After yet another round of inconclusive bailout talks in Athens, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he believed a comprehensive deal with creditors could be reached by April while taking a dig at the International Monetary Fund over its tough stance on labor rights.
In comments to reporters at the end of a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels, Tsipras said he believed a technical-level agreement could still be reached in time for a March 20 Eurogroup, with a broader accord, including the specification of medium-term debt relief measures, coming in April.
Tsipras indicated, however, that tough talks on collective wage bargaining would be harder to conclude. “That issue can’t be solved at the technical level. There’s a disagreement,” he said, adding that the IMF must understand that Greece is a European country and that non-European labor models cannot be imposed on it.
In a related development, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Tsipras asked the Fund “to stand by Greece” in its third bailout program.
“To commit to Greece, as the Greek prime minister has requested, in addition to reforms, the debt should be sustainable,” Lagarde told French newspaper Le Parisien in an interview.
The World Bank is hoping to draw attention to the United Nations’ sustainable development goals with a sale of unusual bonds.
Payouts on the securities, which are relatively small, will be linked to the stock market performance of 50 companies considered to be making a significant contribution to the goals, including Nestle and Danone.
The World Bank has been making concerted efforts to promote global sustainability within financial markets and has previously sold green bonds and a sustainable development bond denominated in Chinese renminbi.
BNP Paribas arranged issuance of the €107m 15-year bond and €57m 20-year bond which were sold to a small group of European investors, including the bank’s French and Italian subsidiaries. World Bank Vice Treasurer Arunma Oteh said the bank planned to come to market with similar bonds available to a wider pool of investors in future.
Sustainable development goals were created in the mould of the UN’s earlier Millennium Development Goal and encompass economic, social and environmental objectives such as gender equality and combating climate change.
Update: North Korea warned Monday that U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which it called “the most undisguised nuclear war maneuvers,” are driving the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia toward “nuclear disaster.” The North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, Ja Song Nam, said in a letter to the U.N. Security Council that the U.S. is using nuclear-propelled aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, nuclear strategic bombers and stealth fighters in the joint exercises that began Wednesday. “It may go over to an actual war,” Ja warned of the military drills, “and, consequently, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war.”
“Involved in the drill were Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force tasked to strike the bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said.
“In the hearts of artillerymen … there was burning desire to mercilessly retaliate against the warmongers going ahead with their joint war exercises,” KCNA said.
“He (Kim) ordered the KPA Strategic Force to keep highly alert as required by the grim situation in which an actual war may break out any time, and get fully ready to promptly move, take positions and strike so that it can open fire to annihilate the enemies.”
The letter was sent a few hours after North Korea fired four banned ballistic missiles. Ja said the main reason North Korea is equipping itself “with nuclear attack capabilities” and strengthening its nuclear deterrent forces is in self-defense against what he called the U.S. “extreme anti-DPRK hostile policy and nuclear threats and blackmails as well as maneuvers to enforce its nuclear weapons.”
North Korea on Monday fired a projectile into the East Sea, with South Korea’s Yonhap News reporting it may have been an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The potential missile test comes as South Korea and the U.S. undertake annual military drills that Pyongyang has called a prelude to an invasion. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff are analyzing the details of the projectile including the distance and the type, Yonhap said.
The regime in Pyongyang has fired a series of missiles and conducted three nuclear tests since Kim Jong Un came to power. The launch could be a step toward the development of a missile that is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the continental U.S.
Kim has carried out his tests in defiance of a United Nations ban on weapons development and despite tightening sanctions aimed at pressuring him to give up his nuclear ambitions.
His actions are adding to tensions with key ally China after the death of Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, in a Malaysia airport. China, which accounts for most of North Korea’s trade, banned all coal imports from its neighbor following the murder.
Asia will need $26 trillion of infrastructure investment in the 15 years from 2016 to 2030, said a report published on Tuesday by the Asian Development Bank.
According to the report, titled Meeting Asia’s Infrastructure Needs, the region needs electricity supply chains to deliver power to the 400 million people who still live without electricity.
Infrastructure investment in Asia currently meets only about half the demand. Aid from development agencies, such as the ADB, remains a mere 2.5% of total investment. The report calls on regional economies to provide financing through fiscal measures and to make use of private-sector money.
