US unveils Asia-Pacific trade framework

  US President Joe Biden launched a new Asia-Pacific trade initiative Monday in Tokyo, with 13 countries including India and Japan signed up. Biden formally unveiled the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, or IPEF, on his second day in Japan, where he held talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ahead of a regional Quad summit on Tuesday. Unlike traditional trade blocs, there is no plan for IPEF members to negotiate tariffs and ease market access […]

Russia intensifies Donbas offensive as war enters fourth month

by Charlotte Plantive with Dmitry Zaks in Severodonetsk and Patrick Fort in Kharkiv © Agence France-Presse Kyiv, UKRAINE (AFP) —  Russian forces on Tuesday stepped up their offensive on the last pocket of resistance around Lugansk in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, as the conflict entered its fourth month. Since Moscow’s invasion in late February, Western support has helped Ukraine hold off its neighbor’s advances in many areas — including the capital Kyiv — but Russia […]

Japan hosts Quad summit seeking unity on countering China

by Sara Hussein / Sebastian Smith © Agence France-Presse Tokyo, JAPAN (AFP) — Leaders of Japan, India, Australia and the United States met in Tokyo on Tuesday, looking to put China on notice as it expands its military and economic influence in the region. The summit of the grouping known as the Quad comes a day after US President Joe Biden said Washington would be ready to intervene militarily to defend Taiwan, prompting China to […]

China congratulates Australia’s Albanese in hint at thawing ties

  Beijing, CHINA (AFP) — Chinese premier Li Keqiang has sent a congratulatory note to newly elected Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese, Beijing’s state media reported, ending a year-long freeze in diplomatic contact between the two countries. China cut off diplomatic and trade channels with Australia in a largely symbolic act of fury last May, following clashes over issues including human rights, espionage and the origins of Covid-19. “The Chinese side is ready to work with the […]

Biden warns China against invading Taiwan, vows US military defence

  by Sebastian Smith and Tomohiro Osaki Agence France Presse TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — President Joe Biden vowed Monday that US forces would defend Taiwan militarily if China attempted to take control of the self-ruled island by force, warning Beijing was already “flirting with danger”. The remarks, made in Tokyo where he is meeting with Japan’s prime minister ahead of a regional summit Tuesday, were Biden’s strongest to date on the issue and come amid […]

WHO meet refuses to admit Taiwan amid China pressure

  GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization’s annual assembly refused Monday to discuss admitting Taiwan to the meeting, under pressure from China and despite impassioned pleas from several countries. Taiwan has been blocked from attending the assembly in recent years by China, which considers the island a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland. There have been growing calls to allow Taiwan in as an observer, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted […]

War crimes verdict looms as Russian offensive intensifies

    by Charlotte Plantive with Dmitry Zaks in Severodonetsk and Patrick Fort in Kharkiv © Agence France-Presse Kyiv, UKRAINE (AFP) — With a verdict due Monday in the conflict’s first war crimes trial, Moscow’s offensive in eastern Ukraine is only intensifying, with the city of Severodonetsk under “round-the-clock” bombardment as Russian troops attempt its encirclement. The trial in Kyiv — seen as a public test of the Ukrainian judicial system’s independence — comes as […]

Biden arrives in Japan with no response on outreach to North Korea

  by Sebastian Smith © Agence France-Presse Tokyo, JAPAN (AFP) — President Joe Biden arrived Sunday in Japan for the second leg of an Asia trip underlining US commitment to the region but overshadowed by concern that North Korea will test a nuclear weapon after ignoring Washington’s attempt at outreach. Biden, making his first trip to Asia as president, flew from South Korea into Yokota Air Base outside Tokyo, where he will meet with Japan’s […]

Australia’s new leader overcame crash, party coup rumblings

  by Maddison Connaughton © Agence France-Presse Sydney, AUSTRALIA (AFP) — Anthony Albanese, Australia’s 31st prime minister, was rushed to hospital a year ago, after a four-wheel-drive slammed into his car. “I thought that was it,” he told a local radio station of the accident. At the time, his Labor Party trailed the country’s ruling conservative government in opinion polls, struggling to cut through during the Covid-19 pandemic. But the near-death experience changed his life, […]

Global elites return to Davos under Ukraine storm

by Laurent Thomet © Agence France-Presse Davos, SWITZERLAND (AFP) — The Davos summit of global political and business elites returns Monday after a Covid-induced two-year break to face another momentous crisis: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The theme of the World Economic Forum, “History at a Turning Point”, sets the tone for the four-day meeting in the glitzy Swiss mountain resort that will be dominated by the political and economic fallout from the conflict. When the […]

Biden warns of potentially ‘consequential’ monkeypox spread

  SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — Monkeypox has caught the attention of US President Joe Biden, who said Sunday that people should be on guard against the disease which has the potential for “consequential” impact, if it were to spread further. Several cases of monkeypox have been detected in North America and Europe since early May, sparking concern the disease, endemic in parts of Africa, is spreading. The US leader, on his maiden trip to […]

Voters oust government in Australian election: media

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australians voted Saturday to oust Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government, ending a decade of conservative rule, media projections showed. Labor leader Anthony Albanese is on track to win more seats than the ruling coalition, national broadcaster ABC and other media said, with half of the ballots counted. It was not yet clear if Labor would need allies to secure a majority. ABC projections indicated Labor had so far secured 72 […]