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Blinken calls on China to press N. Korea to end its 'dangerous' behaviour

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Washington, April 27 (IANS) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that he renewed calls for China to exert its influence to press North Korea to cease its “dangerous” activities and return to dialogue during his talks with top Chinese officials in Beijing.

Blinken made the remarks on Friday during a press conference after he had separate meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong and other officials in the Chinese capital on the day, Yonhap news agency reported.

Blinken’s trip to Shanghai and Beijing from Wednesday to Friday came as Washington has been pushing for its drive to “responsibly” manage the Sino-US relationship despite a hardening rivalry over technological leadership, maritime security, trade and other domains.

“I encouraged China to use its influence to discourage Iran and its proxies from expanding the conflict in the Middle East, and to press Pyongyang to end its dangerous behaviour and engage in dialogue,” Blinken said. “Going forward, we will have high-level discussions on these and other issues.”

Pyongyang has been ratcheting up tensions with recent menacing weapons tests, including a “super-large” warhead power test for a strategic cruise missile and the launch of an intermediate-range missile tipped with a hypersonic warhead.

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Blinken restated America’s “enduring” commitment to the “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula while in Beijing, according to Matthew Miller, the spokesperson for the State Department.

During talks with Beijing officials, he also highlighted Washington’s “serious” concerns about China’s commercial support for Russia’s defence industrial base, which Blinken said is “powering Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine”.

“China is the top supplier of machine tools, microelectronics, nitrocellulose — which is critical to making munitions and rocket propellants, and other dual-use items that Moscow is using to ramp up its defence industrial base, a defence industrial base that is churning out rockets, drones, tanks, and other weapons that President Putin is using to invade a sovereign country, to demolish its power grid and other civilian infrastructure, to kill innocent children, women and men,” he said.

“Russia would struggle to sustain its assault on Ukraine without China’s support,” he added.

Moreover, the top US diplomat touched on the issue of China’s overcapacity.

“I also expressed our concern about the PRC’s unfair trade practices and the potential consequences of industrial overcapacity to global and US markets, especially in a number of key industries that will drive the 21st-century economy, like solar panels, electric vehicles, and the batteries that power them,” he said. PRC stands for China’s official name, the People’s Republic of China.

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“China alone is producing more than 100 per cent of global demand for these products, flooding markets, undermining competition, putting at risk livelihoods and businesses around the world.”

Blinken also underlined a US focus on taking “necessary” actions to prevent “advanced US technologies from being used to undermine our national security and economy without unduly limiting trade or investment”, according to Miller.

But both sides reaffirmed the importance of maintaining open lines of communication “at all times” and agreed to continued high-level diplomacy and interactions going forward, according to Miller.

During his talks with the top US diplomat, the Chinese President said that the US and China should be “partners rather than rivals”.

“The two countries should help each other succeed rather than hurt each other, seek common ground and reserve differences rather than engage in vicious competition, and honour words with actions rather than say one thing but do the opposite,” Xi said according to a transcript released by the State Department.

Xi underlined his three “overarching principles”: mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and willing cooperation.

“At present, transformation not seen in a century is unfolding in a profound way, and the international situation is fluid and turbulent,” he said. “It is the shared desire of both the two peoples and the international community to see China and the U.S. strengthen dialogue, manage differences, and advance cooperation.”

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Xi also said that China is happy to see the US being “confident, open, prosperous, and thriving”.

“We hope the US can also look at China’s development in a positive light,” he said. “This is a fundamental issue that must be addressed, just like the first button of a shirt that must be put right in order for the China-U.S. relationship to truly stabilize, improve, and move forward.”

Blinken reaffirmed the US’ commitment to stably manage relations with China.

“We are committed to maintaining and strengthening the lines of communication between us to advance that agenda and, again, to deal responsibly with our differences so that we avoid any miscommunications, any misperceptions, any miscalculations,” he said.

Blinken was referring to the agenda for bilateral cooperation that President Joe Biden and Xi set during their high-profile summit in California in November. At the summit, they agreed to restore military-to-military communication and cooperate on counternarcotics among other outcomes.

