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US, China bilateral annual summit gets underway in Beijing

The annual US-China meeting of foreign affairs, trade and other officials has opened in Beijing. The aim is to ease tension and improve cooperation between the two countries. On the security side, tensions over China's territorial expansion in the South China Sea - which the US and its allies insist are international waters - continue to bubble beneath the surface. At the opening of the talks on Monday, President Xi Jinping said China and the US needed to trust each other more. "China and the US need to increase mutual trust," Xi said and added that "strategic misjudgement" should be avoided. "Some disputes may not be resolved for the time being," he said, but both sides should take a "pragmatic and constructive" attitude towards those issues. "The vast Pacific should be a stage for cooperation, not an area for competition," he said. US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Beijing to join in finding a "diplomatic solution" to rising tensions between the US and Chinese navies. Economic issues Washington says Beijing should move faster with plans to reduce excess production capacity that its trading partners complain is driving a flood of low-cost steel into their markets, threatening thousands of jobs. The US has responded by imposing anti-dumping tariffs on steel, and EU officials say they are investigating what, if any, action to take. "Excess capacity has a distorting and damaging effect on global markets," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in his statement at the start of the two-day meeting. "And implementing policies to substantially reduce production in a range of sectors suffering from overcapacity, including steel and aluminum, is critical to the function and stability of international markets." Beijing strikes upbeat tone President Xi struck a conciliatory note saying Monday that China would continue with its structural reforms and improve its openness to the outside. "We have full confidence that China can achieve its goals of economic and social development," Xi said in opening remarks. He also said it was important to conclude a bilateral investment treaty with the United States. "We must make our best efforts to achieve a mutually beneficial China-U.S. investment agreement at an early date and create new bright spots in bilateral economic and trade cooperation," Xi added. Both sides have called for closer cooperation between the two biggest economies on climate change, global finance, agriculture and other fields. US officials are pressing Beijing to ease market access for financial services, an area where foreign business groups complain China is trying to shield its companies in violation of free-trade commitments.

The annual US-China meeting of foreign affairs, trade and other officials has opened in Beijing. The aim is to ease tension and improve cooperation between the two countries. On the security side, tensions over China’s territorial expansion in the South China Sea – which the US and its allies insist are international waters – continue to bubble beneath the surface. ... Read More »

Cameron: ‘No prospect of Turkey joining the EU in decades’

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said that Turkey isn't going to 'join the EU anytime soon.' His comments come amid mounting concerns in the UK's "Brexit" camp over increasing migration, ahead of the EU referendum. In an interview with Sky News on Thursday evening, British Prime Minister David Cameron said there was "no prospect of Turkey joining the EU in decades." "They applied in 1987, they have to complete 35 chapters, one has been completed so far," he added. "Turkey's not going to join the EU anytime soon - every country, every parliament has a veto." Cameron's comments on Thursday came as he attempted to reduce concerns among some of the studio audience that Turkey joining the EU would result in more migrants entering the UK. As part of the recently implemented refugee deal with Ankara, the EU initially agreed to speed up talks concerning Turkey's possible EU membership, as well as to introduce visa-free travel for Turkish citizens. Concerns over human rights in Turkey and over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's consolidation of power have resulted in growing tensions between the EU and Ankara. But EU officials have signaled delays and reservations on plans to introduce visa-free travel for Turks. The Union said Ankara had failed to make the necessary reforms on freedom of the press and the judiciary in time. Erdogan responded by suggesting that Ankara would put an end to the migrant deal altogether. Migration concerns for Brexiteers Cameron's interview on Thursday came exactly three weeks before the UK heads to the polls to vote on the future of their membership in the EU. Migration remains a key topic for voters, particularly among the Brexit camp, who are in favor of the UK leaving the 28-member bloc. Cameron's Conservative government has previously said that it aims to reduce the UK's net annual migration to less than 100,000. Last year, however, it was more than 330,000 - around 50 percent of which was from other EU nations. Cameron insisted on Thursday, however, that curbs to welfare benefits and other measures can control migrant numbers even if the UK remains an EU member. That's despite EU citizens having the right to live and work in other member states. "There are good ways of controlling migration, and there are bad ways," Cameron said, warning, however, that it "would be madness to try to do that by trashing our economy and pulling out of the single market." Leaving the European Union would be an act of "economic self-harm," he said. Too close to call Earlier on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in on the debate, saying that the UK would get better results from the EU "when you sit at the bargaining table," rather than lobbying from outside. With just 20 days to go until the referendum, opinion polls continue to be tight. An online and telephone poll published earlier this week by the "Guardian," however, found that the "out" campaign was three points ahead of the "in" supporters. British bookmakers still think, however, that a "remain" vote will be the more likely outcome on June 23.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said that Turkey isn’t going to ‘join the EU anytime soon.’ His comments come amid mounting concerns in the UK’s “Brexit” camp over increasing migration, ahead of the EU referendum. In an interview with Sky News on Thursday evening, British Prime Minister David Cameron said there was “no prospect of Turkey joining the EU ... Read More »

