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Global News Insight: Sept 20, 2021

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Taiwan threatens to take China to WTO in new spat over fruit

Taiwan threatened to take China to the World Trade Organization on Sunday after Beijing said it would suspend sugar apple and wax apple imports from the island on pest concerns, in the latest spat between the two over fruit. Relations between Taipei and Beijing, which claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, are at their lowest in decades, with China increasing political and military pressure to get the island to accept its sovereignty.

Stockpiled COVID vaccines must be handed to poorer nations, says former UK PM

A vaccine summit being hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden must come up with a plan this week to transfer 100 million stockpiled COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries before they reach their expiry date, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. Biden is due to convene a virtual COVID-19 summit on Wednesday on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly, aimed at boosting vaccinations worldwide with the goal of ending the pandemic by the end of 2022.

World leaders return to U.N. with focus on pandemic, climate

World leaders are returning to the United Nations in New York this week with a focus on boosting efforts to fight both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, which last year forced them to send video statements for the annual gathering. As the coronavirus still rages amid an inequitable vaccine rollout, about a third of the 193 U.N. states are planning to again send videos, but presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers for the remainder are due to travel to the United States.

Canada’s Trudeau hammers rival over COVID-19 stance on last day of campaign

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, crisscrossing the country making a last pitch to voters before Monday’s election, said on Sunday only his Liberals could end the COVID-19 pandemic and accused his main rival of taking the wrong approach. Opinion polls indicate the political advantage moving to Trudeau, who is stepping up attacks on Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole over the pandemic. Trudeau favors vaccine mandates opposed by O’Toole, who prefers testing to control the public health crisis.

Russia’s ruling pro-Putin party wins majority after crackdown but loses some ground

Russia’s ruling United Russia party, which supports President Vladimir Putin, retained its majority in parliament after a three-day election and a sweeping crackdown on its critics, despite losing around one fifth of its support, partial results on Monday showed. With 33% of ballots counted, the Central Election Commission said United Russia had won just over 45% of the vote, with its nearest rival, the Communist Party, at around 22%.

Australia defends scrapping of French submarine deal, Macron and Biden to talk

Australia on Sunday defended its decision to ditch a multi-billion-dollar order for French submarines and opt instead for an alternative deal with the United States and Britain, saying it had flagged its concerns to Paris months ago. Canberra’s move enraged Paris, triggering an unprecedented diplomatic crisis that analysts say could do lasting damage to U.S. alliances with France and Europe. It has also riled China, the major rising power in the Indo-Pacific region.

Netanyahu suggests on Facebook that Biden fell asleep meeting new Israeli PM

Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested in a Facebook video posted on Sunday that U.S. President Joe Biden had fallen asleep when meeting the new Israeli leader Naftali Bennett last month. A Reuters fact check https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-biden-asleep-idUSL1N2Q00H8 previously debunked the idea that Biden dozed off, after social media users shared a video clip of the U.S. president that they said showed him looking down and nodding off as Bennett spoke in the Oval Office.

Syrian military chief makes rare visit to Jordan to discuss border security

Syria’s defence minister visited Jordan on Sunday to discuss stability on their mutual border, the first such meeting since the Syrian conflict erupted a decade ago when the two neighbours supported opposing factions, officials said. The meeting follows a major army offensive to retake the last rebel bastion in southern Syria, and after reestablising control this month over Deraa, a city south of Damascus, in a Russian brokered deal that averted an all-out military assault led by Iranian-backed units of the army.

France cancels defence meeting with UK over submarine row, sources say

France has cancelled a meeting between Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly and her British counterpart planned for this week after Australia scrapped a submarine order with Paris in favour of a deal with Washington and London, two sources familiar with the matter said. Parly personally took the decision to drop the bilateral meeting with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, the sources said.

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