VIF News Digest: International Developments (US, EU, Russia and Africa), 19 June - 3 July, 2019
United States
'Great friends are bound to have disagreements': Mike Pompeo soothes trade tensions on India trip’: CNN, 26 June 2019

Recent trade tensions between the US and India won't impact ties between the two nations, and their partnership is "already beginning to reach new heights," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a visit to New Delhi Wednesday, less than two weeks after India increased tariffs on some US exports.

India imposed tariffs on US after waiting for almost a year. Pompeo met Jaishanker and tried to downplay the bilateral tensions over trade. The ongoing tensions between US and India are due to their differences over Iran. US and India also have disagreement over India’s purchase of the S-400 air defence system from Russia. Click here to read..

US senate passes law to bring India at par with NATO allies: The Economic Times, 2 July 2019

India is now on a par with America's NATO allies Japan, Australia and South Korea following passage of a bill by the US Senate in a key move to increase defence partnership including advanced technology transfer.

The legislation provides for increased US-India defence cooperation in the Indian Ocean in the areas of humanitarian assistance, counterterrorism, counter-piracy and maritime security. The bill would be signed into law after both the chambers of the US Congress the House of Representatives and the Senate passes it. Click here to read..

The United States needs Japan-South Korea reconciliation: Foreign Policy, 27 June 2019

Donald Trump’s Asia policy has come under criticism. More so over South Korea who critics say should have been persuaded to be part of the QUAD. It is said that Washington neglects Seoul, a democracy. Under Trump, US’s relations with Japan and South Korea- important US allies have deteriorated. There are structural constraints between Japan and South Korea that affect bilateral cooperation despite the realisation over the importance of cooperation.

Since the 1990s, the United States has tried to unite its two democratic allies by focusing on North Korea. However, while North Korea remains a necessary focus of security cooperation, the present contradictions in U.S., Japanese, and South Korean views on dealing with Pyongyang underscore the difficulty of forging a unified approach. North Korea by itself is not enough to focus Japan-South Korea cooperation. Click here to read..

G20 summit: All eyes on Trump-Xi trade war showdown: BBC, 26 June 2019

When the G20 met in Washington one month after the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008, they were focused on a mammoth task: how to piece the world economy back together and avoid a future crisis. It is expected that a truce over trade may take place but the US-China tensions over trade are hardly going to be over. Besides US-China trade and US-Iran tensions, environmental pollution is likely to get fair amount of attention at the G-20 meeting. One more issue to watch is how the leaders seek to position the G20 on free trade. Click here to read..

Heat wave: June 2019 officially hottest month on record: Euronews, 2 July 2019

June 2019 is the hottest month ever recorded, Copernicus, the European Union's Earth observation programme, confirmed on Tuesday. The agency published temperature data for June 2019 and the statistics confirm what many in Europe felt: this month is the hottest in Europe since weather records began, with temperatures up to 2ºC above average.

Over the last week — the warmest week of the hottest month — France, Switzerland, northern Spain, Italy, Austria, and the Czech Republic saw temperatures between 6C and 10C above average.

The 2019 heat wave has not lasted as long as that of 2018 but this time it is far more intense. The cause of the heat wave cannot be directly linked to climate change but such extreme weather events are likely to occur frequently as the planet heats up due to greenhouse gases. Click here to read..

EU Cyber Security Act goes into effect, air quality regulations: Euronews, 27 June 2019

The EU Cyber security Act will go into effect on Thursday, creating new measures that give more power and resources to the European Union Agency for Cyber security (ENISA). The threat of electronic security has the EU on high alert, but it's also caused difficulty among member states. Not every member state has the same concern when it comes to electronic security or wants to hand over sensitive information.

The EU cyber security act will help the smaller nations that do not have the capacity. Click here to read..

