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Foreign Policy

Blinken welcomes Indonesia’s overseas minister to the ASEAN push

Here’s today’s foreign policy: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blink meets Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Israeli and British Leaders condemn alleged Iranian attack on cargo ship, and the IMF presents new liquidity measures.

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Here’s today’s foreign policy: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blink meets Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Israeli and British Leaders condemn alleged Iranian attack on cargo ship, and the IMF presents new liquidity measures.

If you would like to receive the Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please register here.

Indonesian Foreign Minister visits Washington

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi continued his visit to Washington today with a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department. Marsudi’s visit takes place while Blinken focuses on Southeast Asia. During the week, five virtual meetings will take place under the umbrella of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Blinken’s meeting with Marsudi, after meeting with White House Asia Coordinator Kurt Campbell and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Monday, is a chance for the two diplomats to close ties after a perceived snub in May smooth.

As my foreign policy colleagues reported at the time, Blinken left Marsudi and other ASEAN ministers hanging in their first scheduled video conference after failing to video link during a trip to Israel for emergency meetings. Marsudi was reportedly so angry that she skipped her video feed for the duration of the call.

Another nudge? That feeling of sadness was reinforced in an editorial published Monday in the English-language Jakarta Post, which dealt with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s trip to Southeast Asia in July and Vice President Kamala Harris’s upcoming trip to the region – neither including Indonesia on the itinerary. “Two consecutive snubs by Washington’s top officials are a real shame for Indonesia, unless Biden has something bigger in mind, which is almost impossible,” the newspaper wrote, citing the country’s hosting responsibilities for the next G-20 summit Year.

The position contrasts with China, which is enjoying renewed bilateral relations with Indonesia, as Derek Grossman wrote in Foreign Policy in June.

Results first. Apart from questions of prestige, Marsudi can already point to a concrete result of her US visit: On Monday the White House announced a further 30 million US dollars in support for Indonesia, which is to flow into oxygen and medical care as well as the storage of vaccines.

COVID-19 problems. As Indonesia is grappling with a rampant coronavirus epidemic, any help will help. Although infection numbers have declined from highs of 50,000 new cases per day in mid-July, the death toll remains stubbornly high, with authorities reporting at least 1,000 new deaths per day since July 17 per 100 confirmed cases) is 2.8 Percent – next to Brazil, the seventh highest among the 20 countries most severely affected by COVID-19.

An ambitious target of one million vaccinations per day has not yet been achieved, with only 18 percent of Indonesia’s 270 million or so having received a dose. While noting “improvements at the national level” in dealing with the virus, President Joko Widodo announced on Monday a week-long extension of partial lockdowns in major cities, which began on July 3.

What we are following today

Iran’s pressure. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday called an alleged Iranian attack on a commercial cargo ship “an escalation of the escalation” in Iranian hostilities and called for an international response. Gantz also used the attack to argue that world powers include “Iran’s aggression in the region” in their negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the attack “outrageous” and told reporters: “Iran should face the consequences of what it has done.”

Iran has denied any involvement in the July 29 attack but has been suspected of similar attacks in recent months as Iran and Israel continue a maritime conflict.

Tigray violence. Authorities in the Sudanese province of Kassala last week found dozens of bodies floating down a river that connects Sudan with the Ethiopian region of Tigray. The Associated Press quoted a local doctor who confirmed that many of the dead had facial markings suggesting they were ethnic Tigrayans. A “fact check” Twitter account operated by the Ethiopian government dismissed the report as “fabricated” and part of the propaganda efforts of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

USAID administrator Samantha Power called the report “deeply troubling” when she traveled to Ethiopia to press for better humanitarian access to Tigray.

Poland stands in for Belarus. Poland issued a humanitarian visa to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian sprinter, after the Olympian refused to board a flight to Minsk at a Tokyo airport on Sunday. “I was pressured and [my team’s officials] try to force me out of the country without my consent, “said Tsimanouskaya, now under the protection of the authorities in Japan, in a filmed message asking for help from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The event came after the athlete publicly complained about the leadership of her team, which sparked a backlash in the Belarusian state media, at a time when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko continues to use force against dissidents after last year’s controversial elections going on.

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya tweeted that the regime was trying to “kidnap” Tsimanouskaya and called on the IOC to protect all Belarusian athletes.

Global liquidity. The International Monetary Fund will allocate $ 650 billion of its Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to support the finances of poorer countries hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Assets are allocated based on the size of a member country’s economy, but plans are already in place to encourage richer countries to transfer their SDRs to needy countries.

“This is a historic decision – the largest SDR allocation in IMF history and a shot in the arm for the global economy at a time of unprecedented crisis,” IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement. Unlike traditional IMF loans, SDRs come unconditional and do not need to be repaid.

Sheikh Jarrah Forced Evictions. The Israeli Supreme Court on Monday postponed a decision on whether to allow the eviction of four Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Judge Isaac Amit, on an appeal from the families, requested additional documents, saying a decision would be published “later” without specifying a date.

The families turned down the court’s offer to leave them on the property for three generations as “protected residents” – a deal that would have resulted in the families forfeiting their property claims and paying a nominal annual rent to the Jewish Settlers Association. the eviction case.

The share price of Chinese video game companies Tencent and NetEase fell more than 10 percent after the state outlet Economic Information Daily published an article comparing the games to “electronic drugs” and “spiritual opium”. Stock prices began to rebound after the article was deleted from Economic Information Daily ‘s wechat account. Tencent may have been suspicious of government crackdown on Chinese tech companies and then announced a reduction in the time that people under the age of 18 can play the company’s online games: a maximum of 90 minutes on regular days and a maximum of 3 hours on holidays.

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