Tag: United States

Taiwan’s Hsiao Bi-Khim attends Biden’s inauguration, signaling towards building strong ties with the US
Asia Pacific Focus

Taiwan’s Hsiao Bi-Khim attends Biden’s inauguration, signaling towards building strong ties with the US

Taiwan was given the U.S. official initiation on Wednesday (Jan. 20) for the first time since President Jimmy Carter cut off political ties with Taiwan in 1979. Taiwan’s envoy to the United States Hsiao Bi-Khim attended President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugural ceremony at the Capitol Hill.

At 11 a.m., just ere Biden’s swearing-in ceremony, Hsiao posted a tweet in which she expressed it was an honor to represent Taiwan at President Biden and Vice President Harris‘s inaugural ceremony. 

She also uploaded a video on her official Twitter handle expressing, “I’m extremely honored to be here today on behalf of the government of Taiwan”. She added that “Democracy is our common language and freedom is our common goal. I am looking forward to working with the Biden Administration and improving our common values and interests.”

The preventive protocols enforced amid the Wuhan Covid pandemic may have helped Hsiao’s historic participation. This year, administrators were not given countless invites, rather were just allowed to bring their spouse or family and friend. 

At first, it seemed that Taiwan would not have a presence, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) stating that it would be hard for the nation to be represented this year due to the strict limitations put on participation. 

However, on Wednesday, MOFA gave a public statement expressing that Hsiao has accepted an official invitation from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and represents the Taiwanese government in Washington DC.

The Taiwanese Ministry acknowledged that this was the first time that a Taiwanese delegate had been officially having received an invite. The event shows a solid and friendly relation between Taiwan and the US which is based on shared common values.

Taiwan government promised that in the future, the administration will continue to strengthen economic and bilateral ties at all levels and in various sectors with the new US administration “on the current solid foundation, and will further work on deepening the Taiwan-US partnership.”

Trump in his final farewell: “It’s been an honor and we will be back In some form”
Americas

Trump in his final farewell: “It’s been an honor and we will be back In some form”

On Wednesday, 8:15 a.m. Donald Trump and left the White House for the final time as president. He landed at the Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland, where hundreds of supporters greeted Trump. He addressed the crowd on his final departure ceremony as the 45th president of the United States. 

Trump was the first president in the history of the United States to be impeached twice, with a term that witnessing millions of citizens unemployed and 400,000 dead due to the coronavirus pandemic. Inciting an assault on Capitol Hill that stunned Americans, and left five dead, including a Capitol Police official.

As per the Associated Press, Trump stated, “it’s been a great privilege, a truly incredible honor to serve the greatest people in the world, the best home in the world,” before he headed for Marine One, rotors whirring, on South Lawn.

“We love the American public, and once more, it has been something exceptionally special. What’s more, I simply need to bid farewell yet hope it’s not a long goodbye. We’ll see each other soon,” he added 

Trump will be the first president in modern history to boycott President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony. He also wouldn’t partake in any of the representative symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions and the peaceful transition, including welcoming the Bidens over a get-to-know-you visit. 

Trump stated while addressing a small crowd at Andrews base, “This has been remarkable four years.” “We’ve achieved such a lot together,” “I will consistently battle for you, and we will be back in some form or other.” 

Bidding a final goodbye, Donald Trump and Melania Trump boarded the Air Force One and took off for the two-hour trip to Florida as Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” played on the tarmac.

Trump administration imposes more sanctions on Venezuela
Americas

Trump administration imposes more sanctions on Venezuela

Trump administration has imposed more financial sanctions on Venezuela to limit its oil sales

A day ahead of leaving the White House, the outgoing Trump administration imposed an array of strict financial sanctions on a network of oil trading companies and individuals in Venezuela. 

As per reports, the US targeted the network for allegedly assisting Venezuelan state-run oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) sell crude to Asia and other countries across the world, in a violation of US sanctions on the oil sector in the South American country. 

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned 14 companies, three individuals, and six vessels for helping the President Nicolas Maduro-led administration in evading sanctions and selling oil from Venezuela to other countries for millions of dollars.

