You are here: Home » Tag Archives: us

Tag Archives: us

Feed Subscription

George H.W. Bush viewed Germany as friend and partner, says ex-World Bank boss

The former US president supported German unification when others would not. He did so because he believed German democracy had succeeded, Bush's point man for German unification, Robert Zoellick, told DW. eutsche Welle: You worked closely for and with President George H.W. Bush. Can you share a personal anecdote that sums up the person he was? Robert Zoellick: Referring to the difference to the current era, he was very much a man of honor and service while also being a very fierce competitor, both politically and in terms of America's international role. I would sum him up as a consummate alliance manager. Particularly important for Germany [was that] Bush took office when [Soviet President Mikhail] Gorbachev was the phenomenon. Part of Bush's challenge was to solidify the alliance given the ice-breaking at the end of the Cold War. Many people forget that by May of 1989, only a few months after he took office, he come forward with a rather bold proposal to cut and equalize conventional armies in Europe. It was a shift from the discussion about nuclear weapons from the INF treatyand it was important for Germany because it took the focus off the short-range missiles that were left, which is when Germans said: "The shorter the missiles, the deader the Germans." He faced some resistance from [UK Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher, but had strong support from Germany and helped really built the core of the US-German relationship. The next step came in December that year at the Malta meeting. Bush was very eager to see Gorbachev. Some people in the administration were holding back, but I worked for Secretary [of State James] Baker at the time, who knew Bush wanted to engage Gorbachev. He came forward with a series of proposals — some economic, some political — that highlighted his willingness to embrace what Gorbachev was trying to do. And that was critically important in Gorbachev's state of mind because this was right after the opening of the Berlin Wall and the Soviets were having to determine their relationship to Germany. Bush went from that meeting to Brussels, were he briefed all the NATO countries and laid out some of the structure the US would take for the German unification process. The third aspect of that was as part of his alliance management: He really worked arm-in-arm with Chancellor [Helmut] Kohl in recognizing the historic moment for Germany, being supportive of the drive for German unification when frankly most of Europe was hesitant other than [then-President of the European Commission] Jacques Delors. But he did so in a way that also kept an eye on the overall interests of others in Europe. He obviously was focused on having a united Germany in NATO because that was also important to reassure people in Europe that the united Germany would follow the path of West Germany of the past 40 years. On the domestic side just one more example: People often just look at Bush as a foreign policy president, but actually if you look some of his domestic legislation, he did some landmark legislation with the American with Disabilities Act, revising the Clean Air Act and obviously his gutsiest step was, as he was approaching the Gulf War, he took the step of being willing to raise revenues for a budget deal, which really was the precursor of what Clinton then also did, which put us in a much better budget path for the 1990s, because it put caps on spending. That was a political debacle for him that he was willing to take that step and combined with a recession, he paid a huge price in failing to get reelected. I hope that historians will recognize more what he accomplished in four years both internationally and domestically. In Germany, President Bush senior is remembered as the US president who was instrumental in achieving German unification. How did he view Germany and why was he, unlike many other international leaders, supportive and not opposed to German unification? He viewed Germany as a friend and partner. Quite early on he gave an interview where he supported the idea of German unification even at a time that Germans were a little hesitant to speak about the topic. I think he gave some freedom for Kohl and others to take those steps. He believed that German democracy had succeeded, that Germany was a strong ally and that this was one of the good qualities of the American experience — we Americans didn't fear Germany, we saw Germans as our partners. It