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Suriname Protests Dutch Minister’s ‘Failed State’ Remark

Suriname issued a protest note to the Netherlands on Thursday after the Dutch foreign minister said the South American nation was a “failed state” because of its ethnic diversity.

Stef Blok, a member of the conservative VVD party of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has faced a firestorm of criticism over comments he made July 10 in The Hague that became public this week.

“This coarse accusation against peace and stability in the Republic of Suriname can only be intended to portray Suriname and its population negatively,” Suriname’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry, which summoned Dutch envoy Jaap Frederiks to receive the protest, added that the Netherlands was “seeking to isolate the Surinamese nation, with the possible agenda being the realization of a recolonization.”

Suriname, a former Dutch colony that became independent in 1975, has a mix of ethnicities including people of Indonesian, African and Dutch ancestry, as well indigenous peoples.

Blok had told a gathering of Dutch employees of international organizations that “Suriname is a failed state and that is very much linked to its ethnic composition.”

Lawmakers from several Dutch political parties, including all members of the governing coalition, demanded an explanation for Blok’s remarks.

In a statement issued through his Twitter account, Blok said his language was too strong and he regretted the offense it caused.

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Suriname Protests Dutch Minister’s ‘Failed State’ Remark

Suriname issued a protest note to the Netherlands on Thursday after the Dutch foreign minister said the South American nation was a “failed state” because of its ethnic diversity.

Stef Blok, a member of the conservative VVD party of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has faced a firestorm of criticism over comments he made July 10 in The Hague that became public this week.

“This coarse accusation against peace and stability in the Republic of Suriname can only be intended to portray Suriname and its population negatively,” Suriname’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry, which summoned Dutch envoy Jaap Frederiks to receive the protest, added that the Netherlands was “seeking to isolate the Surinamese nation, with the possible agenda being the realization of a recolonization.”

Suriname, a former Dutch colony that became independent in 1975, has a mix of ethnicities including people of Indonesian, African and Dutch ancestry, as well indigenous peoples.

Blok had told a gathering of Dutch employees of international organizations that “Suriname is a failed state and that is very much linked to its ethnic composition.”

Lawmakers from several Dutch political parties, including all members of the governing coalition, demanded an explanation for Blok’s remarks.

In a statement issued through his Twitter account, Blok said his language was too strong and he regretted the offense it caused.

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US Seen Receiving Frosty Reception at G-20 Meeting

The financial leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies meet in Buenos Aires this weekend for the first time since long-simmering trade tensions burst into the open when China and the United States put tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s goods.

The United States will seek to persuade Japan and the European Union to join it in taking a more aggressive stance against Chinese trade practices at the G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank presidents, according to a senior U.S. Treasury Department official who spoke on condition on anonymity.

But those efforts will be complicated by frustration over U.S. steel and aluminum import tariffs on the EU and Canada. Both responded with retaliatory tariffs in an escalating trade conflict that has shaken markets and threatens global growth.

“U.S. trading partners are unlikely to be in a conciliatory mood,” said Eswar Prasad, international trade professor at Cornell University and former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China Division. “[U.S.] hostile actions against long-standing trading partners and allies have weakened its economic and geopolitical influence.”

At the close of the last G-20 meeting in Argentina in March, the financial leaders representing 75 percent of world trade and 85 percent of gross domestic product released a joint statement that rejected protectionism and urged “further dialogue,” to little concrete effect.

Since then, the United States and China have slapped tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s imports and U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened further tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods unless Beijing agrees to change its intellectual property practices and high-technology industrial subsidy plans.

Trump has said the U.S. tariffs aim to close the $335 billion annual U.S. trade deficit with China.

U.S. Treasury Minister Steven Mnuchin has no plans for a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Buenos Aires, a U.S official said this week.

Growth concerns

Rising trade tensions have led to concerns within the Japanese government over currency volatility, said a senior Japanese G-20 official who declined to be named. Such volatility could prompt an appreciation in the safe-haven yen and threaten Japanese exports.

Trump’s metals tariffs prompted trade partners to retaliate with their own tariffs on U.S. goods ranging from whiskey to motorcycles. The United States has said it will challenge those tariffs at the World Trade Organization.

