Posts Tagged ‘Group of 20’

Trump, Putin Shake Hands in First Face-to-Face Meeting

July 7, 2017

First encounter between the two leaders occurs in advance of their highly-anticipated bilateral meeting later Friday

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July 7, 2017 6:34 a.m. ET

MOSCOW—U.S. President Donald Trump shook hands and exchanged greetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg on Friday.

It the first face-to-face encounter between the two leaders ahead of a much-anticipated bilateral…

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-putin-shake-hands-in-first-face-to-face-meeting-1499423683

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Image may contain: 1 person, suit

From RT

Putin and Trump shake hands ahead of first face-to-face meeting at G20

Putin and Trump shake hands ahead of first face-to-face meeting at G20
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, shook hands for the first time before their much-anticipated meeting in Hamburg. Syria, Ukraine, and North Korea are among the potential talking points.

There are no pictures of the handshake so far, but the Kremlin spokesman confirmed the fact.

As the G20 summit kicked off in Germany, the leaders had their first short contact, shaking hands and confirming the upcoming full-fledged meeting.

No automatic alt text available.

Donald Trump announced the meeting over Twitter, while Putin’s spokesman provided confirmation.

“They shook hands and said that soon they will hold a separate meeting, that they will see each other soon,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

I look forward to all meetings today with world leaders, including my meeting with Vladimir Putin. Much to discuss.🇺🇸

The Kremlin has said that it will not be a brief contact on the sidelines, but “a full-fledged ‘sit down’ meeting.” Previously, the leaders spoke only by phone.

In the lead up to the meeting, Moscow and Washington have voiced some of their expectations. The Kremlin sees the event as an opportunity to “establish a working dialogue” between Putin and Trump, which is vital for resolving “a critical mass of conflicts and problems,” according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. He also said that the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine and the ways of resolving them may be discussed, among other issues, in the first meeting between the two leaders.

The US State Department also outlined its vision for resolving the conflict in Syria ahead of the July 7 event. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Washington is ready “to explore the possibility of establishing with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones.”

In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is awaiting clarification on the no-fly zones mentioned by Tillerson. He also stated that Russian proposals on Syria were presented to the Americans in spring in preparation for the first contact between the leaders.

There is also the North Korean issue, which Moscow and the US have different approaches to. At a UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting over Pyongyang’s recent missile launch, the US delegation urged the implementation of new sanctions against North Korea, while Moscow called on the UNSC member states to follow a joint Russia-China initiative which envisages a halt to joint US South-Korean drills in exchange for North Korea freezing its nuclear weapons programs.

READ MORE: Moscow promotes joint Russia-China plan instead of US attempts to ‘strangle’ N. Korea at UNSC

US President Donald Trump pledged during his visit to Poland on Thursday that the North will face repercussions over its“dangerous” behavior.

Just one day ahead of the G20 summit and the long-awaited meeting, Trump visited Warsaw, where an agreement on delivering American Patriot missile defense systems to Poland was signed. The systems are to be delivered by 2022. During his short visit, Trump also stated that Washington is working with NATO ally Poland to deal with Russia’s “destabilizing behavior.”

The Trump-Putin meeting is grabbing attention in light of the worsening Russia-US relations, which are currently “at the zero mark,” according to Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov. Meanwhile, the US is still investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Moscow has consistently dismissed the accusations as baseless.

READ MORE: US, Poland agree to strike deal on Patriot missile defense systems

https://www.rt.com/news/395546-putin-trump-g20-meeting/

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Tillerson Says U.S. Is Ready to Talk to Russia About No-Fly Zones in Syria

July 6, 2017

Chief U.S. diplomat sounds optimistic note on Moscow in advance of Trump meeting with Putin

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. was prepared to hold discussions with Russia on setting up no-fly zones in Syria, describing prospects for cooperation with Moscow in markedly optimistic terms despite tense relations between the two countries.

Mr. Tillerson’s comments, in a statement issued late Wednesday, come as he is leaving to meet President Donald Trump at a summit of leaders from the Group of 20 leading nations in Hamburg, Germany, where Mr. Trump and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin will meet face-to-face for the first time.

