Turkish Trade Minister Omer Bolat discussed with visiting Japanese counterpart Yasutoshi Nishimura the bilateral relations in trade, investment and economy.The two sides also discussed cooperation in fields of financing and technology.At the end of the talks, the two countries signed a joint statement to boost trade and mutual investment.Bolat noted that trade exchange between the two countries exceeded $5 billion, and is expected to reach $6 billion by the end of 2023.On his part, Nishimura said that the two sides agreed to accelerate talks on the economic partnership agreement for the mutual development of trade and investment, adding that the two sides agreed to hold the Trade and Investment Summit (TRINS) in Tokyo as soon as possible next year. (QNA)
Two Hong Kong men were arrested on Tuesday for colluding with "a foreign country or with external elements" to endanger national security, police said, part of Beijing's long-running crackdown on what remains of the city's pro-democracy movement.China in 2020 enacted a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong after the finance hub saw months of huge and sometimes violent protests calling for greater democratic rights.Authorities have arrested more than 260 people under the law, with around 80 of them convicted or awaiting sentencing.Police said the two men arrested Tuesday, aged 33 and 59, were suspected of "conspiracy to collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security".They were also accused of "conspiracy to incite others to commit riot", police added.The two men, who authorities did not name, were linked to the "612 Humanitarian Relief Fund", a now-defunct group that helped pay legal and medical costs for people arrested during the 2019 protests.The duo were suspected of colluding with the fund to "receive donations from various overseas organisations to support people who have fled overseas or organisations which called for sanctions against Hong Kong", police said.Identical allegations were made on August 10 when Hong Kong police arrested 10 other people with ties to the fund.The fund disbanded in October 2021 after national security police demanded it hand over details that included information about its donors and beneficiaries.Authorities have accused the group of fomenting dissent among jailed protesters and scrutinised its ties with Hong Kong activists who have fled overseas.Last month, police put out bounties of HK$1 million ($128,000) each on eight pro-democracy activists living abroad, accusing them of violating the security law.Some of the targeted activists have decried the bounties as "harassment" and the move was condemned by the United States, Britain and Australia.
At least 13 people, including seven children, were killed Friday in a crowd stampede at a stadium in the Madagascar capital of Antananarivo, according to the Red Cross and a local member of parliament."So far 13 people have been killed and 107 injured," said opposition MP Hanitra Razafimanantsoa on a local radio station.The Red Cross, who were on the scene, added: "We don't yet have the final list. Seven minors died."The prime minister of the Indian Ocean nation Christian Ntsay had initially put the toll at "12 dead and some 80 injured".The stampede occurred at the entrance to the Barea stadium where a crowd of around 50,000 spectators had arrived to attend the opening ceremony of the Indian Ocean Island Games.The cause of the tragedy was not immediately known but the Red Cross said the toll could climb."There were a lot of people at the entrance, which triggered a stampede," Antsa Mirado, a communications manager with the Red Cross, told AFP.Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina, who was present at the opening ceremony, called for a minute's silence."A tragic event occurred because there was pushing. There were injuries and deaths at the entrance," he said in a televised speech.TV images broadcast images of dazed and shocked people trying to locate their shoes piled amongst objects lost in the deadly crush.Other images from inside the stadium, shared on social media, showed the stands packed with spectators.The Indian Ocean Island Games are a multi-disciplinary competition being held in Madagascar until September 3.They have been staged every four years in different islands in the south-west Indian Ocean for around 40 years. The previous edition took place in Mauritius.
