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Chinese, U.S. presidents hold phone talks

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On Tuesday evening, President Xi Jinping spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden on the phone at the latter’s request. The two presidents had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on China-U.S. relations and issues of mutual interest.

Xi recalled his meeting with President Biden in San Francisco last November, saying it opened a future-oriented San Francisco vision.

Over the past months, officials from the two sides have acted on the presidential understandings in earnest, Xi said, adding that the China-U.S. relationship is beginning to stabilize, which is welcomed by both societies and the international community.

However, Xi said the negative factors of the relationship have also been growing, and this requires attention from both sides.

President Xi noted that the issue of strategic perception is always fundamental to the China-U.S. relationship, “just like the first button of a shirt that must be put right.”

The Chinese president said that two large countries, China and the U.S., should not cut off their ties or turn their backs on each other, much less slide into conflict or confrontation. He called on the two sides to respect each other, coexist in peace, and pursue win-win cooperation. The relationship should continue moving forward in a stable, sound, and sustainable way rather than going backward.

Xi underlined three overarching principles that should guide China-U.S. relations in 2024.

“First, peace must be valued. The two sides should put a floor of no conflict and no confrontation under the relationship and keep reinforcing the positive outlook of the relationship,” he said.

Second, stability must be prioritized. He said the two sides should refrain from setting the relationship back, provoking incidents or crossing the line to maintain the overall stability of the relationship.

Third, credibility must be upheld. Xi said the two sides should honor their commitments to each other with action and turn the “San Francisco Vision” into reality.

He added that the two sides need to strengthen dialogue in a mutually respectful way, manage differences prudently, advance cooperation in the spirit of mutual benefit, and step up coordination on international affairs in a responsible way.

Xi made it clear that “China is not going to sit on its hands” in the face of “Taiwan independence” separatist activities and external encouragement and support for them.

Noting that the U.S. side has adopted a string of measures to suppress China’s trade and technology development and is adding more and more Chinese entities to its sanctions lists, Xi said, “This is not ‘de-risking’ but creating risks.”

“If the U.S. side is willing to seek mutually beneficial cooperation and share in China’s development dividends, it will always find China’s door open. But if it is adamant on containing China’s hi-tech development and depriving China of its legitimate right to development, China is not going to sit back and watch,” he said.

Xi also elaborated on China’s position on issues related to Hong Kong, human rights and the South China Sea.

For his part, Biden said the U.S.-China relationship is the most consequential relationship in the world.

Biden noted that the progress made in bilateral relations since the San Francisco meeting demonstrates that both sides can actively advance cooperation while managing differences responsibly.

He reiterated that the U.S. does not seek a new Cold War. Its objective is not to change China’s system, its alliances are not targeted against China, the U.S. does not support “Taiwan independence,” and the U.S. does not seek conflict with China, he said.

Biden said the U.S. adheres to the one-China policy, adding that China’s development is beneficial to the world, and the U.S. does not seek to curtail China’s development or “decouple” from China.

He said the U.S. will send Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit China shortly to strengthen dialogue and communication, avoid miscalculation, and promote cooperation to advance the relationship on a stable path and jointly respond to global challenges.

According to the statement released by the Chinese side, the two heads of state also exchanged views on issues such as the Ukraine crisis and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The two presidents found the phone call to be candid and constructive, the statement said.

The two sides agreed to stay in communication and tasked their teams to deliver on the San Francisco vision, including advancing the consultation mechanisms on diplomatic, economic, financial, commercial and other issues, as well as military-to-military communication, carrying out dialogue and cooperation in areas such as counternarcotics, artificial intelligence and climate response, taking further steps to expand people-to-people exchanges and enhancing communication on international and regional issues.

The statement said the Chinese side welcomed Treasury Secretary Yellen and Secretary of State Blinken’s visits to China.

Source(s): CGTN

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Middle East countries voice concern over military escalation after alleged Israeli attack on Iran

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Countries in the Middle East have voiced their concern over military escalation in the region after Israel on Friday allegedly struck sites near the city of Isfahan, central Iran, in what appeared to be its military response to Iran’s recent retaliatory attack.

