World this week
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to keep their trade war from escalating with a promise to halt the imposition of new tariffs for 90 days as the world's two largest economies negotiate a lasting agreement. The truce between the U.S. and China emerged after a highly anticipated dinner Saturday between Trump and Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina. The leaders agreed to pause the introduction of new tariffs and intensify their trade talks, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters hours later in Buenos Aires.
The U.S. has pledged to postpone raising tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods. China in turn has pledged to buy more U.S. goods, and the two countries have 90 days to reach a broader trade agreement, which is supposed to cover forced technology transfer and cyberattacks in addition to typical trade issues. That's not enough time to allow the bureaucracies to work out the relevant details, but extensions can and probably will be granted.
The head of the CIA will now brief Congress on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder, US media say. They say Gina Haspel is to talk to Senate leaders on Tuesday, after Dhaka Courier goes to press. She was absent from last week's briefing by the secretaries of state and defence, angering some in Congress. Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. US media have reported that the CIA has concluded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "probably ordered" the killing.
The Saudis have charged 11 people but deny that the crown prince was involved. US media reports say the CIA has evidence he exchanged messages with Saud al-Qahtani, who allegedly oversaw the murder. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis had told senators last week there was no direct evidence of the crown prince's involvement. President Donald Trump has said the CIA findings on the crown prince were not conclusive. On 20 November he said: "It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event - maybe he did and maybe he didn't."
The French government will suspend a fuel tax rise which has led to weeks of violent protests, local media report. The protests have hit major French cities causing considerable damage for the past three weekends. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe sought compromise with the protesters, but they called off talks citing death threats from extremists in their ranks.
The "gilets jaunes" (yellow vests) protests have now grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government. Three people have died since the unrest began and the resulting violence and vandalism - notably when statues were smashed at the Arc de Triomphe last Saturday - have been widely condemned. "Yellow vests" are so called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law. The movement has grown via social media and has supporters across the political spectrum. President Emmanuel Macron was elected two years ago with an overwhelming mandate for sweeping reform, but his popularity has fallen sharply in recent months.
Qatar announced it is quitting the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) next month to focus on liquefied natural gas (LNG) production. The announcement came as ministers from the bloc and other major oil producing countries prepared to gather in Vienna for a crucial meeting later this week. Qatar is a relatively small oil producer and its decision to end its nearly six-decade-long membership in OPEC is not expected to have a major influence on energy prices.
Qatar's Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi dismissed the notion that the move was driven by Doha's ongoing feud with OPEC's de facto leader Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has led a land, sea and air blockade against Qatar since June 2017. Nevertheless, some analysts see Doha's break with the cartel as deeply symbolic, especially given the fact OPEC has in the past overcome major divisions to coordinate energy policy.
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