Greenpeace blocks soya cargo in French port to denounce government's 'inaction' on climate: Euronews, 1 July 2019

Greenpeace France continued its blockade of a cargo ship in the harbour of Sète, France, on Saturday, to protest against the French government's lack of action on climate change. The action, which started on Friday, saw as many as 50 activists from Greenpeace, including French, German and Dutch citizens, block the cargo ship ELLIREA, which came from Cotegipe, near Salvador in Brazil, as it tried to enter the harbour.

The cargo ship is carrying 50,000 tonnes of soymeal, half destined for France and half for Slovenia, to feed animals across the European Union, according to the NGO. Greenpeace targeted the ELLIREA cargo ship because it is "a symbol of the destructive soya system," the group explained. At least 89% of the soya coming from the Cotegipe harbour comes from Cerrado, a wild savannah in Brazil, which is rapidly being deforested. The soya on board was said to be GMO which was washed down with pesticides. Click here to read..

Liberalism is multifaceted and attractive, but ‘it’s eating itself,’ says Russian president: Russia Today, 29 June 2019

Though it’s attractive in general, liberalism has overreached on multiple issues, such as immigration, and is now “eating itself,” Vladimir Putin said, just days after he’d suggested that the ideology has failed Western societies.

Liberalism still remains “multifaceted” and there’s no need to be arguing about its overall attractiveness, the Russian president told reporters on Saturday, during a final press conference at the G20 summit in Japan. In the meantime, the philosophy has its own setbacks, he pointed out. Putin said that liberal ideas come into conflict with an overwhelming majority of population. Putin also said that it does not mean that liberal ideas should be outlawed or oppressed and that liberalism also has the right to exist and should be supported in all domains. Click here to read..

‘Embryo is a human being’: Russian Orthodox Church seeks ‘right to life’ for unborn children: Russia Today, 26 June 2019

The right to life should be guaranteed for embryos, the Russian Orthodox Church has said as it presented a document which calls for abortions and scientific experiments on human embryos to be banned. “An embryo is a human being, who therefore has certain rights that should be protected,” the paper, rolled out for public discussion, states. The document specifically lists the right to life, human identity, and personal developments as indispensable to any unborn child from the moment of conception. The orthodox church has demanded that the government gives the doctors the right to refuse to abortions and also demanded a ban on any experiments with the embryo and freezing them.

Abortions are a serious concern in Russia that is striving to increase its population of 144.5 million. Click here to read..

Russia’s floating nuclear power plant ready to heat up the Arctic: Russia Today, 1 July 2019

The world’s first floating nuclear power plant (NPP), built by Russia and called the ‘Akademik Lomonosov,’ has received a license for operation. It is to provide heat and energy to Russia’s remote regions in the Arctic. In the end of August the vessel will be towed to Pevek, a port city on the Arctic coast of the Chukotka region. It will thus become the northernmost operating nuclear plant in the world.

Chukotka is one of the most isolated regions in Russia, with most of its territory located beyond the Arctic Circle, where poor transport links and permafrost complicate large-scale construction. The NPP is expected to become one of the key infrastructure elements in the development of Russia’s Northern Sea Route. Click here to read..

Guinea Bissau to hold presidential election in November: AFP New, 19 June 2019

Guinea Bissau's President Jose Mario Vaz on Tuesday set the date for the next presidential election for November 24, according to an official decree in the tiny West African nation. The country has been in political deadlock since August 2015 when Vaz sacked PAIGC party colleague Domingos Simoes Pereira from his post of prime minister after falling out with him.
Pereira has refused to go quietly and repeatedly led protests demanding his reinstatement to the post. Click here to read..

Congo declares measles epidemic after it kills more than Ebola: Reuters, 19 June 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has declared an epidemic of measles, which the latest health ministry figures show has now killed at least 1,500 people, more than a hundred more than have died of Ebola. While health officials have focused on the hemorrhagic Ebola virus in Congo’s east, about 87,000 suspected measles cases have been reported across the country so far this year, more than the 65,000 recorded in the whole of last year.

Congo’s health ministry announced the measles figure when it declared the epidemic on Monday. Click here to read..