Iranian security forces have arrested eight foreign suspects after detaining a gunman in the killing of one person at a Shiite Muslim shrine, state media reported on Monday.The attack came less than a year after a mass shooting at the same holy site, the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in Shiraz, capital of Fars province in Iran's south."Eight people suspected of links with the terrorist attack... have been arrested," according to the judiciary's Mizan Online website, quoting Fars province chief justice Kazem Mousavi."All the people arrested are foreigners," Mousavi said, without elaborating.The eight are in addition to the main suspect arrested on Sunday night after the attack. Mizan identified him as Rahmatollah Nowruzof from Tajikistan.Sunday's shooting wounded eight people, the official IRNA news agency reported.Windows were left shattered by bullets, and blood stained the ground in a courtyard of the arched and colonnaded complex after the shooting.There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Fars provincial governor Mohammad Hadi Imanieh blamed the extremist Islamic State group.He told state TV that the assailant sought "to take revenge for the execution of two terrorists" convicted of carrying out the similar attack last year.On Monday, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi told state TV during a visit to the site that the "terrorist" was collaborating with a "network operating" outside Iran.On October 26, a mass shooting at the shrine left 13 people dead and 30 wounded. IS later claimed the attack.Iran hanged two men in public on July 8 over the killings after their conviction for "corruption on earth, armed rebellion and acting against national security," Mizan said at the time.Three other defendants in the case were sentenced to prison for five, 15 and 25 years for being members of IS, according to Moussavi.In November, Tehran said 26 "takfiri terrorists" from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan had been arrested in connection with the mass shooting.In Shiite-dominated Iran, the term takfiri generally refers to jihadists or proponents of radical Sunni Islam.The Shah Cheragh mausoleum is home to the tomb of Ahmad, brother of Imam Reza -- the eighth Shiite imam -- and is considered the holiest site in southern Iran.Last year's shooting occurred as nationwide protests gripped Iran following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, arrested for an alleged breach of strict dress rules for women.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday said that the United States believes Russia's defence minister is in North Korea to secure supplies of weapons to aid the stalled invasion of Ukraine.Following Sergei Shoigu's arrival on a rare trip to Pyongyang, Blinken said that Russia is scrambling to buy arms from allies across the world."I strongly doubt he's there on holiday," Blinken told reporters in Australia."We're seeing Russia desperately looking for support, for weapons, wherever it can find them to continue to prosecute its aggression against Ukraine," he said."We see that in North Korea, we see that as well with Iran, which has provided many drones to Russia that it's using to destroy civilian infrastructure and killed civilians in Ukraine."While in North Korea, Shoigu met the country's leader Kim Jong Un, in what Pyongyang's state media described as "a friendly talk."Russia, a historic ally of North Korea, is one of a handful of nations with which Pyongyang maintains friendly relations.
Suy Se and Rose Troup Buchanan Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's heir apparent insisted Monday on the legitimacy of elections his party won against no meaningful opposition, defying international criticism that the polls were neither free nor fair.Hun Sen has presided over Cambodia for nearly 40 years -- stifling all real opposition, freedom of speech and democratic reform -- but has indicated recently that he will soon hand power to his eldest son Hun Manet.The United States on Monday condemned the polls, in which the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) is predicted to win all but five of 125 parliamentary seats in the lower house.But Hun Manet posted a triumphant message across multiple social media platforms hailing his party's victory."The Cambodian people have clearly expressed their wills through votes," he wrote."An overwhelming number have expressed support for the Cambodian People's Party."He thanked Cambodians "for choosing to vote, and especially for all the love and confidence in the CPP".Official results will not be available for weeks, although the CPP claimed late Sunday to have won a "landslide" victory.The small government-aligned royalist FUNCINPEC party, headed by Prince Norodom Chakravuth, is expected to take five seats -- giving the new parliament at least a patina of diversity after the CPP won every seat in the last election.The disqualification of the only viable opposition force, the Candlelight Party, on a technicality, meant there was no realistic outcome other than a big CPP win.The United States said the elections were "neither free nor fair", pointing to "a pattern of threats and harassment against the political opposition, media, and civil society"."These actions denied the Cambodian people a voice and a choice in determining the future of their country," US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement on Monday.He said Washington was preparing to impose visa restrictions on some individuals for undermining democracy, and halting some aid programmes.- Opposition silenced –In the months running up to the national polls, freedom of speech was heavily stifled, with one of the few remaining independent news outlets, Voice of Democracy, shut down in February.And Hun Sen ordered election laws changed, banning anyone who fails to vote in the poll from ever running for office -- a move that will affect exiled rivals.Authorities are investigating 27 people for inciting voters to spoil their ballots on polling day, interior ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told AFP.With no meaningful opposition, intentionally invalidating their ballot papers would have been one way for voters to show dissatisfaction with Hun Sen's rule.In the run-up to polling day, election authorities banned exiled opposition figurehead Sam Rainsy -- Hun Sen's long-time arch-enemy -- from running for office for 25 years for urging people to void their ballots.While during the counting AFP reporters witnessed a number of spoiled ballots -- later downplayed by the CPP -- there was little chance of protests in a country entirely under Hun Sen's thumb.On Monday, Phnom Penh was calm, with few people on the streets."The situation is normal, calm and good," 42-year-old news stand vendor Khon Sokna told AFP.Behind her a number of English and Khmer-language newspapers flapped from a string, celebrating Hun Sen's victory at the polls."There is no problem at all," she said.In a country that was torn apart by genocide and war within living memory, many were grateful for the continuity of Hun Sen, and his intention of passing on power to his son.Shop owner Lon Mon, 52, said it would be sad when the prime minister retired.
