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US Secretary makes his first call to Iraqi and Jordanian counterparts for bilateral talks
Middle East & Africa

US Secretary makes his first call to Iraqi and Jordanian counterparts for bilateral talks

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony John Blinken made the first calls for discussions with Iraq’s foreign minister Fuad Hussein and Jordan’s foreign minister Ayman Safadi.

The US senators had voted 78-22 in support of Blinken, a long-term confidant of President Joe Biden, as the country’s 71st US secretary of state.

During the Obama administration, Blinken had served as a deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser. He has promised to be the leading force in the administration’s aim to reframe the U.S. relationship with the world and reverse Trump’s “America First” policy that weakened the international relations.

In his oath ceremony on Tuesday, Blinken said “we have a lot of work to do at home to improve our standing abroad.” The Biden administration would work with both humility and confidence to strengthen our bilateral ties with the world.

In his first call with foreign minister Fuad Hussein, Blinken talked about government issues and bilateral relations. He promised to assist Iraq with its monetary crises and help fight the coronavirus pandemic. He also offered condolences for the terror attacks that took place last week in Baghdad.

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“The secretary encouraged the Iraqi government to proceed with endeavors to address the demands of the Iraqi citizens for building a more just country and showed support for the early elections in 2021”. 

In his talks with Jordan’s FM Ayman Safadi, the US Secretary of State lauded Jordan for promoting regional peace and stability in the nation. Both nations discussed several affairs of mutual interest and reaffirmed the significance of the profound bilateral relations, the Department stated. 

Former Obama aide Robert Malley is expected to be appointed as US envoy to Iran
Americas

Former Obama aide Robert Malley is expected to be appointed as US envoy to Iran

A former President Obama’s security aide Robert Malley is expected to be appointed as U.S. Ambassador to Iran, a senior State Department official stated on Thursday. 

The senior officials and few others acquainted with the decision stated that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will appoint Rob Malley as the Biden government’s ambassador to Iran and its formal announcement will be made on Friday. 

Many officials spoke over the matter in conditions of anonymity as they were not allowed to speak on the issue publicly. They stated that Malley would head a committed team of clear-eyed experts with a variety of ideas. Blinken is certain that he will be able to deliver that once again.

Currently, Malley works for the International Crisis Group. Iran is shocked that Malley, who is known for his support for Israel and was the main architect of the 2015 atomic deal is expected to be the US envoy to Iran. They fear that President Biden’s eagerness to rejoin the Iran deal at any cost could lead to sacrificing the security of the Gulf Arab states and Israel.

However, like Biden, Blinken has reiterated that the U.S. would maintain its commitments under the Iran nuclear deal by easing sanctions if Iran fully complies with the agreement. Only then the United States will re-join the deal. 

Blinken has been hesitant about how Malley will pursue any commitment with Iran and refused to talk about specific personnel he would require to lead in that position.

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Blinken stated on Wednesday, “If Iran returns into full agreement with its obligations under the (agreement), the United States would perform the same thing and afterward we would utilize that as a stage to build, with our partners and allies, what we consider a more extended and more grounded deal and manage various different issues that are profoundly tricky in the relationship with Tehran,” however, we are far from that stage, Blinken added.

NZ’s trade minister advises Australia to show more respect while dealing with China
Asia Pacific Focus

NZ’s trade minister advises Australia to show more respect while dealing with China

Australia’s senior government officials are fumed after New Zealand’s Trade Minister Damien O’Connor suggested Australia show more respect to China in order to mend ties with the nation.

Moreover, what angers the Australian government is the continuing pattern of New Zealand not to collectively stand with allies against China’s developing aggression in recent months. 

On Wednesday, O’Connor in an interview on CNBC stated that New Zealand had mature relations with China and we were able to raise matters of concern. “I can’t speak on behalf of Australia and how it runs its diplomatic relations, however, if they were to follow our example, they need to show some respect and be cautious with wording while dealing with China”, he added.

O’Connor called his counterpart Dan Tehan on Thursday to clear that he didn’t mean to speak on behalf of Australia when offering his views on CNBC

In a statement released by NZ’s trade minister’s office on Thursday, he stated that “he had spoken to Australian trade minister Dan Tehan recently to clarify that in the interview we didn’t speak for Australia on this issue or any other matter”. 

According to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reports, the Australian government stated its concerns to New Zealand a month ago after its Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, offered to intercede a détente between Australia and China and stated that both nations require to concede in certain areas. 

Australian government officials were likewise put off recently by New Zealand being the lone member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing plan and not being on the same page while criticizing the arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, which Beijing’s The Global Times on Wednesday stated as a wake-up call for Canberra. 

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On Tuesday, New Zealand marked a trade deal with China, allowing Kiwi exports faster access to the Chinese market and a decrease in tariffs on wood and paper items.

The relations between Australia and China have crumbled awfully after Beijing slapped trade sanctions of more than $20 billion on fares including Australian wine, cotton, grain, coal, and beef. 

China has objected Australian government on a number of moves, including new laws to tackle foreign interference, banning the Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network, and the push for an independent investigation into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.

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