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India upset at ‘unnecessary’ reference to Modi by US official

Bagchi also said reports about the prime minister’s visit to the US in December were incorrect…reports Asian Lite News

India is upset at a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by a US State Department official while defending the immunity it had extended to Saudi Arabian ruler Mohammad bin Sultan, who is facing allegations of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Frankly, I fail to understand how the comment on Prime Minister Modi was either relevant, necessary or contextual,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said responding to questions about a US official referring to Modi while explaining the reasons for granting immunity to the Saudi ruler.

“Our two countries enjoy a very special relationship which is growing from strength to strength and we look forward to working with the US to further deepen it,” he said, referring to the bilateral ties between India and the US.

When asked about giving immunity to the Saudi Crown Prince over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a briefing last Friday that this is not the first time that the US has done this and it has been applied to a number of heads of state previously, including PM Modi, according to reports.

Bagchi also said reports about the prime minister’s visit to the US in December were incorrect.

“No proposal for a visit by the Prime Minister to the US in December has been made by our side. Media reports in this regard are incorrect,” Bagchi said.

He also dismissed social media posts about “false comments” attributed to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and White House spokesperson with regard to the brief bilateral meeting between Modi and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the recent G-20 summit in Bali.

“We have seen some incorrect social media posts which attribute false statements to the External Affairs Minister, who has not made any comment on this to the press or on social media. It also attributes false statements to the White House press secretary. So, I would request you all not to lend credence to such incorrect information,” Bagchi said.

He said the prime minister met Biden on a number of occasions in the course of the Bali Summit, including a brief bilateral meeting and a trilateral meeting that involved Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

“During these interactions, they exchanged views on a number of issues. Our press releases and tweets as well as the foreign secretary’s briefing in Bali encapsulates all these conversations.

“The US side has also issued its readout of the trilateral meeting and also separately indicated that a brief bilateral meeting did take place between the two leaders,” Bagchi said.

Govt seeks simple, swift visa system with US

Amid reports that people in India seeking a tourist or business visa for the US may have to wait for three years to get one, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said it has not raised the matter with the country, but expects the visa system of a country to be predictable and less time taking.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi

According to media reports, those planning to visit the United States on visitor visas – B1 (business) and B2 (tourist) – will have to wait for nearly three years and the waiting time for applicants in India is close to 1,000 days.

Asked if the matter had been taken up with the US, MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “We want that when people want to go somewhere, the visa system should be simple. This is our expectation.”

He said it had not been taken up formally because “we would not want someone commenting on our system.”

“But we would want the system to be predictable, simple and does not take much time. We have seen the (US) embassy here has said that they are taking steps to ensure that not much time is not taken. We hope the waiting time is reduced,” Bagchi said.

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Second term syndrome hits Biden, Trump  

Both Biden (80) and Trump (76) are aging politicians and generally not favoured by either the Democratic or Republican voters, who both want a younger face like Ron DeSantis, Gavin Newsom or Kamala Harris, writes TN Ashok

The ‘second term syndrome’ seems to have sunk into the minds of both the current US President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, anxious to occupy the White House again from where power flows, global attention follows and decisions affecting the world are made.

Both Biden (80) and Trump (76) are aging politicians who will be 82 and 78 when they run for the White House in 2024 and generally not favoured by either the Democratic or Republican voters, who both want a younger face like Ron DeSantis, the Republican Florida Governor who won a spectacular race, and Democrats — California Governor Gavin Newsom and Vice-President Kamala Harris, all in their 40s and 50s.

Biden has announced his intent to run but he has not made a formal decision or announcement to oppose Trump, though majority opinion in the Democratic party is that if either Trump or DeSantis were to win the primaries, Biden is most favoured to beat them both by a larger margin in case of the former and probably by a smaller margin the latter.

Even as the Democratic National Congress awaits a formal announcement from Biden, a flurry of candidates are already lobbying with their donors and preparing for Plan B, should Biden choose not to contest on health grounds.

Though Biden has been successful in stemming the tide of the Republican Wave against his inept handling of the inflation issue, voters had abortion rights and jobs and election deniers as a threat to democracy uppermost in their minds while voting.

