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Biden attempts to revive Iran’s nuclear agreement in order to start bumpy

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Biden attempts to revive Iran's nuclear agreement in order to start bumpy

 

The early attempts of the Biden administration to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement are receiving a chilly early reaction from Tehran. Though few anticipated a breakthrough in the new administration’s first month, Iran’s tough line indicates a tough path ahead.

Having made many important openings to Iran in its first weeks in office, the outreach of the administration was all but shunned by the Iranians. They had already dismissed the opening gambit by Biden: a U.S. return to the arrangement that President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018 if Iran resumes full compliance with the agreement’s obligations.

Iran is shaping up to be a big test of the overall foreign policy strategy of the Biden administration, which the president has said would realign itself with the kind of multilateral diplomacy shunned by Trump. Although there are other hot-button concerns, among them Russia, China and North Korea, Iran has a special significance for the top national security aides of Biden. They include State Secretary Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Iran Special Envoy Rob Malley, all of whom have been closely involved in the drafting of President Barack Obama’s 2015 deal and may have personal stakes in saving it.

Biden took office pledging to reverse Trump’s pullout from the settlement, which in exchange for curbs on his nuclear programme gave him billions of dollars in sanctions relief. Just last week, in at least three ways, Biden delivered: agreeing to return to international talks with Iran to restart the agreement, rescinding Trump’s determination that all of the U.N. The sanctions on Iran and the lifting of onerous travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats posted to the United Nations must be restored.

Nevertheless, Iran has held firm to demands that it will not respond to anything less than a complete lifting of the reimposed sanctions by Trump. Iran made good on a threat to suspend adherence to the U.N. over the weekend. Agreement permitting intrusive inspections of the nuclear sites declared by it. While it stopped short of demanding the withdrawal of foreign inspectors, Iran reduced cooperation with them and, if sanctions were not lifted, threatened to reconsider the measure in three months.

The hard-nosed position of the Iranians has left the administration at the cusp of a tough choice: move forward with sanctions relief before Iran resumes full compliance and risks losing the leverage it has or doubling down first on demands for full compliance and risk Tehran fully walking away from the agreement.

Given the politically volatile nature of Iran in Washington, Republicans strongly oppose the nuclear agreement, and in Europe and the Middle East itself, especially in Israel and the Gulf Arab states that are most directly challenged, it is a delicate balance and one the administration is loathe to accept it faces.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed on Monday that the United States is prepared to return to the nuclear agreement provided that Tehran demonstrates “strict compliance” with it. Blinken told the U.N.-backed Geneva Disarmament Conference that the U.S. is committed to ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon and is committed to working with allies and partners to expand and improve the agreement reached between Iran and Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China and the U.S.

“The best path to achieving that goal is diplomacy,” he said.

However, just 24 hours earlier, on Sunday, Iran rejected demands to suspend cooperation with the U.N. Atomic Watchdog. Although Iran has not expelled the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is responsible for monitoring Iranian compliance with the agreement, it has placed an end to the agency’s access to video from cameras mounted at a variety of locations.

There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. to that change, but the White House and State Department both downplayed the value of the move on Monday.

Our opinion is that negotiation is the only way forward to stop Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon,” reporters told White House press secretary Jen Psaki.” “That does not mean that they have clearly not taken the steps necessary to comply with them and we have not taken any steps or indicated that we are going to meet the requirements they are also putting forward.”

Speaker Ned Price addressed the IAEA mission more specifically at the State Department, praising the agency for its ‘professionalism’ in keeping inspectors and their apparatus in the country despite the early threat from Iran to expel them on Tuesday. He said the United States supports the progress of IAEA chief Rafael Grossi in reaching a provisional agreement with Iran, but regretted that Tehran remains out of compliance.

Price said the administration was worried that Iran seemed to be moving in the wrong direction, but did not comment on the view of the administration as to whether its outreach had yielded results to date. Nor was he prepared to say what the administration could do to force Iran back into line with the agreement, given that all the limitations it imposed were abandoned by its continuing threat.

“The United States is prepared to meet with the Iranians to hash out these difficult and complex issues,” Price said, referring to terms used by government officials to refer to their initial goal of “compliance for compliance” and then “compliance for compliance-plus.”