was a sign of confidence and faith in working with Germany, and it reflected the kind of assurances he could give others that were anxious like Britain or France and others, that the United States remained committed to transatlantic relations and also to those in Eastern Europe. To give Kohl his credit, he partly earned this in that he had taken some very courageous steps in the 1980s with the dual track commitments and the intermediate range missiles. Everyone knew this was a very gutsy thing for Kohl to do. It lead to the INF treaty and the success of eliminating those weapons. So Kohl and Germany had earned the trust. Do you think that his role in making German unification possible could be his most important foreign policy achievement? Our policy, while focused on German unification, was also focused on a Europe whole and free. I would put German unification kind of as the key stone of a peaceful end of the Cold War in a way that created structures for the future. I personally think that historians don't recognize enough that Bush not only ended the Cold War peacefully, but that he laid the foundation stones for a future structure — transatlantic relations, the NAFTA negotiations and he almost completed the Uruguay round [of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT]. So in that sense he is a key transitional figure in the international order. All those things you mentioned — that he was a friend of Germany, a supporter of transatlantic relations and opposed to nationalism, economic or otherwise — that seems like a total contradiction to the current president, doesn't it? I want to draw a key distinction, because it might be helpful to your readers. I know that nationalism in some European and German quarters is seen as a negative term. And Macron obviously emphasized this. Nationalism with American internationalists is not a bad term. Let me relate that to the German unification story. You asked why was Bush comfortable with German unification where others in Europe weren't? We weren't afraid of German nationalism. We thought that a successful Germany could be a pillar of the future. He in a very practical way realized that Germany would eventually become the dominant player in Europe, even though it didn't want to be seen as acting dominantly. [Current US President Donald] Trump is unusual in that he sets nationalism against internationalism, which I think is a terrible mistake. And he has a very different worldview, right? Trump views the 40-year-old order that took us through the Cold War and afterwards as having cost the United States too much, and he thinks that others should bear a greater burden. He doesn't value the systems and institutions that the US helped create. And this story begins way before 1989: this is the story of the Marshall Plan, GATT, the World Trade Organization, and the story of creating NATO. Those structures were overhauled and adapted at the end of the Cold War. Bush actually had ideas about the future roles of NATO and the trade area. At the same time we were dealing with those issues in 1989, we had the events of Tiananmen Square in China. Bush took a great political hit to maintain the relations with China, because he saw trying to have a constructive relationship with China as important for the future world order. Now contrast that with today. Read more: What you need to know about NATO The country President Bush led, but also his Republican Party, have changed a great deal since the time he served. Would you say President George H.W. Bush was the last traditional, old school Republican president? These traits carry forward. I know that his son, George Bush 43, didn't create the same warmth in Europe as his father did, but if you look at his commitment [to] the overall international order, this is not a man who abandoned that structure by any means. Clearly, Bush 41 kind of represented and was the last president of the World War II generation. And one of the ironies of him as a human being is that he is modest in manner and he actually was kind of a heroic figure in young age as an aviator in the Pacific — almost lost his life and yet politically people said "oh, he is a wimp" — which is kind of odd for a guy who won the Distinguished Flying Cross. But politics is a rough business. Robert Zoellick, a former president of the World Bank, was the US Chief Negotiator for the 2+4 negotiations that led to German unification. He also served in various other key positions under President George H.W. Bush, among them Deputy White House Chief of Staff and presidential "Sherpa" for the G7 summits.