While 61 per cent of the Republicans want Trump to run, there is a doubt if he will even make it to the primaries because billionaires and donors and media barons see a great future for the GOP in DeSantis rather than Trump. In fact, billionaire media baron Rupert Murdoch lampooned Trump in his networks from Fox News to the New York Post to Wall Street Journal running edits against him as a liability for the party with his legal baggage. Post-November midterm polls show a seven per cent rise in popularity for DeSantis against Trump.

Trump has to contend with the January 6 panel hearings of his alleged involvement in the Capitol Hill’s insurrection, face the tax fraud evasion case with the New York Attorney General Letitia James (Democrat) suing him for $250 million in punitive damages for tax fraud, obtaining loans from banks on fraudulent claims by inflating its property values, and the Department of Justice chasing him for the 11,000 top secret documents he spirited away to his Florida home instead of handing them over to the National Archives. This is not going to be easy for him, media reports say.

The BBC says Biden is the oldest President in US history and his approval ratings have stalled in the low 40s. Is President Joe Biden ripe for a primary challenge in 2024, the network asked?

With both of them being too old and voters wanting a young energetic President, there is a chance for a lot of young liberals to make it to the primaries. Starting with Vice- President Harris.

Perhaps nobody would benefit more from an aging President stepping aside than his Deputy Kamala Harris, says BBC, adding a former prosecutor who went on to serve as California’s Attorney General and as its junior US Senator, the 58-year-old broke glass ceilings in 2020 as the first female, black and Asian-American Vice-President in the US history.

Last year, she briefly served as acting President in the 85 minutes it took Biden to undergo a colonoscopy. Problem here is that Harris is even less popular than the President and some voters have even questioned her competence.

Since assuming office, she has been given some of the administration’s toughest portfolios — influx of immigrants at the southern US border. Conservative critics have accused her of awkward public appearances. High staff turnover and reports of low morale in the Vice-President’s office have only made matters worse, the network claimed. But her supporters have claimed she has been a victim of misogyny and sexist slander.

Gavin Newsom: He is in the spotlight among the Democrats garnering a lot of attention in the 2024 buzz for presidency. Newsom, 55, came into national focus when he issued the same-sex marriage licenses in 2004 in utter violation of the state law as the Governor of California. He is a wine merchant who strayed into politics and made it good when he was elected Governor of his home state in 2018. Soon enough he became champion of the progressive campaign against the conservative Trump administration.

He has earned considerable admiration for his assertive leadership when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. But he was also caught-on-camera on the wrong foot at a dinner in which he flouted his own Covid rules leading to a call to end his governorship before his term ended.

Finally, defeating the Republican-led recall, Newsom has just begun his second term as the California Governor having won impressively in the November midterms.

Newsom has a massive campaign war chest and the backing of major Democratic donors, but it is his willingness to pick fights on the national stage recently — from launching ads in Republican-held states like Florida and Texas to criticising his own party for its weak messaging — that is drawing attention to his future ambitions, BBC said.

Pete Buttigieg, the Transport Secretary, is now attracting a lot of attention among the Democrats. In 2020 he was among 28 candidates who ran for the primaries seeking candidacy in 2020. Pete Buttigieg was the only star that shone at the time, though he lost the bid.

The 40-year-old out-performed seasoned politicians before dropping out of the race and endorsing the eventual President, media reports said.

ALSO READ: Pramila Jayapal backs Biden running for a 2nd term in 2024

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Biden pardons Thanksgiving turkeys

Beginning in the mid-20th century, the President of the US has pardoned one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year…reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden has pardoned a pair of turkeys as he discharged the presidential duty of the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon.

“I hereby pardon Chocolate and Chip,” Xinhua news agency quoted Biden as saying on Monday from the White House South Lawn, referring to the names of the turkeys.

“The votes are in, they’ve been counted and verified, no ballot stuffing, no fowl play. The only red wave this season is going to be if German Shepherd Commander knocks over the cranberry sauce,” he added.

The pair were at a ranch in North Carolina and will live out their lives at the North Carolina State University.

Beginning in the mid-20th century, the President of the US has pardoned one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year.

The first documented turkey pardon was given by President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

The country will celebrate Thanksgiving Day on Thursday.

