|NATO’s top official said Monday that he has invited President-elect Joe Biden to a summit early next year (Photo: Reuters)|
NATO preps for a Biden summit and decisions on Afghanistan in early 2021
NATO’s top official said Monday that he has invited president-elect Joe Biden to a summit early next year, where allies are expected to decide whether to continue their nearly 20-year-old mission in Afghanistan, Stars and Stripes reported.
“We face a difficult dilemma,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters at a virtual press conference. “Whether to leave and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists, or stay and risk a longer mission with renewed violence.”
Stoltenberg, who was speaking ahead of two days of talks beginning Tuesday with NATO foreign ministers, said the mission in Afghanistan will join matters such as the challenges posed by Russia and China on the agenda.
The foreign ministers meeting, which will include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also likely marks the last major NATO gathering during the administration of President Donald Trump, who has been a frequent critic of the alliance.
Allies aren’t expected to make any major decisions during the final days of the U.S. administration. But during a defense ministers’ meeting in February, allies could decide on the way forward in Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said.
A major NATO summit of heads of state, including Biden, could come soon after that in the early part of the year, he said.
The talks among foreign ministers this week are unlikely to have immediate implications for the mission in Afghanistan, where Trump has ordered a force reduction that will leave 2,500 U.S. troops in the country. NATO’s mission to train the Afghan military continues despite the U.S. drawdown, Stoltenberg said.
Still, it is unclear how long NATO will remain committed to keeping large numbers of troops in Afghanistan. More than half of the 11,000 service members currently in the country are from non-U.S. NATO states and partner countries.
Moderna asking the US, European regulators to OK its virus shots
The drugmaker Moderna announced highly encouraging results on Monday, saying that complete data from a large study show its coronavirus vaccine to be 94.1 percent effective, a finding that confirms earlier estimates.
The company said that it applied on Monday to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the vaccine for emergency use and that if approved, injections for Americans could begin as early as Dec. 21, NY Times reported.
The hopeful news arrives at a particularly grim moment in the U.S. health crisis. Coronavirus cases have surged and overwhelmed hospitals in some regions, and health officials have warned that the numbers may grow even worse in the coming weeks because of travel and gatherings for Thanksgiving.
The new data from Moderna show that its study of 30,000 people has met the scientific criteria needed to determine whether the vaccine works. The findings from the full set of data match an analysis of interim data released on Nov. 16 that found the vaccine to be 94.5 percent effective.
Moderna is the second vaccine maker to apply for emergency use authorization; Pfizer submitted its application on Nov. 20. Pfizer has said it can produce up to 50 million doses this year, with about half going to the United States. Its vaccine also requires two doses per person.
The first shots of the two vaccines are likely to go to certain groups, including health care workers, essential workers like police officers, people in other critical industries, and employees and residents in nursing homes. More than 100,000 Covid deaths have occurred in U.S. nursing homes and other long-term care centers.
On Tuesday, a panel of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet to determine how to allocate initial supplies of vaccine.
“This is why I think this vaccine is going to be a game-changer,” Stéphane Bancel, the chief executive of Moderna said. The vaccine will reduce hospitalizations and deaths, he added, “and I hope get this country back to its pre-pandemic state.”
Moderna said it was also seeking authorization to market its vaccine in Europe, Canada, Britain, Israel and Singapore.
Indian Navy deploys warships, divers to find the missing pilot
India's navy has intensified a search for any sign of an air force pilot whose jet crashed into the Arabian Sea during a training exercise last week, authorities said Monday.
The Russian-made MiG-29K aircraft hit the water off the coast of western Goa state on Thursday, with one of the two officers on board rescued.
Landing gear and other bits of wreckage from the plane have been found, the Indian Navy said on Twitter, adding that nine warships, underwater diving teams, and 14 other aircraft were assisting with the search.
The accident happened just days after joint military exercises with the United States, Japan, and Australia.
India has been engaged in a campaign to modernize its aging fleet of military aircraft.
Last year India fought air skirmishes against arch-rival Pakistan as tensions soared over violence in Kashmir, a territory fiercely disputed by both countries, as reported by Deccan Herald.
|(Photo: Deccan Herald)|
Gold price forecast – gold markets continue to grind lower
Gold markets have fallen again on Monday as we are clearly below the $1800 level now. With this, we are getting extended but certainly softening.
Gold markets have fallen a bit during the trading session on Monday to kick off the week on the back foot yet again. At this point, we are getting a bit overextended to the downside, but I also believe that there are multiple reasons why gold is starting to sell-off.
|(Photo: The Balance)|
The most obvious reason of course is the idea that the “risk-on” trade has people jumping away from the safe-haven trade of gold and stepping out on the risk spectrum. Ultimately, I think that we probably have a little further to go before buyers come back in but even if I knew that gold was going to sell off during the trading session, I still would not short it. This is because I think that ultimately the falling US dollar will give gold a boost. Unfortunately, we do not have that signal yet. FX Empire reported.
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