UN rights boss says Sudan must halt repression, allow monitors access: Reuters, 24th June

Sudanese authorities must grant human rights monitors access to the country and end “repression” against protesters and the shutdown of the Internet, UN human rights boss Michelle Bachelet said on Monday.

Bachelet, in a speech opening a three-week session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said that her office had reports that more than 100 protesters were killed and many more injured during an assault by security forces on a peaceful sit-in on June 3. “Hundreds of protesters may be missing,” she said. Click here to read..

Don't expect debt relief, United States warns Africa: Reuters, 24 June 2019

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank began the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative in 1996 to help the world’s poorest countries clear billions of dollars worth of unsustainable debt.

But Africa is facing another potential debt crisis today, with around 40 percent of low-income countries in the region now in debt distress or at high risk of it, according to an IMF report released a year ago. “We went through, just in the last 20 years, this big debt forgiveness for a lot of African countries,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa for African Affairs Tibor Nagy, referring to the HIPC programme. Click here to read..

Lift 'unfair' ban on ivory trade, southern African leaders urge summit: The Guardian, 26 June 2019

Southern African leaders have renewed calls for a lifting of the ban on the ivory trade as debate over the “unfair” embargo escalates.

At a wildlife economic summit in Zimbabwe, leaders of the five countries that make up the Kavango-Zambezi conservation area – Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Angola and Namibia – raised the issue ahead of the August conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Geneva, Switzerland. The Zimbabwean president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, told the UN-African Union summit that his country is sitting on a $600m (£470m) cache of ivory that includes rhino horns. The leaders want a suspension of the ban to allow them to shift enormously valuable stockpiles. Click here to read..

Rwanda, Botswana Commit to Strengthen Ties: allAfrica, 27 June 19

Rwanda and Botswana have committed to strengthen bilateral ties aimed at transforming the lives of the citizens of the two nations. This emerged during President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame two day state visit to Gaborone, Botswana yesterday at the invitation of President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi.

During the visit, the two leaders held bilateral talks before witnessing the signing of a general framework agreement covering the areas of trade, investment, health, tourism, mining, peace and security among others. Click here to read..

Ramaphosa in talks with Japan - G20 Summit: africanews, 29 June 2019

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa held a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday (June 29) on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka. The two leaders were expected to discuss economic cooperation. The meeting was held on the second day of G20 summit, where world leaders will discuss issues regarding the global economy. Click here to read..

West Africa bloc adopts 'ECO' as name of planned shared currency: Aljazeera, 30 June 2019

Leaders of a 15-nation West African bloc have called for greater structural reforms as they step up efforts for the introduction of a shared currency, aimed to be launched in 2020.

In a statement issued late on Saturday at the end of an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, the leaders said they had adopted ECO as the name of the planned currency. Click here to read..

Dozens die in petrol tanker blast in Nigeria: BBC, 2 July 2019

At least 45 people were killed after a crashed fuel tanker exploded in Benue State in northern Nigeria on Monday. The driver of the tanker had lost control of the vehicle after trying to dodge a pothole, eyewitnesses say. It reportedly caught fire after an exhaust pipe from a passing bus scraped on the ground, causing sparks to fly. At least 10 bodies have been recovered and at least 70 people suffered serious fire burns, said local officials.
"From the look of things and considering their condition, many of them might not survive," Federal Road Safety Commission Sector Commander Aliyu Baba told AFP news agency. Click here to read..

Algeria's speaker of Parliament resigns: africanews, 3 July 2019

Algeria’s parliamentary president Mouad Bouchareb has resigned on Tuesday. This comes after a prolonged demand for his removal by protesters who believe he is a stumbling block to their demands. In recent days, pressure from politicians mounted against Bouchareb to step down as well. Three months after longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned under pressure Bouchareb has also followed similar faith.

Deputy speaker Abdul Razzak Tarbash has been assigned to run the legislature’s affairs until a new speaker is elected within 15 days. Click here to read..

Contact Us