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Підозрюваному в стрілянині у Дніпрі нацгвардійцю обрали запобіжний захід

60 днів тримання під вартою в слідчому ізоляторі №4 без права внесення застави

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Пентагон: Путін має всі можливості для вторгнення в Україну

Водночас міністр оборони США Ллойд Остін заявив, що в США не вважають, що президент Росії вже ухвалив це рішення

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Путіну вже не буде чого втрачати – делегація США про надто швидкі санкції проти Росії

«Є занепокоєння, що у випадку застосування повного пакету санкцій Путін прийде до висновку, що йому вже нічого втрачати»

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UN Weekly Roundup: January 22-28, 2022

Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch. 

UN chief: We cannot abandon the Afghan people 

The U.N. secretary-general warned on Wednesday that Afghanistan is “hanging by a thread,” as the organization appealed for a total of $8 billion to scale up humanitarian assistance to more than 22 million Afghans this year. 

UN Chief: Afghanistan ‘Hanging by a Thread’ 

Norway hosts talks between Taliban and Afghan civil society

Norway hosted three days of talks in Oslo between a Taliban delegation and members of Afghan civil society. Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said at the U.N. this week that the meeting did not confer recognition or legitimacy on the Taliban but was “a first step” in dealing with the de facto Afghan authorities to prevent a humanitarian disaster in that country. 

Norway Defends Hosting Talks with Afghan Taliban 

Military coup in Burkina Faso

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about the January 23 military coup in the West African nation of Burkina Faso that deposed President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and his government. Guterres said the role of militaries must be to defend their countries and people, not attack their governments and fight for power. 

The secretary-general’s special representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, will travel to Burkina Faso this weekend on a good offices mission. 

West African Nations See String of Coups 

In brief

A U.N. team of experts arrived in Lima, Peru, on January 24 to assess the social and environmental impacts of an oil spill linked to the underwater volcanic eruption that triggered a tsunami in the Pacific island nation of Tonga. The team is specialized in contamination assessment and will advise authorities on how to manage and coordinate their response. 

Some good news

World Health Organization chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a meeting of the agency’s executive board on January 24 that if countries change the conditions driving the spread of coronavirus infections, it is possible to end the acute phase of the global pandemic this year. That includes vaccinating 70% of their populations, monitoring the emergence of new variants and boosting testing. 

A small but important glimmer of hope in Libya: the U.N. political chief told the Security Council on January 24 that the overall humanitarian situation improved in 2021. Rosemary DiCarlo said the U.N. recorded a 36% decrease in the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance, from 1.3 million at the start of 2021 to 803,000 by the end of the year. Additionally, about 100,000 of the more than quarter million displaced Libyans returned home last year. 

Quote of note

“Were we to observe a minute of silence for each victim, that silence would last more than eleven years.” 

— U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, addressing a virtual U.N. memorial ceremony marking the International Day for Holocaust remembrance on January 27. 

What we are watching next week

On January 31, the U.N. Security Council will hold an open meeting to discuss tensions between Russia and Ukraine. The meeting was requested by the United States, and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters, “This is just one more step in our diplomatic approach to bring the Russians to de-escalate and look for an opportunity to move forward.” The meeting will take place one day before Russia assumes the rotating presidency of the 15-nation council for the month of February. 

 

Did you know? 

The ancient Greek tradition of an Olympic truce goes into effect on January 28. It starts seven days before this year’s Winter Olympics open in Beijing and continues for a week after the close of the Paralympic Games. The U.N. General Assembly endorsed the truce during a meeting on January 20. The U.N. secretary-general is headed to Beijing for the opening ceremony on February 4. 

 

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Homeless See Progress from COVID-19 Policies, But Can it Last?

Billions of dollars have poured in from federal and local governments to help America’s homeless survive the coronavirus pandemic. And this spending is helping – for now. VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias examines whether the strategies spurred by the pandemic could be a long-term solution to this chronic U.S. problem.

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German Health Minister Says Omicron COVID-19 Wave ‘Well Under Control’

Germany’s health minister said Friday the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is “well under control” in the nation, even though he said he expects the number of daily cases to double to nearly 400,000 cases before it begins to drop. 

Speaking at a news conference Friday in Berlin, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach explained that while the wave of infections itself cannot be controlled, the consequences can be minimized by taking the proper steps.

He said he expects daily cases to double to nearly 400,000 cases by mid-February, but he then expects them to drop, probably by the end of next month.