According to administration officials, “Compliance-plus” will include restrictions on Iran’s non-nuclear operations, including the production of missiles and support for Mideast rebel groups and militias. A primary reason Trump gave for withdrawing from the nuclear agreement was that it did not resolve those concerns and for more than a year his administration has sought to extend the deal to include them.

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Biden says recession not inevitable as he readies trade pact

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Biden says recession not inevitable as he readies trade pact

By JOSH BOAK and AAMER MADHANI

TOKYO (AP) — President Joe Biden promised “concrete benefits” would emerge from a new Indo-Pacific trade framework he’s launching Monday even as he warned Americans worried about high inflation that it was “going to be a haul” before they feel relief. He said he does not believe an economic recession is inevitable in the U.S.

Biden, speaking at a news conference after holding talks with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, acknowledged the U.S. economy has “problems” but said they were “less consequential than the rest of the world has.”

He added: “This is going to be a haul. This is going to take some time,” even as he rejected the idea a recession in the U.S. was inevitable.

The comments came just before Biden’s planned launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a new trade deal his administration designed to signal U.S. dedication to the contested economic sphere and to address the need for stability in commerce after disruptions caused by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Meeting with Kishida, Biden said the new framework would also increase U.S. cooperation with other nations in the region.

The White House said the framework will help the United States and Asian economies work more closely on issues including supply chains, digital trade, clean energy, worker protections and anticorruption efforts. The details still need to be negotiated among the member countries, making it difficult for the administration to say how this agreement would fulfill the promise of helping U.S. workers and businesses while also meeting global needs.

Critics say the framework has gaping shortcomings. It doesn’t offer incentives to prospective partners by lowering tariffs or provide signatories with greater access to U.S. markets. Those limitations may not make the U.S. framework an attractive alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which still moved forward after the U.S. bailed out. China, the largest trading partner for many in the region, is also seeking to join TPP.

“I think a lot of partners are going to look at that list and say: ‘That’s a good list of issues. I’m happy to be involved,’” said Matthew Goodman, a former director for international economics on the National Security Council during President Barack Obama’s administration. But he said they also may ask, “Are we going to get any tangible benefits out of participating in this framework?”

Countries signing on to the framework were to be announced Monday during Biden’s visit to Tokyo. It’s the latest step by the Biden administration to try to preserve and broaden U.S. influence in a region that until recently looked to be under the growing sway of China.

Kishida hosted a formal state welcome for Biden at Akasaka Palace, including a white-clad military honor guard and band in the front plaza. Reviewing the assembled troops, Biden placed his hand over his heart as he passed the American flag and bowed slightly as he passed the Japanese standard.

Kishida said at their meeting that he was “absolutely delighted” to welcome Biden to Tokyo on the first Asia trip of his presidency. Along with Biden, he drove a tough line against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, saying it “undermines the foundation of global order.”

Biden, who is in the midst of a five-day visit to South Korea and Japan, called the U.S.-Japanese alliance a “cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific” and thanked Japan for its “strong leadership” in standing up to Russia.

The White House announced plans to build the economic framework in October as a replacement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. dropped out of in 2017 under then-President Donald Trump.

The new pact comes at a moment when the administration believes it has the edge in its competition with Beijing. Bloomberg Economics published a report last week projecting U.S. GDP growth at about 2.8% in 2022 compared to 2% for China, which has been trying to contain the coronavirus through strict lockdowns while also dealing with a property bust. The slowdown has undermined assumptions that China would automatically supplant the U.S. as the world’s leading economy.

“The fact that the United States will grow faster than China this year, for the first time since 1976, is a quite striking example of how countries in this region should be looking at the question of trends and trajectories,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Biden’s first stop Monday was a private meeting with Emperor Naruhito of Japan at Naruhito’s residence on the lush grounds of the Imperial Palace before the talks with Kishida.

The two leaders were also set to meet with families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago. The Japanese premier took office last fall and is looking to strengthen ties with the U.S. and build a personal relationship with Biden. He’ll host the president at a restaurant for dinner.

The launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, also known as IPEF, has been billed by the White House as one of the bigger moments of Biden’s Asia trip and of his ongoing effort to bolster ties with Pacific allies. Through it all, administration officials have kept a close eye on China’s growing economic and military might in the region.

