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Pence visits DMZ border zone day after North Korea missile test

The US vice president has made a trip to an American base in South Korea close to the heavily fortified border with North Korea. He said the US "era of strategic patience" with Pyongyang was over. US Vice President Mike Pence continued his 10-day trip to Pacific nations Monday by visiting an American military base in South Korea just a few hundred meters south of the tense border with North Korea (DMZ). This is Pence's first trip to the Korean Peninsula since assuming office in January. Pence said it was "particularly humbling" to be at Camp Bonifas, a US-led UN command post, mentioning his father's military service during the Korean War. Pence emphasized the relationship between the US and South Korea. "The alliance between the United States Forces Korea and the forces of the Republic of Korea is historic," said Pence. "It is a testament to the unshakable bond between our people." "All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the stability of the people of this country," Pence remarked. In regard to North Korea, Pence said: "There was a period of strategic patience but the era of strategic patience is over." Pence's visit comes amid high tension between the US and North Korea. Pence called North Korea's failed ballistic missile test a "provocation" before gathered US military personnel. The missile test occurred following a parade that celebrated the 105th birthday of the late first Korean President Kim Il Sung. "This morning's provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world," said Pence. Pence is scheduled to visit the gateway to the DMZ and acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn on Monday. After South Korea, Pence is scheduled to travel to Japan, Indonesia and Australia during his 10-day trip. Trump, US allies on North Korea North Korea has launched short- and mid-range missiles in recent months. The country has also conducted five nuclear tests, including two in the previous year. North Korea's conducting nuclear tests is in defiance of UN resolutions on the country. US President Donald Trump has previously stated that if allies surrounding North Korea do not act to end North Korea's military program, the US will do it alone. China, North Korea's northern neighbor and sole political ally, previously spoke out against the missile tests. China banned the import of North Korean coal, Pyongyang's most important export, on February 26. Trump's national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, said China recognizes the severity of the situation, telling US media outlet ABC on Sunday "this situation just can't continue." Shinzo Abe, prime minister of fellow US ally Japan, demanded North Korea comply with UN resolutions and abandon developing nuclear missiles. "Japan will closely cooperate with the US and South Korea over North Korea and will call for China to take a bigger role," Abe told parliament.

The US vice president has made a trip to an American base in South Korea close to the heavily fortified border with North Korea. He said the US “era of strategic patience” with Pyongyang was over. US Vice President Mike Pence continued his 10-day trip to Pacific nations Monday by visiting an American military base in South Korea just a ... Read More »

Syria, Russia to dominate G7 meeting amid questions over US strategy

Foreign Ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations have called on Russia to help end the war in Syria ahead of a meeting in Italy. The gathering comes as tensions rise in the wake of a US airstrike on Syrian forces. The meeting in the Tuscan city of Lucca on Monday will focus on simmering tensions between Russia and the West over the conflict in Syria, just days after US airstrikes on Syrian government forces raised questions about Washington's strategy. Ahead of the meeting, Western leaders condemned the suspected chemical attack on civilians in northwestern Syria last week. "We rededicate ourselves to holding account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a cermony commemorating victims of a Nazi massacre in Italy on Monday. Read: US-Russian honeymoon turns sour over Syria British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson meanwhile called for Moscow to stop its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "It's time for [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to face the truth about the tyrant he is propping up," Johnson said, according to a foreign ministry spokesperson. "He must understand that Assad is now toxic in every sense. He is poisoning the innocent people of Syria with weapons that were banned 100 years ago - and he is poisoning the reputation of Russia." Moscow condemned last week's strikes by the US, calling them "a flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression." In an interview with ABC, Tillerson called on Russia to follow through with its commitment to remove chemical weapons from Syria. "I think the real failure here has been Russia's failure to live up to its commitments under the chemical weapons agreements that were entered into in 2013," he said. Questions about US policy Though both the EU and the UK came out in support of last week's cruise missile strikes, conflicting statements from top US officials have caused confusion worldwide. President Donald Trump had spoken out in the past against attacking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, and both his secretary of state and his top envoy to the UN delivered starkly different remarks on Sunday concerning the US agenda in Syria. Opinion: US sends a warning to Assad and Russia Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said the removal of Assad was essential to securing peace in Syria. The comment was a departure for the administration, which had previously downplayed the importance of regime change in the country. Tillerson said Washington's priority remained the defeat of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group. After the group's defeat, officials in Washington would then "hope to turn our attention to ceasefire agreements between the regime and opposition forces," Tillerson said. North Korea also on the agenda The G7 ministers will also discuss recent posturing by North Korea, which used the US strikes in Syria as justification for what the G7 host Italy called its "worrisome" nuclear weapons program. Tensions have also been rising in the Asia-Pacific region following comments by Trump that Washington would act against Pyongyang with or without the help of China, North Korea's most important ally. The US Navy is headed to the Korean Peninsula after the North launched a missile in the lead-up to a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last week. Representatives from the EU will also attend the meeting with the G7, which is made up of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US. Russia was formally suspended from the group - originally referred to as the G8 - after its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014.