Last year, Biden pardoned Peanut Butter and Jelly as he acknowledged a return to Thanksgiving traditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

ALSO READ: Austin meets China’s Wei in Cambodia


Biden’s granddaughter Naomi ties knot in White House wedding

Naomi was walked down the matrimonial aisle by both her parents, according to People Magazine…reports Asian Lite News

Naomi Biden, the granddaughter of US President Joe Biden, got hitched to Peter Neal in a ceremony held at the White House.

According to a report by People Magazine, the ceremony took place on the South Lawn. It was a private affair.

Naomi’s grandparents, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden were both present at the historic event.

It was the first time in over a decade, that a wedding ceremony had taken place in the White House, as per People Magazine.

Not only that, it was the first time ever that the grandchild of a President in the office got married in the vicinity of the President’s House.

Naomi was walked down the matrimonial aisle by both her parents, according to People Magazine.

The new bride also carried some Lilies of the Valley with her, as a continuation of tradition from her mother’s side of the family.

The wedding celebration lasted all day.

People Magazine reported that a luncheon took place subsequently. It was attended by close family members.

An evening reception ended the series of wedding events at the executive mansion, where dessert was served and guests shook a leg.

Naomi and Peter had announced their engagement in 2021 via a post on Instagram. They were greeted by congratulatory messages and blessings in the comments.

According to People Magazine, they had announced their wedding venue earlier this year.

The last time a wedding was observed at the White House was in 2013, when Presidential photographer Pete Souza read the vows with Patti Lease at the Rose Garden.

28-year-old Naomi is a graduate of Colombia Law, while 25-year-old Peter also studied law and has formerly interned for campaigns at the White House as well. (ANI)

ALSO READ-Big blow to Biden as Republicans win US House majority

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Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong dominate Biden-Xi meet

Biden and Xi held their first in-person meeting as Presidents on the sidelines of the G20 meetings in Bali, Indonesia…reports YASHWANT RAJ

US President Joe Biden told China’s President Xi Jinping Monday that he was committed to keeping lines of communications open with him, and, according to a White House readout of their meeting, raised concerns about Beijing’s practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, and human rights more broadly.

President Xi spoke about charting a “flight course” for the relationship which was important not only for the two countries but also the world.

Biden and Xi held their first in-person meeting as Presidents on the sidelines of the G20 meetings in Bali, Indonesia. And it came at a time of a historic low in the relationship over China’s position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, which was cited by Beijing to shut down military-to-military and other lines of communication.

The two leaders met first as Vice Presidents in 2014, and have spoken on phone or through video link five times after Biden took over as President. Their meeting in Bali was their first and US officials said previewing it that it would essentially set the rules of the road for the relationship. No joint statement is expected of the meeting.

“I am committed to keeping the lines of communications open between you and me personally and our governmenst across the board, because our two countries have so much that we have an opportunity to deal with,” Biden said in opening remarks before the meetings as the two leaders sat at separate tables.

The US President stressed the need for the two countries to “manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming anything ever near conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation”.

President Xi called for the “need to chart the right course for the China-US relationship” and said the two countries “need to find the right direction for the bilateral relationship going forward and elevate the relationship”.

He added: “The world expects that China and the United States will properly handle the relationship. And for our meeting, it has attracted the world’s attention.”

The US readout of the meeting said the two leaders spoke “candidly about their respective priorities and intentions across a range of issues”.

Biden told Xi that the US will compete “vigorously” with China by investing in sources of strength at home and aligning efforts with allies and partners around the world, but this competition “should not veer into conflict and underscored”, reiterating his public remarks earlier, that the United States and China must manage the competition responsibly and maintain open lines of communication.

The US President said the two countries need to work together on common global challenges such as climate change, global macroeconomic stability, including debt relief, health security, and global food security because, he added, the global community expected them to.

Biden also raised the concerns about Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and human rights, as expected. On Taiwan, he told Xi that there is no change in US’s one-China policy and that the US opposes “any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side”.

“President Biden also raised ongoing concerns about China’s non-market economic practices, which harm American workers and families, and workers and families around the world,” the readout said, reiterating a significant US concern, which was central to the trade war triggered between the two countries by former President Donald Trump.

