G-7 leaders end summit pledging to hurt Russia economically

From left: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi at the G7 summit in Germany on June 28, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 June 2022

G-7 leaders end summit pledging to hurt Russia economically

  • Leaders also agree on a ban on imports of Russian gold and to step up aid to countries hit with food shortages

ELMAU, Germany: Leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies struck a united stance to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” as Russia’s invasion grinds on, and said they would explore far-reaching steps to cap Kremlin income from oil sales that are financing the war.

The final statement Tuesday from the Group of Seven summit in Germany underlined their intent to impose “severe and immediate economic costs” on Russia. It left out key details on how the fossil fuel price caps would work in practice, setting up more discussion in the weeks ahead to “explore” measures to bar imports of Russian oil above a certain level.

That would hit a key Russian source of income and, in theory, help relieve the energy price spikes and inflation afflicting the global economy as a result of the war.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to our unprecedented coordination on sanctions for as long as necessary, acting in unison at every stage,” the leaders said.

Leaders also agreed on a ban on imports of Russian gold and to step up aid to countries hit with food shortages by the blockage on Ukraine grain shipments through the Black Sea.

The price cap would in theory work by barring service provides such as shippers or insurers from dealing with oil priced above a fixed level. That could work because the service providers are mostly located in the European Union or the UK and thus within reach of sanctions. To be effective, however, it would have to involve as many consuming countries as possible, in particular India, where refiners have been snapping up cheap Russian oil shunned by Western traders. Details on how the proposal would be implemented were left for continuing talks in coming weeks.

Before the summit’s close, leaders joined in condemning what they called the “abominable” Russian attack on a shopping mall in the town of Kremechuk, calling it a war crime and vowing that President Vladimir Putin and others involved “will be held to account.”

The leaders of the US, Germany, France, Italy, the UK, Canada and Japan on Monday pledged to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” after conferring by video link with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The summit host, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said he “once again very emphatically set out the situation as Ukraine currently sees it.” Zelensky’s address came hours before Ukrainian officials reported a deadly Russian missile strike on a crowded shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk.

From the secluded Schloss Elmau hotel in the Bavarian Alps, the G-7 leaders will move to Madrid for a summit of NATO leaders, where fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will again dominate the agenda. All G-7 members other than Japan are NATO members, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has been invited to Madrid.

Zelensky has openly worried that the West has become fatigued by the cost of a war that is contributing to soaring energy costs and price hikes on essential goods around the globe. The G-7 has sought to assuage those concerns.

While the group’s annual gathering has been dominated by Ukraine and by the war’s knock-on effects, such as the challenge to food supplies in parts of the world caused by the interruption of Ukrainian grain exports, Scholz has been keen to show that the G-7 also can move ahead on pre-war priorities.

Members of the Group of Seven major economies pledged Tuesday to create a new ‘climate club’ for nations that want to take more ambitious action to tackle global warming.

The move, championed by Scholz, will see countries that join the club agree on tougher measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) this century compared with pre-industrial times.

Countries that are part of the club will try to harmonize their measures in such a way that they are comparable and avoid members imposing climate-related tariffs on each others’ imports.

Speaking at the end of the three-day summit in Elmau, Germany, Scholz said the aim was to “ensure that protecting the climate is a competitive advantage, not a disadvantage.”

He said details of the planned climate club would be finalized this year.


Biden to host Macron for state visit at White House Dec 1

Updated 11 sec ago

Biden to host Macron for state visit at White House Dec 1

  • State visits, which feature more pomp and ceremony than the frequent bilateral meetings hosted by US presidents for foreign leaders, have not taken place so far during Biden’s presidency
  • Asked why France had been chosen for the honor ahead of other US allies, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said ‘we deeply value our relationship with France’
WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden will host French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House on December 1 for the first full-scale state visit of his administration, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.
The visit will “underscore the deep and enduring relationship between the United States and France, our oldest ally,” Jean-Pierre told reporters at the White House.
State visits, which feature more pomp and ceremony than the frequent bilateral meetings hosted by US presidents for foreign leaders, have not taken place so far during Biden’s presidency, which Jean-Pierre attributed to Covid pandemic restrictions.
Asked why France had been chosen for the honor ahead of other US allies, Jean-Pierre said “we deeply value our relationship with France.”
The link between the two countries is “founded on shared democratic values, economic ties, and defense and security cooperation,” she said.
Relations between Paris and Washington hit a major crisis last year when Australia abruptly announced it was ditching a contract to buy conventional French submarines in favor of a US nuclear-powered submarine deal.

After floods, thousands displaced in southern Pakistan to move to ‘tent-city’

Updated 12 min 10 sec ago

After floods, thousands displaced in southern Pakistan to move to ‘tent-city’

  • Nearly 1.5 million people are displaced in southern Sindh province
  • Makeshift facility in Karachi will comprise about 1,300 tents, official says

KARACHI: Thousands of people in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh will be moved to a “tent city” in the provincial capital Karachi this week, officials said on Monday, in the aftermath of catastrophic floods that had submerged a third of the country and killed over 1,600 people.

Torrential rains and melting glaciers in the mountains of Pakistan’s north triggered floods that have swept away homes, key infrastructure, livestock and crops, affecting 33 million of Pakistan’s 220 million people since mid-June.

With nearly 1.5 million people displaced in Sindh province, the local government has been using public schools as temporary shelters. In Karachi, thousands of people have taken refuge in 30 schools in the city.

Local officials are preparing to move the victims to a makeshift facility located in the suburbs of Malir, an administrative district in the eastern part of Karachi, with the relocation set to begin this week.

“About 7,000 people living in our relief camps would be shifted and the schools will be vacated,” said Raja Tariq Chandio, deputy commissioner of Karachi’s East District, where the schools currently used as shelters are located.