Foreign Ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations have called on Russia to help end the war in Syria ahead of a meeting in Italy. The gathering comes as tensions rise in the wake of a US airstrike on Syrian forces. The meeting in the Tuscan city of Lucca on Monday will focus on simmering tensions between Russia and ... Read More »

Russia between anger and damage control on Syria

Moscow has criticized Washington's decision to launch missile strikes against a Syrian airbase. At the same time, it also seems to be conducting damage control. Russian experts warn of a direct confrontation. Maria Zakharova has rarely appeared as nervous as she did this Friday morning. Although she is known for being in control, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press director was obviously flustered on this occasion, having to start over several times as she read a prepared statement on US airstrikes in Syria. The statement condemned the missile attacks, which targeted a Syrian airbase near the city of Homs. US President Donald Trump said the strikes were retribution for the recent chemical weapons attacks that claimed the lives of numerous Syrian civilians in the province of Idlib. The United States and other Western countries say that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's army was responsible for the attack. Assad and his Russian protectors deny the accusation, blaming rebels for the act instead. Zakharova said that the chemical weapons attack had simply given the US an excuse to launch a long-planned strike against Assad. Failed Russian foreign policy Andrey Kortunov, director of the Russian Foreign Affairs Council, a Moscow think tank, says that Russia was caught off guard by Washington's decision. "One needs to remember that Trump had been sending other signals before, and had hinted at a softer approach to Assad," he told DW. "And just the day before, Russia had also signaled that it would be willing to change its approach in Syria if Assad was indeed behind the chemical attacks." But Trump also seems to want to distance himself from his predecessor, Barack Obama, who famously spoke of a "red line" in Syria in 2012, only to shy away from launching military attacks against Assad when the Syrian president defiantly crossed that line in 2013. Moscow publisher and military expert Alexander Golz told DW that the US airstrikes signal the end of Russian diplomatic efforts in Syria. "For four years, Russia has been bragging about having hindered US aggression in Syria. Now it is clear that Moscow only delayed US involvement. It is also clear that dictators are shifty and thankless partners, and that Trump acts more decisively than Obama." Russia's military presence in Syria, which was established in 2015, lost all influence overnight as a result of the US strike. Russia's Ministry of Defense announced that the US missile strike against the Syrian army had been ineffective. Though a spokesperson went on to say that Moscow would help Syria strengthen its air defenses. Apparently, Russian combat troops stationed in Syria were not affected by the US airstrike. Washington said that it warned Moscow of the attack in advance. A new historical precedent? Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova said that Russia's first reaction to the missile strike would be to withdraw from its agreement with the US on coordinated air operations in Syria. The agreement is designed to prevent encounters between fighter aircraft. Andrey Kortunov believes "the threat of a direct confrontation has increased, but not significantly." According to Alexander Golz, a direct military confrontation would be the absolute worst case scenario. He pointed out that such situations had been successfully averted in earlier conflicts like Korea or Vietnam, when Washington and Moscow each supported a diverse number of warring factions. "I think decision makers are very aware of the threat of a global conflict," Golz said. Thus far, reactions from Moscow have echoed a mix of shock and anger. But one also senses an effort to avoid further damaging the already faltering dialogue with the Trump administration. According to Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president regards the US operation as an "aggression" against Syria. Peskov went on to say, "With this step Washington has struck a significant blow to Russian-American relations, which were already in a sorry state." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced similar sentiments speaking in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. "I hope this provocation will not lead to irreparable damage [to US-Russian relations]," said Russia's top diplomat. Not an end to diplomatic ties Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of Russia's parliament, the State Duma, said the US operation benefited the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist militant group: "IS is applauding the USA today." He went on to say that the US must be kept from taking further aggressive action. Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the State Duma's Committee on International Affairs, told the Russian state television channel Russia 24 that the incident was "very disappointing." But Slutsky, a member of the ruling "United Russia" party, added that Moscow could "not wall itself off" to Washington. Slutsky also said that Russia should speak with new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he travels to Moscow next week. Andrey Kortunov of the Russian Foreign Affairs Council believes that the dialogue between Moscow and Washington will become increasingly difficult after the missile strike.