A powerful earthquake measuring 7.1 magnitude on the Richter scale struck the Kermadec Islands region in New Zealand on Thursday.According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake was estimated at a depth of 10 km.A tsunami warning was issued after the quake, the US Tsunami Warning System said.No causalities or material damage have been reported.The Kermadec Islands are subjected to strong earthquakes frequently, the most recent of which was an earthquake of a 6.9 magnitude on March 4.
An earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale struck Papua New Guinea.The US Geological Survey reported that the quake occurred 61 kilometres near the city of Panguna, at a depth of 60 kilometres.So far, there have been no reports of human or material losses due to the earthquake.Papua New Guinea is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. This region includes 90 percent of the active volcanoes in the world.In February 2018, it witnessed a devastating earthquake that killed at least 100 people and caused landslides that buried dozens of villages.
Two workers for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been kidnapped in Mali, the organisation's Mali branch said on Twitter."We confirm the kidnapping of two of our colleagues this morning between Gao and Kidal," it said Saturday, adding that the agency had been present in Mali for 32 years, and was "a neutral, independent and impartial organisation.""We ask not to speculate on this incident so as not to hinder its resolution," it added.The kidnapping had taken place on the road between Gao and Kidal.Mali has been in the grip of a security crisis since 2012.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approves about USD 114.8 million in emergency funding support for South Sudan.In a statement, IMF said that the emergency financing under the Food Shock Window will help South Sudan to address food insecurity while maintaining social and growth-enhancing spending, explaining that four years of severe floods, in addition to the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic, exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation, as about 8.3 million people, or two-thirds of the population, face acute food insecurity.IMF's statement pointed out that the fund's executive board also discussed a 9-month staff-monitored programme that was approved in February by its management with the aim of helping the authorities establish a track record toward an IMF-supported upper credit tranche (UCT) programme.In 2011, South Sudan also declared its independence from Sudan, but two years later it descended into a civil war that claimed 400,000 lives. Despite a 2018 peace agreement between the two main rivals, warfare has persisted, killing many civilians and forcing many more to flee their homes.
New Zealand's capital Wellington was swayed by a strong earthquake Wednesday, with residents reporting feeling a sudden jolt and buildings quivering.The US Geological Survey said the quake measured 5.7 on the moment magnitude scale, with an epicentre in the Cook Strait between the country's two main islands."A big shake there! A magnitude 6.0, 57 km deep, 50 km north-west of Paraparaumu was widely felt in the North Island," said New Zealand's Civil Defence agency.There were no immediate reports of damage, and no tsunami warning has been issued.But residents reported feeling the ground shaking for 10-20 seconds, likening it to a convoy of giant trucks rolling by.The quake came as the cleanup gets underway from a devastating cyclone, which killed four people and caused widespread damage across the North Island."It is already a really stressful time for people -- look after yourself and the people around you," said the civil defence agency.