Jordanian King appoints caretaker PM to oversee new elections

Jordanian King Abdullah has dissolved parliament, paving the way for elections expected later this year. The polls are seen as a move towards more democracy, at least at face value. Jordan's King Abdullah appointed veteran politician and economist Hani al-Mulqi as prime minister after dissolving parliament by royal decree, following the end of its four-year term. The monarch also charged al-Mulqi with scheduling new elections by October. Al-Mulqi, 65, previously served as Jordan's foreign minister and ambassador to Egypt. The king also accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, as is customary under the constitution, before appointing an interim head of government. More democracy? After the lower house passed an amendment to the electoral laws earlier this year, government sources and political analysts say there are likely to be more candidates from political parties running for office. However, Jordan's main political opposition to the government comes from the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which is facing an increasing number of legal challenges making it unlikely that the party will run in elections. In 2011, under pressure from the popular protests across the Arab world, Jordan's parliament endorsed constitutional changes that devolved some of the monarch's powers to the parliament. However, tribal lawmakers in Jordan continue to propagate a system that favors the sparsely populated tribal regions of the country, which benefit most from state patronage and the support of the monarchy.

Jordanian King Abdullah has dissolved parliament, paving the way for elections expected later this year. The polls are seen as a move towards more democracy, at least at face value. Jordan’s King Abdullah appointed veteran politician and economist Hani al-Mulqi as prime minister after dissolving parliament by royal decree, following the end of its four-year term. The monarch also charged ... Read More »