Moscow has criticized Washington’s decision to launch missile strikes against a Syrian airbase. At the same time, it also seems to be conducting damage control. Russian experts warn of a direct confrontation. Maria Zakharova has rarely appeared as nervous as she did this Friday morning. Although she is known for being in control, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press director ... Read More »

Trump warns US is prepared to act unilaterally on North Korea

US President Donald Trump said if China will not cooperate in ending North Korea's nuclear and missile threat, the US will move to do so alone. Trump also took the time to respond to claims he is hostile to the EU. The US president issued the warning in an interview with the "Financial Times" newspaper in which he also declined to outline a specific plan for how the US might challenge North Korea's nuclear ambitions. "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you," said Trump, who told the interviewers that he is making a conscious choice to limit how much information he divulges when it comes to strategy. He said he will discuss North Korea with Chinese President Xi Jinping when they will meet for the first time at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday and Friday. "China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won't. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don't it won't be good for anyone," said Trump. Foreign policy appointees in Trump's administration have made comments echoing his stance regarding China. Speaking on US political show "This Week," US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley agreed that China needs to cooperate on handling North Korea. "They need to put pressure on North Korea. The only country that can stop North Korea is China, and they know that," said Haley. US review on North Korea ready Trump's national security aides have completed a review of US options to pressure North Korea into curbing its nuclear and missile programs on Sunday, according to a US official. The review, completed by the National Security Council on Trump's orders, considers a variety of economic and military measures, but emphasizes new sanctions as well as placing more pressure on China to exert control over Pyongyang. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in March that military action against North Korea was an "option on the table"after visiting the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea. North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, including two in 2016. A recent launch saw three missiles come as close as 300 kilometers (186 miles) from the Japanese coast. Trump's deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, said there was a "real possibility" that North Korea could develop a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the US by the end of Trump's four-year term, according to the Financial Times. China: North Korea's lone friend China is North Korea's only ally, and provides food and other aid to the politically isolated and impoverished nation. China also previously imported coal from North Korea, but banned imports of the fossil fuel for the rest of 2017 in retaliation for a North Korean missile test in February. Selling coal is an important source of income for Pyongyang. Despite the ban, US officials have claimed China continues to import North Korean coal through "front companies" in the northeast Chinese city of Dalian. UN Ambassador Haley has urged China to halt the covert imports. US-China relationship uncertain Trump has often indicated he will have a combative and distrustful approach to relations with Beijing, although his tone has softened somewhat in recent weeks. While campaigning, Trump repeatedly slammed China for "raping" and "killing" the US on trade issues. He has pledged to reduce the US trade deficit with China and threatened import taxes on products from the country. Before taking office, Trump also drew stern rebukes from Beijing for accepting a congratulatory telephone call from Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen. The phone call appeared to break with the US' decades-long "One China" policy under which official diplomatic contacts with Taiwan were to be avoided. Tillerson met with Xi in Beijing in March and said Trump was looking forward to "enhancing understanding" with China. Tillerson said the two countries will work together in addressing North Korea's nuclear program. Trump 'didn't hear' Merkel The paper also took the opportunity to ask the president about his apparent snubbing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In an incident that quickly went viral, Trump apparently refused to shake the chancellor's hand when both journalists and Merkel herself asked him to during a photo op at the White House earlier this month. "I shook hands about five times and then we were sitting in two seats...and I guess a reporter said 'shake her hand.' I didn't hear it." Trump also responded to criticism that because of his apparent friendliness with pro-Brexit campaigners like Nigel Farage, he would be glad to see the EU break down entirely. "I would have thought when it happened that more would follow," the president said, referring to last June's referendum, "but I really think the European Union is getting their act together."

