China says it will strive to reach an initial trade agreement with the U.S. as both sides keep communication channels open.
Gao Feng, spokesman for the Chinese commerce ministry said this on Thursday in an attempt to allay fears that talks might be unraveling.
According to Gao, China is willing to work with the U.S. to resolve each other’s core concerns on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and will try hard to reach a “phase one” deal.
“This is in line with the interests of both China and the U.S., and of the world,” he said.
Economists warn that the prolonged trade dispute between China and the U.S. is escalating risks to the global economy by disrupting supply chains, discouraging investment and dampening business confidence.
Completion of a phase one deal could slide into 2020, trade experts and people close to the White House said, as Beijing presses for more extensive tariff rollbacks and the U.S. administration counters with heightened demands of its own.
Global equities retreated on Thursday due to concerns that the ‘phase one’ deal would be delayed.
The trade jitters also sent the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield down to near its lowest levels in three weeks.
The Chinese yuan also softened against the dollar.
Officials from Beijing had suggested that Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. counterpart Donald Trump might sign a deal in early December.
Some experts said the next date to watch was Dec. 15, when U.S. tariffs on about 156 billion dollars in Chinese goods are set to take effect, including holiday gift items such as electronics and Christmas decorations.
In a dinner speech in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said he was “cautiously optimistic” on a phase one deal, Bloomberg News said, citing people who attended the event ahead of a forum organised by Bloomberg LP.
Liu, China’s chief negotiator at the trade talks, separately told one of the attendees that he was “confused” about the U.S. demands, but was confident the first phase of a deal could be completed nevertheless, Bloomberg added.
Gaosaid he did not have more information to disclose beyond the fact that both parties would continue to communicate, and “outside rumors are not accurate.”
A former Chinese commerce minister said that both sides should return to the time when the trade war first started.
“We should return to the point of origin and cancel all tariffs,” Wei Jianguo said on the sidelines of the Bloomberg forum.
Wei said he was hopeful for a phase one pact, in light of the pressure on both the U.S. and Chinese economies as the trade war dragged on.
“Now, Trump himself is cognizant about the needs of the (upcoming U.S.) elections, and the U.S. economy has also suffered great losses,” he said.
“Under such circumstances, it is entirely possible to reach a phased agreement.”
(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))
9 terror suspects face remand custody hearings in Denmark
Nine suspects face remand custody hearings in Denmark on Thursday on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack with a militant Islamist motive.
Danish media reported from the court that one woman and two men appeared at Copenhagen city court where they were charged with attempting to make explosives.
According to the report, in another courtroom at the Copenhagen city court, five other suspects, four men and one woman, were charged with attempting to acquire firearms or to finance the purchase of firearms.
Meanwhile, the ninth suspect was facing a hearing in the city of Odense.
Jorgen Skov, of the Copenhagen police, said that authorities believed the suspects attempted to obtain material to make explosives and acquire firearms.
However, Police have not mentioned any possible target.
Skov said police would request the hearings be held behind closed doors.
Earlier, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, said in a statement that the arrests were “a reminder that there are individuals in Denmark who have the intent and capacity to commit acts of terrorism.”
Netanyahu to give up ministerial portfolios by Jan. 1
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed the Justice Ministry on Thursday that he would give up his ministerial portfolios by Jan. 1, in light of corruption charges against him.
In addition to the post of Prime Minister, which he would retain, Netanyahu currently acts as Minister for welfare, Diaspora Affairs, Agriculture and Health.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement that Netanyahu would also appoint his replacements by Jan. 1.
Netanyahu’s move comes in response to a petition filed by the good-governance group Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel to the Supreme Court to have him removed from office.
The country will hold an unprecedented third election within a year on March 2, after the Knesset voted to dissolve itself Thursday amid a political stalemate that had grasped Israel since September elections.
Under Israeli law, Netanyahu does not have to step down as Prime Minister if indicted and vowed not to give up the position.
However, legal precedent stipulates that ministers cannot hold on to their position when they are on trial.
In November, Israel’s Attorney-General announced that Netanyahu would be charged with fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases, making him Israel’s first sitting premier to face indictment.
