up its role on the world stage if it wants to be considered a responsible major international player. The US has been disappointed with China over its support for Russia in the war against Ukraine and its relative silence on the war between Israel and Hamas.
“China should use whatever ability it has as an influential power to urge calm” in the Middle East, said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “We know China has relationships with a number of countries in the region, and we would urge them to use those relationships, the lines of communication they have, to urge calm and stability.”
US officials believe the Chinese have considerable leverage with Iran, which is a major backer of Hamas.
Wang came to Washington at a time when tensions between the two countries remain high, including over US export controls on advanced technology and China’s more assertive actions in the East and South China seas.
On Thursday, the US military released a video of a Chinese fighter jet flying within 10 feet (three meters) of an American B-52 bomber over the South China Sea, nearly causing an accident. Earlier this month, the Pentagon released footage of some of the more than 180 intercepts of US warplanes by Chinese aircraft that occurred in the last two years, part of a trend US military officials call concerning.
The US also has renewed a warning that it would defend the Philippines in case of an armed attack under a security pact, after Chinese ships blocked and collided with two Philippine vessels off a contested shoal in the South China Sea.
Beijing has released its own video of close encounters in the region, including what it described as footage of the USS Ralph Johnson making a sharp turn and crossing in front of the bow of a Chinese navy ship. The US destroyer also was captured sailing between two Chinese ships.
Senior Col. Wu Qian, the spokesman of the Chinese defense ministry, said the videos showed that “the US is the real provocateur, risk taker and spoiler.”
The Pentagon rejected China’s characterization of the USS Ralph Johnson’s movements, saying the video includes only “cropped segments of a 90-minute interaction.” The ship “complied with international law” and “operated in a lawful, safe and resolute manner,” the Pentagon said.
During his visit to Washington, Wang was also expected to discuss Taiwan, a self-governed island that Beijing considers to be part of Chinese territory. Beijing vows to seize it by force if necessary, but Washington, which has a security pact with Taiwan, opposes the use of force.
The Chinese president last came to the US in 2017, when former President Donald Trump hosted him at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Biden, who took office in 2021, has yet to host Xi on US soil. The two men last met in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting of leading rich and developing nations.
The US-China relationship began to sour in 2018 when the Trump administration slapped hefty tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. It deteriorated further over a range of issues, including rights abuses, the South China Sea, Taiwan, technology and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Biden-Xi meeting would bring much-needed stability to relations between the two countries, said Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Washington-based think tank Stimson Center.
“The keyword here is ‘stabilization’ of bilateral ties — not really improvement, but stabilization,” Sun said. “The world needs the US and China to take on a rational path and stabilize their relationship, offering the region and the world more certainty.”


Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
Updated 28 May 2024
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Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
  • Labour, if elected, would recognize Palestinian statehood, says Angela Rayner

LONDON: Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the UK’s Labour Party, has promised that her party will do everything in its power to ease the suffering in Gaza as it bids to regain Muslim voters’ support, a leaked video surfacing on social media has revealed.

The footage was first reported by the political blog Guido Fawkes, which claimed to have obtained the leaked tape from a meeting in Ashton-under-Lyne, Rayner’s constituency.

The MP is seen appealing to voters upset with the party’s stance on Israel’s assault on Gaza, The Telegraph reported.

Rayner — claiming she worked “day and night” to get three British doctors out of Rafah and is now attempting to secure aid for the enclave — said: “I promise you, the Labour Party, including myself, is doing everything we can, because nobody wants to see what’s happening.”

She acknowledged the party’s current inability to halt the fighting, admitting that Labour’s influence would be “limited,” even if it came to power after July’s general election.

Rayner added: “Only last week the Labour Party were supporting the ICC (International Criminal Court). The Conservatives didn’t support the ICC, so with this general election on that issue, we can’t affect anything when we’re not in government.

“And I’ll be honest with you, if Labour gets into government, we are limited. I will be honest. I’m not going to promise you … because (Joe) Biden, who’s the US (president), who has way more influence, has only got limited influence in that.

“And Qatar, Saudi Arabia, all of these people, we are all working to stop what’s happening at the moment; we want to see that. So I promise you, that’s what we want to see.”

Rayner also promised that, if Labour was elected, the party would recognize Palestinian statehood.

She added: “If Labour gets into power, we will recognize Palestine. I will push not only to recognize … there is nothing to recognize at the moment, sadly. It’s decimated.

“We have to rebuild Palestine; we have to rebuild Gaza. That takes more than just recognizing it.”