As per a statement released by the US Treasury, the three primary targets of the sanctions are Francisco D’Agostino, Alessandro Bazzoni, and Philipp Apikian, along with oil trading companies Swissoil Trading SA and Elemento Ltd. The sanctions have been imposed on these businesses and individuals for operating a sanction-evasion scheme to benefit the illegitimate Maduro regime and PDVSA, the statement added. 

“Those facilitating the illegitimate Maduro regime’s attempts to circumvent United States sanctions contribute to the corruption that consumes Venezuela,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the release.

Over the past two years, Trump has time and again regarded Maduro as an illegitimate leader of the South American country, exerting pressure on him to leave the office. Slamming Maduro for Venezuela’s political and economic crisis, the Trump administration recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate President of the country. 

After Maduro’s re-election in 2018, which was dubbed as fraudulent, the US has imposed massive sanctions on the country to curb its oil exports. PDVSA was sanctioned by the Trump administration in early 2019 in a bid to limit its oil sales. Last year, the United States had warned of more sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector to choke off finances to Maduro’s government. 

Amid escalated tensions with the US, the Maduro-led Venezuelan regime has received support from China and Russia. 

At the same time, the US President also halted the deportation of thousands of Venezuelan nationals from the country for 18 months, citing “deteriorative condition” in the South American country. According to a 2017 estimate by Pew Research Center think tank, there are almost 130,000 Venezuelans living illegally in the US.

Tehran urges UN Watchdogs Not to Write Redundant Nuclear Details
Middle East & Africa

Tehran urges UN Watchdogs Not to Write Redundant Nuclear Details

Tehran urges UN: On Sunday, Iran asked the United Nations’ atomic watchdog to abstain from writing redundant details on Tehran’s atomic program, a day after France, Germany, and Britain declared that Tehran has “no tenable civilian use” for its advancement of uranium, the state TV reported. 

The report cited that Iran’s atomic department had requested the International Atomic Energy Agency to try not to give away details on Iran’s atomic program that may confuse the global community.

It is vital that the global nuclear energy agency abstains from giving out pointless details and forestall misunderstanding in the population, the statement added. 

On Saturday, Germany, France, and Britain pushed Iran to ease off its programs to produce uranium metal, pronouncing it “the most recent planned infringement” of the 2015 atomic agreement with international leaders. 

On Thursday, the IAEA stated that Iran had informed them about installing machines for the manufacturing of uranium metal. Tehran maintains its arrangements to direct innovative work on the uranium metal program to continue research and development on uranium metal making as a part of its plans to design an enhanced type of fuel.

The statement added that the uranium metal is a common product in the production of uranium silicide, a fuel utilized in atomic reactors that is more secure and has more power than uranium oxide-based fuel, which Iran is producing. 

Iran’s FM Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday discarded the allegations by France that Tehran was currently developing its atomic weapons, calling it an absurdity. French FM Jean-Yves Le Drian stated that Iran was developing its atomic weapons and it was dire that Tehran and Washington rethink the 2015 atomic deal, Journal du Dimanche published in an interview on Saturday.

Zarif censured France, Germany, and Britain for failing to fortify the agreement since 2018 when the Trump administration withdrew from the atomic deal and began imposing economic sanctions on Iran.

However, the U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has ensured that if Iran strictly adheres to the rules of the agreement, then the US will think about returning to the atomic deal.

China censures the US trade ban on products in Xinjiang region over forced labor
Asia Pacific Focus

China censures the US trade ban on products in Xinjiang region over forced labor

US trade ban: The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced a ban on imports of China’s tomato and cotton products in the Xinjiang region over forced labor on Wednesday. 

On Thursday, China dismissed the decision and demanded Washington to drop the decision of banning cotton and tomato imports over forced labor allegations.

The ban adds to the numerous sanctions that were imposed by the Trump administration on Chinese products, companies, and officials over national security concerns and human rights complaints.

The US and China tensions soar higher during the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic as the blame game began over the origin of the virus. 

A Chinese Foreign Ministry representative claimed without proof that the U.S. military brought the infection to China, while President Trump over and over called it a “Chinese virus.” 