The EU finance ministers signed a joint text last week that will form their mandate for this weekend’s meeting, criticizing “unilateral” U.S. trade actions, Reuters reported. The ministers will stress that trade restrictions “hurt everyone,” a German official said.

In a briefing note prepared for the G-20 participants, the International Monetary Fund said if all of Trump’s threatened tariffs — and equal retaliation — went into effect, the global economy could lose up to 0.5 percent of GDP, or $430 billion, by 2020.

Global growth also may have peaked at 3.9 percent for 2018 and 2019, and downside risks have risen due to the tariff spat, the IMF said.

“While all countries will ultimately be worse off in a trade conflict, the U.S. economy is especially vulnerable,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde wrote in a blog post. “Policymakers can use this G-20 meeting to move past

self-defeating tit-for-tat tariffs.”

Trade is not on host country Argentina’s published agenda for the July 21-22 ministerial, which focuses on the “future of work” and infrastructure finance. But it will likely be discussed during a slot devoted to risks facing the global

economy, much as in March, according to an Argentine official involved in G-20 preparations, who asked not be named.

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US Seen Receiving Frosty Reception at G-20 Meeting

The financial leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies meet in Buenos Aires this weekend for the first time since long-simmering trade tensions burst into the open when China and the United States put tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s goods.

The United States will seek to persuade Japan and the European Union to join it in taking a more aggressive stance against Chinese trade practices at the G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank presidents, according to a senior U.S. Treasury Department official who spoke on condition on anonymity.

But those efforts will be complicated by frustration over U.S. steel and aluminum import tariffs on the EU and Canada. Both responded with retaliatory tariffs in an escalating trade conflict that has shaken markets and threatens global growth.

“U.S. trading partners are unlikely to be in a conciliatory mood,” said Eswar Prasad, international trade professor at Cornell University and former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China Division. “[U.S.] hostile actions against long-standing trading partners and allies have weakened its economic and geopolitical influence.”

At the close of the last G-20 meeting in Argentina in March, the financial leaders representing 75 percent of world trade and 85 percent of gross domestic product released a joint statement that rejected protectionism and urged “further dialogue,” to little concrete effect.

Since then, the United States and China have slapped tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s imports and U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened further tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods unless Beijing agrees to change its intellectual property practices and high-technology industrial subsidy plans.

Trump has said the U.S. tariffs aim to close the $335 billion annual U.S. trade deficit with China.

U.S. Treasury Minister Steven Mnuchin has no plans for a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Buenos Aires, a U.S official said this week.

Growth concerns

Rising trade tensions have led to concerns within the Japanese government over currency volatility, said a senior Japanese G-20 official who declined to be named. Such volatility could prompt an appreciation in the safe-haven yen and threaten Japanese exports.

Trump’s metals tariffs prompted trade partners to retaliate with their own tariffs on U.S. goods ranging from whiskey to motorcycles. The United States has said it will challenge those tariffs at the World Trade Organization.

The EU finance ministers signed a joint text last week that will form their mandate for this weekend’s meeting, criticizing “unilateral” U.S. trade actions, Reuters reported. The ministers will stress that trade restrictions “hurt everyone,” a German official said.

In a briefing note prepared for the G-20 participants, the International Monetary Fund said if all of Trump’s threatened tariffs — and equal retaliation — went into effect, the global economy could lose up to 0.5 percent of GDP, or $430 billion, by 2020.

Global growth also may have peaked at 3.9 percent for 2018 and 2019, and downside risks have risen due to the tariff spat, the IMF said.

“While all countries will ultimately be worse off in a trade conflict, the U.S. economy is especially vulnerable,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde wrote in a blog post. “Policymakers can use this G-20 meeting to move past

self-defeating tit-for-tat tariffs.”

Trade is not on host country Argentina’s published agenda for the July 21-22 ministerial, which focuses on the “future of work” and infrastructure finance. But it will likely be discussed during a slot devoted to risks facing the global

economy, much as in March, according to an Argentine official involved in G-20 preparations, who asked not be named.