On ‘IS’ front line with peshmerga in Iraqi Kurdistan

The word "peshmerga" means "one who confronts death." That is what the soldiers of the Kurdish Ninth Brigade do every day. Alexandra von Nahmen visited peshmerga fighters in Dakuk. Our vehicle moved slowly past a thick concrete wall and barbed wire and toward a peshmerga military base in Dakuk, Iraq, half an hour's drive south of Kirkuk. The Ninth Brigade's headquarters are located here, just a kilometers from the front lines, where the Kurdish forces are fighting the "Islamic State" (IS). When we arrived, we were offered tea with lots of sugar. Lieutenant Ahmad Taha received us in the officers' quarters, which measure not quite 20 square meters (215 square feet) and are outfitted with three camp beds, a television set and an air conditioner. The Bundeswehr taught Taha how to use German weapons at the Hammelburg training base: "G36 assault rifles and then the Milan anti-tank missiles." The peshmerga appreciate the training, but Taha said the Germans had not kept up with the demand for ammunition; supplies are low. A line for the kitchen grew in the backyard. Rice and beans, the staple meal, were being served for dinner. Right next to the kitchen is the bakery where flatbread is baked for the troops every night. Just as I started filming the first images, a few soldiers reached for their cellphones: Peshmerga fighters are fond of taking pictures with journalists. 'They are worried' Lieutenant Taha showed me a photo of him embracing his daughter, who is just learning how to walk. His son is 3 years old. "Of course I miss my family," he said. "And they are worried about me. Whenever they hear that we are involved in combat, the phone rings incessantly." Just a few days ago, his brigade joined an operation to liberate a village called Bashir. The peshmerga fighters had to step in to help Shiite forces. In the end, they succeeded; they drove away IS. However, many villages in the region are still being held by the group. We stayed overnight and used the first-aid room as our quarters. It is the cleanest room on the base, Taha said, although I was not sure about the toilets and the shower. I ended up sleeping in my clothes. IS fighter surrenders General Araz Abdulqadir arrived the next day. His presence immediately raised everyone's spirits. He greeted us and had tea served. Our conversation was soon interrupted by a phone call from the front line: An IS fighter had apparently surrendered to a peshmerga soldier. The IS fighter looked like a teenager; he was quiet but not submissive while he answered the general's questions. The man said he came from a Sunni village on the front line and had only been with IS for 11 days before fleeing. The man was taken away. His story needed to be checked out. The night was short. At about 6:30 a.m., a peshmerga officer barged into our quarters. We were told that we could join a patrol on the front line. He told us that suspicious enemy activities had been spotted at daybreak. We got to the front line in about 10 minutes. On the way, we passed several checkpoints and a mine removal team. Then, a long dugout appeared. It was hot and sticky and my safety vest felt tight. My helmet constantly slipped down. "The IS is located at the place we are going," Abdulqadir said. "Do you still want to come?" "Well," I said, "now that I'm already here ..." The front was teeming with soldiers. Three regiments are stationed in this region. The general was receiving information on the latest IS activities. I could see the nearest IS-held village with my naked eye. I started filming. "Be careful with your camera," a soldier said. "There are sharpshooters over there." He remained calm, and I wondered if it was true. We returned to the military base, where we said goodbye to Abdulqadir. He wanted to go home. His wife had to go to the hospital: In two days, their second child was due.

The word “peshmerga” means “one who confronts death.” That is what the soldiers of the Kurdish Ninth Brigade do every day. Alexandra von Nahmen visited peshmerga fighters in Dakuk. Our vehicle moved slowly past a thick concrete wall and barbed wire and toward a peshmerga military base in Dakuk, Iraq, half an hour’s drive south of Kirkuk. The Ninth Brigade’s ... Read More »

