While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Sept 24

Antony Blinken (left) and Wang Yi meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. PHOTO: AFP

Antony Blinken, Wang Yi meet to contain Taiwan tensions

Senior diplomats from the United States and China met on Friday with tensions high after an explicit pledge by US President Joe Biden to defend Taiwan.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shook hands in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, but did not respond to shouted questions from the media as they sat down for talks.

The State Department had said earlier the meeting was part of Washington's ongoing efforts to "maintain open lines of communication and manage competition responsibly".

It was their first encounter since extensive talks in July in Bali where both sides appeared optimistic for more stability.


Kyiv says residents coerced as occupier Russia holds votes

Russia launched referendums on Friday aimed at annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine, drawing condemnation from Kyiv and Western nations who dismissed the votes as a sham and pledged not to recognise their results.

Ukrainian officials said people were banned from leaving some occupied areas until the four-day vote was over, armed groups were going into homes, and employees were threatened with the sack if they did not participate.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a nightly address that the votes would be “unequivocally condemned” by the world, along with the mobilisation Russia began this week, including in Crimea and other areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia.


Europe faces dilemma on Russians fleeing Putin's draft

The European Union is facing a tough balancing act over how to deal with Russians fleeing military mobilisation, as some countries look to block entry and others offer possible refuge.

President Vladimir Putin's order on Wednesday calling up hundreds of thousands to fight in Ukraine appeared to send droves of Russian men scrambling for the exit in a bid to avoid going to the front lines.

Flights to countries granting visa-free entry to Russians, mainly neighbouring former Soviet republics, were nearly entirely booked up despite rocketing prices, and queues were reported at some borders.


Tennis: Match halted after protester sets arm on fire on court

A man ran on to the court in London's O2 Arena and set his arm on fire on Friday to protest the use of private jets in Britain, briefly halting the Laver Cup meeting between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman.

Security personnel acted quickly to drag the man off the court before play resumed following a quick check of the surface which was not damaged during the bizarre incident.

British media reported that the protester was a member of the End UK Private Jets group, which claims "carbon emissions in 2022 are genocide."


Football: Southgate brushes off the boos after latest Italy defeat

Gareth Southgate said he will take criticism from England fans after his team were beaten again by their Euro 2020 conquerers Italy on Friday and relegated from the top division of the Nations League.

The 1-0 defeat at the San Siro left England with no wins from five games in the competition and a worrying lack of goals with only one more match to play before they travel to Qatar for the World Cup.

England have not scored a goal in open play in this season's Nations League and Southgate was booed by a large section of the away support in Milan after the defeat which dumped them down to League B.


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