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Latvia, Estonia leave China-backed East Europe forum – wrde.com

Clear skies. Low 63F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph..
Clear skies. Low 63F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: August 12, 2022 @ 6:11 pm

BEIJING (AP) — Latvia and Estonia say they have left a Chinese-backed forum aimed at boosting relations with Eastern European countries, in what appears to be a new setback for China’s increasingly assertive diplomacy.
The move follows China’s boosting of its relations with Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine is seen as a possible first step in a series of moves against countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. China has refused to criticize Russia and has condemned punishing economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West.
Weeks before the invasion, Chinese President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing and declared their bilateral relations had “no limits” in a joint statement.
The move also comes after Beijing launched economic and diplomatic retaliation against another Baltic state, Lithuania, in retaliation for its expanded ties with the self-governing island democracy of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory and threatens to annex by force. China’s increasing assertiveness and recent threatening military exercises near Taiwan have brought a sharp backlash from the U.S., the EU, Japan, Australia and others.
“In view of the current priorities of Latvian foreign and trade policy, Latvia has decided to cease its participation in the cooperation framework of Central and Eastern European Countries and China,” Latvia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.
The country “will continue to strive for constructive and pragmatic relations with China both bilaterally, as well as through EU-China cooperation based on mutual benefit, respect for international law, human rights and the international rules-based order,” the statement said.
Estonia issued a similar statement, saying it would “continue to work towards constructive and pragmatic relations with China, which includes advancing EU-China relations in line with the rules-based international order and values such as human rights.”
“Estonia participated in the cooperation format of Central and Eastern Europe and China from 2012. Estonia has not attended any of the meetings of the format after the summit last February,” the statement said.
China set up the forum to strengthen relations with members of the EU as well as Serbia and others, partly to further Xi’s signature Belt and Road campaign to build bridges, railways, power plants and other infrastructure across the Eurasian continent.
China originally styled the forum as a “17 plus one” arrangement, but the number of European partners has now fallen to 14. Critics say the forum was an attempt to exploit differences among those states as part of a larger campaign to join with Russia in undermining the current rules-based international order dominated by the U.S. and its allies.
Along with its stance on Ukraine, China has come under strong criticism for firing missiles and sending ships and warplanes off the coast of Taiwan in response to a visit there by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. China strongly opposes all government-to-government contacts between Taiwan and countries which, like the U.S., maintain only informal ties with the island in deference to Beijing.
China issued no immediate comment on the move by Latvia and Estonia, but Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Friday again defended the threatening military exercises.
“To defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity … China has every right to take resolute countermeasures in response to the U.S. provocations, and such measures are absolutely necessary under those circumstances,” Wang said at a daily briefing.
Britain summoned China’s ambassador to register its over the “increasingly aggressive behavior and rhetoric from Beijing in recent months, which threaten peace and stability in the region,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was quoted as saying. “The United Kingdom urges China to resolve any differences by peaceful means, without the threat or use of force or coercion.”
Beijing’s threats against Taiwan are a major contributing factor in the deterioration of U.S.-China relations to their lowest level in decades. China has also engaged in a lengthy feud with Australia and its firing of missiles last week drew condemnation from Japan, whose exclusive economic zone includes waters where the projectiles landed.
In another rejection, South Korea on Wednesday said it will make its own decisions about strengthening its defenses against North Korean threats amid Chinese calls that it continue the polices of Seoul’s previous government that refrained from adding more U.S. anti-missile batteries, which are strongly opposed by Beijing.
Asked about the developments, U.S. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said “we respect and support Estonia and Latvia’s sovereign decision to no longer participate.”
“Estonia and Latvia are important and valued NATO allies and key U.S. partners across a number of issues, including through our strong defense ties, our strong economic ties, as well as the promotion of democracy and human rights,” Patel told reporters.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen countries around the world express deep concern about the PRC’s strategic alignment with Russia as well as Beijing’s support for Moscow’s war against Ukraine,” Patel said. “There is a growing convergence about the need to approach relations with Beijing with more realism,” he said, citing previous comments from Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Concluding a five-day visit to Taipei on Thursday, Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Agne Vaiciukeviciute emphasized the importance of economic ties with Taiwan and endorsed a statement issued by the Group of Seven industrialized nations criticizing the Chinese military exercises surrounding Taiwan. The European Union issued a similar statement, prompting China to summon the group’s ambassadors to register a protest.
“Lithuania is a democracy. Taiwan is our very close friend, and Taiwan is a booming economy,” Vaiciukeviciute said.
“Lithuania chooses to cooperate with countries that are willing to cooperate with us. So, Taiwan is one of those countries and they are reliable partners,” she said.
In response to her visit, China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday announced it was suspending “all forms of interaction” with her ministry as well as “exchanges and cooperation with Lithuania in the area of international roadway transport.”
China has already banned trade with Lithuania, with little apparent effect on the country that is a member of both the EU and NATO. The EU has raised a complaint over the Chinese action with the World Trade Organization.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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INTERNATIONAL