US President Donald Trump said if China will not cooperate in ending North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat, the US will move to do so alone. Trump also took the time to respond to claims he is hostile to the EU. The US president issued the warning in an interview with the “Financial Times” newspaper in which he also declined ... Read More »

Trump’s threat on North Korea ‘a clear contradiction’

As he prepares to meet China's leader Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump says his administration is ready to act unilaterally on North Korea. But analyst Günther Hilpert says Trump's threat would amount to nothing. DW: US President Trump said if China will not cooperate in ending North Korea's nuclear and missile threat, the US will move to do so alone. What is your take on this? Hanns Günther Hilpert: The statement is a clear contradiction. If the US could solve the North Korean problem without Chinese help, then Trump wouldn't need to discuss the issue with President Xi at all. Basically, the US has various options to tackle the North Korean issue. But all those options would either pose high risks or be ineffective and produce no desired outcomes. What options would Trump have should he choose to act unilaterally? President Trump could be thinking of conducting preemptive strikes to destroy North Korea's nuclear and conventional arsenal. But this strategy carries with it substantial military and political risks. Another possibility is to obstruct the North's uranium enrichment, although it's unclear whether or not this can be done. There are also other options such as imposing a sea blockade, shooting down a North Korean rocket when it is midair or a further tightening of the already stringent sanctions regime. North Korea has so far remained unfazed by threats from Washington. What does Pyongyang have to deter a US-led military intervention? If the US intervenes militarily, there is a risk that North Korea will strike back. This need not be nuclear, but could rather be conventional. The demarcation line separating the North from the South is very close to the Seoul metropolitan area. The North's firepower would have a devastating impact on Seoul, leading to huge and unacceptable levels of human casualties and material destruction. Why doesn't the US want to negotiate with North Korea? In my opinion, negotiation is a non-issue for the US. There have been bad experiences in the past negotiating with North Korea. And if an agreement were to be made, it wouldn't be credible because the North Koreans are known not to observe treaties. There are a lot of incentives for North Korea to continue with its current behavior. At best, negotiations could delay the development of weapons. This is why the Trump administration talks more about sanctions than negotiations. With this in mind, a return to the so-called "six-party talks" would also offer no solutions. What leverage does China have? North Korea and China share a long land border. Trade with China makes up 90 percent of North Korea's foreign trade. Without Chinese imports and without the use of the land border for movement of goods, North Korea would face critical economic issues. So we see how China can apply leverage against North Korea in the medium term. What China cannot do is actually control events that take place in North Korea. China must therefore also deal with the risk posed by instability and unrest in North Korea. Do you expect any breakthroughs on these issues during the meeting between Xi and Trump? I am curious about what will come of these talks, but now is not the right time to speculate. Dr. Hanns Günther Hilpert is head of the Asia research division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. This interview was conducted by Haiye Cao.

