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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.”

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Latest News USA

Putin and Biden cite gains despite issues like cyberattacks, human rights

Geneva: After their first in-person summit Wednesday, President Joe Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia addressed the press separately to make broad claims of good will, but on issues ranging from cyberattacks to human rights, the two sides remain divided, reports The New York Times.

“There has been no hostility…. our meeting took place in a constructive spirit,” said Putin.

Biden too said, “The tone of the entire meeting was good, positive.”

As for differences, Putin denied that Russia has played a role in a spate of increasingly bold cyberattacks against U.S. institutions and accused America as the biggest offender.

Biden said that he had pressed the Russian president on a variety of issues. “I made it clear to President Putin that we’ll continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights,” he said. He expressed optimism that Putin would not seek to escalate the tensions between the two nations.

“The last thing he wants now is a cold war,” Mr. Biden said, noting that “we have significant cyber-capabilities, and he knows it.”

On the  positive side, Putin said the two nations had agreed that their ambassadors, who both returned to their home countries amid the tensions, should return to their posts in the near future. He said they would also begin “consultations” on cyber-related issues.

“We believe the sphere of cybersecurity is extremely important for the world in general — including for the United States, and for Russia to the same degree,” he said.

Putin, who flew in from Sochi, Russia, A short time later, Mr. Biden’s motorcade pulled up as Russian, American and Swiss flags waved in the breeze under a blue sky with the United States entourage.

The two leaders were greeted by President Guy Parmelin of Switzerland, who welcomed them to Geneva, “the city of peace.” The summit was held at an 18th-century Swiss villa perched above Lake Geneva.

The high-stakes diplomatic engagement came at the end of a whirlwind week long European tour for Biden in which he sought to rebuild the traditional alliances that often bolstered the United States’ position during the Cold War. Biden has argued that the world is at an “inflection point,” with an existential battle underway between democracy and autocracy.

Federation, but those that contain it — which is the publicly announced goal of the United States.”

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Latest News USA

Biden calls for NATO to stand up to autocrats and “phony populism”

Brussels: President Biden repeated a call Monday to prove to the world and to his own people in America that democracy can still prevail against the challenges of our time and deliver the needs of our people. Addressing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 31st summit in Brussels 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.”

After the summit, NATO members issued a communiqué highlighting the “threat” presented by Russia and the “challenges” posed by China. “Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” the communiqué read. On China, the statement said: “China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance. The statement added that the NATO members “will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the Alliance.”

The leaders of the 30 NATO countries agreed “that the impact of significant malicious cumulative cyber activities might, in certain circumstances, be considered as amounting to an armed attack,” an assessment that could lead to the invocation of the organization’s mutual self-defense clause, Article 5. The countries “(reaffirmed) that a decision as to when a cyber attack would lead to the invocation of Article 5 would be taken by the North Atlantic Council on a case-by-case basis,” the joint statement released during the NATO leaders’ summit said.

President Biden was asked about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said he will make clear where the “red lines” are. “I’m going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind,” Biden said.

NATO leaders largely backed the US decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Some American allies had griped ahead of the summit that they weren’t properly consulted before Biden announced he would withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Others have questioned how security can be maintained in the country when US troops leave, particularly at Kabul International Airport and at other diplomatic facilities. NATO leaders have also agreed to provide “transitional funding” to ensure that the international airport in Kabul continues to operate.

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Biden believes Putin is a killer, would pay price for election meddling

Washington/Moscow: President Joe Biden has said that he believes Vladimir Putin is a killer with no soul — and vowed that the Russian leader soon “will pay a price” for interfering in the 2020 U.S. election and trying to boost the re-election chances of Donald Trump.

In an interview that aired Wednesday on Good Morning America, Biden said he warned Putin last month, in his first call to the Russian president after taking office, that he would retaliate if that meddling was confirmed.

On Tuesday, the U.S. National Intelligence Council released a report which concluded that Putin authorized intelligence assets to promote misinformation during the 2020 election cycle about Biden through U.S. media and people close to Trump.

“He will pay a price,” Biden said of Putin.

The Biden administration earlier this month imposed an array of sanctions on high-ranking Russian officials, who include Putin’s deputy chiefs of staff, for the poisoning and subsequent imprisonment of Alexey Navalny, a leader of the opposition to Putin.