In September the U.S. announced a new partnership with Australia and Britain called AUKUS that is aimed and deepening security, diplomatic and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Through that AUKUS partnership, Australia will purchase nuclear-powered submarines, and the U.S. is to increase rotational force deployments to Australia.

The U.S. president has also devoted great attention to the informal alliance known as the Quad, formed during the response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed some 230,000 people. Biden and fellow leaders from the alliance, which also includes Australia, India and Japan, are set to gather in Tokyo for their second in-person meeting in less than a year. The leaders have also held two video calls since Biden took office.

And earlier this month, Biden gathered representatives from nine of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Washington for a summit, the first ever by the organization in the U.S. capital. Biden announced at the summit the U.S. would invest some $150 million in clean energy and infrastructure initiatives in ASEAN nations.

Sullivan confirmed on Sunday that Taiwan — which had sought membership in the IPEF framework— isn’t among the governments that will be included. Participation of the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own, would have irked Beijing.

Sullivan said the U.S. wants to deepen its economic partnership with Taiwan, including on high technology issues and semiconductor supply on a one-to-one basis.

Biden will wrap up his five days in Asia on Tuesday with the Quad meeting and one-on-one talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese.

The center-left leader of the Australian Labor Party this weekend defeated incumbent Scott Morrison and ended nine years of conservative rule.

Modi, leader of the world’s biggest democracy, has declined to join the U.S. and other allies in levying sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. In a video call last month, Biden asked Modi not to accelerate its purchase of Russian oil.

—-

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

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Biden: US would intervene militarily if China invades Taiwan

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Biden: US would intervene militarily if China invades Taiwan

By JOSH BOAK and AAMER MADHANI

TOKYO (AP) — President Joe Biden said Monday that the U.S. would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan, in one of the most forceful and overt statements in support of Taiwan in decades.

Biden said the burden to protect the self-ruled island was “even stronger” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Biden said, “That’s the commitment we made.” He said an effort by China to use force against Taiwan would “just not be appropriate,” saying it “will dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine.”

Under the “One China” policy, the U.S. recognizes Beijing as the government of China and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, it maintains unofficial contacts with Taiwan, including a de facto embassy in Taipei, the capital. The U.S. also supplies military equipment for the island’s defense.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

TOKYO (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday promised “concrete benefits” for the people of the Indo-Pacific region from a new trade pact he was set to launch, designed to signal U.S. dedication to the contested economic sphere and address the need for stability in commerce after disruptions caused by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Biden said the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework would also increase U.S. cooperation with other nations in the region.

The White House said the framework will help the United States and Asian economies work more closely on issues including supply chains, digital trade, clean energy, worker protections and anticorruption efforts. The details still need to be negotiated among the member countries, making it difficult for the administration to say how this agreement would fulfill the promise of helping U.S. workers and businesses while also meeting global needs.

Countries signing on to the framework were to be announced Monday during Biden’s visit to Tokyo for talks with Kishida. It’s the latest step by the Biden administration to try to preserve and broaden U.S. influence in a region that until recently looked to be under the growing sway of China.

Kishida hosted a formal state welcome for Biden at Akasaka Palace, including a white-clad military honor guard and band in the front plaza. Reviewing the assembled troops, Biden placed his hand over his heart as he passed the American flag and bowed slightly as he passed the Japanese standard.

Kishida, in brief remarks, said he was “absolutely delighted” to welcome Biden to Tokyo on the first Asia trip of his presidency. Along with Biden, he drove a tough line against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, saying it “undermines the foundation of global order.”

Biden, who is in the midst of a five-day visit to South Korea and Japan, called the U.S.-Japanese alliance a “cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific” and thanked Japan for its “strong leadership” in standing up to Russia.

The White House announced plans to build the economic framework in October as a replacement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. dropped out of in 2017 under then-President Donald Trump.

The new pact comes at a moment when the administration believes it has the edge in its competition with Beijing. Bloomberg Economics published a report last week projecting U.S. GDP growth at about 2.8% in 2022 compared to 2% for China, which has been trying to contain the coronavirus through strict lockdowns while also dealing with a property bust. The slowdown has undermined assumptions that China would automatically supplant the U.S. as the world’s leading economy.