The latest ban on the trade of cotton and tomato from China’s Xinjiang region was declared by its Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday following the UK and Canada presented similar actions. 

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) additionally criticized China for repressing Uygurs people in a human rights report and stated that the human rights situation in China is exacerbating.

The ban applies to raw fiber, textile, and apparel produced using Xinjiang’s cotton. It additionally applies to items made in other countries, Reuters revealed. 

On Thursday, the Chinese authorities, including the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Foreign Ministry (FM), asserted solid resistance to the prohibition, calling it an interference in the domestic affairs of China.

The forced labor accusation is a big lie, and it will damage the global business chain, the Chinese authorities added. 

The Chinese FM representative Zhao Lijian express that the forced labor allegation is the century’s biggest lie that the US and some Western nations made.

“The US is attempting to bolster its own farming advancement by setting such trade bans, including constraining China,” Zhu added, taking note that China could likewise consider countermeasures against the US government since forced labor issues exist in America too.

In a press conference on Thursday, Zhao reported that forced labor existed in the US as well, pointing towards Texas prisoners who were reportedly forced to work without pay for 12 hours to create masks during the COVID-19 outbreak, The Global Times reported.

Biden announces ‘American Rescue Plan’ to heal ailing economy and the pandemic crisis
Americas

Biden announces ‘American Rescue Plan’ to heal ailing economy and the pandemic crisis

American Rescue Plan: On Thursday, President-elect Joe Biden announces a $1.9 trillion Covid plan called the ‘American Rescue Plan’ to help fight the profound human crisis by accelerating immunizations and siphoning out monetary assistance to those battling with the pandemic’s financial aftermath. 

The president-elect praised Congress for passing the $900 billion package in Dec 2020 and he stressed that more action is required promptly to help fight the ailing economy.

The American Rescue Plan legislative proposal would meet Biden’s objective of managing 100 million immunizations by the 100th day and advance his goals of resuming most schools by the spring. It will also help balance the economy and aid the coronavirus crisis.

Biden proposed a $1,400 stimulus for Americans, which on top of $600 gave in the latest COVID-19 bill would carry the all out to the $2,000 that Biden has called for. It would likewise boost unemployment benefits and a moratorium on removals and foreclosures through Sept.

The U.S. administration has approved two different vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and Moderna vaccine for emergency use. Both require a two-shot. Up until now, over 10 million individuals have got the first shot. 

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer stated that passing a coronavirus relief bill would be the main goal when Democrats take control of the Senate. 

More than 385,000 people have passed away due to coronavirus in the U.S. On Thursday, the weekly unemployment claims jumped to 965,000, a signal that rising infections are forcing businesses to lay off workers.

Under Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package will include $415 billion to zero in on battling the pandemic, over $1 trillion in direct stimulus to families, and $440 billion to aid business amid the growing economic crisis.

The plan incorporates funding for $1,400 in additional stimulus checks to Americans who are fit for them, adding to $600 checks previously passed in Dec; and an increase in additional weekly unemployment aid from $300 to $400, The Hill detailed. 

On Thursday evening, Biden announced that he is anticipating to work with Congress and act on the legislative promptly, calling for unity as the nation facing the double whammy of the coronavirus and economic crisis.

EU urges Iran to reverse its decision on uranium enrichment
Middle East & Africa

EU urges Iran to reverse its decision on uranium enrichment

Uranium Enrichment: ran should reverse its decision to enrich uranium up to 20% if it wishes to save the 2015 atomic agreement, the EU said on Monday. EU showed concern about reports from the U.N. atomic watchdog that Iran had continued enriching uranium and it would keep attempting to recover the global atomic deals that limited such activities. 

Addressing columnists in Brussels, EU representative Peter Stano stated that Iran’s activities “will have genuine ramifications with regards to atomic restraint.” 

Iran as of late educated the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding its arrangements to expand enhancement to 20 percent, levels unheard of since the atomic arrangement was struck. Whereas, Under the current atomic deal, Iran is permitted to enrich up to 3.67% of uranium.

