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President Biden counters China, Russia at summits in Europe

Geneva: President Biden went to Europe for a week to convince the allies that America was back, and for good; gather them in common cause against the rising threat of China; and establish some red lines for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whom he called his “worthy adversary.”

At G7 he made inroads on China on which in Europe here has been reluctance to think of China as a threat — economically, technologically and militarily.

In Geneva, Biden expressed cautious optimism about finding ways to reach a polite accommodation with  Putin. But it is far from clear that any of the modest initiatives the two men described on Wednesday, after a stiff, three-hour summit meeting on the edge of Lake Geneva, will fundamentally change a bad dynamic, rcometns New York Times

Biden, one of his senior aides said after the meeting was over, “is perpetually optimistic” that Mr. Putin may, despite a long history of efforts to undermine the Western alliance, see advantage in changing course.

This was Biden’s first foreign tour as President. He began over the weekend in England, on the rocky shores of Cornwall, the venue for G7, talking about friendship, alliances, consultation, comity and multilateralism. At every stop he opened with the same three words: “America is back.”

In Brussels, at NATO’s 31st summit on Monday, he  said it was up to Democratic nations to prove to the world that autocracies cannot deliver for their people. He said NATO members must root out corruption, guard against hatred and “phony populism,” and invest in strengthening institutions “that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values.”

Photo courtesy Yahoo News
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Addressing G-7, PM Modi calls for open vaccine chains

New Delhi: Calling for “global unity, leadership and solidarity”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi last Saturday emphasized the “special responsibility of democratic and transparent societies to prevent future pandemics”.

Addressing the G-7 outreach session via video conference, Modi also expressed India’s commitment to support collective endeavors to improve global health governance.

This is an oblique reference to the lack of transparency displayed by China in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak and WHO’s poor leadership as the crisis engulfed the world.

Modi said there should be “one earth, one health” approach, which, sources said, was supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Sources said India’s emphasis on keeping “open supply chains for vaccine raw materials and components to help enhance vaccine production received widespread support”.

This came days after French President Emanuel Macron supported India’s demand for lifting restrictions on export of raw materials needed to manufacture vaccines.

The session, titled ‘Building Back Stronger – Health’, focused on global recovery from the pandemic and strengthening resilience against future pandemics.

Modi sought the G-7’s support for a proposal moved by “India and South Africa at the WTO for a TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver on Covid-related technologies”. Sources said Australian PM Scott Morrison and others came out strongly in support of this.

The Prime Minister highlighted India’s “whole of society” approach to fight the pandemic, synergizing the efforts of all levels of government, industry and civil society.

He also explained India’s successful use of open source digital tools for contact tracing and vaccine management, and conveyed the country’s willingness to share its experience and expertise with other developing countries.

Modi expressed appreciation for the support extended by the G-7 and other guest countries during the recent wave of Covid infections in India.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had invited Modi to attend the outreach component of the G-7 Summit, along with Australia, South Korea and South Africa.

Addressing another G7 session on ‘open societies and open economies’ on Sunday, Modi  said India is a natural ally for the G7 countries in defending the shared values from a host of threats stemming from authoritarianism, terrorism and violent extremism, disinformation and economic coercion. In that session, the prime minister highlighted India’s civilizational commitment to democracy, freedom of thought and liberty, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

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Latest News USA
In England to attend the G7 meeting, President Biden met his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron in Carbis Bay, Cornwal on Saturday. When asked whether America is back by a reporter, Macron said, “Yes definitely. It’s great to have a U.S. president who’s part of the club and very willing to cooperate.” (Photo courtesy NYT)
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International Latest News

China accuses G7 of political manipulation

Beijing: China accused the G7 nations of “political manipulation” after the foreign leaders criticized the dragon over its human rights record in Xinjiang and noted the alleged abuses against Uyghur Muslims, minorities in the region.

China said the foreign leaders are interfering in the country’s internal affairs, based on “lies, rumors and baseless accusations”.

The G7 nations had also called out the repression of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, with US president Joe Biden asking Beijing to “start acting more responsibly in terms of international norms on human rights”.