Cases are currently rising, with the country’s Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, or RKI, reporting 190,148 new cases as of Friday. Speaking at the same news briefing, RKI President Lothar Wieler said about 890,000 new cases were reported – nearly “1 percent of the entire population in just one week.” 

The RKI reports the infection rate per 100,000 people, as of Friday, was 1,073. 

Lauterbach says the government’s goal is to get through the wave with as few elderly people falling ill and as few deaths as possible, and he says so far, they are succeeding.

The health minister sought to dissuade people of the notion that just because the omicron variant is believed to be less severe, that vaccinations were not needed, saying that is wrong and not helpful. He encouraged everyone to get vaccinated and all those eligible to get booster shots. 

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press and Reuters.

 

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Гривня дещо посилилася після тижневого падіння – курс НБУ

Довідкове значення Нацбанку, встановлене опівдні 28 січня, становить 28 гривні 82 копійки

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Путін заявив Макрону, що США і НАТО у своїх відповідях «проігнорували» головні занепокоєння РФ

Росія вимагає від Заходу гарантій безпеки в обмін на деескалацію кризи навколо України, але США і НАТО 26 січня відхилили вимогу Москви назавжди «зачинити двері» до Альянсу для України й інших держав

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Німеччина торік вислала російського дипломата за шпигунство – Der Spiegel

За даними Берліна, дипломат діяв як агент російського вченого, про арешт якого за звинуваченням у шпигунстві стало відомо напередодні

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Bidens Welcome Cat Named Willow to White House

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have finally added the long-promised cat to their pet family.

Her name is Willow, and she’s a 2-year-old, green-eyed, gray and white farm cat from Pennsylvania.

“Willow is settling into the White House with her favorite toys, treats, and plenty of room to smell and explore,” said Michael LaRosa, the first lady’s spokesperson.

Jill Biden had said after Joe Biden was elected in November 2020 that they would bring a kitty to the White House, but her arrival had been delayed. Last month, the White House said the cat would come in January.

The first lady named Willow after her hometown of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

The short-haired tabby made quite an impression on Jill Biden after jumping up on stage and interrupting her remarks during a 2020 campaign stop in Pennsylvania, LaRosa said.

“Seeing their immediate bond, the owner of the farm knew that Willow belonged with Dr. Biden,” he said.

The White House hasn’t had a feline resident since India, President George W. Bush’s cat.

Willow joins Commander, a German shepherd puppy Joe Biden introduced in December as a birthday gift from the president’s brother James Biden and his wife, Sara.

The Bidens had two other German shepherds, Champ and Major, at the White House before Commander.

But Major, a 3-year-old rescue dog, started behaving aggressively after he arrived in January 2021, including a pair of biting incidents. The White House had said Major was still adjusting to his new home, and he was sent back to the Bidens’ Delaware home for training.

The Bidens, after consulting with dog trainers, animal behaviorists and veterinarians, decided to follow the experts’ collective recommendation and send Major to live in a quieter environment with family friends, LaRosa said last month.

Champ died in June at age 13.

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Pope Denounces Fake News About COVID, Vaccines, Urges Truth

Pope Francis denounced fake news about COVID-19 and vaccines Friday, blasting the “distortion of reality based on fear” but also urging that people who believe such lies are helped to understand true scientific facts.

Francis met with Catholic journalists who have formed a fact-checking network to try to combat misinformation about the pandemic. Francis has frequently called for responsible journalism that searches for the truth and respects individuals, and his meeting with the “Catholic fact-checking” media consortium furthered that message.

“We can hardly fail to see that these days, in addition to the pandemic, an ‘infodemic’ is spreading: a distortion of reality based on fear, which in our global society leads to an explosion of commentary on falsified if not invented news,” Francis said.

He said access to accurate information, based on scientific data, is a human right that must be especially guaranteed for those who are less equipped to separate out the morass of misinformation and commentary masquerading as fact that is available online.

At the same time, Francis asked for a merciful, missionary approach to those who fall prey to such distortions so they are helped to understand the truth.

“Fake news has to be refuted, but individual persons must always be respected, for they believe it often without full awareness or responsibility,” he said. “Reality is always more complex than we think and we must respect the doubts, the concerns and the questions that people raise, seeking to accompany them without ever dismissing them.”

Some Catholics, including some conservative U.S. bishops and cardinals, have claimed that vaccines based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses were immoral, and have refused to get the jabs.

The Vatican’s doctrine office, however, has said it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive COVID-19 vaccines, including those based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses. Francis and Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI have both been fully vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech shots.