As he prepares to meet China’s leader Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump says his administration is ready to act unilaterally on North Korea. But analyst Günther Hilpert says Trump’s threat would amount to nothing. DW: US President Trump said if China will not cooperate in ending North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat, the US will move to do so ... Read More »

Constant information drip deepens Donald Trump’s Russian woes

The steady trickle of new revelations about the Trump team's real and potential Russian connections is increasing pressure on the White House. And what's more, the issue is unlikely to go away any time soon. On Monday the director of the FBI - in what he himself deemed a highly unusual move - publicly stated that his agency was investigating possible ties between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. While the head of the FBI only confirmed what had already been reported, the official confirmation was still widely described as a bombshell. Two days later, another revelation connected to the Trump campaign and Russia came courtesy of an Associated Press story. According to the report, Donald Trump's former presidential campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, "to greatly benefit Putin." Citing documents, AP reported that in 2006, Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract for his work which included influencing politics in the US. Asked about the story on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer appeared to downplay the report, calling it the business dealings of a former campaign staffer from a decade ago. He added that President Trump had not been aware of Manafort's previous work on behalf of Deripaska. Registered as a foreign agent? While it is accurate that the contract was signed ten years ago, Manafort was not just any campaign staffer, but the former head of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Making the revelation even more potentially relevant is that the FBI is already looking into Trump associates' possible contacts with Russia and also, according to the report, that Manafort apparently did not register as a foreign lobbyist as required by the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). Manafort, in a statement, said he had always acknowledged that he worked for Deripaska, but that he did not work for the Russian government. The statement did not address the reported nature of his work and whether he registered as a foreign lobbyist. "Legally, the issue is whether he violated a law by failing to register under the US Foreign Agent Registration Act," said Joseph Sandler, an attorney specializing in campaign and election law and a former general counsel for the Democratic National Committee. Failing to register as a foreign lobbyist with the US government is very rarely prosecuted. But it could be different in a high-profile case like this, when there is potentially a significant US foreign policy interest, said Sandler. "It is rare, but that's when they go after it," he said referring to potential US interests at stake. "The question here is whether Manafort was taking directions indirectly from the Russian government, even though he was paid by this oligarch in performing these services." No signed contracts Yoshiko Herrera, a scholar of US-Russian relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said it is clear that Deripaska was one of only a handful of oligarchs that were close to Putin during that time. "So if somebody is working for Deripaska, it is absurd to say that he has nothing to do with Putin," she said. "Nobody is going to work directly for the president of Russia. This is how it would work if somebody was working for the government. There are no signed contracts." It does, however, not mean that this was ordered by Putin, Herrera clarified. "Working for Deripaska means that he is working for somebody who is in communication with Putin; so there is a connection to the government, but it doesn't mean that Putin directed his work." Possible legal consequences aside, the new revelations about the conduct of Trumps' former campaign manager will also have a political impact, said Melissa Deckman, chair of the political science department at Washington College. "I think Americans are not buying the Trump administration's line that Manafort played a "limited role" in the campaign last summer," she said. Special prosecutor She also predicted that the constant trickle of new information about Russian involvement in the US election process would force Republicans to yield to Democrats' demands to task an independent, outside prosecutor to investigate the issue. "I think it is just a matter of time before Republicans in Congress acquiesce to a special prosecutor," Deckman said. All of this means that the issue is not going to go away any time soon, and that it could further damage a president who is already reeling from historically low approval ratings. Said Herrera: "The key question that is important for the United States right now is, Were Donald Trump or people around him secretly offered large sums of money in order to change US policy towards Ukraine, towards Russia, towards NATO?"