The former US president supported German unification when others would not. He did so because he believed German democracy had succeeded, Bush’s point man for German unification, Robert Zoellick, told DW. eutsche Welle: You worked closely for and with President George H.W. Bush. Can you share a personal anecdote that sums up the person he was? Robert Zoellick: Referring to ... Read More »

Migrant caravan ‘could not be larger gift’ for Donald Trump

In a replay of his 2016 campaign, President Trump is whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment to stoke his base for the midterm election. But it will do nothing to stop what is a slow moving train wreck in Latin America. "Remember the midterms", US President Donald Trump reminded his 55 million followers on Twitter on Tuesday in a sequence of tweets focused on the so-called migrant caravan that is making its way through Mexico towards the US border. If there was ever any doubt that Trump would forego the attention-grabbing visuals of thousands of Latin American migrants braving brutal conditions to trek tens of miles per day in hopes of reaching the US, a series of presidential tweets sent out in the past couple of days erased it. Using military jargon to describe the caravan and alleging — without offering evidence — that criminals and "unknown Middle Easterners" were part of the group, Trump faulted Democrats and US courts for standing in the way of a tougher immigration policy, and El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the home countries of most of the migrants, for not preventing them from making the journey. "The timing of this could not be a larger gift to President Trump and the Republican Party in advance of the midterm elections", said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Wilson Center's Latin America program. She noted that, ahead of competitive midterm elections, Trump — by associating immigrants with crime — was simply going back to his electorally successful 2016 campaign playbook. "I think that's precisely why President Trump is going to his Twitter account and making all kinds of harsh statements to appeal to his base and to stoke that kind of fear", said Arnson. "There has been a consistent messaging from this White House to equate migrants with violent crime and the evidence is actually quite the contrary." Trump's controversial effort to turn the plight of thousands of migrants desperate enough to make the consequential decision to leave their homes to go on an arduous journey they hope will somehow enable them to find a safe haven in the United States is unlikely to sway any undecided voters. But it may well succeed in rallying his core base of supporters, which in a close election could be enough to eke out a victory. "This election is going to be won by turnout", said Karen Alter, a political scientist at Northwestern University. "Trump is trying to dial up the fear dial to distract to an area where he is being perceived as stronger, mainly his willingness to crack down on immigration, in hopes that that affects the turnout." Key issue for GOP A Pew Research Center poll published earlier this month appears to support the strategy of focusing on immigration to boost Republican turnout. "Illegal immigration is the highest-ranked national problem among GOP voters, but it ranks lowest among 18 issues for Democratic voters", found Pew researchers. Trump's push to elevate the migrant caravan to an urgent national security issue may bring in Republican votes, but it is disingenuous and does nothing to solve a migrant crisis that has been ongoing in ebbs and flows since 2014 when the first groups of unaccompanied minors entered the US during the Obama administration, noted the scholars. "The larger issue is that there is a slow moving train wreck going on in Latin America of governments that are falling apart and they are generating refugee crises", said Alter. In El Salvador, Honduras and other countries the security situation for people has become so dire now that families simply feel they cannot stay there. With governments unable to provide even the most basic protection for the people, corrupt police forces and ultra-violent gangs and drug cartels taking over, the choice for citizens is easy. Complete desperation "They are leaving out of complete desperation", said Alter. "And since they are leaving out of desperation, nothing that President Trump yells in his tantrum — 'I am going to remove foreign aid, I am going to build a wall' — none of that can stop desperate people who are literally facing life and death situations." What's more, nixing foreign aid to the deeply impoverished nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will only increase the country's troubles and potentially cause even more people to seek refugee in the US. "There is nothing that could be more counterproductive in the medium and long term, because the only lasting resolution to the migrant crisis is to be found in the region and to changing the conditions of deprivation and violence that continue to cause people to flee because they feel they have no future and no safety within their own borders", said Arnson. Address root causes But that, said the scholars, would require the change of US policy toward a region that it has ignored far too long to its own and the region's detriment. "We are going to need to pay much more attention to our backyard than we have been paying attention to it recently", said Alter. "And the good news is that we don't actually have Muslim fundamentalist terrorists in Latin America and that these are really internal crises that you actually might have a chance to address." But instead of focusing on the much more difficult task, of addressing the root causes of the ongoing migrant crisis in the region, Trump has chosen the very convenient path "to throw these chaos bombs to distract the media, to distract the American public and to try to motivate people to turn out in the midterm elections."

In a replay of his 2016 campaign, President Trump is whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment to stoke his base for the midterm election. But it will do nothing to stop what is a slow moving train wreck in Latin America. “Remember the midterms”, US President Donald Trump reminded his 55 million followers on Twitter on Tuesday in a sequence of tweets ... Read More »

Majority of South Koreans favor North Korea ‘friendship’

