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Pompeo tells Saudi Arabia to stop Qatar blockade

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The Doha Skyline at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on November 17, 2016 in Doha, Qatar.

Photo by Mark Runnacles | Getty Images

The Doha Skyline at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on November 17, 2016 in Doha, Qatar.

New U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Riyadh and told the Saudis that the United States has had enough of its blockade of Qatar, the New York Times reported over the weekend.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last year led a group of Arab states in an embargo against Qatar, accusing the country of being too close to Iran and of funding terrorists. Qatar denies that it supports terrorism.

Pompeo told Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir on Saturday that the dispute needs to come to a close, the Times said, citing an unnamed senior State Department official.

The administration of President Donald Trump regards the spat between the Arab nations as a distraction while it tries to tackle what it sees as bigger problems, including an increasingly likely confrontation with Iran.

Pompeo is also in the Middle East to discuss the Iran nuclear accord, which Trump is widely expected to scrap this month. Under that 2015 deal, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear energy program in exchange for an end to sanctions that have crushed the country’s economy.

The Iran pact was signed by most of the world’s major powers. This week, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany separately visited Washington to try to persuade Trump to preserve the accord.

For the full New York Times report, click here.

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Australia Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on relationship with China

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The national flags of Australia and China are displayed before a portrait of Mao Zedong facing Tiananmen Square.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP via Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Australia will continue advocating for its national interests but would like to see strained relations with China improve, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Monday.

“The China-Australia trading relationship is … very important,” Frydenberg told CNBC’s Will Koulouris. “It’s mutually beneficial. Our resources have helped underpin China’s economic growth and we welcome that.”

“At the same time, China has been a very important market for Australia and our exports to China has helped boost incomes here in Australia – been an important source of revenue and job creation,” Frydenberg told CNBC, as part of the network’s coverage of the Davos Agenda.

The relationship between the two major trading partners deteriorated last year when Australia supported a call for an international inquiry into China’s handling of Covid-19, which was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

… historically, we’ve had a very good partnership with China and we’d like to see that continue

Josh Frydenberg

Australian treasurer

Bottles of wine imported from Australia are displayed for sale at a supermarket on November 27, 2020 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China.

Long Wei | VCG | Getty Images

For his part, Frydenberg said Australia has a clear sense of its own national interests in areas of security, foreign investments as well as human rights.

“We’ll continue to advocate and speak up for Australia’s national interest but that shouldn’t preclude, again, strong relationships in the region and historically, we’ve had a very good partnership with China and we’d like to see that continue,” he added.

U.S. and its ‘indispensable’ role

Frydenberg said his government is looking forward to working with America’s new President Joe Biden and explained that the strength of the Australia-U.S. alliance doesn’t depend on which leader is in power in either country.

“The relationship has been strong and enduring — based on mutual respect, based on shared values and, certainly, shared interests,” he said, adding that the United States has an “indispensable role in our part of the world, in the Asia-Pacific.”

We’re looking forward to a very constructive relationship between the U.S. and Australia and it’s one that is critically important, not just to Australia but to the United States.

Josh Frydenberg

Australian treasurer

Under former President Donald Trump, the U.S. appeared to be retreating from a position of influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and Washington did not take part in the massive Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — signed by China and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries that would account for about 30% of the population worldwide, and global economy.

“We’re looking forward to a very constructive relationship between the U.S. and Australia and it’s one that is critically important, not just to Australia but to the United States as well,” Frydenberg said.

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Biden’s stimulus may be too big amid economic recovery, should be targeted at those most impacted

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