In 2018, President Trump declared that the United States was unilaterally pulling out from the JCPOA agreement and has reimposed many economic sanctions on Iran.

Critics state that this move by Iran on uranium enrichment might be an endeavor to give it influence in future dealings. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that the move was “completely reversible” if other accomplices in the deal went along as well, without explaining. 

The US President-elect Joe Biden has stated that he hopes to restore the nuclear deal, Borrell and other nations would welcome such a step. 

“At this difficult situation, Iran’s activity additionally risks subverting endeavors pointed toward expanding upon the current diplomatic means. We ask Iran to shun further acceleration and rethink this policy immediately,” Borrell stated in his assertion, delivered late Monday. 

Despite Iran’s breach of the nuclear deal, the IAEA has announced that Tehran proceeds with giving auditors full access to its atomic sites — an important reason the signatories suppose it is worth preserving.

US Secretary of State planning to announce new Iran-Al Qaeda ties
Middle East & Africa

US Secretary of State planning to announce new Iran-Al Qaeda ties

Iran-Al Qaeda ties: The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to publicly blame Iran for its ties with Al-Qaeda in Tuesday’s speech, as per The Reuters.

Pompeo plans to utilize the declassified US intelligence in the statement, The Reuters reported, referring to “two people acquainted with the issue.” He is expected to reveal details on Iran purportedly shielding Al-Qaeda leaders and supporting the terror organization, the report stated. 

During the National Press Club meeting in Washington on Tuesday, Mike Pompeo is expected to make some allegations in his speech. Pompeo has blamed Iran for its ties with the Al-Qaeda before, however, without providing any proof. 

There are a few doubts about openly examining the data among legislators and the intelligence community, the report added. 

The announcement might probably complicate the situation of President-elect Joe Biden’s objective of reconnecting with Tehran over the nuclear deal. 

The White House has attempted a year-long campaign against Iran by withdrawing from the 2015 atomic deal, imposing heavy sanctions, and assassinating the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. 

Pompeo’s speech could include information on the killing of Al-Qaeda’s second in command in Tehran in Aug 2020, stated by Israel. 

The New York Times revealed in Nov 2020 that an Israeli agent completed the attack on Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah in the direction of the US. Abdullah was charged for being one of the main conspirators of decimating assaults on two US consulates in Africa in 1998 and a 2002 assault on an Israeli-owned inn in Kenya.

Iran has completely denied the allegations and accused Israel of killing its top atomic researcher, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

It’s vague why Iran would shelter al-Qaeda members. Iran is a Shiite state and has battled with Al-Qaeda, a Sunni jihadist group. Experts revealed to The New York Times that Iran may have sheltered members of Al-Qaeda to forestall assaults in Iran or to permit them to lead operations against America. 

Joe Biden has stated that if Iran recognizes the terms and conditions of the nuclear deal, then we would think of rejoining the nuclear deal. However, Iran has welcomed America’s stand, but only after they remove the imposed economic sanctions.

Ukraine stuck in vaccine geopolitics amid coronavirus pandemic
Geopolitics

Ukraine stuck in vaccine geopolitics amid coronavirus pandemic

Vaccine Geopolitics: To begin with, the first talks with Pfizer company and other Western vaccine manufacturers to get early shipments imploded after the Trump administration restricted vaccine exports. Presently, chances are only if President-elect Joe Biden takes office, the soonest commercial purchase of Western vaccines will be possible, The New York Times reported.

The pace of Covid disease in Ukraine has eased back in recent weeks with over 7,000 new cases reported every day. Since the start of the pandemic, 19,712 Ukrainians have passed away due to the infection. Ukraine declared a nationwide lockdown beginning from this weekend.

The immunization situation has generated an information war in Ukraine, which has been stirred up by Russia. TV broadcasting pro-Russian perspectives along with politicians have blamed President Zelensky for permitting Ukrainians to cease to exist of a difficult refusal to procure medication from an enemy nation. 

The nation is already battling with a tug of war between East and West in European political issues, which has presently become a point of convergence in the geopolitics being played on the covid-19 vaccine.