Ten reasons why Britain won’t vote to Brexit the EU

For months, the Brits have threatened their fellow EU members with a Brexit that could destabilize the entire European Union. But guess what: That probably won't happen. 1. Britain's coolheaded Britishness Brits see themselves as the keepers of common sense, a quintessentially British virtue. They think to think that they are capable of keeping a cooler head than some of the continental EU members. With that in mind, it would not be sensible to destroy the European Union on a whim. 2. The British reticence People on the British Isles are likely to resist change. When they say not to rock the boat, they mean it - especially when it comes to work or politics. So the British have kept their royal family and health care system. They just carry on acting like everything is fine, like there's no need to change. Maybe that is why London's tube has not been renovated in ages or Heathrow Airport expanded. Who knows? Things might turn out worse. 3. The Scoxit risk You know it's serious when Alex Salmond, who led the Scottish National Party until 2014, is threatening the UK with secession just two years after losing a referendum to the same end. If Scotland really does plan to leave the UK in the case of a Brexit, then the English should really ask themselves if they want to main a rump kingdom as Northern Ireland and Wales are also thinking about divorcing the crown. 4. It's the economy The "Stay" campaign has gone to great lengths to explain the dramatic consequences of a Brexit. Finance Minister George Osborne estimates that every Briton will be poorer by 4,000 pounds (5,250 euros/$5,850) a year. The country would fall into recession and not recover for years. But one argument does strike a chord in the nation of homeowners: It is predicted that residential real estate prices will fall by 18 percent. A house is seen as a provision for old age, so prices bear existential significance. 5. Markets are floundering Several heads of banks have discreetly questioned the idea of remaining in the UK after a Brexit. After all, Paris and Frankfurt are also options. Suddenly, a chasm has become apparent: After initial surveys showed that the Brexit camp was leading, the pound briefly fell. Now, there are many reports that tell investors how to protect themselves in case the pound crashes. The Bank of England has warned against a Brexit; bankers are concerned about London's status as an international financial hub. Also, the financial crisis has been overcome and the businesses are booming. See No. 2 above. 6. Isolation Foreign policy arguments do not seem to count for much, but that hasn't kept Prime Minister David Cameron from stating that a Brexit would be a blow to the United Kingdom's security. President Barack Obama has said the US would not give the UK preferential treatment - not economically, not politically - should it leave the EU. Even heads of intelligence services have warned that fighting crime would become a much tougher task without the help of the UK's "friends" on the continent. 7. Boris is out For years, Boris Johnson was hugely popular with Britons. In his role as London mayor until early May, he offered a steady supply of quirks, trademark messy hair and a deep reserve of entertaining quotes. ("My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it.") But he lost a lot of credibility when he took up the "Leave" cause - and lost much more when he likened the European Union to Hitler. He also didn't make any friends when he claimed that Obama's African heritage made him anti-British. 8. A labor shortage Ever since Prime Minister Tony Blair opened the doors to workers from new EU member states in 2004, thousands of Polish builders have moved to the United Kingdom. Many Poles now fill positions in the service sector - in hotels, restaurants and assisted-living homes, for examples - and have gained a reputation for affordable, reliable and skilled labor. And, as the British constantly buy, sell and renovate houses, Polish plumbers, carpenters and bricklayers cannot get enough work. A Brexit would send them back home. 9. An individual prerogative Polls are smoke and mirrors, as evinced by survey results before the last UK elections. The Labour Party led, but the Tories easily won. Either polling institutes lie, or it all comes down to solitude in the voting booth. With no friends to influence them, voters are left alone with the task of making a choice. And, in the upcoming referendum, voters may be overwhelmed by doubt about a Brexit and decide they want to stay in the European Union. 10. Odds are long Who has the thickest finger on the pulse of the United Kingdom? The bookies, of course! They cannot afford to be completely off like the polling institutes can: They earn their money taking your bets. And bookmakers such as Paddy Power are giving "Stay" voters 1-7 odds - that means you'd have to put up 100 pounds to get just over 14 quid back should Brits stay as expected. When in doubt, listen to the bookies.

For months, the Brits have threatened their fellow EU members with a Brexit that could destabilize the entire European Union. But guess what: That probably won’t happen. 1. Britain’s coolheaded Britishness Brits see themselves as the keepers of common sense, a quintessentially British virtue. They think to think that they are capable of keeping a cooler head than some of ... Read More »

Press watchdog denied official status at UN

Russia, South Africa and eight other countries have voted against giving the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) consultative status at the UN. The US was "extremely disappointed" by the UN committee's decision. The UN non-governmental organization (NGO) committee on Thursday denied press watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ) application for consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Ten countries on the 19-member committee, including Russia and South Africa, voted against the application. Three others abstained from the vote, including Turkey, which has witnessed a decline in press freedom over the past five years, according to Reporters without Borders. "A small group of countries with poor press freedom records are using bureaucratic delaying tactics to sabotage and undermine any efforts that call their own abusive policies into high relief," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, said she was "extremely disappointed" by the committee's decision, adding that Washington plans to take the accreditation request to the 54-member ECOSOC. "It is increasingly extremely clear that the NGO committee acts more and more like an anti-NGO committee," Power said. But a Russian delegate cast into question the CPJ's legitimacy, saying he had "serious doubts about whether this organization really is a non-governmental organization." The New York-based organization has lambasted Russia's press freedom record for failing to protect journalists' rights. "Russia has a poor record of impunity in the cases of murdered journalists, which increases intimidation and acts of violence against the press," the CPJ says on its website.