In a statement, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry called on the two sides to exercise the utmost restraint and to fully comply with the rules of international law and the UN Charter, warning against widening the conflict and instability in the region.

Egypt stressed that it will continue to intensify communications with all concerned and influential parties to contain the ongoing escalation and tension.

In addition, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the ministry “is constantly monitoring the tension in the region,” expressing its deep concern about the attack targeting Isfahan on Friday morning.

The ministry said that the escalation must not distract attention from the destruction and loss of innocent lives in the Gaza Strip, renewing its call on the international community to perform its duties and work to stop the suffering of the Palestinian people, according to the statement.

Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi on Friday stressed the need to reduce the dangerous escalation in the region and reiterated that “Jordan will not allow it to be turned into an arena of conflict between Iran and Israel and to endanger its security and the safety of its citizens.”

Safadi, who also serves as the Jordanian foreign minister, added on social media platform X that “the current escalation only serves to divert attention away from the Israeli aggression on Gaza, stopping which must be the priority.”

The Israeli attack came after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confirmed Saturday that it had launched missile and drone attacks on Israel in retaliation for earlier airstrikes by Israel on April 1 on the Iranian consulate building in the Syrian capital of Damascus, which killed seven Iranians.

So far, Israel has not officially acknowledged the strikes on Isfahan, while Iran has not publicly accused Israel of carrying them out.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Foreign Ministry on Friday condemned the Israeli strikes on Syrian military sites earlier in the day as a flagrant violation of Syrian sovereignty and a threat to regional stability.

In a statement, the ministry warned that such actions could escalate tensions in the region, potentially leading to a broader conflict, and urged the international community, including the UN Security Council, to condemn the attack and take decisive measures to halt the “crimes” committed by Israel.

In the early hours of Friday, the Israeli military launched a series of airstrikes targeting Syrian air defense sites in the southern region, according to the Syrian Defense Ministry. The strikes caused material losses, while no casualties were reported, it added.

The attack was also confirmed by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported that more than six Israeli aircraft were observed flying intensively in southern Syria.

The radar battalion responsible for monitoring the airspace, located in the east of Syria’s Daraa province, was targeted, the war monitor added.

Source(s): CGTN

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EU, Finnish leaders call for de-escalation amid Iran-Israel tensions

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HELSINKI, April 19 (Xinhua) — European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo on Friday urged de-escalation amid Iran-Israel tensions.

They made these comments at a press conference held at southeastern Finland’s Lappeenranta airport on Friday. The event followed a visit to the Finnish eastern border near the town of Imatra.

“We must do everything possible to ensure that all sides refrain from escalating the situation in the region,” said von der Leyen. She emphasized the necessity for stabilizing in the region.

Orpo expressed hope that both sides would avoid retaliatory attacks.

According to local media reports, the purpose of their visit to the eastern border was to inspect a pilot fence, about three kilometers long, built near the Imatra border crossing.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Blinken says U.S. not involved in Israeli attack against Iran

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that he can’t speak to media reports about the details of an Israeli attack against Iran overnight, stressing that the United States was not involved in any offensive operations by Israel.

“The reports that you’ve seen, I’m not going to speak to that, except to say that the United States has not been involved in any offensive operations,” Blinken told a press conference in Italy as he wrapped up a meeting with foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) countries.

He was responding to a reporter’s question seeking confirmation of media reports saying Washington received advance warning from Israel on Thursday of an imminent strike against Iran in retaliation for Tehran’s assault on Israel last week.

“What we’re focused on, what the G7 is focused on, and again, it’s reflected in our statement and in our conversation, is our work to de-escalate tensions, to de-escalate from any potential conflict,” Blinken said in what were first public remarks on the Israeli attack by a cabinet member of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration.

What Blinken also refused to address during that round of questions and answers was the White House’s assessment of whether the Israeli strikes were over and if Iran would retaliate.

Earlier on Friday, Iran’s air defense systems shot down several “flying objects” near the central city of Isfahan, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

The Israeli side has not yet made any announcement regarding the attack.

Source(s): CGTN

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