The Guardian – Julian Borger / Iran nuclear deal: US agrees to join talks brokered by EU
- The US has agreed to take part in multilateral talks with Iran hosted by the EU, with the aim of negotiating a return by both countries to the 2015 nuclear deal that is close to falling apart in the wake of the Trump administration.
- The state department spokesman, Ned Price, said the US would accept the invitation of the EU high representative for discussions with Iran and the five other countries that agreed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
- There was no immediate word from Tehran on whether it was ready to join the talks, which so far have no agreed start time or location. The US has made clear its delegation will be led by its special envoy, Rob Malley, who helped negotiate the JCPOA six years ago.
- “Until we sit down and talk, nothing’s going to happen, but that doesn’t mean that when we sit down and talk we’re going to succeed,” a senior state department official said. “We do know that if you don’t take that step, the situation is just going to go from bad to worse.”
- Foreign Policy – Michael Hirsh / Signaling a new willingness to talk, Biden scrambles to save Iran nuclear deal
The New York Times – Jack Healy, Richard Fausset and James Dobbins / Cracked pipes, frozen wells, offline treatment plants: a Texan water crisis
- Power began to flicker back on across much of Texas on Thursday, but millions across the state confronted another dire crisis: a shortage of drinkable water as pipes cracked, wells froze and water treatment plants were knocked offline.
- The problems were especially acute at hospitals. One, in Austin, was forced to move some of its most critically ill patients to another building when its faucets ran nearly dry. Another in Houston had to haul in water on trucks to flush toilets.
- But for many of the state’s residents stuck at home, the emergency meant boiling the tap water that trickled through their faucets, scouring stores for bottled water or boiling icicles and dirty snow on their stoves.
- More than 800 public water systems serving 162 of the state’s 254 counties had been disrupted as of Thursday, affecting 13.1 million people, according to a spokeswoman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
- The Washington Post – Arelis R. Hernández, Ken Hoffman, Abigail Hauslohner and Griff White / Power returns for many in Texas, but water crisis escalates as storm damage spreads
Euractiv – Jorge Valero / Commission outlines ‘greener’ and more assertive trade policy
- A tougher approach with partners and more focus on climate and labour rights will be key pillars of the new EU trade policy outlined by the European Commission on Thursday (18 February).
- The Commission’s executive vice-president responsible for trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said that the three key words of the new approach will be “open, sustainable and assertive”.
- He explained that any future deal will include the Paris climate commitments as an “essential element”. The EU’s approach could include liberalisation of trade in certain green goods and services, or agreements to reduce fossil fuel subsidies.
- “The bottom line is simple: whatever challenges the EU and US face, there is no stronger values-based alliance in the world,” Dombrovskis said. “On China, the EU goal is to restructure our partnership to be reciprocal, balanced and fair,” he added.
- South China Morning Post – Robert Delaney / European Union unveils new trade policy, warns of measures to blunt ‘negative spillovers’ from China
- NASA’s science rover Perseverance, the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another world, streaked through the Martian atmosphere on Thursday and landed safely on the floor of a vast crater, its first stop on a search for traces of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet.
- Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles burst into applause and cheers as radio signals confirmed that the six-wheeled rover had survived its perilous descent and arrived within its target zone inside Jezero Crater, site of a long-vanished Martian lake bed.
- The robotic vehicle sailed through space for nearly seven months, covering 472 million km (293 million miles) before piercing the Martian atmosphere at 19,000 km an hour (12,000 miles per hour) to begin its approach to touchdown on the planet’s surface.
- The spacecraft’s self-guided descent and landing during a complex series of manoeuvres that NASA dubbed “the seven minutes of terror” stands as the most elaborate and challenging feat in the annals of robotic spaceflight.
- The Verge – Joey Roulette / NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully lands on Mars
Further reading for the weekend:
- Financial Times – Roula Khalaf, Ben Hall and Victor Mallet / Emmanuel Macron: ‘For me, the key is multilateralism that produces results’
- The Economist / How America can rid itself of both carbon and blackouts
- Politico – Hans von der Burchard / EU Commission condemns Slovenian PM Jansa’s attacks on journalists
- The Atlantic – Arthur C. Brooks / What you gain when you give things up