Russia, South Africa and eight other countries have voted against giving the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) consultative status at the UN. The US was “extremely disappointed” by the UN committee’s decision. The UN non-governmental organization (NGO) committee on Thursday denied press watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) application for consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). ... Read More »

G7 set to take clear stance on Asia’s disputed waters

Taking place on the Japanese island Ise-Shima, the G7 summit will likely focus on the region's tense maritime standoff. But a solution to the many conflicts involved is distant - and will require a lot of untangling. During his recent state visit to Vietnam, US President Barack Obama warned that "bigger nations should not bully smaller nations" and called for a peaceful solution to the territorial conflicts broiling in the Asia Pacific. In so doing, he was helping to set the stage for one of the central issues for the upcoming G7 summit. Host-country Japan had already made it clear in April that it expects the summit to result in a statement on the security of sea navigation. The fuss over the topic is justified - behind it rests the strategic balance of a rapidly shifting Asia. The rise of China has shaken the regional order that was set in place by the victorious powers of World War II and solidified during the Cold War. The country's massive military buildup has especially worried its neighbors. Its defense budget has grown more than ten percent annually for over ten years. And then the US was drawn in, as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the country's "pivot to Asia." The new policy planned for a stronger diplomatic, economic and military engagement in the Asia Pacific, especially with its allies Japan and the Philippines. It aims, among other things, to assure America's anxious partners in the region of its support. Islands of contention Much of the tension can be pinpointed to a number of disputed island territories. Japan and China, for example, are feuding over the Senkaku (or Diaoyutai, depending on which side you ask) Islands, which contain natural gas reserves as well as strategic importance. Both countries are also implicated in spats with South Korea over other islands. In the South China Sea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are at loggerhreads with each other and with China over the Spratly Islands. These, too, have offer resource reserves - fish, oil and gas, especially - and a strategic position in the middle of one of the world's most important sea routes. The US has kept itself in the background of these conflicts, making no territorial claims for any of the disputed islands but wielding influence through its allies. It accuses China of threatening freedom of navigation and risking the outbreak of violence in the region with its militarization. As of now, the battle is only taking place in court. The Philippines is seeking legal clarification with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague over what it sees as China's expansive aspirations in the South China Sea. China's ambassador to Germany, Shi Mingde, made his country's position on the matter clear in an opinion piece published earlier this month in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - it will "not accept, recognize or participate" in the trial. A decision is expected in the coming weeks. A tangled mess Altogether, the situation is a confusing entanglement of actors and demands, involving economic and security interests, the law of the sea and, dangerously, nationalist resentments. "There are more than a dozen territorial conflicts in the region. The front lines are not very clear," Enrico Fels, political scientist at the University of Bonn's Center for Global Studies, told DW. China is indeed at the center of most of the conflicts, but it is conducting a number of different strategies depending on the country. "Basically it is trying to prevent a united front in the region from forming against it." The situation is even more unclear because the actors are often both strategic rivals and economic partners. According to information from the World Trade Organization, for example, China is Japans second-most important export market, behind the US. For its part, Japan is one of the top five destinations for Chinese goods. Calming the waters "There were clear fronts during the Cold War, and that of course lent the conflict a certain measure of stability and predictability," political scientist Gerhard Will told DW. "What we are seeing now is a situation in which many more possibilities are in play. But these possibilities of course also entail fragility and misunderstandings - and therefore potentially conflict." To calm the waters, Fels believes the involved nations must begin to "depoliticize the disputes and seek legal solutions." But this as unlikely anytime soon, he believes, especially as China would view such an approach with skepticism. That was made clear after G7 foreign ministers released a statement in April repeating repeated their tried and true position that the freedom of navigation is an important international value, that conflicts should be peacefully resolved, and that they are following the developments in the East and South China Seas with concern. "This very cautious positioning of the G7 foreign ministers set off an enormous diplomatic reaction from China," said Fels. Nonetheless, he thinks it is important that the G7 stands its ground. "It is absolutely right if the G7, in careful and admonishing words, push for a peaceful settlement of the conflicts."