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UK’s New Brexit Envoy Optimistic as EU Warns of Brexit Crash

London’s new Brexit minister said he was confident he could reach a deal, on his first trip to Brussels on Thursday as the EU warned business to get ready for Britain crashing out of the bloc without agreed terms to cushion the economic disruption.

Brexit campaigner Dominic Raab, appointed to the government last week after his predecessor quit over Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals to stay close to EU trading rules, said Britain was ramping up preparations for a “no deal” but focused above all on selling her ideas to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

The resignation of his predecessor David Davis and others, and May’s battles in parliament with pro- and anti-Brexit wings of her own Conservative Party, have led Brussels to wonder whether London is capable of agreeing any deal this year to avoid chaos when it leaves in March.

That, the EU’s executive European Commission insisted on Thursday, was not the reason for its warning on stepping up preparedness for a “no deal” or “cliff edge” Brexit.

Raab said Britain was on track and he would bring new “energy, vigor and vim” to talks as they get down to the wire to find a deal before EU leaders meet at a summit in October.

“We’ve only got 12 weeks really left to nail down the details of the agreement, so I set out our proposals,” Raab said after meeting Barnier. “I’m sure in good faith, if that energy and that ambition is reciprocated, as I’m confident it will be, we will get there.”

EU officials and diplomats still think some kind of deal, including a 21-month status quo transition period to allow further talks, is more likely than not, if only because the cost for both sides would be so high.

The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday EU countries would suffer long-term damage equivalent to about 1.5 percent of annual economic output if Britain leaves without a free trade deal.

“While the EU is working day and night for a deal ensuring an orderly withdrawal, the UK’s withdrawal will undoubtedly cause disruption, for example in business supply chains, whether or not there is a deal,” the Commission said in a statement.

“Preparedness is not a mistrust in the negotiations,” an EU official added, saying big firms seemed to be advancing in their plans but smaller companies which had never traded outside the single market before would face challenges in their paperwork.

A senior British regulator also warned Britain’s banks and insurers on Thursday to plan for a “hard” Brexit.

Barnier briefs

Barnier is due to report back on his meeting with Raab to ministers from the other 27 EU states on Friday.

Ahead of talks with Raab, Barnier said the EU was offering an “unprecedented” partnership on future trade relations and that maintaining a close partnership on security was “more important than ever given the geopolitical context.”

EU officials and diplomats have welcomed last week’s proposals as a welcome if overdue starting point for negotiations on an outline of post-Brexit relations that is to accompany a binding treaty on the immediate aspects of withdrawal. But Barnier will also be posing many questions on just how some issues, notably around customs and sharing regulatory standards would work.

Getting an outline on those is vital to solving the biggest obstacle to the urgent withdrawal treaty — how to avoid customs and other friction on the new EU-UK land border in Ireland.

Dublin and London say they are committed to avoiding a “hard border” but the EU is also determined to avoid creating a huge loophole in the external frontier of its single market and customs union.

With time running short and little sign of May quelling the revolts in her party, there has been renewed discussion among Brussels diplomats and officials about whether a deal can be done by October, or at the latest December, to allow parliaments on both sides to ratify a withdrawal treaty before March 29.

“When I see the dynamics in Westminster, I don’t think that there is, at this stage, a majority for whatever type of thing we could ever agree with them,” one senior EU official said.

However, while EU leaders have made no secret of being ready to extend the deadline for a few weeks, there are reservations about any longer delay, short of a U-turn in Britain and a call from London to call Brexit off.

Among problems for delaying Brexit is a European Parliament election in late May 2019 which would create questions over when  and how it could ratify a late Brexit deal, assuming Britain does not elect members to the new legislature.

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UK’s New Brexit Envoy Optimistic as EU Warns of Brexit Crash

London’s new Brexit minister said he was confident he could reach a deal, on his first trip to Brussels on Thursday as the EU warned business to get ready for Britain crashing out of the bloc without agreed terms to cushion the economic disruption.