Thailand on Monday rescinded a policy announced at the weekend requiring visitors to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination, its health minister said, citing sufficient immunisation levels in China and globally.Anutin Charnvirakul said requiring visitors to show evidence of vaccination was inconvenient and a panel of experts had resolved that it was unnecessary as enough vaccinations had been administered globally.Anutin said visitors not vaccinated would also be granted entry without restriction.The country's aviation authority had on Saturday announced the restrictions, effective Monday, ahead of an expected deluge of visitors from China, where Covid-19 cases have surged."Showing proof of vaccination would be cumbersome and inconvenient, and so the group's decision is that it is unnecessary," Anutin told reporters.The first flight of Chinese visitors since the pandemic started arrived in Thailand on Monday, carrying an initial group of an expected 3,465 passengers on the first day, Anutin said.One of Asia's most popular travel destinations, Thailand is enjoying an influx of tourists during its first peak season since the removal last year of tight entry restrictions.In November, it recorded 1.75 million visitors, quadruple the number received for the whole of last year when flights and foreign arrivals were limited.Anutin said Thailand was now expecting 7-10 million Chinese visitors, compared to an earlier estimate of 5 million."This is a good sign for Thailand's tourism sector ... the country's economy will recover rapidly. After we've been devastated by Covid for the last three years," he said.Thailand's tourism authority is expecting arrival numbers for last year to have exceeded 11.5 million, just over a quarter of the record of nearly 40 million in pre-pandemic 2019, who spent about 1.91 trillion baht ($55.17 billion).Thailand will still require foreigners whose next destination is a country requiring a negative pre-entry Covid-19 test to show they have health insurance covering treatment for the disease, Anutin said.
Mexico arrests son of notorious drug kingpin 'El Chapo'Mexican security forces on Thursday captured a son of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, scoring a high-profile win in the fight against powerful cartels days before US President Joe Biden visits.Ovidio Guzman, nicknamed "El Raton" (The Mouse), was caught in the northwestern city of Culiacan and flown to Mexico City on a military plane, Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval told reporters.He said the arrest was the result of six months of intelligence work tracking down the 32-year-old, who has allegedly helped to run his father's operations since El Chapo was extradited to the United States in 2017.The United States had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to Ovidio Guzman's capture, accusing him of being a key player in the infamous Sinaloa cartel.Gunfire and arson shook Culiacan after the arrest, which comes as Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador prepares to welcome Biden next week for a North America leaders' summit in Mexico City where security is expected to be high on the agenda.A National Guardsman was killed and at least 28 people were wounded in the violence, Sinaloa state governor Ruben Rocha said, while school classes were suspended and sporting events in Culiacan were canceled.As Guzman's henchmen reacted with fury, a passenger jet and an air force plane were both hit by gunfire at the Culiacan airport. Videos on social media showed passengers and Aeromexico airline employees at the terminal ducking behind counters as gunfire rang out. No injuries were reported there.Cartel gunmen set autos and trucks ablaze at several intersections in the city, and authorities reported 19 roadblocks.El Chapo is serving a life sentence in the United States for trafficking hundreds of tons of drugs into the US over the course of 25 years.However, his cartel remains one of the most powerful in Mexico, accused by Washington of exploiting an opioid epidemic by flooding communities with fentanyl, a synthetic drug about 50 times more potent than heroin.Ovidio Guzman and one of his brothers are accused of overseeing nearly a dozen methamphetamine labs in Sinaloa as well as conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana, according to the US State Department.He also allegedly ordered the murders of informants, a drug trafficker and a Mexican singer who refused to perform at his wedding, it said.