Taking place on the Japanese island Ise-Shima, the G7 summit will likely focus on the region’s tense maritime standoff. But a solution to the many conflicts involved is distant – and will require a lot of untangling. During his recent state visit to Vietnam, US President Barack Obama warned that “bigger nations should not bully smaller nations” and called for ... Read More »

Leaked tape rocks Brazil’s interim government with fresh scandal

Brazil's interim government has been rocked by a leaked tape suggesting a conspiracy to oust President Rousseff and stop a corruption investigation. The tapes may be the beginning of more turmoil to come. Brazil's interim government was shaken by its first major crisis after a leaked recording appeared to show the new planning minister conniving to block a massive corruption scandal that has ensnarled the country's political and business class. The emerging scandal threatened to roil markets and create further instability in Brazil, just 11 days after the Senate voted to suspend President Dilma Rousseff pending an impeachment trail over alleged accounting irregularities to cover a budget gap. Planning Minister Romero Juca (pictured), a close ally of Interim President Michel Temer, said he would take a leave of absence on Monday after the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo released a recorded conversation he had with ex-senator and former oil executive Sergio Machado Juca was Temer's point man to push through a controversial budget proposal through congress meant to restore international confidence and kickstart the economy. In the conversation, recorded in March before the impeachment vote, Juca told Machado the country needed a "national pact" that appeared to imply he would try to stop a massive corruption probe tied to embezzlement at state-run oil firm Petrobras. The scandal has resulted in convictions, charges and investigations reaching all levels of government and business. Juca, Temer, ministers and many parliamentarians are under investigation. "The government has to be changed in order to stop this bleeding," Juca said when asked by Machado for help. "The easiest solution is to put Michel in," said Machado, who is also under investigation. Juca then agreed. "I am talking to the generals, the military commanders. They are fine with this, they said they will guarantee it," Juca later said. He also said he has been working with top judges. Rousseff's supporters immediately jumped on the leak as proof the opposition seeks to impeach her in part to stop the corruption investigations. Rousseff, who is not under investigation, has repeatedly described the impeachment proceedings against her as a politically motivated coup. She has argued the accounting tricks she used were not illegal. "This shows the true reason behind the coup against our democracy and president Rousseff's mandate," tweeted Ricardo Berzoini, a former minister of political relations who lost his post when Rousseff was suspended. "Their objective is to stop the Petrobras probe, to sweep the investigations under the rug." Juca acknowledged the recording at a brief press conference on Monday but denied any wrongdoing. He said his comments had been taken out of context and that the "bleeding" he referred to had to do with the embattled economy and political paralysis. However, in the recording there is no mention of the economy. Juca also said in the conversation that he wanted to get Judge Sergio Moro off the Petrobras probe related to him, Temer's close allies and Senate President Renan Calheiros. Moro is the federal judge overseeing much the corruption probe. He said at an event on Monday that "the judiciary has demonstrated its independence in relation to the other powers and to any political interferences." It was not clear how the newspaper obtained the recording or why it released it after the senate vote to advance the impeachment trial. Newspapers speculated Machado has been negotiating a plea deal and may have recorded the conversation.