Netanyahu recently spoke of a “witch hunt” and “coup attempt” against him, and has repeatedly hurled attacks at Israel’s Justice Ministry.
Ukraine welcomes U.S. sanctions against Nord Stream-2 pipeline
Ukraine’s leadership, on Thursday welcomed expected U.S. sanctions on the Russian-German Nord Stream-2 natural gas pipeline.
Ukraine had in a very long time protested the project as undermining existing Western economic sanctions to compel Russia to resolve a conflict in Eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, and end its occupation of Crimea region.
According to Ukrainian Presidential Administration, Ukraine is grateful for the votes in favour of sanctions against the pipeline, a political project that undermines the energy security of Europe.
The Ukrainian Prime Minister, Oleksiy Honcharuk, welcomed congressional approval of the sanctions as good news.
“The sanctions should dramatically complicate the construction of the Russian pipe,’’ he said.
Yemen’s Hodeida remains most dangerous for civilians, aid groups say
Yemen’s port of Hodeida on Thursday continued to be the most dangerous area in the country, several international aid groups said.
According to the group, Dec. 12, makes it exactly one year since a peace deal was reached between Yemeni rivals that promised a ceasefire in the western city.
The Stockholm Agreement was reached in Dec. 2018, following UN-sponsored talks in Sweden between representatives of the government and the Houthi rebels.
It focused on a truce agreement for Hodeida that included a province-wide ceasefire and the withdrawal of Houthi fighters.
The agreement has not been fully implemented.
A group of 15 aid organisations, including the Norwegian Refugee Council and Oxfam, said in a statement that in 2019, 799 civilians were killed and wounded in Hodeida province, representing a quarter of all civilian casualties across Yemen.
“This was the highest toll across war-torn, impoverished Yemen,” they said.
The groups noted that about 390,000 Yemenis had been displaced so far in 2019, in spite of a drop in the levels of violence compared to 2018.
They added that besides Hodeida, the northern provinces of Saada and Hajjah, and the southern Taiz and Dhale were among the most dangerous for civilians in 2019.
“As aid agencies working in Yemen, we are outraged that after almost five years, Yemenis continue to suffer from an incalculable humanitarian crisis fuelled by conflict.
“Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the violence,” they added.
Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, has been locked in a devastating power struggle between the Houthis and the government since late 2014.
Nigeria’s Iginla-Aina bags 3rd highest national British honour
A Nigerian based in the UK, Mrs Olusubomi Iginla-Aina has bagged the third highest national honour of Member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Aina, while presenting the award to Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Chairman/CEO, Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) in Abuja said that her passion for uplifting the less privileged earned her the award.
She said that through her NGO, Lightup Foundation, she had been able to impact the lives of thousands of people through various humanitarian programmes both in Nigeria and in the UK.
Most of the time I spend everything I have and after doing that you find there is always a problem on ground. My goal is to ensure that we solve the problem. So whatever I have got goes into it.
I cannot count the number of people whose lives I have impacted. I started it in secondary school and when I got to the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, that was when I started Lightup Foundation,” she said.
Iginla-Aina joins other Nigerians who were conferred with similar awards in the past, among them Dr Nneka Abulokwe, the Founder, MicroMax Consulting.
Abulokwe was honoured for her excellent services in business.
Nigeria’s Nneka Abulokwe was also conferred with the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth for her excellent works.
Responding, Dabiri-Erewa praised Aina for her humanitarian service and urging her not to relent in the good work of impacting the lives of the less privileged.
According to Dabiri-Erewa, Iginla-Aina is a reflection of true Nigerian ideals and also represents what the real Nigerian in the diaspora should be.
The NIDCOM chief who described Iginla-Aina as Diaspora Ambassador said that her recognition as such was for her efforts at enhancing the lives of Nigerian youths and because “she has alone touched the lives of more than 10,000 youths”.
She added that because of her service to humanity Iginla-Aina deserved to be celebrated.
She said that the future of Nigeria depended on its youth population, stressing that getting the best of talented Nigerian young people should remain Iginla-Aina’s priority.
Dabiri-Erewa said that the commission would partner with her in that area.
She called on all Nigerians both at home and in the Diaspora to emulate Iginla-Aina in order to uplift the lives of the less privileged.
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