The steady trickle of new revelations about the Trump team’s real and potential Russian connections is increasing pressure on the White House. And what’s more, the issue is unlikely to go away any time soon. On Monday the director of the FBI – in what he himself deemed a highly unusual move – publicly stated that his agency was investigating ... Read More »

Trump supporters tricked into waving Russian flags at CPAC

Attendees of the annual conservative conference in the US have been duped into waving red, white and blue Russian flags emblazoned with the word Trump. Two young activists claimed responsibility for the devious prank. Supporters of US President Donald Trump inadvertently waved Russian flags at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday after two undercover protesters handed them out. DW correspondent Maya Shwayder witnessed several people being tricked into waving the Russian flag at the annual three-day gathering of conservative activists and elected officials. She reported that security guards later came round to collect the flags as one of the protesters called Trump a fascist. Several other people tweeted photos of the flags, which were emblazoned with the word Trump written in gold lettering. American monthly "The Atlantic" reported that two activists, Jason Charter, 22, and Ryan Clayton, 36, handed out about 1,000 of the red, white and blue flags ahead of Trump's speech at the conference. "Most people didn’t realize it was a Russian flag, or they didn’t care," Charter told the magazine. "I think there are multiple ways you can resist against Trump, and I think this is one way that’s extremely effective," he said. "It shows how Trump and Russia are so connected, they are like peas in a pod!" Trump used his position at CPAC to rail against the immigration practices of Germany, Sweden and France and to double-down on his policy agenda. Trump and his appointees have faced increasing criticism in recent weeks for their seemingly close ties to Russia. Trump fired his national security advisor Michael Flynn for contact with Russia while White House chief of staff Reince Priebus admitted pressuring the FBI to publicly dispute media reports of contact with Russian intelligence agents.

Attendees of the annual conservative conference in the US have been duped into waving red, white and blue Russian flags emblazoned with the word Trump. Two young activists claimed responsibility for the devious prank. Supporters of US President Donald Trump inadvertently waved Russian flags at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday after two undercover protesters handed them out. ... Read More »

US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigns over Russian ties

White House national security adviser Michael Flynn has resigned from his position over his contact with the Russian ambassador to the US. He reportedly misled officials on whether he discussed sanctions with the envoy. US President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned late Monday night in the midst of a raging controversy over his phone calls with Russian officials, the White House confirmed. Reports emerged that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials about his conversations with Russia prior to Trump taking office. In his resignation letter, Flynn said he held several calls with the Russian ambassador in Washington during Trump's transition to the White House and that he gave "incomplete information" to Pence about those discussions. "Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador," Flynn said in the letter. Possibly illegal calls Flynn told Pence that he had not discussed US sanctions against Russia issued by then-President Barack Obama with Russian officials in the weeks leading up to Trump's inauguration. This led Pence to defend Flynn in numerous television interviews. In recent days, Flynn acknowledged that he might have discussed sanctions with the Russians but could not say with 100 percent certainty. According to a "Washington Post" report from last week, Flynn reportedly discussed lifting sanctions aginst Moscow with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29 - the same day that Obama issued them over Russian interference in the US presidential campaign. The conversations were revealed in intercepted transcripts, described previously by US officials, that showed that Flynn had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. The talks potentially violated the Logan Act, a law banning private citizens from engaging in diplomacy with foreign officials. Michael McFaul, a former US ambassodor to Moscow, said on Twitter that what got Flynn into trouble was misleading Pence. Blackmail threat Reports also emerged on Monday that the Justice Department warned the Trump administration weeks ago that Flynn misled officials about the nature and content of the calls, sources told the Associated Press. Then-acting US Attorney General Sally Yates said Flynn might have put himself in a compromising position and possibly left himself open to blackmail with the phone calls. Yates was later fired from her post for opposing Trump's entry ban for people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Trump named retired Lt. General Keith Kellogg to replace Flynn as acting national security adviser but it is unclear if he will remain in the post.