- Previous failed arrest –Ovidio Guzman was captured briefly once before in 2019, but security forces freed him after his cartel waged an all-out war in response.Several people were killed on that occasion in Culiacan as gunmen launched a massive machine-gun assault, leaving the streets strewn with blazing vehicles.His release prompted sharp criticism of Lopez Obrador, who said the decision was made to protect civilians' lives in the city of around 800,000 people.Security expert David Saucedo said Ovidio Guzman's capture was "not a consequence of Biden's visit, but rather of the pressure that the Americans were putting on the government" since the failed arrest in 2019.Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard played down the prospects of a fast-track extradition, saying Ovidio Guzman was expected to face legal proceedings in Mexico.Lopez Obrador has struggled to curb the brutal violence plaguing Mexico since taking office in 2018.He championed a "hugs not bullets" strategy to tackle violent crime at its roots by fighting poverty and inequality with social programs, rather than with the army.The left-wing populist has asked the United States to invest in regional economic development instead of sending helicopter gunships and other weapons to take on drug traffickers.Mexico has registered more than 340,000 murders since the government controversially deployed the army to fight drug cartels in 2006, most of them blamed on criminal gangs.On Sunday, cartel gunmen attacked a prison in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, leaving nearly 20 people dead and allowing 25 inmates to flee.The next day, seven people were killed during a police operation to recapture the prisoners.A gang leader among the escapees was killed on Thursday in a shootout with security forces, authorities said.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered aides to consider suspending a 2018 inter-Korean military tension reduction agreement if North Korea violates the South's territory again, an official said Wednesday.Yoon's remark came after five North Korean drones infiltrated South Korean airspace last week, raising serious questions about South Korea's readiness posture, Yonhap News Agency reported."President Yoon Suk Yeol instructed the National Security Office to consider suspending the Sept. 19 military agreement in the event North Korea carries out another provocation violating our territory," senior presidential secretary for press affairs Kim Eun-hye told reporters.Yoon also instructed Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup to establish a joint drone unit tasked with carrying out multiple missions, including surveillance and reconnaissance operations, build a system enabling the mass production of small, hard-to-detect drones within the year and push to develop stealth drones before the end of the year, Kim said.Yoon's instructions were a call for the South Korean armed forces to build an "overwhelming response capability that goes beyond a proportionate response to North Korea's provocations," Kim explained.The Sept. 19 agreement, which was signed after a 2018 summit between then President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, calls for halting all hostile military activity between the Koreas.It also includes plans to turn the demilitarised zone into a peace zone, devise military guarantees for the activation of cross-border exchanges and establish military confidence-building measures.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed the deaths of 6,000 and 884 Ukrainian civilians since the beginning of the Russian military operation 10 months ago.In a statement issued today by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights revealed that, 6,884 citizens were killed and10,947 wounded between Feb. 24 Dec. 26, indicating that the Russian forces used explosive and weapons with widespread range effects, such as heavy artillery shelling, multiple rocket launcher systems, missiles and air strikes, caused most of these civilian casualties.The office confirmed that the actual numbers of victims were much higher considering the delay in receiving the information from intense hostilities locations, noting that many reports were still pending verification to confirm their credibility.Russia's bombing of Ukrainian cities has left behind a great magnitude of destruction, requiring the reconstruction of billions of dollars, and years to carry it out.
More than 50 flights have been delayed or arrived behind schedule, another three have been cancelled in Moscow on Saturday due to heavy snowfall, according to the data on online boards of the city's airports.On Sunday, 21 flights have been delayed in Sheremetyevo, and five - in Vnukovo. Two flights have been cancelled and 36 delayed in Domodedovo, whereas in Zhukovsky one flight has been cancelled and one delayed.A heavy snowfall started in Moscow in the second part of Thursday and may last until February 14.