The Chinese embassy in London put out an official statement saying, “The Group of Seven (G7) takes advantage of Xinjiang-related issues to engage in political manipulation and interfere in China’s internal affairs, which we firmly oppose.”

The leaders of Group of Seven richest democracies also demanded a second transparent science-based study into the origins of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), according to a draft communiqué.

In recent times, Beijing has drawn the ire of the West over its alleged human rights violations and forced labor practices in the Xinjiang region, largely inhabited by Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority group in China.

Several global human rights groups have accused China of hounding an estimated one million Uyghur Muslims in internment camps in the Xinjiang region.

Beijing says the move will eradicate Islamic extremism, but Western nations have expressed apprehension over what they call a gross violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

China a global security challenge: NATO leaders

Brussels: NATO leaders declared that China poses a constant security challenge and is working to undermine global order.

The leaders said they’re worried about how fast the Chinese are developing nuclear missiles.

In a summit statement, the leaders said that China’s goals and “assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security.”

While the 30 heads of State and the government avoided calling China a rival, they expressed concern about what they said were its “coercive policies,” the opaque ways it is modernizing its armed forces and its use of disinformation.

They called on Beijing to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system.

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Biden brings focus back on Democracy & Diplomacy

London: With the world confronting the immediate crisis of a pandemic and the long-term challenge of climate change, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain met on Thursday.

Their meeting, as per a joint statement, focused on democracy, human rights and multilateralism; defense and security; science and technology; trade and prosperity; climate and nature; health; and the shared commitment to Northern Ireland.

The two leaders laid out their “global vision” in an updated version of the Atlantic Charter of 1941, the agreement authorized by Roosevelt and Churchill that established a set of post-war objectives for the two countries’ relationship.

President Biden is on his first visit abroad to attend the G7 summit in England, meet NATO and EU leaders in Brussels, and have a fraught one-on-one meeting with the Russian President Putin in Geneva.

Giving words to the message of this trip, Biden told US troops at an air base in eastern England on Wednesday, “We’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges.”

President Biden embraced allies that his predecessor, Donald J. Trump disparaged, saying nations must join forces on the pandemic, global warming, free trade and the challenges of China and Russia.

Under pressure to address the global coronavirus vaccine shortage, Biden announced on Thursday that the US will buy half a billion doses of vaccine and donate them for use by about 100 low- and middle-income countries, including India, over the next year.

“This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation, to save as many lives as we can,” Mr. Biden said in a speech.

VP Harris’ stern message on migration

Vice President Kamala Harris with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. (Photo courtesy NYT)

Also traveling abroad, Vice President Kamala Harris met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday, capping her first foreign trip with a discussion on economic cooperation, as well as joint efforts to combat human trafficking and manage migration to their shared border.

According to a statement from her spokeswoman, the Biden administration would issue loans for affordable housing, efforts to grow cacao and coffee and infrastructure project development.

The U.S. will also invest $130 million over three years to support labor protections for Mexican workers and will also provide forensic training to Mexican officials seeking to find tens of thousands of missing people.

“The two leaders also agreed to increase cooperation to further secure our borders and ensure orderly immigration,” Ms. Sanders said.

Ms. Harris and Mr. López Obrador signed an agreement in Mexico’s national palace reiterating their governments’ commitment to deter migration north by addressing its root causes: poverty, persecution and corruption in Central America.

The meeting concludes a high-stakes visit for Ms. Harris to Mexico and Guatemala, where she was on Monday. She has been tapped by President Biden to be the administration’s emissary for one of its more complex and politically volatile issues: improving conditions in Central America and deterring migration to the U.S.-Mexico border.

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PM Modi to participate in G-7 virtually on June 12-13

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the Outreach Sessions of the G7 Summit on June 12-13 in virtual format. He will be doing so at the invitation of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

The UK currently holds the G7 Presidency and has invited India, along with Australia, Republic of Korea and South Africa, as Guest Countries for the summit which will be held in hybrid mode.

The theme for the Summit is ‘Build Back Better’ and the UK has outlined four priority areas for its Presidency. These are leading the global recovery from coronavirus while strengthening resilience against future pandemics; promoting future prosperity by championing free and fair trade; tackling climate change and preserving the planet’s biodiversity; and championing shared values and open societies.