The chief U.S. diplomat said Mr. Trump would tell Mr. Putin that the U.S. was prepared to cooperate with Moscow to end more than six years of civil war in Syria.

“The United States and Russia certainly have unresolved differences on a number of issues, but we have the potential to appropriately coordinate in Syria in order to produce stability and serve our mutual security interests,” Mr. Tillerson said in a statement.

The Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Offering to discuss no-fly zones is a significant step by the Trump administration toward expanded cooperation with Russia. No-fly zones have long faced opposition from U.S. military officials, who see them as risky and expensive and could potentially drag U.S. forces further into the conflict.

But Mr. Tillerson cited progress in efforts between the U.S. and Russia on avoiding accidents between their militaries in Syria as evidence that they could collaborate further. Russia backs the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“This cooperation over deconfliction zones process is evidence that our two nations are capable of further progress,” he said. “The United States is prepared to explore the possibility of establishing with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones, on the ground cease-fire observers, and coordinated delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

There are multiple “deconfliction zones” in Syria where U.S. and Russian militaries have been working to avoid mishaps, including one around a base near the Syrian town of Al Tanf close to the Iraqi border. U.S. forces and their allies are operating near the zone.

The U.S. has warned Mr. Assad and his forces to steer clear of the area and has alerted the Russian government that it seeks to avoid mishaps but will take defensive action as needed, and American forces have taken several actions against allies of the Syrian government.

The U.S. and Russia have been meeting secretly over the past several months to set up a “de-escalation zone” in southwest Syria, where Moscow and Washington would agree to keep their proxies away from each other. If that effort is successful, officials said that the U.S. would look to set up other such zones around Syria to try to wind down the conflict.

A no-fly zone would involve a commitment both to refrain from flights in a given area and to shoot down planes that enter secure areas. Officials have said no-fly zones would require increased military resources from the U.S.

Mr. Tillerson’s olive branch to Russia on Syria comes amid a recent rise in battlefield confrontations between the Syrian regime and American forces battling Islamic State in Syria, which threaten to widen into a direct clash with the regime.

In recent weeks U.S. forces have shot down a Syrian regime warplane as well as two Iranian-made drones viewed as threatening to American forces and Syrian fighters they are working with. The U.S. also has carried out airstrikes on Syrian government forces and their Iranian-backed allies in southern Syria.

Mr. Tillerson said the U.S. is committed to fighting Islamic State in Syria but also wants to see stability in Syria once areas are liberated from the hold of the terrorist group.

“While there are no perfect options for guaranteeing stability, we must explore all possibilities for holding the line against the resurgence of ISIS or other terrorist groups,” Mr. Tillerson said. “The United States believes Russia, as a guarantor of the Assad regime and an early entrant into the Syrian conflict, has a responsibility to ensure that the needs of the Syrian people are met and that no faction in Syria illegitimately retakes or occupies areas liberated from ISIS’ or other terrorist groups’ control.”

Mr. Trump’s scheduled meeting Friday with Mr. Putin has drawn international interest, given U.S. findings of Russian interference in the 2016 election on Mr. Trump’s behalf and the president’s longstanding reluctance to criticize Russia or Mr. Putin.

Speaking to reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday before leaving to join Mr. Trump in Germany, Mr. Tillerson said the Trump administration hoped the meeting would be the start of broader cooperation between Moscow and Washington.

“We’re at the very beginning…at this point it’s difficult to say exactly what Russia’s intentions are in this relationship,” he said. “That’s the most important part of this meeting, is to have a good exchange between President Trump and President Putin over what they both see as the nature of this relationship between our two countries.”

Write to Felicia Schwartz at Felicia.Schwartz@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/tillerson-says-u-s-is-ready-to-talk-to-russia-about-no-fly-zones-in-syria-1499311723?mod=e2fb

German police use water cannon on G20 protesters — Police seized knives, baseball bats and presumed incendiary devices

July 5, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP/File | The world leaders of the Group of 20 big industrialised and emerging economies are set to meet in Hamburg, Germany from July 7-8, 2017

HAMBURG (AFP) – Riot police used water cannon overnight Tuesday to disperse several gatherings of protesters ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg.