The Biden administration’s National Security Strategy issued in October described China as “the only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to advance that objective”.

Russia, on the other hand, was portrayed as “an immediate threat to the free and open international system, recklessly flouting the basic laws of the international order today, as its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine has shown”.

ALSO READ: Biden, Xi meet in Bali amid Taiwan tensions

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Biden, Xi meet in Bali amid Taiwan tensions

Xi spoke about charting a “flight course” for the relationship between the two superpowers, which is important not only for the two countries, but also for the whole world…reports Asian Lite news

US President Joe Biden told his China counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday that he is committed to keeping lines of communication open with the latter.

The meeting took place in Bali, a day before the G-20 summit is due to kick off. It was the first physical meeting between Biden and Xi since the former took charge as US President.

Xi spoke about charting a “flight course” for the relationship between the two superpowers, which is important not only for the two countries, but also for the whole world.

The White House said in a statement: “President Biden raised Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and Russia’s irresponsible threats of nuclear use. President Biden and President Xi reiterated their agreement that a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

“President Biden also raised concerns about the DPRK’s provocative behavior, noted all members of the international community have an interest in encouraging the DPRK to act responsibly, and underscored the United States’ ironclad commitment to defending our Indo-Pacific Allies.”

The meeting came a time when ties between the two countries are at a historic low over China’s position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, which was cited by Beijing to shut down military-to-military and other lines of communication.

“I am committed to keeping the lines of communication open between you (Xi) and me personally and our governments,” Biden said in remarks before the meeting.

ALSO READ-UAE President arrives in Indonesia to attend G20 summit

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Biden, Xi to meet amid superpower tensions

Taiwan has emerged as one of the most contentious issues between Washington and Beijing. Multiple times in his presidency, Biden has said the US would defend the island in case of a Beijing-led invasion…reports Asian Lite News

President Joe Biden will sit down with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday for their first in-person meeting since the US president took office nearly two years ago, amid increasing tensions between the two superpowers as they vie for global influence.

Both men are coming into the highly anticipated meeting — held on the margins of the Group of 20 summit of world leaders in Indonesia — with bolstered political standing at home. Democrats triumphantly held onto control of the Senate, with a chance to boost their ranks by one in a runoff election in Georgia next month, while Xi was awarded a third five-year term in October by the Communist Party’s national congress.

“We have very little misunderstanding,” Biden told reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he participated in a gathering of southeast Asian nations before leaving for Indonesia. “We just got to figure out where the red lines are and … what are the most important things to each of us going into the next two years.”

Biden added: “His circumstance has changed, to state the obvious, at home.” The president said of his own situation: “I know I’m coming in stronger.”

White House aides have repeatedly sought to play down any notion of conflict between the two nations and have emphasized that they believe the two countries can work in tandem on shared challenges such as climate change and health security.

But relations between the U.S. and China have become increasingly strained during Biden’s presidency.

As president, Biden has repeatedly taken China to task for human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities, crackdowns on democracy activists in Hong Kong, coercive trade practices, military provocations against self-ruled Taiwan and differences over Russia’s prosecution of its war against Ukraine. Chinese officials have largely refrained from public criticism of Russia’s war, although Beijing has avoided direct support such as supplying arms.

Taiwan has emerged as one of the most contentious issues between Washington and Beijing. Multiple times in his presidency, Biden has said the U.S. would defend the island — which China has eyed for eventual unification — in case of a Beijing-led invasion. But administration officials have stressed each time that the U.S.’s “One China” policy has not changed. That policy recognizes the government in Beijing while allowing for informal relations and defense ties with Taipei, and its posture of “strategic ambiguity” over whether whether it would respond militarily if the were island attacked.

Tensions flared even higher when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited Taiwan in August, prompting China to retaliate with military drills and the firing of ballistic missiles into nearby waters.

The Biden administration also blocked exports of advanced computer chips to China last month — a national security move that bolsters U.S. competition against Beijing. Chinese officials quickly condemned the restrictions.

And though the two men have held five phone or video calls during Biden’s presidency, White House officials say those encounters are no substitute for Biden being able to meet and size up Xi in person. That task is all the more important after Xi strengthened his grip on power through the party congress, as lower-level Chinese officials have been unable or unwilling to speak for their leader.

Asked about the anticipated meeting, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said last week at a news briefing that China was looking for “win-win cooperation with the U.S.” while reiterating Beijing’s concerns about the U.S. stance on Taiwan.

“The U.S. needs to stop obscuring, hollowing out and distorting the One China principle, abide by the basic norms in international relations, including respecting other countries’ sovereignty, territorial integrity and noninterference in other countries’ internal affairs,” he said.

Xi has stayed close to home throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic, where he has enforced a “zero-COVID” policy that has resulted in mass lockdowns that have roiled the global supply chains.

He made his first trip outside China since start of the pandemic in September with a stop in Kazakhstan and then onto Uzbekistan to take part in the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization with Putin and other leaders of the Central Asian security group.

White House officials and their Chinese counterparts have spent weeks negotiating out all of the details of the meeting, which is taking place at Xi’s hotel with translators providing simultaneous interpretation through headsets.

U.S. officials were eager to see how Xi approaches the Biden sit-down after being newly empowered with a tradition-breaking third term and consolidating his position as the unquestioned leader of the state, saying they would wait to assess whether that made him more or less likely to seek out areas of cooperation with the U.S.

Biden and Xi are each planning to bring small delegations into the discussion, with U.S. officials expecting that Xi would bring newly-elevated government officials to the sit-down and expressing hope that it could lead to more substantive engagements down the line.

Before meeting with Xi, Biden first held a sit-down with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is hosting the G-20 summit, to announce a range of new development initiatives for the archipelago nation, including investments in climate, security, and education.

Many of Biden’s conversations and engagements during his three-country tour — which took him to Egypt and Cambodia before he landed on the island of Bali on Sunday — were, by design, preparing him for his meeting with Xi and sending a signal that the U.S. would compete in areas where Xi has also worked to expand his country’s influence.

ALSO READ-Vice Prez Dhankhar meets Biden in Cambodia

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Vice Prez Dhankhar meets Biden in Cambodia

He announced an additional USD 5 million commitment to the ASEAN-India science and technology fund in order to strengthen collaboration…reports Asina Lite News

On the sidelines of the 17th East Asia Summit, visiting Vice President of India, Jagdeep Dhankhar on Sunday met US President Joe Biden in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Taking to Twitter, the Vice President Secretariat shared a photograph of the meeting and captioned, “Hon’ble Vice President, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar with the President of United States, Mr. Joe Biden on the sidelines of the 17th East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. @POTUS”

Earlier on Sunday, the Vice President addressed the East Asia Summit where he called for forging a comprehensive strategic relationship and step-up anti-terrorism cooperation between India and ASEAN nations.

On Saturday, he announced an additional USD 5 million commitment to the ASEAN-India science and technology fund in order to strengthen collaboration in the areas of public health, renewable energy, and smart agriculture.

In a joint statement, India and ASEAN recognized the strong cross-cultural ties, maritime connectivity, and deep ties between Southeast Asia and India that have developed over the past 30 years. These ties serve as a solid basis for ASEAN-India relations.

India and ASEAN are committed to stepping up their collaboration in the digital economy through several regional capacity-building initiatives in digital transformation, trade, innovation, and skills, as well as hackathons, read India-ASEAN joint statement.

On November 11, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and his wife, Dr Sudesh Dhankhar, flew into Cambodia on a three-day visit. Dhankhar, the head of the Indian delegation to the 17th East Asia Summit and the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit, is also accompanied by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

ALSO READ-Boost for Biden, Democrats retain control of Senate

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Divided G20 gears up for crucial meet

It is likely to be the most fractious meeting ever as divisions between the world’s 20 major economies are so deep the traditional “family photo” of all the leaders has been called off…reports Asian Lite News

Twenty of the world’s most powerful men and women will meet here this week with the global economy weakening by the day, developing countries facing a looming debt crisis and war raging in Europe. The Group of 20 leaders summit is expected to do precious little about any of it.

To say that expectations are low for the annual meeting — which will draw President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as leaders from Europe and emerging powers such as India and Brazil — would be an understatement.

Before leaving Washington, Biden said he planned to raise with Xi the differences in their approach to the self-governing island of Taiwan, trade practices and China’s relationship with Moscow amid its nearly nine months-old invasion of Ukraine. Chinese officials have largely refrained from public criticism of Russia’s war, although Beijing has avoided direct support such as supplying arms.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the opening ceremony of the Army-2022 International Military-Technical Forum and the International Army Games 2022 in Moscow Region, Russia on Aug. 15, 2022. (Kremlin press release/IANS)

Meanwhile, UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will set out a five-point economic action plan to address global instability and the rising cost of living at this week’s G20 summit – where he will face Russia’s foreign minister and call out Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Western leaders are all expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and confront him. President Putin will likely skip the meeting despite Russia being a G20 member, in the face of condemnation of his war in Ukraine.

Sunak warned this year’s meeting will not be “business as usual” as the world confronts the most significant set of economic challenges since the first G20 meeting in 2008, which took place in response to the financial crisis at the time.

The prime minister said he will “call out Putin’s regime” during the first encounter between a British prime minister and Russian government officials since the invasion began in February.

Ahead of the trip to Indonesia, Sunak’s official spokesman said: “We will absolutely use every opportunity to confront Russia about their continued illegal actions. We will speak with our allies in one voice on this.”

It is likely to be the most fractious G20 meeting ever as divisions between the world’s 20 major economies are so deep the traditional “family photo” of all the leaders has been called off because many leaders will not want to be pictured with anybody from Putin’s regime.

With India set to take over the G20 presidency, all eyes will be set on Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has around 20 engagements lined up within 45 hours, including several bilateral meetings with other world leaders.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said the prime minister will participate in three key sessions – food and energy security, digital transformation and health. The prime minister will join other leaders from around the globe in discussing several issues, including the state of the global economy, issues relating to energy, environment, agriculture, health and digital transformation.

India, Indonesia, and Brazil will be the Troika during India’s G20 presidency. Foreign Secy Vinay Kwatra said, “during our G20 presidency, India, Indonesia, and Brazil would be the Troika. This is the first time in G20 that this Troika would consist of developing countries and emerging economies in a row.”

Ahead of a possible meeting between Modi and US President Joseph Biden, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Cambodia on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit (EAS) on Sunday, and discussed the war in Ukraine, Indo-Pacific strategy, energy issues, the G20 and Indo-US bilateral relations, Jaishankar tweeted. “The US supports India’s G20 presidency,” Blinken said in a tweet, adding that their discussions focussed on “ongoing efforts to expand our partnership & mitigate the effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, despite the summit’s optimistic tagline, “Recover Together, Recover Stronger,” prospects for cooperation at the first summit since the invasion of Ukraine appear to be slim as the US and its partners find themselves increasingly at odds with China and Russia.

The G20, which includes 19 countries and the European Union, has struggled to reach a consensus on the cost-of-living crisis, with finance ministers and central bank governors in July scrapping a planned communique that would have addressed inflation, global food and supply shortages, and sluggish economic growth due to discord over Ukraine.

Summit host Indonesia has sought to maintain the forum’s neutrality, rejecting calls by Western countries and Ukraine to exclude Russia, and highlighted the potential for cooperation on food and energy security.

At the G20 finance ministers meeting held in Washington in April, representatives from the US, UK and Canada walked out of a closed-door session when Russian delegates began to speak, and in July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stormed out of G20 talks in Indonesia following criticism of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

ALSO READ-Modi to attend key sessions at G20 summit 

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Boost for Biden, Democrats retain control of Senate

The win clinches Democratic control in the Senate as Vice President Kamala Harris can cast the tie-breaking vote if the upper chamber is evenly split 50-50…reports Asian Lite News

President Joe Biden’s Democrats retained control of the US Senate on Saturday, a remarkable midterms election result that defied predictions of a Republican win over both houses of Congress.

Midterms traditionally deliver a rejection of the party in power, and with inflation surging and Biden’s popularity in the doldrums, Republicans had been expecting to ride a mighty “red wave” and capture the Senate and the House of Representatives.

