Not seeking new Cold War - Biden tells UN | Daily News

Not seeking new Cold War - Biden tells UN

US President Joe Biden addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
US President Joe Biden addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

In his first UN General Assembly speech since entering the White House, US President Joe Biden underscored the importance of alliances in countering the global challenges posed by ongoing conflicts, Climate Change and COVID-19. His address was at the 76th UN General Assembly in New York.

He pledged cooperation with America’s allies and partners to work towards a “collective future” of peace and prosperity.

“We stand at an inflection point in history,” said Biden, calling for a new era of global unity to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, Climate Change and emerging threats.

Biden also declared the US is “not seeking a new Cold War”. Without mentioning China directly, Biden acknowledged increasing concerns about rising tensions between the two nations. “We are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs,” he said.

The US president noted his decision to end America’s longest war, in Afghanistan, last month had set the stage for his administration to shift attention to intensive diplomacy. “We’ve ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan,”... “And as we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people up around the world.”

He said he is driven by a belief that “to deliver for our own people, we must also engage deeply with the rest of the world”.

Biden vowed to defend US national interests, but said any military missions must be transparent as well as “achievable”. “The mission must be clear and achievable, undertaken with informed consent of the American people and, whenever possible, in partnership with our allies,” he said.

The US military “must not be used as the answer to every problem we see around the world”, he said, adding that military force “must be our tool of last resort – not our first”.

Biden also told the General Assembly that the United States would return to the Iranian nuclear deal in “full” – if Tehran does likewise: “We’re prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same.” He said the United States was working with China, France, Russia, Britain and Germany to “engage Iran diplomatically and to seek a return to” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which America left in 2018.

He also said Washington would double financing on Climate Change – a key element in reaching an ambitious new accord in November at a UN conference in Glasgow as temperatures and severe weather rise dangerously.

China: President Xi

Facing growing tensions with the United States, Chinese leader Xi Jinping reiterated his nation’s longtime policy of multilateralism in his address to the UN, telling that disputes among countries “need to be handled through dialogue and cooperation.”

His comments came hours after the U.S. President Joe Biden said he didn’t have any intention of starting a “new Cold War”.

The pre-recorded video address said: “One country’s success does not have to mean another country’s failure”.

Without mentioning the United States directly, President Xi said “military intervention from the outside and so-called democratic transformation entail nothing but harm...The world is big enough to accommodate the common development and progress of all countries. We need to pursue dialogue and inclusiveness over confrontation and exclusion.”

Mr. Xi proposed a global development initiative towards a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth to confront the severe shocks of COVID-19. He suggested fostering global development partnerships that are more equal and balanced, forging greater synergy among multilateralism, and speeding up the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UN Sec Gen

UN Secretary General Antonio Gutterres urged the United States and China to engage in dialogue, warning of an increasingly divided world.

“I fear our world is creeping towards two different sets of economic, trade, financial and technology rules, two divergent military and geopolitical strategies”, he said as he opened the UJN annual General Assembly.

“This is a recipe for trouble. It would be far less predictable than the Cold War. To restore trust and inspire hope, we need cooperation...We need dialogue, we need understanding,” he said.

Mr. Guterres said that divisions between two powers set back efforts on other key priorities, including reversing coups.

Since February, militaries have seized control both in Myanmar and Guinea, and Afghanistan’s Western-backed government collapsed to the Taliban. We are all seeing an explosion of seizures of power by force. Military coups are back. The lack of unity among the international community does not help, Mr. Guterres said.

“Geopolitical divisions are undermining international cooperation and limiting the capacity of the Security Council to take necessary decisions”, he said.

US - France: AUKUS

The UN General Assembly opened as diplomatic tensions were high among some permanent members of the UN Security Council. France was outraged when President Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the AUKUS plan for Australia to get nuclear-powered submarines using US technology. The deal effectively scuttled a prior $66 billion diesel-powered submarine contract Australia had with France. France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia in protest.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said there was a “crisis of trust” with the US, relating to dealing with France, the oldest ally of the US.

French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden spoke on the phone Wednesday amid the diplomatic row over submarine contracts, with France stating it would return its recalled ambassador to Washington next week as part of measures to restore “confidence” between the squabbling allies.

President Joe Biden agreed that consulting France before announcing a security pact with Australia could have prevented a diplomatic row, Macron’s office said.

Macron and Biden “have decided to open a process of in-depth consultations, aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence”, the Élysée Palace and the White House said in a joint statement.