–IANS

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Ukrainian drone attacks threaten safety of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

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Moscow, June 23 (IANS) Recent drone attacks by the Ukrainian armed forces on the city of Energodar, home to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), have raised serious concerns about the safety of the nuclear facility, local authorities said.

ZNPP Director Yuriy Chernichuk said that several divisions of the ZNPP were left without power due to drone strikes on the Raduga substation that occurred on Friday, including the printing house, pump stations supplying drinking water, and production and technical equipment management.

“This is a direct hit on the critical infrastructure essential for the station’s operation. It can be said that this attack impacts the safety of the ZNPP,” Chernichuk told the RIA Novosti news agency on Saturday.

Three more drone strikes on Energodar were recorded on Saturday, leaving one resident injured, Eduard Senovoz, mayor of the city, said on his Telegram channel on Saturday, reports Xinhua news agency.

He added that one of the drones landed near the Raduga substation.

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Saturday that Russia would take all necessary measures to prevent Ukraine from carrying out similar drone attacks on Energodar in the future.

–IANS

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South Korean medical professors vow to file constitutional petition for employee status

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Seoul, June 23 (IANS) An association of medical professors across South Korea said on Sunday that it will file a constitutional petition to help them get legal status as hospital employees.

Most medical professors serve as senior doctors at major hospitals, but a court ruling in 2022 refused to acknowledge them as hospital employees, saying that they are classified as faculty members of medical schools under the Private School Act, Yonhap news agency reported.

“There are neither clear legal grounds nor protection measures for medical professors regarding their duty of providing treatment for patients as doctors,” Kim Chang-soo, chief of the National Medical Professors’ Council, said.

“We will file a constitutional petition in the second half of this year to earn employee status,” he said, adding that his organisation will also work to make its labour union more active.

The council is affiliated with medical professors at 40 medicine colleges nationwide.

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–IANS

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4.9-magnitude earthquake jolts Japan

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Tokyo, June 23 (IANS) An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.9 on Sunday struck the northeastern Japanese prefecture of Fukushima, said the country’s weather agency.

The temblor occurred at around 12:12 p.m. local time at a depth of 50 km, measuring 4 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Fukushima, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said, adding that there was no threat of a tsunami.

The epicentre was located at a latitude of 37.1 degrees north and a longitude of 141.2 degrees east, reports Xinhua news agency.

Tremors were also felt in the prefectures of Miyagi, Ibaraki and Tochigi.

No new abnormalities were reported at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant following the quake, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant’s operator.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage.

–IANS

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EAM Jaishankar to visit UAE for high-level talks today

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) External Affairs Minister (EAM), S Jaishankar, will visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday, marking a significant diplomatic engagement between the two nations.

During his official visit, EAM Jaishankar will hold a comprehensive meeting with his UAE counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The two ministers are expected to discuss a wide range of issues pertinent to the India-UAE partnership, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Sunday.

This high-level dialogue will provide an invaluable opportunity to review the entire spectrum of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries that has been elevating in recent years, as well as to address regional and global developments.

Earlier, the EAM visited Sri Lanka, emphasising India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.

This was his first bilateral visit after the formation of the BJP-led NDA government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

–IANS

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Three killed, 9 injured in car bomb attack in Colombia

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Bogota, June 23 (IANS) Three people were killed and nine others injured in a car bomb attack in the Colombian city of Taminango in the southern department of Narino, local authorities said.

In a statement, Luis Alfonso Escobar, the governor of Narino, confirmed that two citizens and a young police officer were among the killed, expressing his categorical rejection of “this demented act.”

President Gustavo Petro expressed condolences to the bereaved families in a post on his account on X, warning the criminals “who choose the path of war over peace” will “bear the full burden of the law,” reports Xinhua news agency.

The shock wave of the car bomb, detonated near the police station of El Remolino in the rural area of Taminango on Friday, also affected several houses and vehicles.

Fernando Latorre, the mayor of Taminango, told local media that this police station suffered two other attacks in the past year, in addition to various murders, calling for “security to be strengthened to give peace to the local inhabitants.”

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–IANS

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