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World News Today - Biden task force secretly developing plan to boost gas supplies to Europe

US President Joe Biden said on Monday that Washington is ready to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan in the event of invasion. REUTERS/Mike Segar

US President Joe Biden said on Monday that Washington is ready to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan in the event of invasion. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Published May 23, 2022


Biden task force secretly developing plan to boost gas supplies to Europe

The Biden administration task force on liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been covertly developing a plan to wean Europe off Russian energy products by increasing supplies of LNG to the region by at least 15 billion cubic meters this year, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

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The task force started its work in late March after US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula Von de Leyen charged it with a task to diversify Europe gas supplies in light of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, according to the report.

Environmental activists have accused the task force for lacking transparency and engaging representatives of large gas companies. In addition, the secret nature of the task force's activities violates federal advisory committee law, according to a letter the anti-corruption group Global Witness sent to Biden earlier on Monday.

The Biden administration does not believe the group’s activity falls under the Federal Advisory Committee Act because formally only government officials from the European Union and the United States are on the task force, the report said.

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(Source: Sputnik News)

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China: What will UNHCR Chief's visit to Xinjiang achieve?

The United States has said it was "deeply concerned" about United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet's recent visit to China and, to Xinjiang.

The US said that based on an understanding of restrictions, the UNHCR chief will be subjected to in China, it was unlikely she would see anything substantial and called on Bachelet to release her report on the persecution of Uyghur in Xinjiang.

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At the same time, in an open letter signed by more than 40 legislators from 18 countries, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China accused China of organising a "Potemkin-style tour" that risked undermining the credibility of Bachelet's office.

They also warned that restrictive measures China has imposed to tackle dozens of outbreaks of Covid-19 could also be used to limit Bachelet's movements and meetings.

The US Permanent Representative to UN institutions in Geneva, Ambassador Sheba Crocker said on March 10 that any interference in the work of Bachelet's team would support alleged rights abuses against members of the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang and others, as per local reports.

Crocker said a credible visit by the UN human rights chief and her team should involve access to "the locations where atrocities and human rights violations and abuses" have been reported. The UN human rights chief six-day visit (May 23) includes a visit to the Xinjiang. Bachelet, has repeatedly voiced concern about allegations of widespread abuses in Xinjiang. But she has also been criticised for not taking a tough stance with China.

(Source: Asian News International)

Moscow on US marines in Kiev: Countries have right to protect missions within mandate

If the mission of the US Marines goes beyond the mandate to protect the embassy, this will raise questions, but within the framework of the mandate, countries have the right to ensure the security of the diplomatic mission, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said on Monday, commenting on media reports about the possibility of sending US troops to protect the embassy in Kiev.

"I heard this message. Each country has the right to ensure the security of its embassy with the forces agreed with Kiev," Rudenko told reporters.

"If it goes beyond the scope of the mandate, then, of course, it will raise questions," the deputy minister said.

(Source: Sputnik News)

Monkeypox shouldn't spur Covid-19 level of concern, Biden says

President Joe Biden sought to reassure Americans that the current monkeypox outbreak was unlikely to cause a pandemic on the scale of Covid-19.

"I just don't think it rises to the level of the kind of concern that existed with Covid-19," he told reporters Monday in Tokyo at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The US has enough small pox vaccine stockpiled to deal with the outbreak, Biden said. Still, the said people should be cautious.

(Source: Bloomberg News)

Biden says US ready to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan in event of invasion

US President Joe Biden said on Monday that Washington is ready to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan in the event of invasion.

Biden met with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan on Monday to advance cooperation on a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues.

During a joint press conference with the Japanese PM, Biden reaffirmed Washington's commitment to ensuring the security of the Taiwan Strait and preventing any change in the status quo unilaterally.

When asked whether the US is ready to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan, he replied in the affirmative, adding that this is the commitment that the US has taken on.

"We remain committed to supporting peace and stability in Taiwan Strait. The US stands firmly with Japan and other nations not to let that happen (China taking over Taiwan)," he said.

