US national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday raised concerns about China’s alignment with Russia in a seven-hour meeting with Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi as Washington warned of the isolation and penalties Beijing will face if it helps Moscow in its invasion of Ukraine.
The meeting took place in Rome as the United States told allies in NATO and several Asian countries that China had signaled its willingness to provide military and economic aid to Russia to support its war, Reuters reported.
After talks ended, the White House issued a short statement, noting that Sullivan raised a “range of issues in US-China relations, with substantial discussion of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”
“Should they (China) provide military or other assistance, that of course, violates sanctions or supports the war efforts, there will be significant consequences,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.
Before the talks, US officials had said Sullivan planned to warn of the isolation China could face globally if it continued to support Russia.
Chinese companies defying US restrictions on exports to Russia may be cut off from American equipment and software they need to make their products, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said last week.
China is the world’s-largest exporter, the European Union’s largest trading partner, and the top foreign supplier of goods to the United States. Any pressure on Chinese trade could have economic effects on the United States and its allies.
US officials told Reuters on Sunday that Russia had asked China for military equipment after its invasion, sparking concern within President Joe Biden’s administration that Beijing might undermine Western efforts to aid Ukraine by helping to strengthen Moscow’s military.
Russia denied it had asked China’s for military assistance and said it has sufficient military clout to fulfill all of its aims in Ukraine.
TTP ends cease-fire with Pakistan govt, vows new attacks
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Monday ended a monthslong cease-fire with the government in Islamabad, ordering its fighters to resume attacks across the country.
In a statement, the outlawed TTP said it decided to end the 5-month-old cease-fire after Pakistan’s army stepped up operations against them in former northwestern tribal areas and elsewhere in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan, Associated Press reported.
Pakistan and the TTP had agreed to an indefinite cease-fire in May after talks in Afghanistan’s capital.
There was no immediate comment from the government or the military.
Monday’s announcement was a setback to efforts made by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) since earlier this year to facilitate a peace agreement aimed at ending the violence. The latest development comes months after the IEA started hosting negotiations in the capital Kabul between the TTP and representatives from the Pakistan government and security forces.
It also comes a day before Pakistan’s outgoing army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa — who had approved the controversial cease-fire with TTP in May — is to retire after completing his six-year extended term.
Bajwa will hand over command of the military to the newly appointed army chief Gen. Asim Munir at a ceremony in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Tuesday amid tight security because of fears of violence, AP reported.
Bajwa during his tenure carried out a series of military operations against TTP before agreeing to the peace talks with the militant, who have waged an insurgency in Pakistan for 14 years. The TTP has been fighting for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in the country, the release of their members who are in government custody, and a reduction of Pakistan’s military presence in the country’s former tribal regions.
During the talks, Pakistan had asked TTP to disband.
Pakistan also wanted the insurgents to accept its constitution and sever all ties with the Islamic State group, another Sunni militant group with a regional affiliate that is active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, AP reported.
However, both sides apparently stuck to their positions since the peace talks began.
In a separate statement, the TTP claimed that it targeted a vehicle carrying Pakistani troops in the district of North Waziristan near the Afghan border, causing casualties. There was no confirmation of the attack from the military and the statement did not provide details.
The TTP have for years used Afghanistan’s rugged border regions for hideouts and for staging cross-border attacks into Pakistan.
Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan says party will quit all assemblies
Pakistan’s former prime minister and leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan announced late Saturday that his party has decided to quit all legislative assemblies in the country in a bid to force the incumbent rulers to announce early elections.
Pakistan’s Express Tribune reportedthat Khan, 70, said he discussed the matter of stepping down from all legislative assemblies with the chief ministers and the final decision will be announced after the party’s parliamentary party meeting.
“Instead of causing harm to our country, it is better to leave this corrupt system,” he said.
Khan also said that the party’s long march to Islamabad will also stop as he does not want chaos and anarchy to grip the country.
“They [the government] cannot afford the Islamabad march… they cannot stop millions from entering Islamabad. We could have created a Sri Lanka-like situation,” he said, addressing his party’s gathering in Rawalpindi on Saturday.
“If riots take place then things will get out of everyone’s hands. I tried my best not to take any step which could create chaos in the country,” he added.
“Today I am deciding against marching on Islamabad because we don’t want to spread anarchy in the country,” he announced. “We will not remain part of this corrupt system. We have decided to quit all legislative assemblies.”
This comes after Khan was shot in the leg at a rally earlier this month.
Kim Jong Un says N. Korea aims to have the world’s strongest nuclear force
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country’s intends to have the world’s most powerful nuclear force as he promoted dozens of military officers involved in the recent launch of a new ballistic missile, state media reported on Sunday.
The announcement comes after Kim inspected a Nov. 18 test of the Hwasong-17, North Korea’s largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and pledged to counter what he called US nuclear threats, Reuters reported.
North Korea’s “ultimate goal is to possess the world’s most powerful strategic force, the absolute force unprecedented in the century,” Kim said in the order promoting the officers, adding that building up the country’s nuclear capabilities would reliably protect the dignity and sovereignty of the state and the people.
He described the Hwasong-17 as the “world’s strongest strategic weapon” and said it demonstrated North Korea’s resolve and ability to eventually build the world’s strongest army, read the report.
According to Reuters North Korean scientists have made a “wonderful leap forward in the development of the technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles,” and were expected to expand and strengthen the country’s nuclear deterrent capabilities at an extraordinarily rapid pace, Kim was also quoted as saying.
Kim was pictured in photos posing with scientists, engineers and military officials involved in the test.
According to state media, those workers pledged to defend the “absolute authority” of the party and Kim, and vowed that “our missiles will fly vigorously only in the direction indicated” by Kim.
Capable of reaching the US mainland, the launch of the Hwasong-17 prompted the United States to call for a United Nations Security Council presidential statement to hold North Korea accountable for its missile tests, which are banned by Security Council resolutions, read the report.
State media also showed Kim Jong Un’s daughter accompanying him as he reviewed the officers. Her unexpected first appearance at the Hwasong-17 test has raised the prospect that leadership of the totalitarian state could pass to a fourth generation of Kims.
North Korea’s powerful Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly awarded the Hwasong-17 missile the title of “DPRK Hero and Gold Star Medal and Order of National Flag 1st Class”, state news agency KCNA reported in another statement, using the initials of the country’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“(The missile) clearly proved before the world that the DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear power capable of standing against the nuclear supremacy of the U.S. imperialists and fully demonstrated its might as the most powerful ICBM state,” KCNA said.
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