Police first dislodged protestors who had set up tents in a park in the western district of Altona, according to police and media reports.

“This is not a legal rally but unauthorised camping,” said a police spokesman.

A little later, shortly before midnight, police used water cannon and pepper spray to disperse rallies of several hundred people who had started blocking roads in various locations, in particular the Sankt-Pauli neighbourhood.

One person was arrested and a passerby, who was not involved in the demonstration, was slightly injured, according to a police message on Twitter.

On Sunday police used pepper spray as they cleared tents set up by some 600 activists on the banks of the Elbe river.

Anti-G20 protest organisers and the city-state of Hamburg have for weeks sparred in the courts over whether activists could set up tent cities.

Courts have found that, while such a protest camp would in principle be a legitimate political demonstration, police had the right to prohibit overnight camping on public lands.

More than 100,000 anti-capitalist demonstrators, including several thousand leftwing extremists, are expected to descend on the northern city ahead of the summit which opens on Friday.

About 20,000 police will be deployed to protect leaders attending the two-day meeting.

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Reuters

German police said on Tuesday they had seized knives, baseball bats and presumed incendiary devices at locations in and around Hamburg apparently intended for anti-capitalist rioting during a Group of 20 summit in the city on Friday and Saturday.

Authorities expect about 8,000 violent protesters to converge on Hamburg as Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts the leaders of 20 major advanced and developing economies, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Tuesday. Some 20,000 police will be on duty.

“There is evidence that the acts of violence around the G20 summit that we had expected and feared will take place,” said Ralf Martin Meyer, president of Hamburg’s police.

Senior police officer Jan Hieber said police had probably only found a small proportion of the weapons that had been stockpiled for use in disturbances.

Police said the items found also included batons, bottles and cans presumed to be filled with flammable liquid, containers with unknown powder or chemicals, and gas masks.

De Maiziere said during a visit to Hamburg that peaceful protests were welcome and permissible in a democracy but violent demonstrators could not invoke the right to the freedom of assembly and would be suppressed.

“No demonstrator can determine whether and when and where leaders of states and governments meet in Germany upon the chancellor’s invitation,” he said, stressing that the summit would not be disrupted by protests.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Reuters Television; Writing by Joseph Nasr and Michelle Martin; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Anti-Capitalist protestors with homemade weapons converge on Hamburg ahead of G20 summit 

Special police assemble head of the meeting for world leaders
Special police assemble head of the meeting for world leaders CREDIT: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN CHARISIUS/POOL

Thousands of violent anti-Capitalist protestors are planning to disrupt this week’s G20 summit in Hamburg, the German interior minister warned on Tuesday.

Thomas de Maiziere said security forces expect a hard core of 8,000 potentially violent protestors to converge on Hamburg ahead of Friday’s summit, at which Angela Merkel will host world leaders including Theresa May, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

There are growing concerns demonstrations may get out of hand.

A special federal police unit stands during a visit by German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere
A special federal police unit stands during a visit by German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere CREDIT: EPA/FRIEDEMANN VOGEL

Police on Tuesday displayed an arsenal of more than 100 home-made weapons seized in Hamburg and the nearby city of Rostock in recent weeks.

They included fire extinguishers adapted to work as flamethrowers, ingredients for Molotov cocktails, slingshots filled with ball bearings and baseball bats.

“We can assume this is only a small fraction of what is still hidden in cellars and garages around Hamburg,” Jan Hieber, the head of the city’s CID said.

Confiscated weapons were put on display by the police
Confiscated weapons were put on display by the police CREDIT: REUTERS/FABIAN BIMMER

“Movements have been observed by the autonomous scene in the direction of Hamburg,” Ralf Martin Meyer, the police chief said.

“This is not a question of sit-ins, but of major attacks.”

Authorities gave demonstrators until yesterday to dismantle tents set up in designated “protest camps”.

The city government has ordered that no one will be allowed to sleep overnight in the camps.

Protestors have vowed to defy the order, and there were scuffles on Sunday night when police broke up one camp with pepper spray.