Gaza has been a divisive issue for Labour since Oct. 7, with reports revealing that Muslim voters have abandoned the party as a result of what they perceive as its politicians enabling the war.

The Telegraph found that Labour’s support had dropped in local elections in areas with large Muslim populations, including Oldham in Greater Manchester, where the party lost control of the council in a surprise defeat.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has expressed his determination to re-establish trust among those who have abandoned his party due to his handling of the Gaza war.

However, when probed on particular commitments, he remained vague.

Rayner said in the video: “I know that people are angry about what’s happening in the Middle East.

“If my resignation as an MP now would bring a ceasefire, I would do it. I would do it if I could effect change.”

However, she said such an eventuality was not “in my gift” due to the “failure of the international community.”

In response to the footage, Nigel Farage, Reform UK’s honorary president, accused Rayner of “begging” for the Muslim vote, The Telegraph reported.


12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
Updated 28 May 2024
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12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
  • Several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides, and all schools were shut
  • India’s weather office warned of extremely heavy rains in northeastern states on Tuesday

Guwahati: Torrential rains in the wake of a powerful cyclone caused the collapse of a quarry in India’s Mizoram state killing 12 people, government officials said Tuesday.

“So far 12 bodies have been found, we are looking for more,” deputy commissioner of Aizawl district Nazuk Kumar told AFP.

Rescue efforts in the quarry were being hampered by “heavy rains,” police director general Anil Shukla said, NDTV news network reported.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma offered compensation to families of the victims of the “landslide due to Cyclone Remal.”

“I pray for the success of rescue and relief operations and wish a speedy recovery of the injured,” India’s President Droupadi Murmu said on social media.

In Mizoram, several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides. All schools were shut and government employees asked to work from home.

India’s weather office has issued warnings of extremely heavy rainfall across Mizoram and other northeastern states on Tuesday.

In India’s neighboring Assam state, one person was killed and heavy rains had cut the power supply, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a statement.

The cyclone made landfall in low-lying Bangladesh and neighboring India on Sunday evening with fierce gales and crashing waves.

Overall, at least 38 people died in the cyclone or storms in its wake.

In India, eight people died in West Bengal state, officials said Tuesday, updating an earlier toll of six, taking the total killed in the country to at least 21.

In neighboring Bangladesh, which bore the brunt of the cyclone that made landfall on Sunday, at least 17 people died, according to the disaster management office and police.


Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
Updated 28 May 2024
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Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
  • Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily
  • “We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do”

WARSAW: Poland’s foreign minister says the NATO nation should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine and should keep Russian President Vladimir Putin in suspense over whether such a decision would ever be made.
Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
“We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do,” Sikorski said when asked whether he would send Polish troops to Ukraine.
Sikorski said he has gone to Ukraine with his family to deliver humanitarian aid.
But a spokesperson for Poland’s Defense Ministry, Janusz Sejmej, told Polish media on Tuesday he had “no knowledge of that” when asked about a report in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine suggesting Poland might send troops to Ukraine.
The idea of sending foreign soldiers to Ukraine, which is battling Russian military aggression, was floated earlier this year in France, but no country, including Poland, has publicly embraced it.
Poland supports neighboring Ukraine politically and by providing military equipment and humanitarian aid.


Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
Updated 28 May 2024
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Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
  • The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia
  • SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The body of a five-month-old baby was found on Tuesday when some 85 migrants heading for Italy from Tunisia were rescued from distress at sea, according to a Reuters witness.
The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia two days earlier bound for Italy, according to charity group SOS Humanity.
SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted and suffering from seasickness and fuel burns as they were rescued before dawn on Tuesday, the group said in a statement.
Some 185 migrants rescued in separate operations this week, including the stricken boat overnight, were being taken aboard “Humanity 1” to the port of Livorno in northwest Italy. Another 120 migrants were transferred by coast guard boat to the Italian island of Lampedusa in the southern Mediterranean.
Tunisia is grappling with a migrant crisis and has replaced Libya as the main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict further south in Africa as well as the Middle East in hopes of a better life in Europe.
Italy has sought to curb migrant arrivals from Africa, making it harder charity ships to operate in the Mediterranean, limiting the number of rescues they can carry out and often forcing them to make huge detours to bring migrants ashore.


Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election

Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election
Updated 28 May 2024
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Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election

Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election
  • Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Ukraine should hold a presidential election following the expiry of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s five-year term.
Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term, something he and Kyiv’s allies deem the right decision in wartime. Putin said the only legitimate authority in Ukraine now was parliament, and that its head should be given power.