Biden, Japan, S. Korea Unified in Response to North Korean Threats

PHNOM PENH — U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of Japan and South Korea met in Phnom Penh, where they vowed a united stance over threats posed by North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

The three leaders held talks on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia where regional leaders gathered for the first in-person talks since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For years our countries have been engaging in trilateral cooperation out of a shared concern for the nuclear missile threats that North Korea poses to our people. And North Korea continues provocative behavior. This partnership is even more important than it’s ever been,” Biden said after the talks.

North Korea has launched a record number of missile this year, some of which have flown over Japan, alarming leaders in Tokyo.

“North Korea’s provocations continue at an unprecedented level. With possible further provocations [by North Korea], I think Tokyo’s summit with the United States and South Korea is happening at the right time. I would like to further strengthen cooperation with the United States and South Korea to deal with North Korea resolutely,” said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The East Asia Summit is a grouping of the Associated of Southeast Asian Nations and its dialogue partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, and the United States.

On Saturday, Biden addressed a U.S.-ASEAN summit, reaffirming the U.S. commitment to “ASEAN Centrality” — the principle that regional engagements and processes are driven by the 10-country bloc instead of great power rivalry.

“ASEAN is the heart of my administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy,” Biden said. “And we continue to strengthen our commitment to work in lockstep with an empowered, unified ASEAN.”

Biden – Hun Sen

Biden appeared to misspeak as he thanked “the prime minister of Colombia” for his leadership in ASEAN, referring to Cambodia’s authoritarian leader Hun Sen. At the start of the summit, the president held a bilateral meeting with the region’s longest-ruling leader who has been in office since 1985.

Activists have urged Biden to hold Hun Sen accountable for the country’s democratic decline.

Biden pressed Hun Sen to reopen civic and political space ahead of the 2023 elections and called for the release of activists detained on politically motivated charges, including U.S.-Cambodian dual citizen Theary Seng, according to a readout of the bilateral meeting provided by the White House.

With Phnom Penh firmly in Beijing’s embrace, however, there may not be much that Biden can do.

“Whenever there’s pressure from the Western country, especially from the U.S., China will be at the back of the Cambodian government providing support,” said Bunna Vann president of The Thinker Cambodia think tank. “When the U.S. has put a sanction to the Cambodian government, China will provide the economic support to the Cambodian government.”

During his meeting with Hun Sen earlier this week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged $27 million in development aid for Cambodia.

The U.S. is also concerned that Cambodia is secretly allowing Chinese warships to dock at its Ream Naval Base in the Gulf of Thailand.

“The President raised concerns regarding the situation at Ream Naval Base and underscored the importance of full transparency about activities by the PRC military at Ream Naval Base,” the White House said in its statement.

Earlier this year, Beijing provided funds to revamp the base, heightening fears among some ASEAN members concerned about Chinese expansionist ambitions in the South China Sea.

Biden ended his first day in Cambodia at a gala dinner with summit leaders. He continued meetings at the East Asia Summit on Sunday before he traveled to Bali, Indonesia, for the G-20 meeting of the world’s 20 largest economies.


Source: Voice of America

US Democrats Retain Senate Control, but House Outcome Still Unresolved

WASHINGTON — U.S. Democrats are going to hold narrow control of the Senate when the new Congress takes office in January, but control of the House of Representatives remained uncertain Sunday, five days after last week’s election.

Republicans are holding a 211-204 edge in the House with elections for 20 seats yet to be decided in both parties’ quest for a 218-seat majority in the 435-member lower chamber.

Most U.S. political analysts are predicting that when the remaining votes are counted in the uncalled House races, which could take several days, Republicans are likely to win a very narrow majority, perhaps with 219 to 222 seats to 216 to 213 for the Democrats, well below Republican leaders’ preelection predictions.

Democrats secured a 50th seat in the 100-member Senate late Saturday as embattled Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, considered the Democrats’ most vulnerable incumbent seeking reelection, narrowly edged past Adam Laxalt, a former attorney general in the western state. She won by half a percentage point.

“We beat the odds,” Democratic President Joe Biden told reporters in Cambodia, where he attended a summit of Asian nations before heading to Bali, Indonesia for a summit of the world’s 20 largest economies. “I feel good, and I’m looking forward to the next couple years.”

Before last Tuesday’s election, U.S. political pollsters and analysts had widely predicted a sweeping “red wave” of Republican wins in the House and a possible takeover of the Senate as well.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, assured of remaining as the chamber’s majority leader, called the results a “vindication” for Democrats and their agenda.

He said Republicans had turned off voters with extremism and “negativity,” including some candidates’ erroneous insistence that the 2020 election had been stolen from then-President Donald Trump. “America showed that we believed in our democracy,” Schumer told reporters.