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/04/anti-capitalist-protestors-homemade-weapons-converge-hamburg/

North Korea’s Latest Missile Test Puts China in a Corner

July 5, 2017

Beijing calls for calm and restraint as Trump urges ‘heavy move’ on Pyongyang

U.S. President Donald Trump welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Fla., in April.

U.S. President Donald Trump welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Fla., in April. PHOTO:JIM WATSON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

BEIJING—North Korea’s announcement of an intercontinental-ballistic-missile test intensifies pressure on Beijing to penalize Pyongyang or risk further tensions with Washington as the U.S. and Chinese presidents prepare to meet this week.

Tuesday’s test of the Hwasong-14 missile marked a setback for Beijing, analysts said, undermining its repeated calls for the U.S. to negotiate with North Korea and increasing the risk that the Trump administration could turn to military action to quash Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

The test also provides political leverage for U.S. President Donald Trump at meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders at a summit of the Group of 20 major economies in Germany later this week. Mr. Trump is expected to try to rally other international leaders behind stricter United Nations sanctions on North Korea and urge stronger measures by China to restrain North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“This test is a heavy blow for China,” said Zhu Feng, an international security expert at China’s Nanjing University. “Beijing wants to see the U.S. talking with North Korea and not just emphasizing sanctions and isolation. But North Korea keeps escalating the tension.”

Mr. Xi has trod a careful line with Mr. Trump, who for months has appealed to Beijing to rein in its North Korean neighbor. China has backed existing U.N. sanctions and banned imports of North Korean coal, a recent key source of revenue, while opposing more potent measures that might destabilize Pyongyang, triggering a flood of refugees into northeastern China and bringing U.S. troops closer to the Chinese border.

Even before the test, Mr. Trump signaled his rising frustration with Beijing, in recent days by approving a big arms sale to Taiwansending a U.S. Navy destroyer close to a Chinese-held island in the South China Sea and sanctioning two Chinese companies and two Chinese nationals for alleged dealings with North Korea.

Soon after Tuesday’s test, Mr. Trump posted on Twitter another appeal to Beijing, saying “Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

China’s options for ratcheting up pressure on Pyongyang include cutting exports of oil and other essential goods, reducing imports of commodities such as iron ore, and banning Chinese tourists from North Korea, said Nanjing University’s Mr. Zhu.

He said that Beijing might also consider discussing contingency plans with the U.S. over what would happen in the event of a military strike against Pyongyang—something that the Chinese leadership has been reluctant to do despite repeated urgings from Washington.

Fueling Beijing’s caution are disagreements within the civilian and military leadership over how to respond, with some arguing that a united, democratic Korea poses a greater threat to Beijing than a nuclear-armed Pyongyang, other Chinese experts said.

At a regular briefing Tuesday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the issue was “complicated and sensitive” and reiterated Beijing’s position that China opposes any North Korean actions that violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The spokesman, Geng Shuang, urged all countries involved to “remain calm and exercise restraint, stop irritating each other, work hard to create an atmosphere for contact and dialogue between all sides, and seek a return to the correct path of dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible.”

China has repeatedly suggested that North Korea halt its nuclear program in exchange for a suspension of joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea—a proposal rejected by Washington.

Zhang Liangui, an expert on North Korea at the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Party School, said Beijing’s position was unlikely to change fundamentally until it recognized that Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons program didn’t just threaten the U.S.

Image may contain: people standing, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

North Korea said it successfully test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile, a claim that could escalate tensions between Pyongyang and the rest of the world. Image: KRT/AP

“In China, a considerable number of people think the North Korean nuclear issue is not a matter for China, but is between the U.S. and North Korea,” he said. “I think it’s an absolute mistake for the U.S. to rely on China to resolve the problem.”

Write to Jeremy Page at jeremy.page@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 5, 2017, print edition as ‘Missile Test Puts China in Tough Spot.’

Turkey Says German Comments on Erdogan’s Planned Rallies ‘Unacceptable’

June 29, 2017

ANKARA — Turkey lashed out on Thursday at German politicians for opposing President Tayyip Erdogan’s planned public appearances in Germany outside the G20 summit, saying they underlined double standards against Ankara.