Brexit campaigner Dominic Raab, appointed to the government last week after his predecessor quit over Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals to stay close to EU trading rules, said Britain was ramping up preparations for a “no deal” but focused above all on selling her ideas to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

The resignation of his predecessor David Davis and others, and May’s battles in parliament with pro- and anti-Brexit wings of her own Conservative Party, have led Brussels to wonder whether London is capable of agreeing any deal this year to avoid chaos when it leaves in March.

That, the EU’s executive European Commission insisted on Thursday, was not the reason for its warning on stepping up preparedness for a “no deal” or “cliff edge” Brexit.

Raab said Britain was on track and he would bring new “energy, vigor and vim” to talks as they get down to the wire to find a deal before EU leaders meet at a summit in October.

“We’ve only got 12 weeks really left to nail down the details of the agreement, so I set out our proposals,” Raab said after meeting Barnier. “I’m sure in good faith, if that energy and that ambition is reciprocated, as I’m confident it will be, we will get there.”

EU officials and diplomats still think some kind of deal, including a 21-month status quo transition period to allow further talks, is more likely than not, if only because the cost for both sides would be so high.

The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday EU countries would suffer long-term damage equivalent to about 1.5 percent of annual economic output if Britain leaves without a free trade deal.

“While the EU is working day and night for a deal ensuring an orderly withdrawal, the UK’s withdrawal will undoubtedly cause disruption, for example in business supply chains, whether or not there is a deal,” the Commission said in a statement.

“Preparedness is not a mistrust in the negotiations,” an EU official added, saying big firms seemed to be advancing in their plans but smaller companies which had never traded outside the single market before would face challenges in their paperwork.

A senior British regulator also warned Britain’s banks and insurers on Thursday to plan for a “hard” Brexit.

Barnier briefs

Barnier is due to report back on his meeting with Raab to ministers from the other 27 EU states on Friday.

Ahead of talks with Raab, Barnier said the EU was offering an “unprecedented” partnership on future trade relations and that maintaining a close partnership on security was “more important than ever given the geopolitical context.”

EU officials and diplomats have welcomed last week’s proposals as a welcome if overdue starting point for negotiations on an outline of post-Brexit relations that is to accompany a binding treaty on the immediate aspects of withdrawal. But Barnier will also be posing many questions on just how some issues, notably around customs and sharing regulatory standards would work.

Getting an outline on those is vital to solving the biggest obstacle to the urgent withdrawal treaty — how to avoid customs and other friction on the new EU-UK land border in Ireland.

Dublin and London say they are committed to avoiding a “hard border” but the EU is also determined to avoid creating a huge loophole in the external frontier of its single market and customs union.

With time running short and little sign of May quelling the revolts in her party, there has been renewed discussion among Brussels diplomats and officials about whether a deal can be done by October, or at the latest December, to allow parliaments on both sides to ratify a withdrawal treaty before March 29.

“When I see the dynamics in Westminster, I don’t think that there is, at this stage, a majority for whatever type of thing we could ever agree with them,” one senior EU official said.

However, while EU leaders have made no secret of being ready to extend the deadline for a few weeks, there are reservations about any longer delay, short of a U-turn in Britain and a call from London to call Brexit off.

Among problems for delaying Brexit is a European Parliament election in late May 2019 which would create questions over when  and how it could ratify a late Brexit deal, assuming Britain does not elect members to the new legislature.

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State Department Denounces Russia’s Demand to Interrogate Americans, Trump Does Not

The U.S. State Department denounced Russia’s request to question several U.S. citizens in exchange for allowing a U.S. investigator to interrogate 12 Russians indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for their efforts to derail the 2016 presidential election. Among the Americans the Kremlin wants to interrogate is a former U.S. ambassador to Russia. The White House said Wednesday the president has not ruled out allowing Russian officials to question Americans. VOA’S Zlatica Hoke reports.

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State Department Denounces Russia’s Demand to Interrogate Americans, Trump Does Not

The U.S. State Department denounced Russia’s request to question several U.S. citizens in exchange for allowing a U.S. investigator to interrogate 12 Russians indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for their efforts to derail the 2016 presidential election. Among the Americans the Kremlin wants to interrogate is a former U.S. ambassador to Russia. The White House said Wednesday the president has not ruled out allowing Russian officials to question Americans. VOA’S Zlatica Hoke reports.

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