Global Review – 21st October

‘Time for dialogue with N. Korea’

The US ambassador to the UN says it’s time to engage in “a sustained and substantive” dialogue with North Korea with the aim of the complete de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Addresing the UN Security Council, Linda Thomas Greenfield said Washington had no hostile intent towards Pyongyang and was willing to meet N. Korean officials without pre-conditions.

Taliban vows to work with Russia, regional players

The Taliban has agreed to work with Russia, China and Iran on regional security. During talks in Moscow, 10 participating countries called for “urgent” humanitarian aid for Afghans and said countries that recently withdrew troops from Afghanistan should fund reconstruction efforts. In a joint statement the parties raised concerns about the activity of terror groups and “reaffirmed their willingness to contribute to regional stability”. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who addressed the gathering, criticised the absence of US officials.

G20 summit to focus on climate, COVID and recovery measures

Next week’s G20 summit, being hosted by Italy, will focus on climate change, the Coronavirus pandemic and and the measures required for a global recovery after the pandemic, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told the Senate in remarks ahead of this week’s European Council meeting. The G20 Rome summit will take place on October 30 and 31.

UK: COVID fight ‘not over’

Many of today’s London papers lead on the Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s warning that if not enough people get vaccinated, it was more likely that COVID restrictions would be reintroduced in England. The Daily Mirror says the “fight is not over” and reports that cases could reach 100,000 a day. The government is “accused of dragging its feet” over introducing its winter Plan B. The Daily Telegraphquotes Javid saying the government would not “at this point” implement Plan B, which the paper says includes mandatory face coverings, advice to work from home and “vaccine passports”. The Timessays Javid implied people need to “get serious about face masks”.

Putin keeping workers at home as COVID deaths soar

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the country’s workers to stay off work for a week starting later this month amid rising coronavirus infection and death numbers. The government task force on Wednesday reported 1,028 COVID deaths during the previous 24 hours – the highest number since the start of the pandemic. That brought Russia’s total death toll to 226,353, which is by far the highest in Europe.

Melbourne ends lockdown

Coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne ended today as tough restrictions, which included a night-time curfew, were lifted and pubs, cafes and hairdressers re-opened. Some 70% of the population have now received their COVID vaccines.

Florida school massacre: gunman pleads guilty

Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who carried out the massacre of students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, pleaded guilty in a Florida courtroom Wednesday to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. Cruz, 23, faces a minimum of life in prison and maximum of the death penalty. The prosecution plans to seek the death penalty.

Brazil Senate calls for Bolsonaro to be charged

A Brazilian Senate committee has recommended the indictment of President Jair Bolsonaro on 10 charges – including crimes against humanity – related to his government’s handling of the pandemic. The right-wing leader had previously downplayed the virus. The committee also wants the president to be impeached.

Navalny wins EU human rights prize

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was awarded the European Parliament’s annual human rights prize on Wednesday for his efforts to challenge President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power. Navalny, 45, who was poisoned in August 2020 by what Western nations said was a nerve agent, is serving a 30-month sentence for parole violations. The EU has imposed sanctions on Russian officials over Navalny’s poisoning and imprisonment. Moscow denies any wrongdoing and accuses the EU of interfering in its domestic affairs.

Benzema on trial over sextapes

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema went on trial in France on Wednesday accused of complicity in the attempted blackmail of former international teammate Mathieu Valbuena in a case which has become known as the sextape affair. Benzema, 33, stands accused of helping a group in an attempt to extort money in 2015 by threatening to publish sexually-explicit footage discovered when Valbuena entrusted his smartphone to Axel Angot, a man connected to footballing circles in Marseille, with the request to transfer its contents to a new device.

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