Republicans mostly stayed mum about the Senate outcome, although as it became clear in recent days that no big sweep of Republican victories was going to materialize, some party officials were already casting blame. This included targeting Trump for his support of candidates, many of whom lost, that was based largely on whether they agreed with his claim that he was cheated out of another four-year term.

Trump has signaled he plans to announce his 2024 presidential candidacy Tuesday.

Shortly after Cortez Masto’s victory became apparent, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said on Twitter, “The old party is dead. Time to bury it. Build something new.”

Cortez Masto’s victory assures Democrats the same number of seats as in the current Senate, which now has a 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats. Yet to come is a December 6 runoff election in the southern state of Georgia, with Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock facing off against his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker, a former college and professional football star recruited for the race by Trump.

In the current Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris, as the chamber’s presiding officer, has occasionally cast tie-breaking votes supporting the Democratic agenda. A Warnock victory in the Georgia contest would add to the Democratic majority, giving them a majority on committees that shape legislation, or, if Walker wins, preserve the political status quo.

A Republican victory in the House would give Republicans the speakership to lead the chamber, with California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, now the Republican minority leader, already calling fellow party members asking for their support.

If Republicans control the House, a Republican, McCarthy or another party lawmaker, would replace the current speaker, Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and under the U.S. Constitution, would become third in line to the U.S. presidency after the vice president if both of the top two positions became vacant and needed to be filled.

A narrow edge for Republicans would likely give the party entrée to investigate Biden administration missteps during the first two years of his presidency, including last year’s chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ongoing influx of undocumented migrants across the southwest U.S. border with Mexico.

Legislation in a Republican-controlled House can simply be ignored by the Schumer-led Senate if Democrats don’t agree with such proposals.

On CNN’s “State of the Union” show, Pelosi declined to predict that Democrats would overcome the current Republican edge in the House race to reach the 218-seat majority, but said, “We’ll see. There are so many votes out” to be counted yet.

But she said, “Two months ago, who would have predicted that this red wave would turn into a little tiny trickle? We’re still alive; the races are close. We still think we have a chance.”


Source: Voice of America

Ending Ukraine War ‘Best Thing’ to Mend World Economy: Yellen

NUSA DUA, INDONESIA — U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen heaped pressure on Russia on Monday ahead of the G-20 summit in Indonesia, saying the best way to end world economic tumult was to stop the Ukraine war.

“Ending Russia’s war is a moral imperative and the single best thing we can do for the global economy,” Yellen told reporters as she met French counterpart Bruno Le Maire in Nusa Dua, on the resort island of Bali.

High fuel and food prices are among the top issues set to be discussed at the summit and few G-20 countries have escaped the economic pain.

Yellen will hope to build diplomatic pressure for an end to the war by blaming Russia.

Host Indonesia has called for talks and a peaceful resolution to the conflict but, like fellow G-20 members China, South Africa and India, has largely avoided criticizing Russia directly.

The summit is also expected to discuss the need to extend a Turkish and U.N.-brokered agreement allowing vital Ukrainian grain and fertilizer exports to transit safely through the Black Sea.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest producers of both products. Russian President Vladimir Putin had appeared to walk away from the agreement but faced a sharp backlash from developing countries.

The current agreement expires on November 19. Le Maire underscored the need to counteract the effects of Russia’s invasion, namely on soaring fuel prices in Europe.

“I really think that the first issue that we have on the table is how to bring down energy prices and how to get rid of inflation,” he said.


Source: Voice of America

Bali summit attendance expected to be high

Indonesia, as the 2022 G20 president, is ready to host the 17th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali Island, on November 15–16, with nearly all G20 leaders expected to be present, save three, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The summit is taking place at a challenging time when the world is struggling to recover from the impacts of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine following its invasion by Russia in February 2022.

The war in Ukraine has involved many G20 members directly and indirectly, with Ukraine supported by other G20 members such as the United States, Britain, Germany, Canada, France, Australia, Japan, the European Union, and Turkiye.

G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Türkiye, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Spain is the grouping’s permanent guest country.

Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, Indonesia, a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), has determinedly maintained an impartial stance and called for an immediate end to the conflict.

Despite pressures from several countries to kick out Russia from G20, Indonesia has decided that the grouping, under its presidency, should unite members and encourage conflicting countries to sit at the negotiating table and seek a peaceful solution.

Hence, Indonesia has invited all G20 members to participate along with several other non-member countries, including Ukraine, as observers, at the upcoming Bali Summit. Like Putin, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will not be attending the summit.

The number of G20 leaders confirmed to attend the summit in Bali is very high, according to Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

Several leaders have not confirmed their attendance on account of special situations in their countries, she told the media on October 31.