US women’s basketball dominates on international stage – KRQE News 13

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by: DOUG FEINBERG, Associated Press
Posted: Oct 1, 2022 / 12:54 PM MDT
Updated: Oct 1, 2022 / 01:04 PM MDT
by: DOUG FEINBERG, Associated Press
Posted: Oct 1, 2022 / 12:54 PM MDT
Updated: Oct 1, 2022 / 01:04 PM MDT
SYDNEY (AP) — A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart are keenly aware of the legacy of success they are part of with the U.S. women’s basketball team.
They don’t plan on letting the incredible run end any time soon.
“I don’t think we’re showing signs of stopping, that’s for sure,” Stewart said. “We have a lot of people are entering their prime or are in their prime.”
Wilson and Stewart helped the U.S. to a fourth consecutive World Cup championship Saturday with an 83-61 win over China, setting a record margin for a gold-medal game.
“Everyone knows that when you come here, when you wear USA across your chest the (pressure) that comes with it,” Stewart said. “It’s just embracing that. All the legends before us and what they’ve done, how they’ve won. Each team is different and we need to make our imprint on history.”
This team left its mark on the World Cup as one of the most dominant teams in the Americans’ storied history, winning four straight gold medals and 30 games in a row in the tournament. Next up for this group is the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The Americans will be trying for an eighth consecutive gold medal there.
“This is something that’s special to us. It’s not lost on us what’s been done since 1996. I hear about it all the time,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said. “What I wanted to do is make sure this journey was fun. Because I think there’s some times when you have pressure to win or the perceived pressure, it takes the enjoyment out of it.”
What started with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi has now been passed down to Wilson and Stewart. With Alyssa Thomas the oldest player at 30, the domination could continue for years to come.
“It’s been an incredible journey just to continue to lay that foundation down like so many of the greats in front of us have,” Wilson said. “Now it’s our turn to step up and be in that situation.”
The U.S. (8-0) finished the World Cup averaging 98.8 points — just short of the mark held by the 1994 team that averaged 99.1. They won by an average of 40.8 points, topping the amount by the 2010 team.
“Maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey now’s the time to get the USA,’” Reeve said. “I think what we showed is that our league, the WNBA and professional basketball players in the United States are really, really good.”
As they’ve done all tournament, the Americans did it on both ends of the court, playing stellar defense as well as using a high-powered offense.
The game was a sellout with nearly 16,000 fans — the biggest crowd to attend a women’s World Cup game since the inaugural tournament in 1953 in Chile.
“You can’t say people don’t support women’s basketball,” Stewart said of the crowd. “If you look at all these people in this arena tonight. There was a lot of people cheering for us and against us, but they’re here watching women’s basketball.”
While the U.S. will be the heavy favorite to win the gold in Paris, there are new teams emerging. China won its first medal since the 1994 World Cup, and Canada reached the medal round for the first-time since 1986.
“I think every team will learn from this experience. You gain a lot of knowledge in the World Cup,” Reeve said.
___
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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New York Liberty, WNBA players populate World Cup rosters – The Associated Press – en Español

SYDNEY (AP) — New York has long been known as a melting pot, a city of diversity.
That moniker also works for the city’s WNBA franchise, the New York Liberty, which has seven players competing in the women’s World Cup for five different countries.
Overall, there are 27 players in Sydney who competed this season in the WNBA, plus a few others like Lauren Jackson, who either played in the past or were drafted but haven’t competed in the league yet.
Before the U.S.-China game, Betnijah Laney and Han Xu exchanged a hug. The two Liberty players are on opposite teams a few weeks after their WNBA season ended with a playoff loss to Chicago in the opening round.
“That’s one of my favorite parts about the New York team, we are so international and we’ve got such great talent from all over the world,” Australian Sami Whitcomb said. “I think that represents our fan base as well. It’s really amazing to come here and still get to see your teammates.”
Laney and Sabrina Ionescu are with the U.S. Han is playing for China. Bec Allen and Whitcomb are with Australia along with New York coach Sandy Brondello and her husband Olaf Lange, who lead the host nation. Draftee Sika Kone is on Mali and fellow draftee Marine Fauthoux plays for France.
“It’s really cool to have teammates here and compete against each other. It’s a great experience for all of us,” Laney said. “It’s definitely something that’s pretty cool to have the diversity and to come together. It does extend to our fan base.”
Whitcomb said that the Liberty players talked about the potential of them all coming to Sydney for the World Cup.
“How fun it would be to have so many of us over here and we were all going to see each other,” she said. “We didn’t know how many people would make the teams, so it’s amazing.”
All the teams are staying in the same hotel near the arena. Whitcomb said the Liberty teammates have been getting coffee with each other in between games.
“It just goes to show we’re very international that’s for sure,” Brondello said. “To get two players on the USA team that’s always hard to break into but I’m proud of those two. They’ve worked so hard to get there and you know the Aussies go without saying but Han is doing a great job as well.”
There’d be an eighth Liberty player in the tournament, but Marine Johannes got hurt right before it began.
New York isn’t the only WNBA team well represented in Sydney: Seattle has five active players as well as Jackson. The Storm’s coach, Noelle Quinn, is an assistant with Canada. The Chicago Sky and Las Vegas Aces have four players each.
The players all also share a common dining room for meals, giving them chances to interact off the court.
“I’m happy to see my teammates playing in the World Cup,” Han said. “Before I only had two teammates but now I have a lot of them on different teams and it’s nice to see them around.”
___
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Zelenskyy calls Russia a state sponsor of terrorism; Biden calls on U.N. to stand with Ukraine – CNBC

Zelenskyy calls Russia a state sponsor of terrorism; Biden calls on U.N. to stand with Ukraine  CNBC
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