Global Review – 9th July

Russia ‘isolated’ at G20 as Lavrov storms out of talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stormed out of talks with foreign ministers at the G20 meeting in Indonesia on Friday as Western powers criticised Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, prompting French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna to note that Russia was so isolated that its top diplomat had to leave the talks immediately after speaking. Lavrov dismissed Western criticism of the war in Ukraine, scolding Russia’s rivals for scuppering a chance to tackle global economic issues. “During the discussion, Western partners avoided following the mandate of the G20, from dealing with issues of the world economy,” Lavrov said. He said the West’s discussion “strayed almost immediately, as soon as they took the floor, to the frenzied criticism of the Russian Federation in connection with the situation in Ukraine. ‘Aggressors’, ‘invaders’, ‘occupiers’ – we heard a lot of things today,” Lavrov said. Earlier, host country Indonesia urged the G20 to help end the war in Ukraine at the start of a summit that has put some of the staunchest critics of Russia’s invasion in the same room as Moscow’s top diplomat. Lavrov said Russia was ready to negotiate with Ukraine and Turkey about grain but it is unclear when such talks might take place.

Blinken, Wang Yi voice cautious hope in rare talks

The top diplomats from the United States and China voiced guarded hope Saturday of preventing tensions from spiralling out of control as they held rare talks on the Indonesian island of Bali. Neither side expected major breakthroughs between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, but the two powers have moderated their tone and stepped up interaction at a time when the West is focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “In a relationship as complex and consequential as the one between the United States and China, there is a lot to talk about,” Blinken said as he opened discussions at a resort hotel in Bali, where the pair attended a Group of 20 gathering the day before. “We very much look forward to a productive and constructive conversation,” Blinken said. Wang said that President Xi Jinping believed in cooperation as well as “mutual respect” between the world’s two largest economic powers and that there needed to be “normal exchanges” between them. “We do need to work together to ensure that this relationship will continue to move forward along the right track,” Wang said in front of US and Chinese flags before a day of talks that will include a working lunch.

Fatal shooting of Japan’s Shinzo Abe shocks world leaders

Friday’s shocking assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe stunned the world and drew immediate condemnation, with world leaders praising Abe’s “global leadership” and slamming a “cowardly attack”. Abe, 67, was shot from behind in Nara in western Japan while giving a campaign speech. He was airlifted to a hospital but was not breathing and his heart had stopped. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Abe was Japan’s longest-serving leader before stepping down in 2020 for health reasons. Police arrested a suspected gunman at the scene. “Japan lost a great prime minister who dedicated his life to his country and worked for the stability of our world”, French President Emmanuel Macron wrote in a tweet, addressing France’s condolences to the Japanese people. Malta’s President George Vella said he was deeply shocked, adding that he had fond memories of the state visit five years ago. Abe was the first Japanese Prime Minister to officially visit in 2017. Malta’s ambassador to Japan Andrè Spiteri said he was “shocked and saddened”, describing Abe as “a great friend of Malta”. Prime Minister Robert Abela condemned the “senseless act of violence” and offered his condolences to Abe’s family and the people of Japan.  US President Joe Biden said he was “stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened” by Abe’s assassination. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth said she was “deeply saddened” by Abe’s death.

Biden signs executive order on abortion

US President Joe Biden said the Supreme Court decision overturning the right to an abortion was an exercise in “raw political power” and signed an executive order on Friday to ease access to services to terminate pregnancies. Biden, a Democrat, has been under pressure from his own party to take action after the landmark decision last month to overturn Roe v Wade, which upended roughly 50 years of protections for women’s reproductive rights. The order directs the government’s health department to expand access to “medication abortion” – pills prescribed to end pregnancies – and ensure women have access to emergency medical care, family planning services and contraception. It also mentions protecting doctors, women who travel for abortions and mobile abortion clinics at state borders. But it offered few specifics and promises to have limited impact in practice, since U.S. states can make laws restricting abortion and access to medication.

Twitter vows court battle after Musk pulls out of buyout deal

Elon Musk, the chief executive officer of Tesla and the world’s richest person, said on Friday he was terminating his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter because the social media company had breached multiple provisions of the merger agreement. Twitter’s chairman, Bret Taylor, said on the micro-blogging platform that the board planned to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement. “The Twitter Board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk,” he wrote. According to Reuters, Musk’s decision is likely to result in a protracted legal battle between the billionaire and the 16-year-old San Francisco-based company.

Sri Lanka imposes curfew as police fire tear gas

Police imposed a curfew in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo and surrounding areas on Friday – a day before a planned protest demanding the resignations of the country’s president and prime minister because of the economic crisis that has caused severe shortages of essential goods and disrupted people’s livelihoods. Hours before the curfew announcement, police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands of protesting students wearing black clothes, holding black flags, shouting anti-government slogans and carrying banners saying “Enough – now go.”

‘Sopranos’ star Tony Sirico dies aged 79

US actor Tony Sirico, best known for portraying Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri in “The Sopranos”, has died aged 79, his family said Friday. Sirico played minor mobster roles in television and film for decades before being cast in his fifties as the eccentric and sometimes brutal Paulie on HBO’s hit show– becoming one of the series’ most memorable characters. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1942, Sirico was frequently arrested as a youth, but caught the acting bug in prison after seeing a troupe of ex-convicts perform. He took multiple small parts as thugs and wise guys from the late 1970s onward, appearing in TV shows such as “Kojak” and “Miami Vice,” and mob-themed films including “Goodfellas” and “Mickey Blue Eyes”. Sirico was in his fifties when he was cast for his best-known part in “Sopranos”.

Spain, Germany start Euro 2022 in style

Eight-time European champions Germany got their Euro 2022 campaign off to a flying start by hammering Euro 2017 runners-up Denmark 4-0. Likewaise, Spain beat Finland 4-1 after recovering from the shock of conceding a goal inside the opening minute. Germany and Spain – both in Group B – have three points each. Germany face Spain next in a blockbuster clash on Tuesday. Today sees two matches from Group C: Portugal v, Switzerland (6 pm) and Netherlands v. Sweden at 9pm. Both matches can be seen live on TVM News+.

Blatter, Platini acquitted of fraud charges

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his vice-president Michel Platini have been acquitted of fraud. The pair stood trial over a payment of two million Swiss francs made by Blatter to Platini in 2011.Both men had denied wrongdoing and said the transfer was belated payment for Platini’s advisory work for FIFA.

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