Francis has been one of the most vocal religious leaders speaking out in favor of vaccines and respect for measures to fight the pandemic. He has implied that people have a “moral obligation” to ensure the health care of themselves and others, and the Vatican recently required all staff to either be vaccinated or show proof of having had COVID-19 to access their workplaces.

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Резніков застеріг Берлін від відновлення «Німецької демократичної республіки» через позицію щодо Росії

«Відновлення Німецької демократичної республіки – це логічне продовження російських вимог, які вже заявлені», вважає міністр

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Зеленський підписав укази про звільнення командувача Нацгвардії та призначення нового

Володимир Зеленський призначив виконувачем обов’язків командувача Нацгвардії Юрія Лебедя

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Пораненій у Дніпрі солдатом-строковиком жінці перелили 4 літри крові – медики

22-річна жінка-солдат отримала три кулі, найтяжче поранення – у живіт

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US Congress Considers Bills to Boost Competition with China

With President Joe Biden’s broader domestic agenda stymied in the Senate, Democratic leaders in Congress have begun looking for legislative victories elsewhere, with a new focus on improving the U.S. ability to compete with China.

Democrats in the House of Representatives are attempting to come to agreement on legislation that would provide large financial subsidies to the semiconductor industry as well as generous research and development grants to support supply chain resilience, buoy domestic manufacturing operations and underwrite new scientific research.

The effort in the House follows a push in the Senate last year, which resulted in bipartisan passage of the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021. That bill proposed $52 billion in assistance to the semiconductor industry as well as nearly $200 billion more on research and development projects meant to bolster U.S. competitiveness.

The House is likely to pass its own version of the legislation, meaning the two chambers would have to come to an agreement on final language before a bill could go to the White House to be signed into law. It remains unclear whether an eventual House bill would garner any Republican support in that chamber, or whether compromise language would continue to attract the Republican support that helped the Senate’s original bill come to the floor for a vote.

But in a statement this week, the president made it clear that he would like to see the legislation on his desk.

Biden praised the “transformational investments” that the legislation would make. With the proposed legislation, he said, “We have an opportunity to show China and the rest of the world that the 21st century will be the American century – forged by the ingenuity and hard work of our innovators, workers, and businesses.”

Countering Chinese subsidies

In Congress, even among conservative lawmakers who generally shy away from government intervention in the economy, there is recognition of a need to balance the scales for U.S. companies that frequently find themselves in competition with Chinese firms that receive subsidies and other preferences from the government in Beijing.

When the Senate passed its version of the bill in June, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said, “This type of targeted investment in a critical industry was unthinkable just a couple years ago, but the need for smart industrial policy is now widely accepted.”

That comes as a surprise to many observers of U.S. policymaking.

“There is somewhat of an ambivalence, or confusion, in D.C. where, on the one hand, people want to say that China’s industrial policies are both very unfair, and also very important in explaining China’s competitive success,” Gerard DiPippo, a senior fellow in the Economics Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told VOA. “But then, they also seem reluctant to actually engage in those policies because they think those policies are actually very distortionary and ineffective. So, it sort of cuts both ways.”

Semiconductors in focus

Despite strong economic growth in the U.S. over the past year, a persistent shortage of semiconductors has caused some sectors of the economy – the automobile industry in particular – to lag behind. Supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have been difficult to resolve, leading many members of Congress to propose funding to “re-shore” domestic production of semiconductors.

Both the Senate bill and the version being considered by the House of Representatives would funnel $52 billion in grants and subsidies to the industry.

However, China is not a major competitor of the United States when it comes to semiconductors. While China does make some semiconductors, the largest manufacturer in the world is TSMC, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. in Taiwan.

‘Decoupling’ seen as troubling

Some American companies that do business with China are concerned about the long-term efforts of both countries to achieve economic independence from each other.

“China is upset with efforts to increase export restrictions on U.S. goods, block Chinese companies from accessing certain U.S. goods, and restrict some direct investments in China,” Doug Barry, a senior director with the U.S.-China Business Council, told VOA in an email exchange.

“They worry about incentives to relocate production of some critical goods back to the U.S. At the same time, China is working to reduce dependence on certain goods like advanced semiconductors, while slow-walking promised market access reform and opening,” Barry said.

“Our members worry that these efforts signal mutual economic decoupling that’s not in the long-term interest of either country,” he said. “Both governments need to engage in direct talks to better manage differences, adhere to WTO principles, and ensure that Phase One Agreement commitments are fully met.”

Government interference ‘misguided’

Ryan Young, a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told VOA that efforts by Congress to mimic China by trying to manipulate the U.S. economy are “misguided” at best, and at worst destructive.