They discussed the implications of the September 15 announcement of the defence announcement between Australia, the US and Britain, and “agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners”.

Macron and Biden will meet at the end of October in Europe.

The French ambassador will undertake “intensive work with senior US officials” after his return to the United States, the statement said.

The United States additionally recognised “the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense, that contributes positively to transatlantic and global security and is complementary to NATO”.

Washington also committed to boosting its support for counter-terrorism missions led by European nations in Africa’s Sahel region.

No decision has yet been made about the French ambassador to Australia, who was also recalled last week, the Élysée Palace said, adding that no phone call with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scheduled.

The AUKUS row plunged Franco-US ties into what some analysts viewed as the most acute crisis since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Paris vocally opposed.

Afghan UN?

The Taliban have asked to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly.

A UN committee will rule on the request, but it is unlikely to happen during the current session of the body.

The Taliban also nominated their Doha-based spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, as Afghanistan’s UN ambassador. Taliban which seized control of Afghanistan last month, said the envoy for the ousted government no longer represented the country.

The request to participate in the high-level debate is being considered by a credentials committee, whose nine members include the US, China and Russia, according to a UN spokesperson. But they are unlikely to meet before the end of the General Assembly session next Monday. Until then, under UN rules, Ghulam Isaczai will remain Afghanistan’s ambassador to the global body.

He is expected to make a speech on the final day. However the Taliban said his mission “no longer represents Afghanistan”.

No government has formally recognised the Taliban as Afghanistan’s new government and for the UN to agree to its nominee for ambassador would be an important step towards international acceptance.

Canada Polls

Justin Trudeau has won a third term as Canada’s Prime Minister, with his Liberal party set to capture the most seats in the snap election, a result he called a “clear mandate” to get the country through the pandemic.

The results would lead to Trudeau forming another minority government, with him once again needing to work with other parties to pass legislation.

“I hear you when you say you want to get back to the things you love, not to worry about the pandemic or the election,” Trudeau said, acknowledging the decision to hold an early election was deeply unpopular. “You have given this government and this Parliament clear direction.”

Preliminary results indicated his Liberals had won or were leading in 156 seats – short of the 170 needed for a Parliamentary majority. Erin O’Toole’s opposition Conservatives had 121. The result largely mirrored the outcome of the 2019 election.

Elections Canada, which oversees the vote, had previously warned that some results would take days to be finalised as mail-in ballots are counted.

The prime minister gambled by calling an election in August in the hopes that the government’s pandemic response could boost his party’s power in Parliament.

But rival parties quickly called foul, accusing the prime minister of conducting a “vanity project” during a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Opposition leader O’Toole called the election a “quick power grab” after conceding defeat early on Tuesday. “Five weeks ago, Mr. Trudeau asked for a majority. Tonight, Canadians did not give Mr. Trudeau the majority mandate he wanted. In fact, Canadians sent him back with another minority at the cost of $600m dollars,” he said.

While the opposition Conservatives led in the national popular vote, Monday’s result marked a defeat for O’Toole. His centrist campaign failed to persuade enough voters to toss out the Liberal party after six years in power. The last time the Conservative party won an election federally was in 2011.

The progressive New Democratic Party, led by Jagmeet Singh, was expected to pick up electoral seats, but fall short of its hope for “kingmaker” status. “Our fight will always continue,” said Singh, congratulating Trudeau on his win. While Singh spent much of the election attacking Trudeau, he and his party are likely to support many of the Liberals’ policies – and will try to push the government to the left.

Heading into the race, Trudeau’s Liberals held 155 seats in Parliament, the Conservatives held 119 seats, the Bloc Quebecois held 32 seats and the NDP held 24 seats. The Green party had only two seats and there were five Independent MPs.

Despite the lack of a Parliamentary majority, the prime minister is likely to find strong support in Parliament for the Liberal party’s marquee policy – C$10 per day child care across the country.

Climate aid

Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will no longer fund coal-fired power plants abroad.

This came hours after the U.S. President Joe Biden announced a plan to double financial aid to poorer nations to $11.4 billion by 2024, so those countries could switch to cleaner energy and cope with global warming’s worsening impacts. That puts rich nations close to within reach of its long-promised, but not realized, goal of $100 billion a year in climate aid for developing nations.

This could provide some momentum going into major climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, in less than six weeks, experts said. Running up to the historic 2015 Paris climate deal, a joint U.S.-China agreement kick started successful negotiations. This time, with China-U.S. relations dicey, the two nations made their announcements separately, hours and thousands of miles apart.