The temporary settlement will comprise about 1,300 tents, and K-Electric, the city’s sole power distributor, will set up a power transmission line to provide electricity to the camp, Malir’s Deputy Commissioner Irfan Salam told Arab News.

“In the tent city, flood victims will have safe drinking water and cooked meals. It has 20 washrooms and a hospital with men and women doctors and paramedics,” Salam said.

“It will take at least 10 days for K-Electric to set up the power transmission line,” he added. “Within two days, people will be moved to the tent city.”

A charity organization will be providing meals for the displaced people relocated to Malir, he added, while children will get to attend classes organized by the Sindh Education Foundation.

The deadly floods in Pakistan inundated around 15,000 schools across Sindh alone, where classes have yet to resume. Millions of students in the province are at risk of being permanently out of school, Sindh Education Minister Sardar Ali Shah said earlier this month, as the government lacked resources to rebuild the damaged facilities.

Officials said there are plans to restart classes in Karachi after displaced residents are moved to Malir, when the buildings currently used as temporary shelters can again be used for lessons.

“We are happy that classes are going to resume soon,” Javed Shah, a teacher at the Government Boys Primary School, told Arab News. “We will bring the schools to order to resume classes.”


Bangladesh still searching for missing passengers after deadly boat accident

Updated 20 min 3 sec ago

Bangladesh still searching for missing passengers after deadly boat accident

  • Government launches probe as about 30 not found, 35 dead
  • Small vessel packed with Hindu devotees, women and children

DHAKA: Bangladeshi authorities continued their search on Monday for missing passengers after an overloaded boat sank in the country’s northern district and killed at least 35 people in the worst waterways disaster to hit the South Asian nation this year.

The small boat, packed with mostly Hindu devotees, and women and children, sank in the Karatoya river on Sunday. Some passengers were returning from a popular temple in the northern Panchagarh district on the occasion of the Durga Puja celebrations.

Authorities have recovered the bodies of 35 people as of Monday afternoon, comprising 17 women, 11 children, and seven men, Panchagarh district administrator Mohammad Jahurul Islam told Arab News.

“Until Monday afternoon we have found 35 dead bodies,” Islam said. “Still, 20 to 30 people are missing. However, we found some missing people alive today as they were rescued by the locals on Sunday and took shelter in the homes of nearby relatives.”

A committee has been formed to investigate the incident and is expected to file a report within three days, he added.

“This sort of boat capsize is very rare in this region, because these small rivers are mostly calm in nature,” Islam said.

Officials suspect the fatal incident had occurred due to overcrowding.

“It seems that the boat had capsized due to overload(ing),” Shahjahan Ali, who led the search and rescue operations, told Arab News.

“We are conducting the operations in a 15-kilometer radius in the surrounding areas of the river. Now our operations are ongoing in some special areas where few of the bodies might have been floating around. Tomorrow we will also continue the search,” he added.

Bangladesh sees hundreds of people die each year in ferry accidents, due to lax safety standards despite extensive inland waterways in the low-lying country.

At least 34 people died in April 2021 after an overcrowded ferry collided with a cargo vessel and sank on the Shitalakhsya River outside the capital Dhaka.


Leading Iran cleric calls on authorities to 'listen to people'

Updated 26 September 2022

Leading Iran cleric calls on authorities to 'listen to people'

  • Protests ignited by a young woman's death in morality police custody show no sign of letting up
  • Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani has long been aligned with ultra-conservative establishment

TEHERAN: A leading Iranian cleric has urged authorities "to listen to the people", as protests ignited by a young woman's death in morality police custody show no sign of letting up.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets of major cities across Iran, including the capital Teheran, for 10 straight nights since the death of Mahsa Amini.

The 22-year-old was pronounced dead on Sept 16, three days after her arrest in the capital for allegedly breaching Iran's dress code for women.

"The leaders must listen to the demands of the people, resolve their problems and show sensitivity to their rights," said Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani in a statement posted on his website on Sunday.

The powerful 97-year-old cleric has long been aligned with the country's ultra-conservative establishment and strongly backed supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on several occasions - notably during the 2009 protests against the reelection of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Any insult to the sanctities and any attack on the rights of the people and public property are condemned," Hamedani added.

At least 41 people have been killed since the protests began on Sept 16, mostly protesters but including security forces, according to an official toll.

The protests have spread to several cities, where demonstrators have shouted slogans against the authorities, according to local media.

More than 1,200 demonstrators, reformist activists and journalists have been arrested during the mostly night-time demonstrations across the country.

On Sept 18, Grand Ayatollah Assadollah Bayat Zanjani, a cleric seen as close to the reformists, denounced what he said were "illegitimate" and "illegal" actions behind the "regrettable incident" of Amini's death.


Apple says it will manufacture iPhone 14 in India

Updated 26 September 2022

Apple says it will manufacture iPhone 14 in India

  • Tech giant is moving some of its production away from China
  • Apple could make one out of four iPhones in India by 2025

NEW DELHI: Apple Inc said on Monday it will manufacture its latest iPhone 14 in India, as the tech giant moves some of its production away from China.

The company launched the flagship iPhone 14 at an event earlier this month, where it focused on safety upgrades rather than flashy new technical specifications, with the exception of a new adventure-focused watch.

"The new iPhone 14 lineup introduces groundbreaking new technologies and important safety capabilities. We're excited to be manufacturing iPhone 14 in India," Apple said in a statement.

Analysts at J.P.Morgan expect Apple to move about 5% of iPhone 14 production from late 2022 to India, which is the world's second-biggest smartphone market after China.

Apple could make one out of four iPhones in India by 2025, JPM analysts said in a note last week.