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Blinken raises concerns over China's Covid surge, Taliban's ban on women's education and Russia-Ukraine war

Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday (local time) raised concern over the surging Covid cases in China, the Taliban banning women from universities and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
Urging China to share information on its Covid outbreak, he said, "We want to see China get this outbreak (of Covid19) under control...It's also important for all countries including China to vaccinate their people, make testing and treatment available and share info with the world about what they are experiencing." "It has implications not just for China but for the entire world. So we would like to see that happen," Blinken added.
The US State Secy informed that China has not asked for help yet, adding, "We are fully prepared to provide assistance to anyone who asks for it, if they think it's useful."
"Anytime the virus is spreading or is moving around, there is the possibility that a new variant develops, that variant spreads even further, and it comes and hits us or hits other countries," Blinken said.
"And then, as we've seen, there are clear implications for the global economy," he said of China's Covid policies.
Shanghai, China's megacity with 25 million-strong population, has been hit by surge in coronavirus cases, reported NHK World.
Case numbers have been growing since last week in Shanghai, where staff shortages are causing delays in delivery services.
Hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of infected patients, pharmacies are turning customers away empty-handed, businesses are shutting because staff are off sick, most schools have closed and usage of public transport is plummeting.
But officials at the mission say there have been no reports suggesting production lines or distribution have been severely affected by the surge. They say this is partly because there are no longer restrictions on people's movements, reported NHK World.
On Taliban disallowing women's right to education, he said, "Taliban have tried to sentence Afghan women to a dark future without opportunities. No country will be able to succeed much less thrive if half of its population doesn't have the opportunity to contribute."
The Taliban's latest announcement means that women and girls will continue to face enormous difficulties seeking employment to feed their families. Afghanistan is already losing more than USD 1 billion per year in contributions that women could make to the economy.
He also touched on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, saying that Russia has shown no real interest in ending the war in Ukraine
"Russia has shown no interest in meaningful diplomacy to bring this war to an end. Russia could immediately end the war by withdrawing troops, but we have to see some meaningful evidence that Russia is prepared to negotiate a just and durable peace," said Blinken.
"(But) in the absence of that, we have to see some meaningful evidence that Russia is prepared to actually negotiate a just and durable peace."
Defending the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan, he said, "We ended America's longest war. For the first time in 20 years, Americans will not be coming home from Afghanistan in a body bag. We brought more than 120,00,000 people out of the country."
"When it comes to Russia's war against Ukraine, if we were still in Afghanistan, it would have been much more complicated to support Ukraine to resist against the Russian aggression," added Blinken. (ANI)

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