Earlier on Thursday, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the German government believed it would be inappropriate for Erdogan to make the appearances given tensions between the two NATO allies.

“It is regrettable that some politicians in Germany are making unacceptable comments with domestic political calculations,” Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesman, Huseyin Muftuoglu, said in a statement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts leaders of the G20 leading economies at a summit in Hamburg on July 7-8.

Muftuoglu also appeared to take a swipe at former European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who earlier this week referred to Erdogan as an “autocratic ruler”.

© AFP | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

“The approach of the person who has chaired the European Parliament… once again underlines the true face of the mentality we are facing and their double standards,” he said.

Schulz, who served as president of the European Parliament from 2012 to January of this year, likened Erdogan to Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump, saying Europe must become stronger in response to a weakening of democracy elsewhere.

“There are some in the G20 that behave like autocratic rulers: Turkish President Erdogan, Russian President Putin and also U.S. President Trump,” he said.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Editing by David Dolan)

Related:

Members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail are shown violently reacting to peaceful protesters during Erdogan's trip last month to Washington (picture alliance/AP Photo/Voice of America)

 

Germany: Turkish leader seeks to hold rally on G20 sidelines — Could further inflame tensions between Berlin and Ankara

June 29, 2017

The Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — Turkey has asked permission for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to hold a rally to address Turks in Germany when he attends the upcoming Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany’s foreign minister said Thursday. The request could further inflame tensions between Berlin and Ankara.

Turkey officially requested permission on Wednesday for Erdogan to make the appearance while in Germany for the July 7-8 summit, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said during a trip to Russia. Gabriel made clear that the German government isn’t happy about the idea.

“Of course, Mr. Erdogan is an important guest at the G-20 and will be received with all honors by us there, but we believe everything that goes beyond that is inappropriate at this point in time,” Gabriel said. He pointed to stretched police resources because of the G-20 summit.

Erdogan  [File: Matt Dunham/EPA]

It wasn’t immediately clear whether, and how, the government might seek to block a rally by Erdogan.

“Our country is an open country, but we have no intention of bringing other countries’ domestic political conflicts into our population,” Gabriel said, news agency dpa reported.

Germany has a large ethnic Turkish minority.

Erdogan accused Germany, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, of “committing Nazi practices” after some local authorities earlier this year blocked appearances by Turkish ministers hoping to campaign in Germany ahead of his country’s referendum on presidential powers.

Relations between the two countries have been frayed by a widening range of other issues, including Turkey’s jailing of two German journalists.

Erdogan last addressed supporters in Germany in May 2015, when he made an appearance in Karlsruhe.

Global financial governance: Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has been appointed chairman of a newly convened international group on global financial governance

April 22, 2017

DPM Tharman appointed chairman of top G20 group tasked to review global financial governance

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Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has been appointed chairman of a newly convened international group of top economists and leaders, which has been tasked to review issues related to global financial governance. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE – Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has been appointed chairman of a newly-convened international group of top economists and leaders, which has been tasked to review issues related to global financial governance.

At the Group of 20 (G20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Washington on Friday (April 21), German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann announced the formation of an Eminent Persons Group on global financial governance, to be chaired by Mr Tharman.

The Eminent Persons Group will be tasked with reviewing issues relating to global financial governance, in particular the work of international finance institutions – which include the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and multilateral development banks such as the World Bank Group and the regional development banks.

An outline of their planned work will be presented at the next G20 meeting in October.

Other confirmed members of the Eminent Persons Group include:

– Dr Jacob Frenkel, Israeli economist and chairman of JPMorgan Chase International

– Mr Jean-Claude Trichet, former European Central Bank president

– Lord Nicholas Stern, British economist and academic

– Mr Zhu Min, former deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund

– Dr Andrés Velasco, former finance minister of Chile

– Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former World Bank managing director and Nigerian finance minister

– Dr Raghuram Rajan, Indian economist and University of Chicago professor

– Mr Ali Babacan, Turkish member of the parliament and former Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey responsible for the economy

– Dr Takatoshi Ito, Japanese economist and Columbia University professor

– Dr John Taylor, Stanford University professor

http://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/dpm-tharman-appointed-chairman-of-top-g20-group-tasked-to-review-global-financial

Bomb Explodes at International Monetary Fund in Paris Bureau — Letter bomb injures one employee

March 16, 2017

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the fund was working with French authorities to investigate

Police outside the International Monetary Fund (IMF) offices where an envelope exploded in Paris, France, 16 March

Police descended on the area after the blast at the IMF. Reuters photo

March 16, 2017 8:49 a.m. ET

An International Monetary Fund staff member was injured in an explosion at the institution’s Paris bureau, the head of the IMF said Thursday.

Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the IMF was working with French authorities to investigate the cause.

“I condemn this cowardly act of violence and reaffirm the IMF’s resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate,” Ms. Lagarde said in a statement in Frankfurt, where she is attending a conference ahead of a finance meeting of the Group of 20 largest economies.

Police outside the International Monetary Fund offices where an envelope exploded in Paris

Police outside the International Monetary Fund (IMF) offices where an envelope exploded in Paris, France, March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
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A senior police official in Paris said the explosion was caused by a large firecracker.

The IMF employee who opened the package was injured on the hands and face, another police officer said.

Write to Ian Talley at ian.talley@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/imf-chief-explosion-at-paris-bureau-injured-staff-member-1489668570

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Letter bomb at IMF’s Paris office injures woman employee
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BBC News

Paris IMF letter bomb injures one employee

The IMF building is near the Arc de Triomphe, in the heart of the French capital

A letter bomb has exploded at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) office in Paris, injuring the employee who opened it, police say.

The IMF employee received hand and face injuries, and staff were evacuated.

IMF director Christine Lagarde condemned the “cowardly act of violence” against IMF staff.

In another development, the German finance ministry in Berlin intercepted a parcel bomb sent to Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Wednesday.

A Greek far-left group, the Conspiracy of Fire Cells, said on a website that it had sent the German device.

Mnuchin visit

Ms Lagarde said in a statement that the IMF was working closely with the French authorities to investigate the letter blast.

Unnamed police sources quoted by local newspaper Le Parisien said the device may have been a firework.

The letter was delivered by post, the Paris police prefect was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency, but its origin was not given immediately.

The office is located on the Avenue Iena, in a central district of the city centre near the Champs Elysees.

The IMF is one of three organisations, along with the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB), which bailed out the Greek government after it came close to defaulting on its debts.

In Germany, Mr Schaeuble is due to host the new US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, later on Thursday.

The device sent to his ministry, which was intercepted in the mailroom, was designed to cause “severe injuries” when it was opened, local police said in a statement quoted by AFP news agency.

A Greek police source quoted by the same agency said the package had had a Greek stamp.

Its “sender” was given as a deputy leader of the opposition New Democracy party along with his real address, AFP added.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39292671

European Union Wants China To Stop Dumping Steel

September 4, 2016

The Associated Press

European Union leaders have called for China to take action on its bloated steel industry and defended an order to Ireland to collect back taxes from Apple, highlighting the trade strains looming over a global economic summit.

The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said Sunday that the Group of 20 meeting “must urgently find a solution” to excess steel production that Beijing’s trading partners blame for job losses. He called on China to accept a monitoring mechanism.

Juncker also rejected U.S. criticism of an EU order for Ireland to collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from Apple. An EU panel ruled the company’s low taxes were improper government aid.

Related:

China steel factory in Tangshan, Hebei province

South China Sea: China Wants To Limit Discussion, U.S. Wants Transparency, Philippines, Indonesia State Positions

August 16, 2016
FILE – In this Aug. 8, 2016 file photo, a Chinese military band plays as the guided missile destroyer USS Benfold arrives in port in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong Province in the first visit by an American warship to the country since Beijing responded angrily to an arbitration panel’s ruling that its expansive South China Sea maritime claims had no basis in law. A senior Chinese diplomat made clear Monday, Aug. 15, that Beijing wants next month’s meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 major economies to avoid political issues such as its territorial disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea. AP/Borg Wong, File

BEIJING — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential gas and oil reserves:

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Editor’s note: This is a weekly look at the latest key developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.

