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US hardens stance against China’s South China Sea resource claims

The relationship between the United States and China has grown increasingly tense over the past six months over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its tightened grip on Hong Kong and its crackdown on China’s Uighur Muslim community.

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mike pompeo

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday hardened its rejection of China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, calling it “unlawful,” a move that will further sour the already-fraught ties between the world’s largest two economies.

China has offered no coherent legal basis for its ambitions in the South China Sea and for years has been using intimidation against other South Asian coastal states, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” Pompeo, a prominent China hawk within the Trump administration, said in a statement.

The United States has long opposed China’s expansive territorial claims on the South China Sea, even sending U.S. warships regularly through the strategic waterway to demonstrate freedom of navigation there. Monday’s comments reflect a harsher tone.

“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law,” Pompeo said.

The relationship between the United States and China has grown increasingly tense over the past six months over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its tightened grip on Hong Kong and its crackdown on China’s Uighur Muslim community.

China claims 90% of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of it, through which about $3 trillion of trade passes each year. Beijing has built bases atop atolls in the region but says its intentions are peaceful.

Election

Trump amplifies Kamala Harris ‘birther’ theory

For years, Mr Trump promoted a false “birther” theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the US.

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 Kamala Harris

President Donald Trump says he has heard Democratic running mate Kamala Harris “doesn’t qualify” to serve as US vice-president, amplifying a fringe legal theory critics decry as racist.

Ms Harris was born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother in Oakland, California, on 20 October 1964.

But a constitutional law professor has questioned her eligibility.

For years, Mr Trump promoted a false “birther” theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the US.

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Middle East

Jordan says Israel-UAE deal should prod Israel to accept Palestinian state

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Ayman Safadi

Jordan has said that the Israel-UAE deal could push forward stalled peace negotiations if it succeeds in prodding Israel to accept a Palestinian state on land that Israel had occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

“If Israel dealt with it as an incentive to end occupation … it will move the region towards a just peace,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in a statement on state media.

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World

Turkey, Germany discuss escalation of tensions in Eastern Mediterranean

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Tayyip Erdogan Angela Merkel

ANKARA, Aug. 13 : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday held a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel amid mounting tensions in Eastern Mediterranean over exploration of energy reserves.

Erdogan told Merkel that Turkey believes in solving problems in the Eastern Mediterranean in the framework of international law based on dialogue and equity, said a statement by Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate.

They also discussed regional developments and evaluated steps to enhance bilateral relations, said the statement.

Earlier in the day, Erdogan said he was planning to hold phone conversations with Merkel and President of the European Council Charles Michel ahead of the EU’s extraordinary foreign ministers’ meeting on Friday.

The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council will discuss recent tensions between Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean after Ankara sent a vessel and its warships for seismic research in the region where Athens claims continental rights.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also held phone conversations with his Hungarian, Lithuanian and Bulgarian counterparts on Thursday, and with EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, foreign ministers of Estonia and Finland on Wednesday after Greece asked for an emergency meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the issue.

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