White House national security adviser Michael Flynn has resigned from his position over his contact with the Russian ambassador to the US. He reportedly misled officials on whether he discussed sanctions with the envoy. US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned late Monday night in the midst of a raging controversy over his phone calls with Russian ... Read More »

Former Wall Street banker Mnuchin sworn in as US Treasury head

Steven Mnuchin, a former Hollywood financier and Goldman Sachs executive, has been sworn in as treasury secretary. The ex-banker now heads the agency that controls taxation, sanctions and bank regulation. The bitterly divided US Senate confirmed Steven Mnuchin to be the next secretary of the US Treasury on Monday night, with Republicans overcoming strong objections from Democrats over President Donald Trump's nominee. Shortly after his confirmation, Mnuchin was sworn in the Oval Office where Trump hailed his track record and called him a "financial legend." "He has spent his entire career making money in the private sector - and that's ok. It's what we want, especially when you're secretary of the Treasury," Trump said. Trump added that the 54-year-old will work on tax reductions for the middle class as well as financial reforms. Policy questions Lawmakers and businesses alike have been waiting for Mnuchin to take office and bring clarity to how he will pursue tax reform as well as international economic cooperation efforts with partners in China, Mexico and Europe who are worried about the extent of Trump's "America First" strategy. Mnuchin, however, did not reveal many details of his plans for the Treasury after he was sworn in on Monday. "I am committed to using the full powers of this office to create more jobs, to combat terrorist activities and financing, and to make America great again," Mnuchin said. In the past, Trump has pledged to loosen up capital markets regulation, saying he wants to undo substantial parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law enacted after the 2007-2009 housing collapse. He's also threatened to impose a border tax adjustment system to boost US exports. As head of the Treasury, Mnunchin will also be in charge of imposing economic sanctions, including Russia. 'Foreclosure machine' The US Senate voted 53-47 to confirm Mnuchin, with all but one Democrat opposing him. The confirmation votes for Trump's Cabinet picks have unveiled partisan divisions in the Republican-controlled Senate, with many of Trump's nominees being approved by party-line votes. Republicans praised Mnunchin's experience in finance, saying it makes him qualified to run the department. Democrats, on the other hand, argued that Mnunchin made a great deal of money by foreclosing on thousands of homes as head of OneWest Bank during the financial crisis. Some lawmakers labeled him a "foreclosure machine" for foreclosing on 36,000 homes shortly after Mnunchin's investor group acquired IndyMac Bank and rebranded it as OneWest. In 2011, the Treasury Department found that OneWest used "unsafe or unsound" practices in mortgage servicing and foreclosure proceedings.

Steven Mnuchin, a former Hollywood financier and Goldman Sachs executive, has been sworn in as treasury secretary. The ex-banker now heads the agency that controls taxation, sanctions and bank regulation. The bitterly divided US Senate confirmed Steven Mnuchin to be the next secretary of the US Treasury on Monday night, with Republicans overcoming strong objections from Democrats over President Donald ... Read More »