In the meantime, three leaders—Putin, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico—have informed that they will not attend the summit, according to Coordinating Minister for Investment and Maritime Affairs and chairperson of the G20 Summit’s organizing committee, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.

He told the media on November 12 that 17 G20 leaders and 3,443 delegates have confirmed their participation in the G20 Summit, which is the first ever to be hosted by Indonesia.

The leaders whose attendance has been confirmed include those from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Türkiye, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

Earlier, Minister Marsudi told the press that newly installed G20 leaders, such as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, have confirmed their participation in the Bali gathering.

Besides, US President Joseph R. Biden is expected to be in Bali from November 13 to 16 for the summit, according to a press statement issued by the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, on October 28.

“In Bali, the President will commend President Joko Widodo’s leadership of the G20,” she said in her statement outlining Biden’s travel plans to North Africa and Asia.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud will also attend the summit, Saudi Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi said recently while leading the Saudi delegation at the G20 Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Bali.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has also confirmed his attendance and plan to hold formal talks with President Widodo on the sidelines of the summit.

This would be the second meeting between the two presidents since President Widodo’s visit to China in July this year, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affair, Zhao Lijian, said in Beijing on Friday.

Lijian stressed that China supports Indonesia’s G20 Presidency, which is themed “Recover Together, Recover Stronger.”

Xi is scheduled to be in Bali from November 14 to 17 and will proceed to Bangkok to attend the APEC.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will lead his country’s delegation at the Bali summit.

Indonesia, whose term as G20 president extended from December 1, 2021, to November 30, 2022, is allowed to invite countries and international organizations as observers to G20 meetings.

The invitees this year are Spain; chairman of the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AU-NEPAD); chairman of ASEAN; the Netherlands; Singapore; the United Arab Emirates; chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); and chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

Indonesia has also invited the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the United Nations (UN).

According to media reports, leaders of Singapore, Cambodia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Senegal, Finland, Suriname, and Fiji will come to Bali.

Tempo media recently reported that other VVIP guests expected to be present in Bali include the President of Zambia, the President of Angola, the President of South Sudan, the Prime Minister of Denmark, the President of FIFA, the President of the IOC, chairman of the Atlantic Council, and chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Most of the G20 leaders will arrive in Bali on November 14 and leave on November 16, with some flying to Thailand for the APEC Summit, which will be held in Bangkok on November 18 and 19.


Source: Antara News

NTB govt helps 280 MSMEs promote products at WSBK

The West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) provincial government has helped 280 micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) players to promote their products during the World Superbike (WSBK) event at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit.

Head of the NTB Cooperatives and MSME Office Ahmad Masyhuri informed that 250 of the MSMEs were assisted by the NTB provincial government, while the remaining were assisted by the Central Lombok district government.

“Most of them are culinary (businesses), reaching 80 percent, while the rest are creative economy (MSMEs),” he said at the media center of the circuit here on Saturday.

The MSMEs come from 10 districts and cities of the province, he added.

Around 20 percent of the total MSME quota for the event has been allocated to Central Lombok district, 13 percent to East Lombok district, and less than 10 percent to the remaining eight regions.

“As the host (of the WSBK), of course, (the quota for MSMEs from) Central Lombok is the largest,” the office head noted.

He said that all the MSMEs involved in the event underwent curation and received adequate assistance from the province, district, and city governments.

In addition, a number of MSMEs were fostered by the Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) Ministry, state-owned enterprises (SOE/BUMN), and regional-owned enterprises (BUMD).

“Thus, it is not only the province or district and city (governments), but the ministry and BUMN were also involved in fostering these MSMEs,” Masyhuri said.

Regarding the decline in the number of MSMEs involved in WSBK in 2022 compared to 2021, when their number reached 375, he said that his office is not concerned over it since this year, the small number of business players has meant they can have better place for their booths.

The booths of all MSMEs involved at 2022 WSBK are located near the spectator grandstands or inside the circuit area, unlike last year, when a number of MSME booths were placed outside the circuit area.

“Indeed, in terms of numbers, it (the number of MSME players) has decreased. However, now everything (all MSME booths) is concentrated in the circuit area. Thus, it is much better since there are no booths outside,” the office added.

The WSBK is being implemented from November 11–13, 2022.


Source: Antara News

COP27 inspires global community to tackle climate change: Pertamina

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) 2022 can inspire the global community and all parties to increase contribution to tackling climate change, according to Senior Vice President of Strategy and Investment of Pertamina Daniel Purba.

“Sometimes when we work only focusing on our own sector, we never think about a global point of view. So I’m sure this COP27 will inspire and encourage everyone to think globally in order to accelerate contributions in dealing with climate change through industries that we each work on,” Purba said during a discussion organized on the sidelines of COP27, at the Indonesian Pavilion in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on Friday (November 11) .