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Chinese diplomat discourages discussion of South China Sea at G-20 Summit

A senior Chinese diplomat made clear Monday that Beijing wants next month’s meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 major economies to avoid political issues such as its territorial disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea.

Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baoding said China wants to avoid sensitive diplomatic issues at the Sept. 4-5 summit that it is hosting in the eastern resort city Hangzhou.

The consensus among members is to “focus on economic development and not be distracted by other parties,” Li said when asked about territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

“The Hangzhou summit must focus on economic issues,” Li said. “This is what people want to talk about most at the summit.”

Li gave similar responses to questions about China’s opposition to South Korea’s deployment of a U.S. missile defense system.

A desire to avoid a showdown at the G-20 summit was seen by some as moderating China’s response to the July 12 ruling by an international arbitration panel in The Hague, Netherlands, that invalidated China’s maritime claims to virtually the entire South China Sea.

However, speculation has also risen that China might make even more assertive moves after the meeting, including possibly launching reclamation projects in new areas or declaring an air defense identification zone over the crucial waterbody.

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Duterte says he’s taking a softer approach in dispute with China

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday he is adopting a softer approach in resolving the long-simmering disputes with China in the South China Sea. “We’re not in a hurry to wage war, we’re in a hurry to talk.”

Duterte’s special envoy to China, former President Fidel Ramos, returned to Manila on Friday after meeting with Chinese intermediaries in Hong Kong to pave the way for possible talks in Beijing.

Ramos told reporters that China welcomed him to visit Beijing for discussions in the wake of last month’s international arbitration panel’s ruling in favor of the Philippines over China’s South China Sea maritime claims.

The arbitration case was brought by Duterte’s predecessor, and Duterte has been lukewarm in his support for the action.

Ramos said in a statement that he met in Hong Kong with the Chinese legislature’s foreign affairs chief, Fu Ying, and a leading government-backed scholar on the dispute, and agreed on the need to reduce tensions through talks.

Ramos “expressed the Philippine government’s desire to hold formal discussions with the Chinese government on issues of mutual concern and interest at the appropriate time to explore pathways to peace and cooperation,” the statement said.

However, Ramos told reporters at a brief news conference that the ruling had not been directly discussed and gave no indication of when the Beijing talks might be held and suggested another negotiator might take his place.

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Japan, Philippine diplomats urge restraint from China

The top diplomats from Japan and the Philippines urged China on Thursday to avoid intimidating actions and follow the rule of law in disputed waters.

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida made the call after meeting in southern Davao city, where they discussed their countries’ territorial rifts with China, including Tokyo’s help in providing patrol vessels to the Philippines, and enhancing strategic ties. Kishida later met Duterte.

“Maritime order based on the rule of law is indispensable for regional stability and prosperity,” Kishida told reporters, adding that the international community should strive to ensure that long-seething conflicts are resolved peacefully.

“This is the not kind of action that is mandated by international law and if anyone, including China, has any particular claim that it asserts over any particular territory, it must bring this within the concept of a peaceful resolution,” Yasay said.

The Philippines challenged the validity of China’s claims and aggressive actions in the South China Sea after Chinese government ships took control of disputed Scarborough Shoal following a tense standoff in 2012.

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US says more military transparency needed

The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Tuesday the response from Beijing and others to the arbitration panel’s ruling had brought no surprises, but much more military transparency is needed to reduce tensions in the region.

Adm. Scott Swift also criticized China-Russia joint naval exercises planned next month in the South China Sea, saying the choice of location was not conducive to “increasing the stability within the region.” He also said any decision by China to declare an air defense identification zone over the strategic water body would be “very destabilizing from a military perspective.”

Swift was visiting the northern Chinese port of Qingdao as part of efforts to build trust and understanding between the two navies, now locked in a protracted competition for primacy in East Asia, where the U.S. has traditionally been the dominant military power.

Swift cited two examples where a lack of Chinese military transparency was problematic: The still unexplained cancellation by China of a visit by the aircraft carrier USS Stennis earlier this year, and the reason for the construction of new hardened aircraft hangers on China’s man-made islands.

“That increases the angst and uncertainty, that lack of transparency, and that is generally destabilizing as opposed to a stabilizing action,” Swift said.

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