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Blinken and Raab: US and UK Seek Predictability in Relations With Russia, Want Moscow to ‘Behave’

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US President Joe Biden will convey to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their upcoming meeting that the United States is not seeking to escalate the situation and seeks more stable and predictable relations with Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday.

“President Biden has been very clear for a long time including before he was President that if Russia chooses to act recklessly or aggressively, we’ll respond. But we are not looking to escalate. We would prefer to have a more stable, more predictable relationship, and if Russia moves in that direction, so will we. And I think President Biden will have an opportunity when he meets with President Putin to talk about that directly”, Blinken said. 

Raab, in turn, said that an opportunity for better relations with Moscow exists if Russia “changes its behaviour”.

At the same time, Blinken said that he welcomed the United Kingdom’s recent announcement about extending the global Magnitsky sanctions targeting Russia.

“I also want to thank the United Kingdom, for joining us in holding Russia to account for its reckless and aggressive actions”, Blinken said during a briefing. “We have reaffirmed our unwavering support for the independent sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which I’ll be visiting later this week. I also welcomed the Foreign Secretary’s recent announcement on the extension of global Magnitsky sanctions to combat Russian human rights abuses.”

Last week, US President Joe Biden said in an address to Congress that Washington is seeking no escalation with Russia and believes both countries can cooperate where their interests converge. The US president had offered Putin to meet during summer in a yet to be determined European country.

Tensions between Moscow and Washington intensified after the United States imposed sanctions on 32 Russian entities and individuals as part of a new round of sanctions over Moscow’s alleged cyberattacks and other hostile acts against US interests. Washington also expelled 10 Russian diplomats from the country and prohibited US entities from purchasing Russian government bonds during primary placements.

The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the latest round of US sanctions against Russia as running contrary to the interests of the two nations. In response, Russia banned eight US citizens from entering the country.

On Relations With China

Raab and Blinken also discussed relations with China and agreed that Beijing should be held to the commitments it has made but also relations should be advances in a positive manner.

“I think it’s fair to say we see eye-to-eye on the need to stand up for our values, holding Beijing to the commitments that they’ve made”, Raab said, adding that this stance refers to the Hong Kong declaration and other commitments. “But also at the same time finding constructive ways to work with China in a sensible and positive manner where that’s possible.”

Blinken said that the United States and the United Kingdom will continue to cooperate to address a human rights abuses in China.

“Together, our two countries recently took measures to prevent British and American businesses from inadvertently supporting forced labor and Xinjiang and elsewhere and China”, Blinken said during a briefing. “We continue our robust cooperation to address the atrocities in Xinjiang, a crackdown on pro-democracy activists, and politicians in Hong Kong, which breaches China’s international commitments, and the repression of media freedom across China and in other parts of the world.”

According to Blinken, the US does not have a goal to contain China, but Washington will act if Beijing tries to undermine the international order.

“It is not our purpose to try to contain China or to hold China down, what we are trying to do is to uphold the international rules-based order that our countries have invested so much in, over so many decades”, Blinken said. “When any country – China or otherwise – takes action that challenge or undermine or seek to erode that rules-based order and not make good on the commitments that they’ve made to that order, we will stand up and defend the order.”

President Joe Biden has had a rocky start in his relationship with China, with officials from the two countries openly bickering before the media at a meeting in Alaska hosted by Blinken earlier this year.

While Biden has undone most of Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration, climate and other matters, he has left intact the tariffs on China, indicating that his administration would likely use them in the future to pressure Beijing into making concessions on trade and other issues.

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[Ticker] US to lift Covid travel-ban on EU tourists

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Fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and the UK will be let back into the US from “early November” onward, the White House said on Monday, ending an 18-month ban and prompting airline firms’ shares to climb. “This new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans … safe,” a US spokesman said. The EU recently recommended increased restrictions on US visitors, amid anger at lack of US reciprocity.

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Ten women and girls killed every day in Mexico, Amnesty report says | Global development

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At least 10 women and girls are murdered every day in Mexico, according to a new report that says victims’ families are often left to carry out their own homicide investigations.

The scathing report, released on Monday by Amnesty International, documents both the scale of the violence and the disturbing lack of interest on the part of Mexican authorities to prevent or solve the murders.

“Mexico is continuing to fail to fulfil its duty to investigate and, therefore, its duty to guarantee the rights to life and personal integrity of the victims as well as to prevent violence against women,” says the report, Justice on Trial.

“Feminicidal violence and the failings in investigation and prevention in northern Mexico are not anecdotal, but rather form part of a broader reality in the country,” the report adds.

Femicide has been rife in Mexico for decades – most notoriously in an epidemic of murders which claimed the life of some 400 women in the border city Ciudad Juárez during the 1990s. In recent years, a growing feminist movement has held massive street protests against the violence, but authorities have proved unwilling to take action to stop the killing.

“It’s always a question of political will,” said Maricruz Ocampo, a women’s activist in the state of Querétaro.

Ocampo has been part of teams lobbying state governors to issue an alert when femicides reach scandalously high levels – a move to raise awareness and mobilise resources. But officials often resist such moves, she said, as governors worry about their states’ images and investment.

“They refuse to recognise there is a problem,” she said.

The president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has also downplayed the problem. He branded the women protesting on 8 March, International Women’s Day, as “conservatives” and alleged a dark hand manipulating the demonstrations.

When asked last year about rising violence against women, he responded, “Tell all the women of Mexico that they are protected and represented, that we’re doing everything possible to guarantee peace and quiet and that I understand that our adversaries are looking for ways to confront us.”

Mexico recorded the murders of 3,723 women in 2020. Some 940 of those murders were investigated as femicides.

The Amnesty report focused on Mexico state, a vast collection of gritty suburbs surrounding Mexico City on three sides. It has become notorious for femicides over the past decade – and for the way the former president, Enrique Peña Nieto, a former Mexico state governor, ignored the problem.

The report found cases of families carrying out their own detective work, which were ignored by investigators. In many cases, authorities contaminated crime scenes or mishandled evidence. They often did not even pursue leads such as geolocation information from victims’ mobile phones.

In the case of Julia Sosa, whose children believe she was killed by her partner, two daughters found her body buried on the suspect’s property – but had to wait hours for police to arrive and process the crime scene. One of her daughters recalled the subsequent interview process, in which “the police officer was falling asleep”.

Sosa’s partner hanged himself, prompting police to close the case, even though family members said there were more leads to pursue.

In states rife with drug cartel violence, activists say cases of femicides go uninvestigated as impunity is commonplace.

“The authorities say it’s organised crime and that’s it,” said Yolotzin Jaimes, a women’s rights campaigner in the southern state of Guerrero. “Many of these aggressors find protection under the excuse of organised crime.”

The persistence of femicides is a stark contrast to recent gains by the women’s movement in Mexico. The country’s supreme court decriminalised abortion earlier this month. A new congress recently sworn in has gender parity and seven female governors will be installed by the end of year – up from just two before last June’s election’s

The decriminalisation of abortion “let off some steam” from the pressure driving the protests “because part of the demands was over the right to choose,” Ocampo said. “But when it comes to violence, we still see it everywhere.”

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US official urges EU to speed up enlargement

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Gabriel Escobar, the US’ newly-appointed acting deputy secretary of state for South Central Europe, has urged Europe to speed up Western Balkans enlargement. “To return 20 years later and see that there hasn’t been much progress on that front was a little disappointing,” he told the RFE/RL news agency Friday, referring to his last post in Europe in 2001. “We would like to see a more rapid integration,” he said.

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