The leaders are expected to exchange views on the way forward on global recovery from the pandemic with a focus on health and climate change.

This is the second time PM Modi will be participating in a G7 meeting. India had been invited by the G7 French Presidency in 2019 to the Biarritz Summit as a “Goodwill Partner” and he participated in the sessions on ‘Climate, Biodiversity and Oceans’ and ‘Digital Transformation’.

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International Latest News

Biden-Putin summit: US-Russia to work towards strategic stability

New Delhi: In a path-breaking development, United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev held consultations on United States-Russia relations in the run-up to the summit between President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16.

The two NSA talked about strategic stability between the two former adversaries with the fall-out of China being brought into the arms control and cyber control regimes. In simple terms it encompasses nuclear weapons, missiles, anti-satellite weapons, and anti-missile defense.

The joint statement issued after the meeting makes it clear that both the countries want to work towards normalizing ties and keeping in touch with each other on critical global issues.

According to the statement, the US-Russia NSA meeting was a logical continuation of the recent discussions held in Reykjavik between Secretary of State Blinken and Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

“At the meeting, both sides agreed that a normalization of the US-Russian relations would be in the interest of both countries and contribute to global predictability and stability” the statement said.

Biden, making his first international trip as president will go to Geneva immediately after separate summits with his key Western allies in the G7, NATO, and the European Union.

The Geneva summit will come almost three years after Trump famously sided with the Kremlin leader over the US intelligence agencies on the question of whether Moscow interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.

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International Latest News

G7 nations seek to unite in bid to rein in China

London: The G7 democracies discussed how to form a common front towards an increasingly assertive China in the foreign ministers’ first in-person talks in two years.

Backing US President Joe Biden’s calls for a deeper alliance of democracies, host Britain invited guests including India, South Korea and Australia for talks in central London stretched out over three days.

The G7 devoted its first session on May 4 to China, whose growing military and economic clout, and willingness to exert its influence at home and abroad have increasingly unnerved Western democracies.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken had said, “What we are trying to do is to uphold the international rules-based order that our countries have invested so much in over so many decades to the benefit not just of our own citizens, but of people around the world – including, by the way, China.”

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab has called for “holding Beijing to the commitments that they’ve made”, including on Hong Kong, which was promised a separate system before London handed over the colony in 1997.

Blinken set to join UN event led by China

Blinken will participate in a UN Security Council meeting on May 7 chaired by China’s foreign minister on strengthening global cooperation and the key role of the UN in harnessing international action to tackle conflicts and crises, China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun has said. It will be the first encounter, though virtually, for Blinken and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi. (Hindustan Times)

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Latest News USA

America is back: Biden to allies

Washington: President Biden told allies Friday that he hopes to reestablish the U.S. as a reliable player in multilateral dealings with European countries after four years of “America First” policies pushed by former President Donald Trump.

“I’m sending a clear message to the world. America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back,” Biden said at a virtual appearance at the Munich Security Conference.

Biden articulated a series of broad commitments to European allies, emphasizing the importance of democracy and collaboration on economic issues, climate and national security. His speech last Friday is part of the White House’s ongoing efforts to undo what it believes to be the damage done by the Trump administration to its relationships with foreign allies.

Biden said his administration is “fully committed to the NATO alliance,” using language starkly different from that of Trump, who particularly in his first year as president frequently criticized the organization as obsolete and accused members of not paying their fair share.

Biden stressed that teamwork between Europe and the U.S. is critical in dealing with countries like Russia and China, though he made sure not to cast those challenges as a “new Cold War.”

“Competition with China is going to be stiff. That’s what I expect, and that’s what I welcome,” he said.

Turning his attention to the Kremlin, Biden pulled no punches on what he believes to be “malign” actions Russia has taken to sow chaos across the globe and called on countries to align themselves with Washington against Russian President Vladimir Putin — a radical change in tone from Trump, who often praised Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

“Putin seeks to weaken the European project and our NATO alliance. He wants to undermine the transatlantic unity and our resolve,” said Biden.

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