Fulya OZERKAN Turkey's inflation slowed in November for the first time since May 2021, official data showed on Monday, delivering a boost to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of next year's election.The rate slowed to 84.39 percent, according to state statistics agency TUIK, down from 85.51 percent in October.Turkey's inflation has risen steadily since reaching a low of 16.6 percent in May 2021.The emerging market's troubled economy has turned into a major stumbling block on Erdogan's path to a third decade in power in a presidential poll due by next June.Erdogan's approval rating began to suffer when he set off on an unusual economic experiment last year that tried to bring down chronically high consumer prices by lowering borrowing costs.Conventional economic theory embraced by almost every other big nation pursues the exact opposite approach.Turkey's lira began to drop in value almost immediately, as consumers rushed to buy up dollars and gold to try and protect their savings.The price of imports such as oil and gas soared, creating an inflationary spiral that the nominally independent central bank fed further by continuing to lower interest rates.Erdogan has maintained that his unwavering focus on economic growth at all costs -- achieved through cheap lending and state support -- will eventually pay off."We will witness the rapid descent of inflation soon and we will see together that the dirty scenarios built on this trouble are torn and thrown away," he repeated over the weekend.Erdogan has blamed inflation on outside factors such as the global spike in food and energy prices caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.- Election strategy –Erdogan's much-criticised economic team hailed Monday's announcement as vindication of their approach."As we have previously stated in various media, we have entered a downward trend in inflation, leaving the peak behind, unless there is an unexpected global development," Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati tweeted.Most economists believe that Turkey's inflation rate will continue to slow but remain elevated for many months to come, unless Erdogan radically changes his approach.An accompanying inflow of funding from the Kremlin and Turkey's former rivals in the Middle East, which Erdogan secured through a major diplomatic reversal this year, will help the government prop up the lira, economists believe.Erdogan's strategy aims at "keeping the lira relatively strong this side of elections with foreign money", Timothy Ash of BlueBay Asset Management said in a tweet."But that will destroy competitiveness with massive real appreciation."Yet many also question Turkey's official statistics, which are produced by an agency whose leader has been replaced by Erdogan twice in the past year.According to a respected monthly study released by independent economists from Turkey's ENAG research institute, the annual rate of consumer price increases reached 170.70 percent in November.A separate poll earlier this year showed the overwhelming major of Turks believing the ENAG figures over ones released by the government.
South Korea's military said it scrambled fighter jets Wednesday as six Russian and two Chinese warplanes entered its air defence zone without notice.Japan's military also said it had scrambled jets in response to flights over the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, by Russian and Chinese aircraft.Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the Chinese H-6 bombers repeatedly entered and exited the Korea Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ) near South Korea's southern and northeastern coasts early Wednesday.Hours later they returned to the zone from the East Sea, accompanied by Russian warplanes including two Su-35 fighter jets and four TU-95 bombers, it added.All the warplanes eventually left the zone and none violated South Korea's airspace, Seoul said.An ADIZ is an area wider than a country's airspace in which it tries to control aircraft for security reasons, but the concept is not defined in any international treaty."Our military deployed air force fighter jets even before Chinese and Russian aircraft entered the KADIZ to take tactical measures in case of contingency," the JCS said in a statement.Beijing and Moscow appeared to have "engaged in a combined air exercise", Seoul's Yonhap news agency reported, citing unnamed "observers".Japan's Joint Staff said two Chinese H-6 bombers "entered the Sea of Japan and then flew north" on Wednesday morning."Around the same time, what appears to be two Russian aircraft flew south over the Sea of Japan and then turned around," it said, adding that it had scrambled jets in response.The incident comes as Washington pushes China, North Korea's most important ally, to use its influence to help rein in Pyongyang, which has conducted a record-breaking blitz of missile launches this year.Chinese President Xi Jinping recently told Kim Jong Un that he was willing to work with the North Korean leader for "world peace".Pyongyang earlier this month fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in one of its most powerful tests yet, declaring it would meet perceived US nuclear threats with nukes of its own.The United States has accused Beijing and Moscow of protecting Pyongyang from further punishment.The two countries in May vetoed a US-led effort to tighten sanctions on North Korea in response to the North's earlier missile launches.