Trump attacks adversaries on Twitter for revoking travel ban

امریکی صدر ڈونلڈ ٹرمپ نے کہا ہے کہ سیاٹل کی ایک وفاقی عدالت کے ’نام نہاد جج‘ کا امیگریشن پابندیوں سے متعلق جمعہ تین فروری کو سنایا گیا فیصلہ ’مضحکہ خیز‘ ہے، جسے منسوخ کروا کے یہ پابندیاں بحال کرائی جائیں گی۔ امریکی دارالحکومت واشنگٹن سے ہفتہ چار فروری کو ملنے والی نیوز ایجنسی ایسوسی ایٹڈ پریس کی رپورٹوں کے مطابق کل جمعے کی رات ریاست واشنگٹن میں سیاٹل کی ایک وفاقی عدالت کے جج نے ڈونلڈ ٹرمپ کے ایک صدارتی حکم نامے کے ذریعے ستائیس جنوری سے امریکا میں مہاجرین اور سات مسلم اکثریتی ممالک کے شہریوں کی آمد پر تین ماہ کے لیے لگائی گئی پابندی کو معطل کرتے ہوئے پورے امریکا میں اس پر جو عمل درآمد روک دیا تھا، اس ہر آج ہفتے کی صبح صدر ٹرمپ کی طرف سے شدید برہمی کا اظہار کیا گیا۔ سیاٹل کی وفاقی عدالت کے جج کے فیصلے پر اپنے رد عمل میں ٹرمپ نے کہا کہ ان کی قیادت میں امریکی انتظامیہ اس ’نام نہاد جج‘ کے حکم کو منسوخ کرواتے ہوئے دوبارہ وہی امیگریشن پابندیاں بحال کر دے گی، جو اس جج نے عبوری طور پر معطل کر دی ہیں۔ اس فیصلے کے فوری بعد وائٹ ہاؤس کی طرف سے کہا گیا تھا کہ امریکی محکمہٴ انصاف اس عدالتی فیصلے کے خلاف اپیل کرے گا۔ لیکن آج مقامی وقت کے مطابق ہفتے کی صبح ہی صدر ڈونلڈ ٹرمپ نے ٹوئٹر پر اپنے پیغامات میں اس فیصلے پر اپنے شدید عدم اطمینان کا اظہار بھی کر دیا۔ صدر ٹرمپ نے اپنے ایک ٹوئٹر پیغام میں کہا، ’’اس نام نہاد جج کی رائے، جس کے ذریعے اس ملک سے قانون کے نفاذ کا حق چھین لیا گیا ہے، ایک مضحکہ خیز بات ہے، جسے منسوخ کر دیا جائے گا۔‘‘ اسی موضوع پر اپنی ایک اور ٹویٹ میں صدر ٹرمپ نے کہا، ’’جب کوئی ملک یہ طے کر ہی نہ سکے کہ کون اس ملک میں آ سکتا ہے اور کون نہیں، خاص طور پر تحفظ اور سلامتی کی وجوہات کی بنیاد پر، تو یہ ایک بڑا مسئلہ ہے۔‘‘ امریکا میں سیاٹل، بوسٹن، نیو یارک اور واشنگٹن سے ملنے والی مختلف نیوز ایجنسیوں کی رپورٹوں کے مطابق اس عدالتی فیصلے کے چند ہی گھنٹے بعد امریکا کے کسٹمز اور قومی سرحدوں کی حفاظت کے ملکی محکمے کی طرف سے تمام فضائی کمپنیوں کو یہ کہہ دیا گیا کہ وہ اپنی تجارتی پروازوں کے ذریعے ایسے مسافروں کو پھر سے امریکا لانا شروع کر سکتی ہیں، جنہیں اس عدالتی فیصلے سے قبل کسی مہاجر یا پابندی سے متاثرہ سات ملکوں کے کسی شہری کو امریکا لانے کی اجازت نہیں تھی۔ صدر ٹرمپ کے اپنا عہدہ سنبھالنے کے صرف ایک ہفتہ بعد ستائیس جنوری کو جاری کردہ ایک ایگزیکٹو آرڈر کے بعد امریکا کے درجنوں بین الاقوامی ہوائی اڈوں پر اس وقت انتہائی پریشان کن صورت حال پیدا ہو گئی تھی، جب باقاعدہ ویزا لے کر آنے والے ہزاروں غیر ملکیوں کو امریکا میں داخلے کے اجازت دینے سے انکار کر دیا گیا تھا۔ تب امریکا کے مختلف شہروں میں ٹرمپ کے خلاف مظاہرے بھی شروع ہو گئے تھے۔ یہ سات مسلم اکثریتی ملک ایران، عراق، شام، لیبیا، سوڈان، صومالیہ اور یمن ہیں، جن کے شہریوں کو، چاہے وہ پہلی بار امریکا آ رہے تھے یا پہلے سے امریکا ہی میں مقیم تھے لیکن غیر ملکیوں کے طور پر بیرون ملک سے واپس لوٹ رہے تھے، دوبارہ امریکا داخلے کی اجازت دینے سے انکار کر دیا گیا تھا۔

US President Trump has criticized a judge’s ruling that blocked his order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations. Trump vowed to overturn the ruling even as the State Department said the ban was suspended. US President Trump has criticized a judge’s ruling that blocked his order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations. Trump vowed to overturn the ruling even as ... Read More »

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