“The fact that the United States will grow faster than China this year, for the first time since 1976, is a quite striking example of how countries in this region should be looking at the question of trends and trajectories,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Critics say the framework has gaping shortcomings. It doesn’t offer incentives to prospective partners by lowering tariffs or provide signatories with greater access to U.S. markets. Those limitations may not make the U.S. framework an attractive alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which still moved forward after the U.S. bailed out. China, the largest trading partner for many in the region, is also seeking to join TPP.

“I think a lot of partners are going to look at that list and say: ‘That’s a good list of issues. I’m happy to be involved,’” said Matthew Goodman, a former director for international economics on the National Security Council during President Barack Obama’s administration. But he said they also may ask, “Are we going to get any tangible benefits out of participating in this framework?”

It is possible for countries to be part of both trade deals.

Biden’s first stop Monday was a private meeting with Emperor Naruhito of Japan at Naruhito’s residence on the lush grounds of the Imperial Palace before the talks with Kishida.

The two leaders were also set to meet with families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago. The Japanese premier took office last fall and is looking to strengthen ties with the U.S. and build a personal relationship with Biden. He’ll host the president at a restaurant for dinner.

The launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, also known as IPEF, has been billed by the White House as one of the bigger moments of Biden’s Asia trip and of his ongoing effort to bolster ties with Pacific allies. Through it all, administration officials have kept a close eye on China’s growing economic and military might in the region.

In September the U.S. announced a new partnership with Australia and Britain called AUKUS that is aimed and deepening security, diplomatic and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Through that AUKUS partnership, Australia will purchase nuclear-powered submarines, and the U.S. is to increase rotational force deployments to Australia.

The U.S. president has also devoted great attention to the informal alliance known as the Quad, formed during the response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed some 230,000 people. Biden and fellow leaders from the alliance, which also includes Australia, India and Japan, are set to gather in Tokyo for their second in-person meeting in less than a year. The leaders have also held two video calls since Biden took office.

And earlier this month, Biden gathered representatives from nine of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Washington for a summit, the first ever by the organization in the U.S. capital. Biden announced at the summit the U.S. would invest some $150 million in clean energy and infrastructure initiatives in ASEAN nations.

Sullivan confirmed on Sunday that Taiwan — which had sought membership in the IPEF framework— isn’t among the governments that will be included. Participation of the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own, would have irked Beijing.

Sullivan said the U.S. wants to deepen its economic partnership with Taiwan, including on high technology issues and semiconductor supply on a one-to-one basis.

Biden will wrap up his five days in Asia on Tuesday with the Quad meeting and one-on-one talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese.

The center-left leader of the Australian Labor Party this weekend defeated incumbent Scott Morrison and ended nine years of conservative rule.

Modi, leader of the world’s biggest democracy, has declined to join the U.S. and other allies in levying sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. In a video call last month, Biden asked Modi not to accelerate its purchase of Russian oil.

—-

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

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Biden: Recession not inevitable, pain to last ‘some time’

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Biden: Recession not inevitable, pain to last ‘some time’

By JOSH BOAK and AAMER MADHANI

TOKYO (AP) — President Joe Biden says he does not believe an economic recession in the U.S. is inevitable despite record high inflation and supply shortages partly caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at a news conference Monday in Tokyo, Biden acknowledged that the American economy has “problems,” but said it was better positioned than other countries.

“We have problems that the rest of the world has,” Biden said, “but less consequential than the rest of the world has.”

Biden acknowledged the impact that severe supply shortages and high energy prices are having on U.S. families. He said his administration was working to ease the pain for U.S. consumers, but said there were unlikely to be immediate solutions.

“This is going to be a haul,” Biden said. “This is going to take some time.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

TOKYO (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday promised “concrete benefits” for the people of the Indo-Pacific region from a new trade pact he was set to launch, designed to signal U.S. dedication to the contested economic sphere and address the need for stability in commerce after disruptions caused by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Biden said the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework would also increase U.S. cooperation with other nations in the region.

The White House said the framework will help the United States and Asian economies work more closely on issues including supply chains, digital trade, clean energy, worker protections and anticorruption efforts. The details still need to be negotiated among the member countries, making it difficult for the administration to say how this agreement would fulfill the promise of helping U.S. workers and businesses while also meeting global needs.