“This falls into what I think of as the ‘But they do it, too,’ argument,” Young said. While it is indisputable that the Chinese government creates all sorts of advantages for certain sectors within its economy, he said, it doesn’t follow that the answer is for the U.S. to do the same.

Despite government support, large Chinese tech firms are burdened with substantial debt, operational inefficiencies and political meddling, he said.

Further, Young noted that the semiconductor industry, which the legislative efforts target above all else, has already taken steps to bring some of its production into U.S. territory, with chip giant Intel expanding a $50 billion complex of chip manufacturing facilities in Arizona. 

 

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Pro-Russia Sentiment Grows in Burkina Faso After Coup

Some supporters of Burkina Faso’s military coup this week were seen celebrating with Russian flags and calling for their country to switch alliances from France to Moscow. While the extent of pro-Russia sentiment in Burkina Faso is unclear, there is no doubt many are fed up with French efforts to help fight gangs and Islamist militant groups.

Riding through the streets of Ouagadougou on Tuesday, two demonstrators flew a Russian flag, celebrating a military coup in the country a day earlier.

They also turned out in Ouagadougou’s Place de la Nation to celebrate the military takeover.

“No, we don’t want no more France,” one demonstrator told VOA. “We are here because we want the defense of Russia. France hasn’t done anything that gives us success.”

France has been giving military assistance to Burkina Faso during its six-year conflict with armed groups linked to Islamic State and al-Qaida.

Earlier this month, the leader of neighboring Mali, Colonel Assimi Goita, welcomed mercenaries into the country from the Russian private security company Wagner, which has close links to the Kremlin.

The mercenaries took over a military base in Timbuktu that was vacated by French troops in December.

Demonstrators in Burkina Faso carried pictures of Goita at this week’s demonstration and on Jan. 22, held a march in solidarity with Mali. Police broke up the gathering using flash bombs and tear gas.

Analysts say in recent months, there has been growing anti-French sentiment and a pivot toward Russia.

Analysts say Mali is using Russian involvement as a bargaining chip after the West African bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) sanctioned the country for refusing to hold democratic elections within the next five years.

“The Malian military junta is trying to mobilize national feeling, if you like,” said Paul Melly, an analyst with London-based think tank Chatham House. “It seems to have brought the Russians in or sought to bring the Russians in as a sort of tool of leverage. It’s not entirely clear how much practical military impact it could actually bring.”

The Russian Embassy in Burkina Faso and the military junta both declined to give VOA an interview.

Bernard Bermouga, a Burkinabe political commentator, is pragmatic about the situation.

“Whether Burkina Faso aligns with France, Russia or another country,” Bermouga said, “it’s not out of generosity. It’s not free. They’ll want something in return. What is needed is someone who can help Burkina Faso get out of the situation in which it finds itself.”

Activist Francois Beogo from Burkina Faso, who attended the demonstration, said the French must let them work things out on their own. The demonstrators are not against France, he said, but France must manage their affairs and allow Burkinabe to manage theirs. Without France, he said, soldiers will have peace of mind and be able to reflect on how to organize and free the people.

Meanwhile, the Russian organization that trains troops in the Central African Republic has offered military support to Burkina Faso. It remains to be seen if Burkina Faso’s new de facto leader, Paul-Henri Damiba, will take up the offer.

 

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Pro-Russian Sentiment Grows in Burkina Faso After Coup

Some supporters of Burkina Faso’s military coup this week were seen celebrating with Russian flags and calling for their country to switch alliances from France to Moscow. While the extent of pro-Russian sentiment in Burkina Faso is unclear, there is no doubt many are fed up with French efforts to help fight gangs and Islamist militant groups. Henry Wilkins reports from Ouagadougou.
Camera: Henry Wilkins

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Federal Judge Throws Out Oil Lease Sale in Gulf of Mexico

A federal court has rejected a plan to lease millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore oil drilling, saying the Biden administration did not adequately consider the lease sale’s effect on planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, violating a bedrock environmental law.

The decision Thursday by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras in Washington sends the proposed lease sale back to the Interior Department to decide next steps. The judge said it was up to Interior to decide whether to go forward with the sale after a revised review, scrap it or take other steps.

Environmental groups hailed the decision and said the ruling gave President Joe Biden a chance to follow through on a campaign promise to stop offshore leasing in federal waters. The decision was released on the one-year anniversary of a federal leasing moratorium Biden ordered as part of his efforts to combat climate change.

“We are pleased that the court invalidated Interior’s illegal lease sale,” said Brettny Hardy, a senior attorney for Earthjustice, one of the environmental groups that challenged the sale.