"After this, US and Japan together with 11 other nations will be launching the Indo-Pacific economic framework. This framework is a commitment to working with our close friends and partners in the region and challenges that matter most to ensuring economic competitiveness," he added.

(Source: Asian News International)

Storm in Canada kills 8, leaves thousands without power

At least eight people were killed following a destructive storm that hit much of Canada's Ontario province, which also left tens of thousands of residents without electricity.

Gusts blowing at 120 km/h knocked down trees and hydro wires in the most populous province of Canada and the national capital region, Xinhua news agency quoted CTV news as saying.

Hydro One, a Canadian electricity transmission and distribution service provider, said more than 350,000 people were without power following the storm and that it could take several days to restore power due to the sheer number of customers impacted and the amount of damage the storm caused.

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 259,200 customers in Ontario were still without electricity, CTV reported.

(SOURCE: Indo-Asian News Service)

In this picture, US President Joe Biden meets with China's President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

Biden's Asian economic talks include 13 countries, and no China

President Joe Biden launches his plan for US economic engagement in Asia on Monday, leaving it to the 13 founding countries to work out how to enforce their agreements and if China could ever join.

Biden is unveiling the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) in Tokyo on his first trip in office to Asia.

The White House says the deal offers no tariff relief or market access to the countries that join but provides a way to sort through key issues from climate change to supply chain resilience and digital trade.

And it is critical to Biden's approach to counter what he sees as Washington's greatest competitor abroad, China.

"The launch," said US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, "marks an important turning point in restoring US economic leadership in the region, and presenting Indo-Pacific countries an alternative to China's approach to these critical issues."

Biden wants the deal to raise environmental, labor and other standards across Asia. But the actual terms of any agreement will have to be negotiated by the initial countries joining talks: Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States.

(Source: Reuters News)

Monkeypox-infected people required to isolate for 3 Weeks in Belgium

Belgium currently requires monkeypox-infected individuals to be quarantined for 21 days, media report.

Since the monkeypox virus has a rather long incubation period, infected people need to be isolated for three weeks, La Libre daily said on Sunday citing Belgian authorities.

Nonetheless, those who have been in contact with the infected person are not required to self-isolate and only need to watch their health condition closely, the newspaper specified.

Belgium currently has four confirmed cases of monkeypox — all of the infected people had attended the same event.

(Source: Sputnik News)

President Macky Sall of Senegal delivers his address during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York. EPA/MATT CAMPBELL

Senegal president says he will visit Moscow and Kyiv in coming weeks

Senegalese President Macky Sall said he would visit Moscow and Kyiv in the coming weeks in his capacity as chairman of the African Union, which he said wanted to see de-escalation in Ukraine and peace through dialogue between the two sides.

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Sall said: "We do not want to be aligned on this conflict, very clearly, we want peace. Even though we condemn the invasion, we're working for a de-escalation, we're working for a ceasefire, for dialogue... that is the African position."

(Source: Reuters News)

Germany ready to support embargo on oil from Russia to EU without Hungary

Germany is ready to support the EU's embargo on Russian oil without the participation of Hungary, but the proposal should be put forward by the European Commission, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday.

"If head of the European Commission [Ursula von der Leyen] says, we will do it now as part of 26 [EU countries], without Hungary. This is the way I would go, but I have not heard about it from the EU yet. In this case, I would be ready to... The European Commission has taken the lead in the negotiations," Habeck said in an interview with the Deutschlandfunk Kultur radio broadcaster.

Germany admits that some EU countries need a longer transition period to refuse oil imports from Russia, the minister said. He added, commenting on Hungary's position on the oil embargo, that each country has its own prerequisites, they depend to a different degree on energy imports.

"My guess is that the path will be as follows: as is always the case in Europe, some countries will receive special rights, and an agreement will be reached," Habeck said, noting that in this case, the decision on the oil embargo would be "a concerted European action, driven by Europe."

(Source: Sputnik News)