Brazil’s interim government has been rocked by a leaked tape suggesting a conspiracy to oust President Rousseff and stop a corruption investigation. The tapes may be the beginning of more turmoil to come. Brazil’s interim government was shaken by its first major crisis after a leaked recording appeared to show the new planning minister conniving to block a massive corruption ... Read More »

Taiwan’s new president calls for “positive dialogue” with China

Taiwan has inaugurated its first female president, Tsai Ing-wen. To the surprise of many, the tone of her inauguration speech was conciliatory towards China, in the face of an increasingly hostile Beijing. Tsai took the presidential oath of office on Friday at the Presidential Office Building in the capital Taipei, this after winning a landslide victory in January. Tsai sought to cast Taiwan as a cross-strait peacemaker. Beijing has sought recently to portray the new government as a source of instability. "The two governing parties across the strait must set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides," she said. "Cross-strait relations have become an integral part of building regional peace and collective security," she told the audience of 20,000. "In this process, Taiwan will be a 'staunch guardian of peace' that actively participates and is never absent." Moving away from Beijing Her Democratic Progressive Party's defeat of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) ended an eight-year rapprochement with Beijing under outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou. China - which claims Taiwan as its own territory - has responded to the election of Tsai by intensifying pressure. Chinese pressure tactics in recent months have included the deportation of Taiwanese fraud suspects to the mainland from Kenya and Malaysia, infuriating Taipei. Many voters felt Ma had moved too close to China. What Beijing wants, Beijing gets Beijing has said it wants Tsai to publicly acknowledge its message that there is only "one China," a concept enshrined in an unspoken agreement with the KMT known as the "1992 consensus." Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949 after a civil war but has never declared a breakaway. Recognition of that agreement formed the bedrock of the thaw under Ma, but Tsai and her DPP have never backed it. Tsai has pledged to maintain the "status quo" with Beijing, but observers say she is highly unlikely to show any sign of compromise on the "one China" issue during her speech. Voters will also want to hear how Tsai will revive Taiwan's ailing economy and be reassured the island's sovereignty will remain secure.

Taiwan has inaugurated its first female president, Tsai Ing-wen. To the surprise of many, the tone of her inauguration speech was conciliatory towards China, in the face of an increasingly hostile Beijing. Tsai took the presidential oath of office on Friday at the Presidential Office Building in the capital Taipei, this after winning a landslide victory in January. Tsai sought ... Read More »

Turkey anger over EU envoy remarks on migrant deal

Hansjoerg Haber altered an old German proverb to describe how the EU migrant deal had run into trouble. His remarks were criticized by the Ankara government. The faux-pas happened when Haber, who heads the EU delegation in Turkey, described how a plan to ease visa restrictions for Turks traveling to Europe had started off in an orderly way but run into problems recently, the newspaper Hurriyet reported. "We have a proverb - 'start off like a Turk and finish like a German.' But the reverse has happened here. It started off like a German and is finishing like a Turk," he told journalists last Friday. Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir called on Haber to explain what he meant, adding that his comments were not appropriate for an ambassador. "No ambassador has the right to humiliate the people of the country he is in and say something about its president. This is the first rule of diplomacy," he tweeted last week. Haber was later informed that his comments had caused "indignation." A foreign ministry source added:"We have conveyed the anger felt over the ambassador's comments to him, and that we condemn the expressions he used." On-off deal Turkey and the EU have been discussing visa liberalization since 2013 and agreed in March to go ahead with it as part of a deal to halt waves of illegal immigration from Turkey to the EU. The disputed migration deal includes funding to help Turkey care for migrants who had hoped to use its shores to take boats to Greece. But progress on the deal was stopped when Brussels insisted that Ankara must also reform its tough anti-terror laws before further talks on EU membership for Turkey could resume. Ankara, which is battling Kurdish and "Islamic State" militants, said that was out of the question. The deal has also been thrown into doubt by the departure in the coming days of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who had championed the accord. A separate row blew up last month when German comedian Jan Böhmermann faced legal action by Recep Tayyip Erdogan over a poem he wrote about the Turkish leader.

Hansjoerg Haber altered an old German proverb to describe how the EU migrant deal had run into trouble. His remarks were criticized by the Ankara government. The faux-pas happened when Haber, who heads the EU delegation in Turkey, described how a plan to ease visa restrictions for Turks traveling to Europe had started off in an orderly way but run ... Read More »

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