According to The New York Times, Lyudmyla Boiko’s family has just had a frightening, and deadly, experience with the Covid pandemic. 

A few relatives acquired the virus, and her daughter-in-law’s mom passed away. Presently, Ms. Boiko, a 61-year-old working at the Botanical Garden in Ukraine, is profoundly stressed over her husband’s health, which has medical conditions yet has not yet contracted the disease. She is placing her faith in an immunization. 

“I don’t mind where the vaccine is delivered as long as it’s safe, “Wellbeing ought to be the priority, Ms. Boiko stated.” 

Ukraine’s situation has grabbed the attention of Russia’s state-controlled media sources, who have underlined Ukraine’s Western partner’s failure to help in the time of need and offering the Russian Sputnik V vaccine as the alternative. 

Ukraine’s leaders, who have raised concerns over the efficacy and safety of the Sputnik V instead opted for China, purchasing its first vaccine in a rushed arrangement by the end of December 2020. 

“Russia, as usual, utilizes this in its crossover battle, as a data weapon,” Maksym Stepanov, Ukraine’s health minister stated over a phone interview about the nation’s work towards immunizing its populace. “He stressed, that the vaccine issue has been politicized.” 

The Russian insult has shocked Ukrainian health authorities; however, there is little they can do to counter it without an elective vaccine stock. 

“Russia is seeking an aggressive policy for the vaccine,” Oleksandr Linchevsky, former deputy health minister stated. “It’s in Russia’s governmental interest that Ukraine gets the vaccine from somewhere else soon as possible,” he added.

Ukraine, with a populace of 42 million, is expecting to get 8,000,000 vaccine injections under the Covax program that provides middle and low-income nations. However, those doses are scheduled to arrive in March.

Before the banning of vaccine exports from the United States, Ukraine had been in talks with Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson to accelerate delivery. However, the negotiations are in process, the delivery time is deferred.

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky has scarcely contained his shock at his nation ending up far back in the line for immunizations in spite of its uncertain geopolitical situation.

North Korea says, its approach towards the US won’t change and will continue making nuclear weapons
Asia Pacific Focus

North Korea says, its approach towards the US won’t change and will continue making nuclear weapons

Nuclear Weapons: The supreme leader of North Korean Kim Jong Un threatened that his approach towards the United States won’t change and he would continue to expand his atomic power.

Kim Jong Un’s comments indicate that the U.S. – North Korea relations won’t change even after the inaugural ceremony of the US President-elect Joe Biden takes place, who has stated that he will adopt a more adverse approach toward Pyongyang.

The diplomatic and political relations between North Korea and the United States have been aggressive since the Korean War when the U.S. bombarded North Korea and President Harry Truman also thought about utilizing nuclear weapons. 

During a Workers’ Party meeting, Kim called the U.S. his nation’s greatest foe and rehashed his long-standing attestation that the U.S. should lift its antagonistic policy to set up better ties, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

Kim urged his nation to continue making atomic weapons. Moreover, he announced that North Korea ought to acquire new capacity, for example, strong fuel intercontinental ballistic rockets, hypersonic missiles, and tactile atomic weapons. 

North Korea has done six atomic tests in September 2017. However, more testing would be needed to create tactical atomic weapons. Tactical atomic weapons are more mobile and could be utilized in war rather than bigger vital atomic weapons that are intended to do mass destruction. 

A year ago, Kim stated that he no longer feels limited by his willful delay on atomic and long-range missile tests.

North Korea has frequently timed important nuclear tests, including weapons and atomic missiles, the U.S. presidential transitions to show its military abilities and perhaps gain hold in future discussions with Washington.

In October, North Korea utilized a military parade to reveal a gigantic new intercontinental ballistic projectile, which seems intended to overpower U.S. missile defense. Some speculate Pyongyang may test the missile or different weapons systems in the following months. However, this week, the top U.S. general in South Korea stated that there were no indications that North Korea was setting a significant incitement. 

A crucial weapons test would signify an early foreign policy challenge for Joe Biden, although Biden stated that his fundamental aim is to combat the Covid pandemic and improve the falling U.S. economy.

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