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Archive for February 8, 2022

Newsline: EU top diplomat warns Europe in ‘most dangerous’ moment since Cold War

Europe is facing its most serious security threat since the Cold War, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned, while still voicing hope for a diplomatic resolution to the standoff with Russia over Ukraine. Questioned over US warnings of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, at a joint news conference in Washington with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Borrell said they shared “a strong concern” about the situation on the ex-Soviet state’s borders. “We are living, to my understanding, the most dangerous moment for security in Europe after the end of the Cold War,” Borrell told reporters. “Nobody masses 140,000 soldiers heavily armed in the border of a country” without it representing “a strong threat,” he said. “140,000 troops massed in the border is not to go to have tea,” Borrell underscored. (https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1551583/europe-in-most-dangerous-moment-since-cold-war-eu-top-diplomat) US officials say Moscow has assembled 110,000 troops near the border with Ukraine and is on track to amass a large enough force — some 150,000 soldiers — for a full-scale invasion within weeks.

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Newsline: Russia’s UN ambassador slams new US sanctions against North Korea

Russia’s top envoy to the United Nations voiced strong opposition to sanctions against North Korea amid U.S. efforts to impel international action in response to the DPRK’s recent string of missile tests. The remarks come after the U.S. and eight other countries harshly criticized the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) for remaining “silent” on North Korea’s recent missile tests and pushed for more action against Pyongyang. “Secondary sanctions of a major western country create a toxic atmosphere around Pyongyang and result in an unwillingness to cooperate with them even in those areas that do not fall under international restrictions,” Russia’s Ambassador to the U.N. Dmitry Polyanskiy said during a UNSC meeting on Monday. “Sanctions on third country companies and individuals are particularly intolerable,” Polyanskiy added. “Such restrictions are interpreted by us as an encroachment upon sovereignty of states and an intervention in their domestic affairs.” (https://www.nknews.org/2022/02/russias-un-ambassador-slams-new-us-sanctions-against-north-korea/) Russia and China – permanent members of the UNSC – have blocked U.S. and other member states’ efforts to condemn North Korea’s record-setting missile launches last month and expand international sanctions against Pyongyang.

Newsline: Diplomats resume Iran nuclear talks

Diplomats from Iran and world powers reconvened in Vienna on Tuesday to seek a deal reviving Tehran’s 2015 nuclear accord, with pressure mounting for results soon. Negotiators from Iran and the remaining parties to the agreement — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — got back to work after a break of a little over a week to return to their capitals for consultations. In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Tuesday that the talks are “currently at a crucial juncture” and that all involved “should enhance the sense of urgency.” (https://news.yahoo.com/iran-nuclear-talks-resume-amid-144719528.html) The accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. The United States has participated indirectly in the talks because it withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal. Under Trump, the U.S. reimposed heavy sanctions on Iran. Tehran has responded by increasing the purity and amounts of uranium it enriches and stockpiles, in breach of the accord. Officials say that the talks are reaching their final stage, though it’s unclear how long that might take. The negotiations have dragged on for months, punctuated by a long gap last year caused by the arrival of a hard-line new government in Iran. The current eighth round started just after Christmas.

Newsline: India summons South Korea envoy in diplomatic escalation

India said on Tuesday it had summoned South Korea’s ambassador to express displeasure over a social media post by a Pakistani partner of Hyundai Motor over disputed Kashmir that has caused a furore in the country. The foreign ministers of India and South Korea also spoke by telephone as the car company faced a backlash in India from social media users incensed by comments expressing solidarity with the people of Kashmir. South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong expressed his regret during the conversation with Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, an Indian foreign ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday. The diplomatic escalation is a rare moment of discord between the two countries that have long enjoyed friendly ties, and highlights the risks global companies face while navigating local sensitivities amid rising nationalism in the region. The row erupted on Sunday, a day after Pakistan marked the annual Kashmir Solidarity Day. Posts on behalf of Hyundai’s partner, the Nishat Group, appeared on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram commemorating what it described as the sacrifices of Kashmiris struggling for self-determination. South Korea’s envoy was called into the Indian foreign office on Monday to register New Delhi’s protest against the posts, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said. “The strong displeasure of the government on the unacceptable social media post by Hyundai Pakistan was conveyed to him,” he said. (https://news.yahoo.com/hyundai-says-regrets-offence-caused-043737417.html) India and arch-rival Pakistan control parts of Kashmir but both claim the Himalayan territory in full. India says Pakistan supports an armed insurrection against New Delhi’s rule in India-controlled Kashmir that broke out in 1990. Pakistan denies the charge and says it only provides diplomatic and moral support for the Kashmiri people.

Newsline: China’s UK embassy reiterates Argentina claim over Falkland Islands

China has stepped up pressure on Britain over the Falklands, insisting London respond to Argentina’s latest demand that it relinquish control of the islands, known as Las Malvinas in Spanish. The Chinese embassy in Britain on Tuesday reiterated Beijing’s stance, a day after a furious response from London to a joint statement from President Xi Jinping and his Argentinian counterpart Alberto Fernandez which called for Argentina to be given “the full exercise of sovereignty” over the islands. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/chinas-uk-embassy-stokes-argentina-093000994.html) A statement from the embassy said China’s position on the issue of the Malvinas Islands had been consistent. “We firmly support Argentina’s legitimate claim to full sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands. China has always advocated that territorial disputes between countries should be resolved through peaceful negotiations in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter,” it said. “We hope that the UK will respond positively to Argentina’s request, start dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible, and find a peaceful, just and lasting solution in accordance with relevant UN resolutions.” Xi and Fernandez raised the Falklands issue after talks in Beijing on the weekend, stirring simmering tensions between China and Britain, over the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics as well as the Aukus deal to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines.