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Biden’s solidarity message on 10th anniversary of Wisconsin gurdwara attack

On the tenth anniversary of the attack on the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, US President Joe Biden on Friday called for strict measures to reduce gun violence and defeat domestic terrorism and hate in all its forms, including the poison of white supremacy.

Mourning the loss of lives in the attack, Biden said, “The Oak Creek shooting was the deadliest attack on Sikh Americans in our nation’s history. Tragically, attacks on our nation’s houses of worship have only become more common over the past decade. It is up to all of us to deny this hate-safe harbour.”

 According to the official statement, Biden said that when generations of Sikh-Americans in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, constructed their own place of worship after years of renting local halls, it was a sacred place of their own and a connection shared with the broader community.

“That sense of peace and belonging was shattered on the morning of August 5, 2012, when a white supremacist wielding a semiautomatic handgun arrived at the Gurdwara and began shooting.”

The gunman murdered six people and wounded four that day, as well as another victim who survived his wounds only to succumb to them years later.

“Jill and I know that days like today bring back the pain like it happened yesterday, and we mourn with the victims’ families, the survivors, and the community devastated by this heinous act,” the US President said.

He further said that “Oak Creek has shown us the way. After the attack, the Sikh community returned to their Gurdwara and insisted on cleaning it themselves.”

“The son of one of the victims became the first Sikh in American history to testify before Congress, successfully calling for the federal government to track hate crimes against Sikhs and other minority groups,” US President added.

Every year, the congregation now hosts an annual memorial run to honour the victims. The event bears the words Charhdi Kala, meaning “eternal optimism.”

Biden said, “Fueled by that spirit of eternal optimism, we must continue to take steps now to reduce gun violence and keep our fellow Americans safe.”

Biden said that no one should fear for their life when they bow their head in prayer or go about their lives in America.

He said, “We must continue to take steps now to reduce gun violence and keep our fellow Americans safe. We must do more to protect places of worship, and defeat domestic terrorism and hate in all its forms, including the poison of white supremacy.”

“We must ban assault weapons–used in many mass shootings at houses of worship and other sites across the country–as well as high-capacity magazines. Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill to do just that,” Biden added.

The US President said that to stand in defence of religious freedom, we must all stand together to ban the weapons that terrorize congregations around our country. (ANI)

ALSO READ: ‘India stands by its CAA commitment’: Doval assures Afghan sikhs

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KSA-USA: A historic relationship and a strategic partnership

The Kingdom grabbed international attention in general and the USA in particular, driven by its Islamic, political and economic position. The Kingdom’s leading role in the Arab and Islamic worlds, and its strategic location, contribute to strengthening the bilateral relationship with the USA, maintaining the stability, security, and prosperity of the Gulf and the Middle East, and continuing consultations on many regional and global issues of importance for the two countries

Saudi- US bilateral relations are built on solid foundations based on respect, cooperation, and common interests, and enjoy a special status on both sides emanating from its history that dated back to 1931, when the journey of exploration and production of oil in the Kingdom started on a commercial basis, and when late King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud granted the exploration right to an American company, followed by the signing of a cooperation agreement between the two countries in 1933 that supported this economic aspect which has become a global economic power.

The historic meeting that brought together King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud and US President Franklin Roosevelt on board the American cruiser (USS Concy) on February 14, 1945, established decades of strategic relations and partnership based on respect and mutual trust between the Kingdom and the United States.

This meeting was the turning point in the transition of the relations between the Kingdom and America to a new stage in various fields. Consequently, the Kingdom worked to harness this development in relations and other international relations to meet its national interests with the rest of the world, including the USA, and to serve the Arab and Islamic causes.

The Kingdom grabbed international attention in general and the USA in particular, driven by its Islamic, political and economic position. The Kingdom’s leading role in the Arab and Islamic worlds, and its strategic location, contribute to strengthening the bilateral relationship with the USA, maintaining the stability, security, and prosperity of the Gulf and the Middle East, and continuing consultations on many regional and global issues of importance for the two countries.

The world perceives Saudi-US relations as the main pillar to enhancing the security and economy of the region and the world, given the pivotal role that the two countries play to enhance international peace and security, based on their political, security, and economic status and their membership in the G20.

The historic Saudi-US relations have seen important milestones that are considered a basis for supporting the course of relations between the two countries, including the visit paid by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in September 2015 to the USA, at the invitation of then-President Barack Obama, President of the United States of America. The White House witnessed a session of talks between the two leaders, during which they discussed the strong relations between the two countries.

In a speech he delivered during the visit, The King stressed the strength of Saudi-American relations, describing them as historical relations.

To complement the distinguished relations between the two countries, and based on the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense, paid two official visits to the United States of America, in 2016 and 2018.

These visits played a key role in strengthening the strategic relations between Riyadh and Washington, based on the two countries’ common interests in various fields of cooperation.

Politically, the Kingdom and the United States share a compatible vision regarding the importance of deterring Iran’s destabilizing behavior toward the region’s and the world’s security and stability, and the importance of neutralizing the threat of Iran backed-terrorist militias, which makes the continuity of communication and coordination at the highest levels critical in enhancing security and stability.

The two countries believe in the importance of making the Middle East completely free of weapons of mass destruction, a vision which the two countries rely on in their quest for any nuclear agreement with Iran to ensure that it will not be able to produce a nuclear bomb, to avoid an arms race which therefore would undermine the regional and international security and stability.

On the Yemeni issue, the United States supports the Kingdom’s efforts, to reach a comprehensive political solution in Yemen that guarantees and achieves security and stability in Yemen.

The fight against extremism and terrorism is one of the most important aspects of the strategic partnership between the Kingdom and the US. The distinguished bilateral cooperation in this field has contributed to achieving many important gains in defeating terrorist organizations and neutralizing their threat to regional and international security and stability.

The fight against extremism and terrorism is one of the most important aspects of the strategic partnership between the Kingdom and the US. The distinguished bilateral cooperation in this field has contributed to achieving many important gains in defeating terrorist organizations and neutralizing their threat to regional and international security and stability.

The US has welcomed the Kingdom’s efforts to combat climate change, led by the Middle East Green initiative launched by HRH the Crown Prince, where His Royal Highness announced the launch of the first package of environmental initiatives that represent investments worth more than SR700) billion.

US President Joe Biden meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Photo: SPA)

Economically, the two countries have strong and fruitful economic ties, with about 742 American companies doing business in Saudi Arabia, in various sectors including manufacturing industries, mining and quarries, wholesale and retail trade, transportation and storage, agriculture and fishing, construction, finance and insurance and many others sectors.

The total US invested in the Kingdom amount to SR 90.6 billion, with more than 21034 American brands available in the Saudi market until 2022

In 2021, the Kingdom’s exports to the United States amounted to SR53.5 billion. The most important national commodities exported to the US included mineral products, organic chemical products, fertilizers, Aluminum, and its products, and inorganic chemical products. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s imports from the US in 2021 amounted to SR60.5 billion. The imports included machinery, machine tools, and their parts, cars and their parts, aerial vehicles and their parts, pharmaceutical products, and medical, optical, and photographic devices.

The US is the Kingdom’s fourth trading partner in terms of trade volume, the second in the value of imports, and the sixth in the value of exports, while the Kingdom ranks 28th as a trading partner for US exports to the rest of the world, and 31st as a trading partner for US imports to the rest of the world in 2021.

The Saudi Vision 2030 programs and major projects provide promising opportunities for US companies, especially in the strategic sectors targeted by the vision, such as mining, petrochemicals, manufacturing, renewable energy, tourism, financial services, health care, and pharmaceuticals.

The Kingdom and the United States enjoy strong cultural and educational relations, as the number of Saudi students on scholarships to the United States stands at 21,035 (2022), who have been sent within the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program, through which the number of Saudi scholarship students has exceeded half a million since its launch in 2006.

In terms of tourism, the Kingdom’s initiative to launch tourist visas by the Saudi Ministry of Tourism in 2019 has contributed to attracting US tourists wishing to explore the Kingdom and visit its historical sites and unique tourist areas. The total number of visas issued to US citizens to enter the Kingdom reached (140832) visas.

To strengthen the historical bilateral relations and the distinguished strategic partnership between the two countries, and the common desire to develop them in all fields, hence comes the current visit of President Joseph Biden of the United States of America, to the Kingdom, upon an invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, during which he will meet with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister.

The visit comes to confirm the strength and depth of the strategic relationship between the Kingdom and the US, the importance of coordination between the two countries to face common challenges at the regional and international levels, and the US administration’s keenness to strengthen the strategic partnership with the Kingdom, and an affirmation of the Kingdom’s leading role in spreading security and stability in the region.

The visit also confirms that the divergence of views between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the US on some issues does not stand in the way of developing strategic relations, which contributes to bringing the two countries closer together.

It also reflects the success of the Kingdom’s foreign policies, whose rules were set by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and HRH the Crown Prince, which gave the Kingdom an important and influential role in shaping the course of regional and global events.

The visit of the US President to the Kingdom is important as it comes as part of his first visit to the Middle East, during which a Saudi-American summit and a Gulf-American summit will be held with the participation of Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan. This reflects the Kingdom’s position and its pivotal role in the security and stability of the region, and the keenness of the two sides’ leaderships to boost the joint strategic partnership.

From this standpoint, a Saudi-American summit and a Gulf-American summit will be held with the participation of Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan. To support and enhance continuous cooperation and coordination efforts between partners in light of the current regional and international developments.

The convening of this joint summit upon an invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, emphasizes the Kingdom’s pioneering role, its Arab, Islamic and international weight and standing, and its global economic value, and based on its regional and international responsibility, and its pivotal role in the security and stability of the region.

The joint summit aims to confirm the historical partnership between these countries, the importance of close cooperation and common visions regarding various issues in the region, deepening cooperation in different fields, and the importance of developing ways of cooperation and integration among the countries participating in the summit, and building joint projects that contribute to achieving sustainable development in the region, collectively addressing environmental challenges and confronting climate change, including the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative announced by HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, and the development of renewable energy sources, and highlighting the electrical interconnection agreements between the GCC countries and Iraq.

ALSO READ: Biden supports MBS’ Vision 2030

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Biden raised Khashoggi murder with Saudi Crown Prince

President Biden later said that the Saudi Crown Prince told him he was not “personally responsible” for Khashoggi’s murder.

US President Joe Biden who is in Saudi Arabia, raised the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi during his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday and said that he believed the Saudi leader was responsible for the US-based journalist’s death.

“I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think of it now,” Biden said in a speech after hours of meetings with the Saudi Crown Prince in Jeddah.

“I said, very straightforwardly, for an American President to be silent on the issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and who I am,” Biden continued, The Hill reported.

US President Joe Biden meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Photo: SPA)

“I’ll always stand up for our values,” he added.

However, responding to the questions raised by the media, Biden later said that the Saudi Crown Prince told him he was not “personally responsible” for Khashoggi’s murder.

“I indicated I thought he was,” Biden said. “He said he was not personally responsible for it, and he took action against those who were responsible.”

Biden received criticism earlier on Friday when he was photographed fist bumping the Saudi Crown Prince, who the US intelligence community concluded approved Khashoggi’s 2018 murder, reported The Hill citing sources.

Biden not only highlighted the progress in moving relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel towards normalization and said the US and Saudi Arabia agreed to partner on a “far-reaching” green energy initiative.

Notably, he also expressed optimism that Saudi Arabia would take steps to boost the global oil supply in the coming weeks, which had been viewed as a major goal of the trip given high domestic gas prices globally due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan can also be seen in the photo. (Photo: SPA)

US President Joe Biden landed in Saudi Arabia on Friday for an official visit to the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is Biden’s final stop during his first trip to the Middle East as president of the United States. He visited the kingdom at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

He will also attend a joint conference on Saturday with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, as well as leaders from Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq.

The trip, which began on July 13 and is expected to end on July 16, also took Biden to Israel and the West Bank. Biden’s first official visit to the Middle East shows that, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the big energy crisis created for European countries, he has realized that he must reverse the US strategy of withdrawal from the Middle East and try to recalibrate his relations with Middle East leaders. (ANI)

ALSO READ: US needs to ‘reorient, not rupture’ ties with Saudi

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I2-U2 Must Focus on Future, Not Past

While each of the countries will continue to pursue their security goals individually or in other formations, I2-U2 will be successful only if it is a harbinger for the present and future in the economic development domain and not a prisoner of the past in the security sphere – write N. Janardhan and Gedaliah Afterman

US President Joe Biden’s visit to West Asia this week is expected to target several critical issues. Among others, they are re-engaging with Saudi Arabia, particularly Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Saud; enhancing energy production and stabilising global oil prices; revitalising the Palestinian-Israeli talks; encouraging the expansion of the Abraham Accords club; reinforcing US security presence and commitment to the region; finding a way out of the Saudi-led war in Yemen; and building a stronger coalition to counter growing Iranian and Chinese influence.

But another agenda item for Biden’s visit has been lost in the din – the I2-U2 Virtual Summit slated for 14 July, involving the leaders of India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

The new grouping minted in late 2021 – a year after the Abraham Accords were signed – is a US-envisaged “partnership for the future”, focusing on evolving synergies in technology and infrastructure projects, enhancing political and economic cooperation, and maritime security issues.

The new template took shape amid the debate surrounding the changing global landscape and the future of diplomacy in a Covid- and post-Covid world. It gathered pace after the Russia-Ukraine War broke out, with a foreign ministers’ meeting in March 2022.

While recent more tentative diplomatic templates in the region – like the UAE’s and Saudi recalibration bids with Qatar, Turkey and Iran – are focused on tension management, the I2-U2 grouping has made little reference to date to geostrategic issues, barring the emphasis on economic growth strategies. This makes nomenclatures like ‘new quad’ and ‘Middle East Quad’ misleading.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, colloquially called the Quad, was initiated by the late Shinzo Abe in 2007, with Japan, India, Australia, and the United States forming the core. As the name suggests, the Quad has a security overtone to it and is aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. The I2-U2, on the other hand, targets no one, at least thus far.

Further, the Quad’s transformation into a significant bloc has been very slow. It took 15 years after its genesis for a summit to take place in Japan in early 2022. In contrast, the I2-U2 summit talks, even though virtual, is taking place in less than a year after the dye was cast.

The four countries would seek to “re-energise and revitalise alliances” across the world, according to the White House. They are expected to discuss the global food crisis and other areas of cooperation across hemispheres where these four countries are “important innovation hubs”. Washington has also said: “We consider these initiatives central to our strategy of empowering partners and encouraging them to work more closely together, which will lead to a more stable region.”

If this indeed is the chief objective, the grouping holds the promise of opening potentially new opportunities not just between and among them and collectively, but also with their common strategic partners, especially in Asia.

While the United States is the chief unifier in the club, the other three members are striving ‘middle powers’. India’s ‘strategic’ ambition gels well with that of ‘start-up’ Israel and ‘scale-up’ UAE. They can forge their own trilateral partnerships and expanding them into other ‘minilateral’ or ‘plurilateral’ mechanisms, with their other partners, including Japan and South Korea, among others.

This stems from several factors. First, power in the 21st century is no longer determined by military prowess alone, but conditioned by technology, connectivity and trade. Second, new relations are more partnerships and coalitions than alliances, driven by strategic autonomy. Lastly, such partnerships are rooted in economic pragmatism rather than ideology.

It is here that any attempt to force this group to assume an anti-Iran or anti-China tone or both could derail its principle objective. The UAE, India and even Israel have different views on China compared to the United States.

India, which has had difficult ties with China, including the 1962 War and a brutal border clash in 2020, has been the most reluctant member of the Quad in its anti-China stance. And despite the tension, India and China are important trade partners and active BRICS members. On the other hand, the UAE and Israel have been under more pressure in manoeuvring the US-China superpower competition, which they have delicately managed thus far. 

Similarly, while Israel has security reasons to view Iran through an uncompromising lens, the United States has been open to dealing with the Islamic Republic by first signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015 and now by remaining engaged in the talks to rejoin the nuclear deal that the Trump administration revoked in 2018.

India has not let its good ties with Iran affect its engagement with the other I2-U2 partners. In fact, the United States has given India several waivers when dealing with the construction of the Chabahar Port, among others. The UAE too has sought to bridge rather than widen the gulf with Iran in the recent past despite numerous differences.

Yes, national security is intractable, but trying to pursue a collective security agenda does not cater to the strength of this grouping. It is also unlikely that any of them would individually compromise national interests and strategic autonomy to achieve consensus.

While each of the countries will continue to pursue their security goals individually or in other formations, I2-U2 will be successful only if it is a harbinger for the present and future in the economic development domain and not a prisoner of the past in the security sphere. It must move away from war and peace and the zero-sum game and superpower competition and advance a positive international agenda that brings different South and West Asia and Western constituents closer.

(Dr N. Janardhan is a senior research fellow at the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi and non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, and Dr Gedaliah Afterman is the head of the Asia Policy Programme at the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at Reichman University (IDC Herzliya), Israel.)

ALSO READ: Palestinians disappointed with US policy ahead of Biden’s visit

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Biden vows to protect women travelling for abortions

President Joe Biden said that his administration will also “ensure access to pills that caused abortion in states where it was prohibited”, reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden said that women travelling for abortions across the country will be protected by the federal government as millions of women have lost their constitutional reproductive right after the Supreme Court overturned its 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision.

Addressing a virtual meet of Democratic Governors on Friday, the President said that his administration will also “ensure access to pills that caused abortion in states where it was prohibited”, reports the BBC.

He also expressed his opinion that some states would attempt to arrest women who crossed state lines for abortion access.

“I don’t think people believe that’s going to happen. But it’s going to happen,” the BBC quoted the President as saying.

On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision that established a constitutional right to abortion in the nation.

The decision came after the Supreme Court had considered an appeal case involving a Mississippi law banning all abortions over 15 weeks gestational age except in certain circumstances.

Thirteen states have already severely curtailed or blocked abortion access since the court’s decision.

ALSO READ: Massive protests in US as abortion right ends

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Biden signs landmark gun reforms law

The bill, called “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act”, follows national outrage and frustration felt after killings of 10 African Americans in Buffalo, New York and 19 children at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas just 10 days apart in recent weeks, reports Yashwant Raj

US President Joe Biden on Saturday signed into law a legislation that makes modest changes in the gun laws of the country but marks a significant step on reforms in decades.

“Nothing is going to fill that void in their hearts,” Biden said of survivors and relatives of gun violence victims. “But they lead the way so other families will not have the experience with pain and trauma that they have to live through.”

“Their message to us was to do something. How many times have you heard that? Just do something? For God’s sake, just do something. Well, today, we did,” he added.

The bill, called “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act”, follows national outrage and frustration felt after killings of 10 African Americans in Buffalo, New York and 19 children at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas just 10 days apart in recent weeks.

Passed by the US Senate on Thursday and the House of Representatives on Friday, it expands background checks for prospective buyers between 18 and 21 � both the Buffalo and Uvalde shooters were 18, includes abusive dating partners in the list of those who could be prevented from buying guns, and, finally, it seeks to incentivise states to introduce red-flag laws that would allows law enforcement or relatives to prevent guns from falling in the hands of people who could harm either themselves or others.

The bill also seeks to pump in $15 billion into school safety and mental health care.

The bill was negotiated by 10 Republican and 10 Democratic Senators and passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan voting, as many Republicans � but not all � joined their Democratic colleagues to beak a decades-long logjam that prevented reforms; the last successful effort was in 1994 when assault weapons were banned.

College student Jennifer Estrada takes part in a rally for gun control and anti-racism, in El Paso of Texas, the United States. (Xinhua_Wang Ying_IANS)

“This vote shows that Senators can and will come together to find common ground on lifesaving issues,” Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy formed by the parents of the children killed in the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre of 2013, said in a statement after the Senate vote on Thursday. “It is not a choice between protecting our children and communities and preserving the Second Amendment. We can do both.”

“With this bipartisan package, we take the first steps to fight back on behalf of the American people, who desperately want new measures to keep communities safe in the high numbers in the polling,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the floor of the House on Friday. “To those who lacked the courage to join in this work, I say your political survival is insignificant compared to the survival of our children.”

Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, had said: “This is the sweet spot… making America safer, especially for kids in school, without making our country one bit less free.”

He added: “I thought it was time to act, and if (Democrats) were willing to join with us and pass legislation that actually targeted the problem, which is school safety and mental health, why would we not want to do that?”

ALSO READ: US Supreme Court ends constitutional right to abortion

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Biden warns inflation could last ‘for a while’, blames Putin

The consumer price index (CPI) in May rose 1 per cent from April after increasing 0.3 per cent in April, reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden on Friday cautioned citizens that inflation could last “for a while” after data showed that politically sensitive price pressures unexpectedly accelerated in recent weeks, media reported.

During a Democratic fundraising event in Beverly Hills, Biden said: “We’re gonna live with this inflation for a while. It’s gonna come down gradually, but we’re going to live with it for a while.”

US consumer inflation in May surged 8.6 per cent from a year ago, indicating inflation remains elevated despite the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes, the US Labor Department reported.

“I understand Americans are anxious, and they’re anxious for a good reason,” Bloomberg quoted Biden as saying at the Port of Los Angeles.

“We’ve never seen anything like Putin’s tax on both food and gas,” he said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. But he added: “America can tackle inflation from a position of strength better than any country in the world.”

The consumer price index (CPI) in May rose 1 per cent from April after increasing 0.3 per cent in April, according to the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The May CPI surged 8.6 per cent from 2021, a larger increase compared with the 8.3-per cent growth in April, marking the third straight month of inflation over 8 per cent. The March figure was 8.5 per cent.

The May CPI was the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981. Headline CPI has remained over 6 per cent year-on-year since October 2021, Xinhua news agency reported.

Although price growth has started to show signs of easing, the latest data is a stark reminder that the Fed has a long way ahead as it aims to bring elevated inflation under control.

The central bank raised its target federal funds rate by a quarter percentage point from near zero in March, beginning its tightening cycle to curb the surging inflation. In May, the Fed increased the rate by half a percentage point and has signaled more half-point hikes going forward, stoking recession fears.

The so-called core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.6 per cent in May following a 0.6-per cent growth in April. Core CPI jumped 6 per cent over the last 12 months, after climbing 6.2 per cent in April.

The increase in prices was broad-based, with the indexes for shelter (which includes rents and homeownership costs), gasoline, and food being the largest contributors, according to the BLS report.

After declining in April, the energy index rose 3.9 per cent over the month with the gasoline index rising 4.1 per cent. The energy index rose 34.6 per cent over the last year, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending September 2005.

The food index, meanwhile, rose 1.2 per cent in May as the food at home index increased 1.4 per cent. The food index increased 10.1 per cent for the 12-months ending May, the first increase over 10 per cent since the period ending March 1981.

ALSO READ: Biden says Zelensky rejected US intel on Russian invasion

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Biden says Zelensky rejected US intel on Russian invasion

President Volodymyr Zelensky did not want to hear that Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine after inputs were collected by the US intelligence, US President Joe Biden said in a startling revelation.

“Nothing like this has happened since World War II. I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating. But I knew we had data to sustain he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) was going to go in, off the border,” President Biden was quoted as saying in reports at a Democratic fundraiser in Washington.

“There was no doubt,” Biden said. “And Zelensky didn’t want to hear it.”

Although President Zelensky has inspired people with his leadership during the war, his preparation for the invasion — or lack thereof — has remained a controversial issue, AP reported.

Ahead of the start of the invasion, which Russia still calls a “special military operation”, on February 24, the US-led West had repeatedly warned about the military build up near the Ukraine border.

The Western leaders have repeatedly urged Putin for a de-escalation in tensions. However, the Russian President launched a surprise offensive, triggering shock worldwide.

Earlier on Friday, Kyiv expressed concerns that the West may lost interest if the conflict lingers, “The fatigue is growing, people want some kind of outcome (that is beneficial) for themselves, and we want (another) outcome for ourselves,” Zelensky said.

Meanwhile, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the country is losing upto 200 troops a day while fighting on the front line with Russian forces.

According to the aide Mykhaylo Podolyak, hundreds of Ukrainian troops are under relentless bombardment as Russian forces attempt to take control of the whole of th eastern Donbas region, the BBC reported on Friday.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky (Photo: Instagram)

While reiterating that Ukraine still requires Western artillery, he said: “The Russian forces have thrown pretty much everything non-nuclear at the front and that includes heavy artillery, multiple rocket launch systems and aviation.”

Podolyak added that the “complete lack of parity” between the two rival armies was the reason for Ukraine’s heavy casualty rate.