Reducing carbon emissions  is one of the ways to tackle climate change,  Purba added.

Through the COP27 event, he continued, all nations around the world are reminded that there is still a lot of work to do to save planet Earth from the impacts of climate change, and it is not only for the benefit of future generations, but also for the sustainability of the business environment.

“I hope that after the implementation of COP27, everyone will realize that they have to play a role in saving the Earth. And that effort is not just a jargon, but must become a reality, our mindset and lifestyle that encourage us to save our planet,” Purba said.

As a concrete step to tackle climate change,  Indonesia is committed to achieving net zero emissions (NZE) by 2060, and Pertamina is supporting the realization of that commitment by decarbonizing its existing businesses and developing green businesses.

“Currently Indonesia has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2060 so that Pertamina, as a state-owned company, supports this commitment and we have also prepared various work programs to achieve this national (NZE) target,” he pointed out.

The decarbonization measures taken by the company include encouraging energy efficiency, zero-flare oil and gas activities, as well as carbon capture and utilization.

Apart from that, Pertamina has also developed a number of green business initiatives, including those related to biofuels, renewable energy, batteries and electric vehicles, hydrogen as well as carbon businesses.

“Of course, we also view the energy transition period as a very good opportunity for us to build some green businesses,” Purba said.

In addition, Pertamina is also committed to allocating 14 percent of the projected capital expenditure for the 2022-2060 period, which is worth US$70-80 billion, for the development of clean, new and renewable energy.


Source: Antara News

President Jokowi pushes ASEAN-Canada concrete cooperation

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has encouraged ASEAN-Canada strong partnership to develop into strategic partnership by realizing more areas of concrete cooperation.

“Cooperation in the context of Indo-Pacific can become one of the kick-off projects between ASEAN and Canada,” he said during the ASEAN-Canada Commemorative Summit which was attended by ASEAN leaders and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Saturday, according to a statement from the Presidential Secretariat’s Press Bureau,

The President said security issue in the Indo-Pacific region is very important. However, economic and development issues are also equally important.

“ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) has four cooperation priorities—connectivity, maritime (aspect), attainment of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and trade and investment. Canada may become an ASEAN partner in implementing AOIP,” he said.

He said Indonesia will become the ASEAN chairman and hold Indo-Pacific Infrastructure Forum in 2023.

“Indonesia invites Canada to participate in the forum,” he said.

The head of state underscored the importance of establishing concrete and mutually beneficial cooperation amidst the inconducive global condition

During the ASEAN-Canada Commemorative Summit, the President was accompanied by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and Minister/State Secretary Pratikno.


Source: Antara News

Civil society has real involvement in handling vaccine inequality: C20

Coordinator for Global Vaccine and Health Access of Civil 20 (C20) Agung Prakoso highlighted that civil society groups have a real involvement in handling vaccine inequality by learning from experiences during the pandemic.

“We have members who are actively involved in vaccination activities for indigenous peoples, vaccinations for people with disabilities, to vaccinations for vulnerable groups, such as people with HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis,” he said in a discussion titled Civil-20 Health Conference on Vaccine Equity Ensuring G20 Real Commitment here on Saturday.

G20 is an international forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union that work together to handle major issues. Indonesia is holding the presidency of the grouping this year.

C20, part of G20 Indonesia’s Sherpa Track, is a forum for civil society organizations from around the world to engage with G20 leaders in dealing with the current issues of gender equality; taxation and sustainable finance; vaccine access and global health; and environment, climate justice and energy transition.

In the initiative for global health architecture, health ministers of G20 member countries have agreed to establish a pandemic fund. The fund currently has reached 1.4 billion US dollars, sourced from 20 donor countries and three philanthropic organizations.

According to Prakoso, civil society groups have a close relationship with communities that are direct targets of global health architecture programs.

He further noted that the development of research and manufacture of vaccines and diagnostic tools needs to build manufacturing networks in southern countries.

The manufacturing center, which previously is located in the main area has started to be moved to the southern area to realize equal access to vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics, and treatments.

“This is realized in a form of south operation of six countries that will form a network, namely Argentina, India, Brazil, China, South Africa, and Indonesia,” he remarked.

As of early November 2022, at least 12.9 billion vaccine doses have been injected into people worldwide with a pace of around 2.17 million doses injected per day.

However, Prakoso noted that 23.6 percent of people in low-income countries had only received their first vaccine dose.

A researcher from Third World Network (TWN) Lutfiyah Hanim stated that developing countries and small countries are currently facing issues related to intellectual property which make manufacturing facilities for the manufacture of vaccines or medical devices unable to develop rapidly.

According to Hanim, developing countries have the capacity and facilities to produce vaccines. However, manufacturers cannot carry out production maximally because medicines, vaccines, and others are protected with intellectual property rights.


Source: Antara News