Countries signing on to the framework were to be announced Monday during Biden’s visit to Tokyo for talks with Kishida. It’s the latest step by the Biden administration to try to preserve and broaden U.S. influence in a region that until recently looked to be under the growing sway of China.

Kishida hosted a formal state welcome for Biden at Akasaka Palace, including a white-clad military honor guard and band in the front plaza. Reviewing the assembled troops, Biden placed his hand over his heart as he passed the American flag and bowed slightly as he passed the Japanese standard.

Kishida, in brief remarks, said he was “absolutely delighted” to welcome Biden to Tokyo on the first Asia trip of his presidency. Along with Biden, he drove a tough line against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, saying it “undermines the foundation of global order.”

Biden, who is in the midst of a five-day visit to South Korea and Japan, called the U.S.-Japanese alliance a “cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific” and thanked Japan for its “strong leadership” in standing up to Russia.

The White House announced plans to build the economic framework in October as a replacement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. dropped out of in 2017 under then-President Donald Trump.

The new pact comes at a moment when the administration believes it has the edge in its competition with Beijing. Bloomberg Economics published a report last week projecting U.S. GDP growth at about 2.8% in 2022 compared to 2% for China, which has been trying to contain the coronavirus through strict lockdowns while also dealing with a property bust. The slowdown has undermined assumptions that China would automatically supplant the U.S. as the world’s leading economy.

“The fact that the United States will grow faster than China this year, for the first time since 1976, is a quite striking example of how countries in this region should be looking at the question of trends and trajectories,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Critics say the framework has gaping shortcomings. It doesn’t offer incentives to prospective partners by lowering tariffs or provide signatories with greater access to U.S. markets. Those limitations may not make the U.S. framework an attractive alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which still moved forward after the U.S. bailed out. China, the largest trading partner for many in the region, is also seeking to join TPP.

“I think a lot of partners are going to look at that list and say: ‘That’s a good list of issues. I’m happy to be involved,’” said Matthew Goodman, a former director for international economics on the National Security Council during President Barack Obama’s administration. But he said they also may ask, “Are we going to get any tangible benefits out of participating in this framework?”

It is possible for countries to be part of both trade deals.

Biden’s first stop Monday was a private meeting with Emperor Naruhito of Japan at Naruhito’s residence on the lush grounds of the Imperial Palace before the talks with Kishida.

The two leaders were also set to meet with families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago. The Japanese premier took office last fall and is looking to strengthen ties with the U.S. and build a personal relationship with Biden. He’ll host the president at a restaurant for dinner.

The launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, also known as IPEF, has been billed by the White House as one of the bigger moments of Biden’s Asia trip and of his ongoing effort to bolster ties with Pacific allies. Through it all, administration officials have kept a close eye on China’s growing economic and military might in the region.

In September the U.S. announced a new partnership with Australia and Britain called AUKUS that is aimed and deepening security, diplomatic and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Through that AUKUS partnership, Australia will purchase nuclear-powered submarines, and the U.S. is to increase rotational force deployments to Australia.

The U.S. president has also devoted great attention to the informal alliance known as the Quad, formed during the response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed some 230,000 people. Biden and fellow leaders from the alliance, which also includes Australia, India and Japan, are set to gather in Tokyo for their second in-person meeting in less than a year. The leaders have also held two video calls since Biden took office.

And earlier this month, Biden gathered representatives from nine of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Washington for a summit, the first ever by the organization in the U.S. capital. Biden announced at the summit the U.S. would invest some $150 million in clean energy and infrastructure initiatives in ASEAN nations.

Sullivan confirmed on Sunday that Taiwan — which had sought membership in the IPEF framework— isn’t among the governments that will be included. Participation of the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own, would have irked Beijing.

Sullivan said the U.S. wants to deepen its economic partnership with Taiwan, including on high technology issues and semiconductor supply on a one-to-one basis.

Biden will wrap up his five days in Asia on Tuesday with the Quad meeting and one-on-one talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese.

The center-left leader of the Australian Labor Party this weekend defeated incumbent Scott Morrison and ended nine years of conservative rule.

Modi, leader of the world’s biggest democracy, has declined to join the U.S. and other allies in levying sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. In a video call last month, Biden asked Modi not to accelerate its purchase of Russian oil.

—-

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

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