Although Navalny survived his poisoning, a slew of Putin critics have been killed or died suspiciously.

When Biden was asked if he believes Putin is a killer, the president replied, “I do.”

Biden also confirmed prior reports that he personally told Putin in 2011, while serving as U.S. vice president, that Putin does not “have a soul.”

Biden’s strong words about his Russian counterpart stand in sharp contrast to Trump, who for years in office refused to criticize Putin for interfering in the 2016 election, or to even concede that it happened, as repeated investigations have found.

President Putin retorted on Thursday that it takes one to know one after Biden’s killer remark. Moscow has also recalled its US  ambassador for consultations a day after the Biden interview.

Russia is preparing to be hit by a new round of U.S. sanctions in the coming days over that alleged meddling as well as over an alleged hack.

Suggesting Biden was hypocritical in his remarks, Putin said that every state had to contend with “bloody events” and added Biden was accusing the Russian leader of something he was guilty of himself.

Shortly before Putin’s remarks, his spokesman said Biden’s comments showed he had no interest in fixing ties with Moscow, which are strained by everything from Syria to Ukraine to Russia’s jailing of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Biden was quick to extend a key nuclear arms pact with Russia after he took office in January. But his administration has said it will take a tougher line with Moscow than Washington did during Donald Trump’s term in office, and engage only when there is a tangible benefit for the United States.

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India Latest News

Putin looking forward to visiting India

New Delhi/Moscow: The dates for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India this year, at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are being finalized as the two countries look to strengthen their strategic partnership.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who is on an official two-day visit to Moscow, revealed this on Wednesday.

The move assumes significance in view of the recent developments in India’s relations with the US and China. The government has taken strong objection to the US social media platforms enabling mobilization of violent protesters against India’s farm reforms and other internal decisions. At the same time, India’s military has disengaged with China along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, after a 10-month-long stand-off.

“Clearly there is a lot that is happening in the relationship. It is a very very important relationship for both countries. I think we will see some developments in the next few months that would reinforce the close and strategic partnership that we both enjoy,” Shringla said in a video link from Moscow, underlining the significance of his visit.

Shringla is holding India-Russia foreign office consultations with deputy foreign minister Igor Morgulov. The two sides are reviewing the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including the forthcoming high-level exchanges, the ministry of external affairs said in a statement.

Speaking from Moscow, Shringla said that he had a “very good meeting” with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who emphasised the importance of the strategic relationship between India and Russia. The foreign secretary extended an invitation to him on behalf of the external affairs ministry for a visit to India. He said Lavrov is looking forward to the meeting at the earliest.

The two sides also spoke about the annual summit. Lavrov told Shringla that President Putin is looking forward to his visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The visit will take place on a date to be decided between the two sides,” Shringla said in Moscow.

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Latest News USA

McConnell finally congratulates Biden, Harris after electoral college tally

Washington: A day after the Electoral College certified Joe Biden’s victory, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the Democrat’s election victory and referred to him as President-elect.

Noting that while millions wished the elections would have yielded a different result, “our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on January 20. The Electoral College has spoken,”  McConnell said on the Senate floor.

“Today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden. The President-elect is no stranger to the Senate. He has devoted himself to public service for many years,” he said.

“I also want to congratulate the Vice President-elect, our colleague from California, Senator Harris. Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female Vice President-elect for the very first time,” he said.

Interestingly, McConnell’s remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin belatedly congratulated Biden, and expressed hope that their two nations “which bear special responsibility for global security and stability, despite their differences can truly contribute to solving many problems and challenges that the world is currently facing”.

McConnell also lavishly praised Donald Trump presidency’s accomplishments, including “economic prosperity”, “foreign policy”, “judicial appointments”, and “bold regulatory changes”, saying that “it would take far more than one speech to catalogue all the major wins the Trump administration has helped deliver for the American people”.

Time magazine has declared Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as Person of the Year, crediting the duo or ‘Changing America’s story”. (Pic courtesy Time)

Trump, besides many Republican members of the Congress, is yet to concede defeat.