But the wave never got much beyond a ripple and on Saturday US networks called the key Senate race in Nevada for Democrat incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto, giving the party the 50 seats it needs for an effective majority.

The win clinches Democratic control in the Senate as Vice President Kamala Harris can cast the tie-breaking vote if the upper chamber is evenly split 50-50.

One Senate race remains up in the air — a runoff in Georgia set for December.

The two parties had been neck-and-neck at 49 seats each after Democrat Mark Kelly was projected to win a tight Senate race in Arizona on Friday evening.

The result in the House of Representatives is also hanging in the balance, and while Republicans are slightly favored to take control, it would be with a far smaller majority than they had envisaged going into Tuesday’s election.

Call for unity

In Arizona, Kelly called for unity in a victory speech on Saturday. “After a long election, it can be tempting to remain focused on the things that divide us,” he said.

“But we’ve seen the consequences that come when leaders refuse to accept the truth and focus more on conspiracies of the past than solving the challenges that we face today.”

The former astronaut beat out challenger Blake Masters, who has not yet conceded defeat and was backed by Donald Trump.

The former president was omnipresent on the campaign trail and the Republicans’ poor national performance was a damaging political blow.

Trump’s response to the Arizona result was to double down on unfounded claims of ballot rigging, posting on his Truth Social platform that the Democrat’s victory was a “scam” and the result of “voter fraud.”

Trump is set to declare his 2024 White House bid on Tuesday — an announcement he had planned as a triumphant follow-on to an expected crushing election victory by the party he still dominates.

U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn before departing from the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on Oct. 22, 2018.(Xinhua/Ting Shen/IANS)

The underwhelming outcome has prompted a bout of internal finger-pointing, with targets including Trump, the party leaders, and the campaign messaging.

US media on Saturday cited a letter circulated by three Republican senators calling for the postponement of party leadership elections currently scheduled for the middle of next week.

“We are all disappointed that a Red Wave failed to materialize, and there are multiple reasons it did not,” the letter said.

“We need to have serious discussions within our conference as to why and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024,” it added.

Some suggest Trump’s early entry into the presidential race is designed to fend off possible criminal charges arising from multiple investigations into the final weeks of his presidency as well as his business affairs.

On Friday, Trump’s lawyers challenged a subpoena from the Congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

The subpoena sought to have Trump questioned under oath next week but the lawyers filed a lawsuit arguing he enjoyed “absolute immunity” as a former president from being compelled to testify before Congress.

The subpoena is “invalid, unlawful, and unenforceable,” the lawsuit said.

Democratic control of the Senate ensures a smoother process for Biden’s Cabinet appointments and judicial picks, including those for potential Supreme Court openings. The party will also keep control over committees and have the power to conduct investigations or oversight of the Biden administration, and will be able to reject legislation sent over by the House if the GOP wins that chamber.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Biden said of the election results: “I feel good. I’m looking forward to the next couple of years.”

He said winning a 51st seat from the Georgia runoff would be important and allow Democrats to boost their standing on Senate committees.

“It’s just simply better,” Biden said. “The bigger the number, the better.”

If Democrats manage to pull off a win in the House, it would mean full control of Congress for Democrats — and another chance to advance Biden priorities, which he has said include codifying abortion rights. The party still lacks the 60 votes in the Senate needed to move many kinds of major legislative changes.

Biden, who called to congratulate Cortez Masto, said he was still hopeful that Democrats could hold the House.

“It’s a stretch,” he acknowledged. “Everything has to fall our way.”

The Senate fight had hinged on a handful of deeply contested seats. Both parties spent tens of millions of dollars in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, the top battlegrounds where Democrats had hoped that Republicans’ decision to nominate untested candidates — many backed by former President Donald Trump — would help them defy national headwinds.

Democrats scored a big win in Pennsylvania, where Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was endorsed by Trump, to pick up a seat currently held by a Republican. Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly won reelection by about 5 percentage points.

A closely divided swing state, Nevada is one of the most racially diverse in the nation, a working-class state whose residents have been especially hard-hit by inflation and other economic turmoil. Roughly three-fourths of Nevada voters said the country is headed in the wrong direction, and about half called the economy the most important issue facing the country, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of 2,100 of the state’s voters.

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