US President Joe Biden headed to UN climate talks in Egypt on Friday armed with major domestic achievements against global warming but under pressure to do more for countries reeling from natural disasters. Biden will spend only a few hours at COP27 in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, three days after US midterm elections that have raised questions about what the result could mean for US climate policy. Climate action in the United States -- the world's second biggest emitter -- was given a major boost this year when Congress passed a landmark spending bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion for clean energy and climate initiatives. "We're living in a decisive decade –- one in which we have an opportunity to prove ourselves and advance the global climate fight," Biden said on Twitter. "Let this be a moment where we answer history's call. Together," said the US leader, who skipped a two-day summit of some 100 world leaders at COP27 earlier this week that coincided with the US election. New research shows just how dauntingly hard it will be to meet the goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels -- requiring emissions to be slashed nearly in half by 2030. The new study — published on Friday in the journal Earth System Science Data -- found that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are on track to rise one percent in 2022 to reach an all-time high. COP27 talks have been dominated by the need for wealthy polluters to stop stalling on helping developing countries green their economies and prepare for future impacts -- as well as calls to provide financial help for the damage already being caused by climate-induced catastrophes. "The world needs the United States to be a climate leader in our fight for climate justice," prominent Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, a 25-year-old Goodwill Ambassador for Unicef, told AFP. Germany's climate envoy, Jennifer Morgan, said Biden's attendance at COP27 was a "very good sign". "I think it reassures countries, people, that the United States at the highest level takes this issue incredibly seriously and we need that," Morgan told reporters. - Climate-sceptic Republicans - White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Biden will "underscore the need to go further, faster, to help the most vulnerable communities build their resilience" and push major economies to "dramatically" cut emissions. "How long do we have to sit around to wait before we say, 'Hey let's get really serious'," US climate envoy John Kerry told a COP27 panel. Kerry presented this week a public-private partnership aimed at supporting the transition to renewable energy in developing nations and based on a carbon credit system. But the plan has been panned by activists wary of firms using these to "offset" their carbon emissions. With Republicans apparently poised to retake the House of Representatives, part of Biden's climate agenda could take a hit. Democrats have a chance to retain the Senate. Biden pledged to contribute $11.4 billion to a $100 billion per-year-scheme through which rich countries will help developing ones transition to renewable energies and build climate resilience. But Democrats would have to rush it through Congress before climate-sceptic Republicans take office in January. "We're going to be pressing for passage of the appropriations bills," US lawmaker Kathy Castor, who chairs a special climate crisis committee in the House, told AFP. "Hopefully Republicans in the Congress will not block it," she said. - 'Loss and damage' - The United States has for years resisted attempts to establish a "loss and damage" fund in which rich polluters would compensate developing nations for the destruction from climate-related disasters. Emerging countries successfully put the issue on the official COP27 agenda, with fraught negotiations likely before talks end on November 18. Biden will also use the trip to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and discuss the human rights situation in the country, where the case of jailed dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah was raised by other leaders earlier this week. Ahead of his trip, the White House expressed "deep concern" for the jailed British-Egyptian activist, who is on a hunger strike. After COP27, Biden will head to an ASEAN regional summit in Cambodia at the weekend before travelling to Indonesia for G20 talks. Biden may have a chance to revive cooperation with China when he meets President Xi Jinping at the G20. US-Sino co-operation has been crucial to the fight against global warming, but Beijing cut off climate talks with Washington after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August.
Democratic former President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned that "more people are going to get hurt" unless the US political climate changes, after the husband of the Speaker of the House was attacked by a man wielding a hammer. A 42-year-old man has been charged with breaking into the home of Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday and, in her absence, attacking her 82-year-old husband, Paul Pelosi, fracturing his skull and causing other injuries. The suspect pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and a host of other state charges. Campaigning at a rally for Democratic candidates in Nevada, the former president said he had spoken to Paul Pelosi recently and "he's going to be OK." But Obama expressed grave concern about "this erosion of just basic civility and democratic norms," in a country where supporters of Republican former President Donald Trump violently attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. "This increasing habit of demonizing political opponents creates a dangerous climate," Obama said, faulting elected officials who fail to reject the violence, make light of it, or inflame the situation with heated rhetoric. "If that's the environment that we create, more people are going to get hurt." Obama was in Las Vegas to lend his star power to candidates who are in extremely close races for US Senate and governor ahead of the Nov. 8 election. He also backed candidates further down the ballot in races for the U.S. Congress, state attorney general and secretary of state. The two-term president, who left office in 2017, remains the Democratic Party's most popular figure and has already made campaign stops in Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia. The Obama tour will continue on Wednesday in Arizona and Saturday in Pennsylvania, two more states with tight races for governor and senator. In Nevada, incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is facing a fierce challenge from Republican Adam Laxalt, a former attorney general who supported Trump's false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by fraud. The Nevada race could determine which party controls the Senate, which is split 50-50 and in Democratic hands only because Vice Present Kamala Harris can break any ties. In the race for governor, Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak is locked in a close race with Republican challenger Joe Lombardo, the Clark County sheriff.