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EU demands concessions from China before concluding investment agreements
EU demands concessions from China before concluding investment agreements
Credit: unsplash.com / Janine Meuche

The EU is demanding concessions from China before negotiations on the planned investment agreement are concluded. If an agreement is to be reached at the end of the year as planned, China still has a lot to do in the areas of market access and sustainable development, said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday evening after talks with China's President Xi Jinping.

The EU could already celebrate as a success that on Monday China signed an agreement on the mutual protection of geographical indications for food. Champagne, Feta cheese or also Parma ham will thus in future be among 100 European products that are protected in China against unauthorized imitation. Conversely, the geographical indications of 100 Chinese products such as Pu'er tea, Moutai schnapps or Panjin rice will also be protected in the EU.

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EU and US agree on tariff cuts for first time in two decates
Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan Credit: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The European Union and the United States announced on Friday an agreement to remove and reduce the tariffs they impose on a number of products.

With the first negotiated rate cut in more than two decades, the two blocs are putting aside the disputes of recent months and sending a signal of reconciliation that aims for continuity.

The joint statement signed by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan says: "We intend this package of tariff reductions to mark only the beginning of a process that will lead to additional agreements,"

Both sides encompass this step in an attempt to "improve US-EU relations".

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US Space Comnmand warns of possible armed Russian satellite
Representative picture of a NASA satellite
Representative picture of a NASA satellite Credit: unsplash.com / Nasa

The US Space Command has stated that they have evidence of Russia testing an anti-satellite weapon in space. According to them "a projectile was launched from" the Cosmos 2543 Russian satellite, that has been tailing a US spy satellite.

Russia claims the object that has been dispatched from the satellite was an inspector satellite. Stephen Kitay, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, rejected that explanation and stated that "the behavior of that satellite looked nothing like an inspector satellite and looked like something much more concerning".

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UN holds meeting over fears that abandoned tanker off Yemens's coast could release 1.1 million barrels of crude into ocean
UN holds meeting over fears that abandoned tanker off Yemens's coast could release 1.1 million barrels of crude into ocean
Credit: Twitter (Reproduction)

United Nations have met and discussed possible actions to prevent a breach of the FSO Safer tanker that is anchored off Yemen's coast near the port of Hodeida. The 45-year-old tanker has been abandoned, is under the control of the Iran-backed Huthis and carries 1.1 million barrels of crude oil. The UN Security Council fears that in case the tanker explodes or leaks, the oil would destroy the environment and livelihood of tens of thousands of people that depend on fishing in the area.

The UN Security Council has reportedly proposed a plan to conduct repairs on the ship to which the Huthis had previously agreed in 2019, only for the mission to get cancelled in the last minute. In May a leak in the engine room has been repaired alorad but according to the British UN mission "a permanent solution is urgently needed".

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Public records: UK has sold surveillance technology to 17 repressive governments
Public records: UK has sold surveillance technology to 17 repressive governments
Credit: Jonathan McIntosh

The Independent reports that public records show exports of security technology from the United Kingdom to repressive regimes despite rules to prevent it. Security technology such as wiretaps, spyware and other telecommunications interception equipment shouldn't be exported to regimes that might use them for internal repression purposes.

Public records show that despite the rules exports worth £75 million have been approved to 17 countries including China, Saudia Arabia, the United Arba Emirates and Bahrain. All 17 states have been rated "not free" by the Non-Governmental Organisation Freedom House.

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The German Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee calls the new UN agreement for aid to Syria as a "failure of the West all along the line"
Norbert Röttgen in 2021
Norbert Röttgen in 2021 Credit: Wolfgang Henry / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

On Saturday the UN Security Council agreed to continue the humanitarian aid to Syria only in a limited way. Due to the new regulation, only one border crossing for aid deliveries from Turkey to Northern Syria is planned, before there were two. According to aid organizations, this new regulation could endanger the care of millions of people in need.

Norbert Röttgen, the german chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, calls this decision a "failure of the West all along the line".

He further said to the newspaper "Die Welt": "This failure is due to the withdrawal of the United States and the subsequent vacuum that Russia was happy to fill. And it is the utter reluctance of Europeans not to represent their own interests in the region. The consequences of the displacement and killing of civilians by Assad and Putin, now with China's support in the UN Security Council, affect Europe. The displaced persons will seek protection from us through Turkey."

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Angela Merkel criticizes world leaders that promote "lies and disinformation"
U.S. President Donald J. Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
U.S. President Donald J. Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel Credit: The White House (Public Domain)

The German chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative party CDU has stated that the limits of "fact-denying populism" by world leaders have been exposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Merkel added that these leaders promote "lies and disinformation" and said that "We are seeing at the moment that the pandemic can't be fought with lies and disinformation, and neither can it be with hatred and agitation".

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Germany increases WHO contribution to over €500 million in 2020
Germany increases WHO contribution to over €500 million in 2020
Credit: Stephan Baumann (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

The German Health Minister Jens Spahn has announced that Germany will increase its contribution to the funds of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020 to over €500 million in total. He stated that "We need a strong, transparent and accountable WHO today more than ever" and that "We stand together in fighting global health problems".

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United Nations release report calling for end of gay and transgender "conversion therapy"

The practice that is used with the intention to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person has been subject to a report released by the United Nations. Currently the "conversion therapy" is only banned in five countries around the world with minors often being subjected to the practice, according to the report. The American Medical Association said in a statement that the practice has "no foundation as scientifically valid medical care" and the U.N. says that it "may amount to torture" in their report.

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Dispute between US and China over the U.N. Security Council Covid-19 resolution

Opposite positions about the World Health Organization are paralyzing the U.N. Security Council decision about Covid-19 crisis.

China thinks the WHOs role is major in the current pandemic crisis management, hence it should be explicitly included in any resolution; while the US remains extremely critical against the WHO since President Donal Trump accused the organization of failure and decided to suspend their funding in April.

Yesterday, Tunisia, Security Council elected member, and France, permanent member, made a joint proposal for a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in major conflicts to ease better management of the pandemic.