“Today was a really good day for the world,” United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting the upcoming climate negotiations, told US Vice President Kamala Harris.

“It’s a big deal. China was the only significant funder of overseas coal left. This announcement essentially ends all public support for coal globally,” said Joanna Lewis, an expert on China, energy and climate at Georgetown University. “This is the announcement many have been waiting for.”

From 2013 to 2019, data showed that China was financing 13% of coal-fired power capacity built outside China. Japan and South Korea announced earlier this year that they were getting out of the coal-financing business.

With all three countries pulling out of financing coal abroad “that sends a signal to the global economy. This is a sector that’s fast becoming a stranded asset,” said Kevin Gallagher, who directs the Boston University centre.

While this is a big step it is not quite a death knell for coal, said Byford Tsang, a policy analyst for E3G. That’s because China last year added as much new coal power domestically as was just potentially cancelled abroad, he said.

Many nations that are trying to build their economies — including top polluters China and India — have long argued they needed to industrialize with fossil fuels, like developed nations had already done. Starting in 2009 and then with “a grand bargain” in 2015 in Paris, richer nations promised $100 billion a year in financial help to poorer nations to make the switch from dirty to clean fuel, World Resources Institute climate finance expert Joe Thwaites said.

But as of 2019, the richer nations were only providing $80 billion a year, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In April, Biden announced he would double the Obama era financial aid pledge of $2.85 billion a year to $5.7 billion. On Tuesday he announced that he hopes to double that to $11.4 billion a year starting in 2024, but he does need passage from Congress.

The European Union has been doling out $24.5 billion a year with the European Commission recently upping that to more than $4.7 billion over seven years.

“Accelerating the global phase out of coal is the single most important step” to keeping the Paris agreement’s key warming limit within reach, said U.N. Chief Guterres.

COVID vaccines

The United States on Wednesday promised to buy 500 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses to donate to other countries as it comes under increasing pressure to share its supply with the rest of the world.

President Joe Biden made the announcement during a virtual summit aimed at boosting global vaccination rates against the coronavirus and rallying world leaders to do more.

“To beat the pandemic here we need to beat it everywhere,” Biden said as he kicked off the summit, which included leaders from Britain, Canada, Indonesia and South Africa as well as World Health Organisation head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“This is an all hands on deck crisis,” Biden said of the pandemic that has raged since early 2020, killing more than 4,900,000 people.

China’s President Xi Jinping in his address to the UN General Assembly said “vaccination is our powerful weapon against COVID-19. I have stressed on many occasions the need to make vaccines a global public good and ensure vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. Of pressing priority is to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines globally.

China will strive to provide a total of two billion doses of vaccines to the world by the end of this year. In addition to donating 100 million U.S. dollars to COVAX, China will donate 100 million doses of vaccines to other developing countries in the course of this year. China will continue to support and engage in global science-based origins tracing, and stands firmly opposed to political manoeuvering in whatever form.

“We must revitalize the economy and pursue more robust, greener and more balanced global development. Development holds the key to people’s well-being. Facing the severe shocks of COVID-19, we need to work together to steer global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth. To this end, I would like to propose a Global Development Initiative.”

Health experts say donations alone aren’t enough to end this pandemic. The vast majority of lofty donation pledges haven’t materialized so far.

Leaders from developing nations have warned that vaccine hoarding by wealthy countries could lead to new coronavirus variants.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reprimanded world leaders on Tuesday for the inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, describing it as an “obscenity” and giving the globe an “F in Ethics.”

Wildlife fall

Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, according to a major report by the World Wildlife Fund.

Human activity has severely degraded three quarters of all land and 40 percent of Earth’s oceans, and the quickening destruction of nature is likely to have grave consequences on our health and livelihoods, according to the 2020 edition of the Living Planet Index, which was released on Thursday.

A collaboration between WWF International and the Zoological Society of London, the Index said increasing deforestation and agricultural expansion were the key drivers behind a 68 percent decline in global populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish between 1970 and 2016. It warned that continued natural habitat loss increased the risk of future pandemics as humans come into ever closer contact with wild animals.

In an interview with FRANCE 24, Marco Lambertini, the Director-General of WWF International, said the coronavirus pandemic has helped raise awareness of the direct link between biodiversity loss and vital threats to humanity. He urged world leaders to agree on a goal to reverse catastrophic nature loss, similar to the targets set for Climate Change at a UN summit in Paris in 2015.

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