“This administration must meet this critical moment and honor the campaign promises President Biden made by stopping offshore leasing once and for all,” Hardy added. “We simply cannot continue to make investments in the fossil fuel industry to the peril of our communities and increasingly warming planet.”

A spokesperson for Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said the agency was reviewing the decision.

Energy companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil offered a combined $192 million for drilling rights on federal oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico in November.

The Interior Department auction came after attorneys general from Republican states led by Louisiana successfully challenged a suspension on sales that Biden imposed when he took office.

Companies bid on 308 tracts totaling nearly 6,950 square kilometers. It marked the largest acreage and second-highest bid total since Gulf-wide bidding resumed in 2017.

The auction was conducted even as Biden has tried to cajole other world leaders into strengthening efforts against global warming, including at United Nations climate talks in Scotland in early November. While Biden has taken a number of actions on climate change, he has faced resistance in Congress and a sweeping $2 trillion social and environmental spending package remains stalled. The so-called “Build Back Better” plan contains $550 billion in spending and tax credits aimed at promoting clean energy.

In his 68-page ruling, Contreras said Interior failed to consider the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the lease sale, violating the National Environmental Policy Act, a bedrock environmental law.

“Barreling full-steam ahead with blinders on was simply not a reasonable action for BOEM to have taken here,” he said, referring to Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Environmental reviews of the lease auction — conducted under former President Donald Trump and affirmed under Biden — reached the unlikely conclusion that extracting and burning more oil and gas from the Gulf would result in fewer climate-changing emissions than leaving it.

Similar claims in two other cases, in Alaska, were rejected by federal courts after challenges from environmentalists.

Federal officials have since changed their emissions modeling methods but said it was too late to use that approach for the November auction.

The National Ocean Industries Association, which represents the offshore industry, slammed the ruling and called U.S. oil and gas production crucial to curbing inflation and strengthening national security.

“The U.S. offshore region is vital to American energy security and continued leases are essential in keeping energy flowing from this strategic national asset,” said Erik Milito, the group’s president. “Uncertainty around the future of the U.S. federal offshore leasing program” would benefit Russia and other adversaries, he said.

The administration has proposed another round of oil and gas sales in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and other states. Interior Department officials proceeded despite concluding that burning the fuels could lead to billions of dollars in potential future climate damage.

Emissions from burning and extracting fossil fuels from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. 

 

 

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US, Taiwanese Vice Presidents Speak at Rare Encounter in Honduras

The U.S. and Taiwanese vice presidents had a brief conversation Thursday at the inauguration of the new Honduran president, a rare encounter that is highly symbolic and likely to add to Beijing’s tensions with Washington.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, though its strong support for the island both politically and through arms sales is one of the main sources of Sino-U.S. friction.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said she spoke with her Taiwanese counterpart, William Lai, in Honduras about their shared interest in Central America and the U.S. government’s “root causes” strategy to curb migration.

“The brief conversation that we had was really about a common interest in this part of the region and apparently Taiwan’s interest in our root causes strategy,” she told reporters, adding Lai had approached her.

Taiwan’s official Central News Agency characterized it as a “simple greeting,” saying the two “talked briefly and interacted naturally.”

It carried a picture of them standing next to each other on a stage talking, both wearing face masks, and Lai sporting a lapel pin of entwined Taiwanese and Honduran flags.

Honduras is one of only 14 countries still to formally recognize Taiwan.

Honduras’ new president, Xiomara Castro, floated the idea of ditching Taipei for Beijing in her election campaign, though on Wednesday she told Lai that Honduras is grateful for Taiwan’s support and hopes to maintain their relationship.

Castro and Lai met again Thursday, with Lai handing over a donation of supplies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I appreciate the solidarity, as well as the willingness to support us in our development agenda,” she wrote in a tweet.

Speaking after her meeting with Castro, Harris said they did not discuss China.

China has ramped up pressure to reduce Taiwan’s international footprint, saying the democratically governed island is Chinese territory with no right to state-to-state ties.

In the runup to the November election, a visiting U.S. delegation to Honduras made clear it wanted the Central American country to maintain its Taiwan relations.

The United States has worried about growing Chinese influence in its back yard.

China last month reestablished relations with Nicaragua, a neighbor of Honduras, and has openly said it is aiming to reduce the number of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to zero.

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Russia Says It’s Ready for More Talks on Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the U.S. has failed to address Moscow’s main security concerns over Ukraine in the written document delivered Wednesday, but he left the door open for more talks to ease simmering tensions. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports. 

Produced by:  Bakhtiyar Zamano