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World needs coordinated efforts for fast Covid recovery: PM Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday attended the 15th edition of the G20 Summit, chaired by Saudi Arabia this year. Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump were among the world leaders who joined PM Modi via video conferencing to discuss global impact of the coronavirus pandemic

“Had a very fruitful discussion with G20 leaders. Coordinated efforts by the largest economies of the world will surely lead to faster recovery from this pandemic. Thanked Saudi Arabia for hosting the Virtual Summit,” PM Modi tweeted.

The Prime Minister “termed the COVID-19 pandemic as an important turning point in the history of humanity and the biggest challenge the world is facing since the World War II,” a statement by the foreign ministry said. He called for decisive action by G20, not limited to economic recovery, jobs and trade, but to focus on preserving Planet Earth noting that all of us are trustees of humanity’s future, it added.

“We offered India’s IT prowess to further develop digital facilities for efficient functioning of the G20… Transparency in our processes helps in inspiring our societies to fight crisis collectively and with confidence. Spirit of trusteeship towards planet Earth will inspire us for a healthy and holistic lifestyle,” he added in his tweet.

PM Modi also called for a new Global Index for the post-Covid World that comprises four key elements – creation of a vast talent pool; ensuring that technology reaches all segments of the society; transparency in systems of governance; and dealing with the planet with a spirit of trusteeship.

Noting that ‘Work from Anywhere’ is a new normal in the post-Covid world, the Prime Minister also suggested creation of a G20 Virtual Secretariat as a follow up and documentation repository.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, the host of the two-day summit, in his opening remarks, talked about “affordable and equitable access” to anti-COVID-19 tools, including vaccines in development.

Talking about the global economy, severely damaged by the coronavirus pandemic, King Salman appealed to the world leaders to “reopen economies and borders to facilitate the mobility of trade and people.”

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India Latest News

Nepal PM, Putin wish Modi on his 70th birthday

By The SATimes News Service

New Delhi: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned 70 on Thursday, wishes from home and abroad poured in for him.

Extending his greetings, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli tweeted: “Warm greetings to Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji on the auspicious occasion of your birthday. I wish you good health and happiness.

“We will continue working closely together to further strengthen relations between our two countries.”

In his message to Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “I look forward to continuing constructive dialogue with you and working closely together on topical issues of the bilateral and international agenda.”

President Ram Nath Kovind also took to Twitter to wish Modi and said: “Happy Birthday to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji. You have set an example of Indian life values and democratic tradition.

“I pray to God that he always keeps you healthy and happy and the nation continues to receive your invaluable services.”

Extending his wishes, Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted: “Wishing a Happy Birthday to the most popular leader of the country who is always committed towards the service of the nation and devoted towards welfare of the poor.”

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi too wished the Prime Minister on his birthday.

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India International Latest News

Modi, Putin to boost ties as India-China tension festers

New Delhi: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, they agreed to further strengthen the strategic partnership between India and Russia.

The talks between the two leaders assume great significance as it comes in the midst of India-China border tensions. The Indian Army and the Chinese military are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh.

Tensions between New Delhi and Beijing have been simmering ever since 20 Indian Army soldiers were killed in a violent clash with China’s People’s Liberation Army in Galwan Valley on June 15.

Notably, the Modi and Putin held talks on a day when India’s Defence Acquisition Council approved procurement of 12 Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s from Moscow.

PM Modi recalled the participation of an Indian contingent in the military parade held in Moscow on 24 June 2020 as a symbol of abiding friendship between the peoples of India and Russia.

President Putin thanked PM Modi for the phone call and “reiterated his commitment to further strengthen the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries in all spheres”.

According to Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the two leaders have  “agreed to maintain the momentum of bilateral contacts and consultations, leading to the annual bilateral Summit to be held in India later this year”.

Meanwhile, heaping praises on India’s move to ban 59 Chinese apps, former US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted: “Good to see India banning 59 popular apps owned by Chinese firms, including TikTok, which counts India as one of its largest markets. India is continuing to show it won’t back down from China’s aggression.”

Her remarks came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed India’s move. “We welcome India’s ban on certain mobile apps that can serve as appendages of the CCP’s surveillance state. India’s ‘clean app’ approach will boost India’s sovereignty, will also boost India’s integrity and national security as the Indian government itself has stated,” he said while briefing reporters in Washington on Tuesday.

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