“Our demands for artillery are not just some kind of whim, but an objective need when it comes to the situation on the battlefield,” the BBC quoted the aide as saying, who went on to add that Kiev needs 150-300 rocket launch systems to match Russia, which is a much higher number than it has received so far.

He also stressed that peace talks between Kiev and Moscow can resume if Russia surrendered the territory it has gained since it launched the invasion on February 24.

Meanwhile, Russian forces have concentrated their assault on the eastern city of Severodonetsk.

On Wednesday, President Zelensky said “the fate of the Donbas is being decided there” and officials said it has been reduced to rubble by intense Russian artillery and missile barrages.

ALSO READ: Russia holds Baltic drill amid NATO exercises

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Biden to hold call with allies to discuss Ukraine

Washington has sent four planes loaded with security assistance to Ukraine over the weekend and made one more delivery on Monday, as per Psaki…reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden will hold a call with allies to discuss the Ukraine crisis, including on how to coordinate on holding Russia accountable, according to the White House.

“The President will convene a secure video call with allies and partners to discuss our continued support for Ukraine and efforts to hold Russia accountable as part of our close coordination,” it said in a statement.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will also take part in the video call with President Biden and other leaders, Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan Hirokazu Matsuno said on Tuesday.

“Participation of Prime Minister Kishida in this conversation is planned. We intend to express our firm position on the situation in Ukraine,” Matsuno said at a press conference.

Meanwhile, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Monday said that Biden has no plans to visit Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“There are no plans for the President to go,” Psaki said regarding the Biden administration’s plans to send a high-level US official to Kiev soon.

The US earlier had announced to provide Ukraine with an additional 800 million US dollars’ worth of military aid including heavy artillery as Washington anticipated a “wider assault” by Russia in eastern Ukraine.

Today, Washington has sent four planes loaded with security assistance to Ukraine over the weekend and made one more delivery on Monday, as per Psaki.

“There were four planes that arrived of military assistance over the course of the weekend, another one is supposed to arrive today if it hasn’t already from the US 800 million package the President announced,” Psaki said during a press briefing on Monday.

The United States remains the largest supplier of military aid to Ukraine among the 30 allies supporting the country.

Washington has committed more than USD 3.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021. Approximately USD 2.6 billion of the total amount was approved since the beginning of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine at the end on February, according to the Defense Department.

The US military assistance includes lethal weapons such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Javelin anti-armor systems, Howitzers and artillery rounds, Mi-17 helicopters, small arms and ammunition, drones, radar devices, among other equipment, according to Sputnik.

On February 24, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian forces. In response, the West rolled out a comprehensive sanctions campaign against Moscow, which includes airspace closures and restrictive measures targeting numerous Russian officials and entities, media and financial institutions.

Japan has sanctioned 499 Russian individuals, including top-level officials and businesspersons, nine banks and about 40 organizations. Moreover, 130 Russian entities were banned from exports of semiconductors, lasers, software, jet engines and oil refinery equipment. Japan has also banned the exports of luxury goods to Russia.

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Biden calls Putin ‘a butcher’

After initially looking to downplay a personal rivalry between himself and Putin, Biden has ramped up his rhetoric against Putin over the last 10 days, reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden on Saturday called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “butcher” after meeting refugees in Warsaw, Poland, in an intense criticism of the Russian leader’s actions in Ukraine that have seen millions of refugees flee to the neighbouring countries, CNN reported.

During his visit, Biden was asked by reporters what seeing the Ukrainian refugees at Stadion Narodowy made him think of as he deals with Putin every day.

Biden responded: “He’s a butcher”, CNN reported.

After initially looking to downplay a personal rivalry between himself and Putin, Biden has ramped up his rhetoric against Putin over the last 10 days.

Last week, Biden for the first time called Putin a “war criminal” and then later referred to him as a “murderous dictator, a pure thug who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine”.

He has also called the Russian invasion of Ukraine “inhumane”, CNN reported.

Biden’s new insults further narrow the window of opportunity for improving Russian-American relations. This was stated by the press secretary of Putin, Dmitry Peskov, RT reported.

“Of course, such personal insults narrow the window of opportunity for our bilateral relations under the current administration of the US. We must be aware of this,” he was quoted as saying.

Peskov noted that the leader of the state must remain sober.

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