The report covered 45 countries and territories including China and India. To sustain the current level of economic growth, Asia needs $26 trillion over the 15-year period.
In the previous report, released in 2009, the ADB estimated that Asia would need $8 trillion of infrastructure investment between 2010 and 2020.
In many other countries, excluding the United States, corrupt bankers are often brought to task by their respective governments. The most recent example of a corrupt banker being held accountable comes out of Spain, in which the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Rodrigo Rato was sentenced to four years and six months behind bars.
According to the AFP, Spain’s National Court, which deals with corruption and financial crime cases, said he had been found guilty of embezzlement when he headed up Caja Madrid and Bankia, at a time when both groups were having difficulties.
Rato, who is tied to a slew of other allegations was convicted and sentenced for misusing €12m between 2003 and 2012 — sometimes splashing out at the height of Spain’s economic crisis, according to the AFP.
The United States is considering reinstating North Korea on its list of state sponsors of terrorism following the recent killing of the North Korean leader’s half-brother in Malaysia, government and diplomatic sources said Saturday.
The administration of President Donald Trump is gathering and analyzing information on the Feb. 13 murder of Kim Jong Nam, in which Malaysian police said the deadly VX nerve gas agent was used, according to the sources.
Voices calling for tougher measures against Pyongyang are growing particularly among U.S. lawmakers in the wake of the launch of a new variety of ballistic missile by North Korea just a day before the slaying of the estranged brother of the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.
But the administration could take time to reach a decision on blacklisting North Korea as some officials in the government are concerned such action may further narrow the window of opportunity for dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.
Citing people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported that plans for back-channel talks in New York between U.S. and North Korean officials were scuttled Friday after the State Department withdrew visa approvals for Pyongyang’s top envoy on U.S. relations.
A country is placed on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism if the U.S. secretary of state determines it to have repeatedly aided acts of international terrorism. Its designation comes with financial sanctions, a ban on arms exports to the country and other measures.
Malaysian authorities identified at least eight North Koreans, including an official of the North Korean Embassy in the country, suspected of being involved in the Feb. 13 killing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
After yesterday US officials reported that Iran conducted a nuclear ballistic missile test on Sunday, which some claimed would be another violation of the UN resolution and Obama’s nuclear deal, on Wednesday Iran’s defense minister admitted that the Islamic Republic had indeed tested a new missile, but added the test did not breach Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers or a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing the pact.
Iran has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but this is the first during U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump said in his election campaign that he would stop Iran’s missile program. Furthermore, the confirmed launch comes at a precarious time, with president Trump seemingly looking for excuses to scrap the Iran deal, which could potentially lead to the reestablishment of Iran sanctions and the halt of Iranian oil exports to global markets, taking away as much as 1 million barrels of daily supply.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran has shown commitment to its end of the nuclear deal struck last year while visiting Tehran December 18.
Iran has complained about the US extending a sanctions package for another decade. The US says these sanctions are unrelated to the deal; Iran disagrees.
“We are satisfied with the implementation of the [nuclear agreement] and hope that this process will continue,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told the press in the Iranian capital, Reuters reports, citing the IRNA news agency.
“Iran has been committed to its engagement so far and this is important,” he said. Amano was in Tehran to meet head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi. After the White House said earlier this week that the sanctions bill would become law even without President Barack Obama’s signature, Iran requested a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) commission to discuss the situation and ordered its scientists to start developing nuclear systems to power ships. Salehi presented the maritime nuclear propulsion project to Amano and said the country would provide more details on it in three months, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). The initial outline did include what is so far the most controversial issue of the project: the level of uranium-enrichment powering the ships will require.
The US decision to extend 1979 sanctions against Iran for another 10 years violates the nuclear deal struck by Iran with international powers, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.
“The path that the US has taken in regard to Iran will lead to a considerable drop in international trust in the American government,” Rouhani was quoted as saying at a meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano by Mehr news agency.
He stressed that it was highly significant for all parties to the deal to comply with their commitments, arguing that the US recent decision to prolong Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another 10 years clearly violated the Iran nuclear deal.
On July 14, 2015, Iran and the P5+1 group of countries — the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom plus Germany — signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), ensuring the peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear program in return for the gradual sanctions relief. The US sanctions introduced against Tehran in 1979, however, were not mentioned in the document.