More than 60 percent of South Koreans believe President Moon should sit down with Kim Jong Un at a summit designed to improve bilateral relations and ease the military tensions that have dogged the region for many years. A poll conducted on February 15 showed that 61.5 percent of South Korean adults nationwide were in favor of Moon travelling to Pyongyang for face-to-face talks with Kim, while 31.2 percent disagreed and expressed the belief that additional pressure – such as international sanctions - is the best way to force North Korea to moderate its behavior. The poll was conducted half-way through the Winter Olympic Games, which are being held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, and the results underline the surge in friendly feelings that ordinary South Koreans have felt towards their neighbors on the other side of the Demilitarized Zone. Read more: Olympics chief Thomas Bach set to visit North Korea And that is a direct result of a combination of sense of fear and feeling of hope among many in the South. 'Bloody nose' attack The fear for them is that US President Donald Trump intends to carry out a "bloody nose" military strike against targets in the North in an attempt to demonstrate Washington's capabilities and its willingness to use force. And the other element of the equation is hope that North Korea is genuinely interested in building a more collaborative relationship with the South and that peace is finally possible, 65 years after the end of the Korean War. "Those numbers in this poll, and others, come as no surprise to me at all," said Ahn Yin-hay, a professor of international relations at Korea University in Seoul. "There have been lots of reports of Washington planning a 'bloody nose' attack on a missile site or a nuclear facility in the North, and that makes people very worried because Pyongyang can be expected to retaliate and it is likely to target South Korea," she told DW. "South Koreans believe that a strategy of talking to the North is better than a violent approach that threatens our safety," she said. "Talking has a far better likelihood of achieving peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula." Moon is widely seen as having worked extremely hard since he took over the government in Seoul in May last year to build bridges with the North. Those approaches – including offers of talks to reduce the military threat levels, a front-line military hotline and reunions for families separated since the end of the Korean War in 1953 - were initially ignored or rebuffed by Pyongyang. The gradual ratcheting up of international sanctions in the closing months of 2017, however, appear to have convinced Kim Jong Un to be more amenable to discussions, while the timing and location of the Winter Olympic Games have provided the perfect opportunity for détente to flourish. Yet Moon is clearly in a difficult position. He may want to push ahead with a summit that may turn out to be a turning point in the bilateral relationship. It may, however, equally be a ploy by the North Korean regime to drive a wedge between Seoul and its most important security partner, Washington, as part of Pyongyang's broader long-term aim of a united Korean Peninsula controlled by the government that presently occupies the North. Read more: North Korea leader Kim Jong Un invites South Korean president to summit Historic handshake marks Korean unity at Olympic Opening Ceremony Alienating the US Moon must be careful not to alienate the US – and its present unpredictable leader – as he still needs Washington's security guarantees. Underlining the tightrope that he is walking, Moon said on Saturday that a decision on a summit with Kim is too early. "There are many expectations, but I believe they might be a little too anxious," Moon told reporters when asked about the possibility of a summit. He reiterated that there needs to be progress on the question of North Korea getting rid of its nuclear weapons before real progress can be made. There are, however, a number of areas in which progress can take place and would arguably serve as confidence-building measures for the two sides, believes Ahn. These include discussions between military leaders at the border on easing tensions and reunions of families divided by the DMZ. "If progress can be made in these areas, then I am optimistic that we could see a summit in the late summer months," she said, suggesting a meeting that would coincide with the anniversary of the June 2000 summit between Kim Jong Il and Kim Dae-jung, the then South Korean leader. Another symbolic date that could appeal to both sides might be August 15, the Liberation Day national holiday marking the end of Imperial Japan's colonial rule over the peninsula. Yet others are less positive about the outlook on the peninsula. "Of course South Koreans are saying they want the summit to happen; they do not want a war and the North Korean 'charm offensive' during the Olympics has been a huge success," said Jun Okumura, a political analyst at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs. Read more: US wants North Korea to give up nuclear weapons as pre-condition of talks Kim Jong Un: North Korea has completed nuclear program, US will never attack Difficult situation "But Moon is in a very difficult position, stuck between the US, North Korea and even China as a major player in this situation," he said. "I do not see how Moon can square the South's relationship with the US with this meeting," he said. "And I believe that the issue of the joint US-South Korean military exercises could be the flash point." At the request of Pyongyang, the US and South Korea agreed to postpone military annual exercises that were due to be held during the Winter Olympics. North Korea is now demanding that the manoeuvers be cancelled entirely, warning that failure to do so would reverse all the positive developments in the bilateral relationship of recent weeks. Moon has a choice; one option is to bow to the North Korean demand and risk alienating the US entirely – and possibly encouraging Washington to take a unilateral approach to dealing with North Korea, which could involve the much-feared "bloody nose" approach. Alternatively, he can reschedule the exercises and face the wrath of Pyongyang. "I would say that everything hinges on these exercises and the situation is extremely dangerous at the moment," Okumura said. "A decision must be made in the next few weeks and, whatever that decision is, the ramifications will be felt this spring." Read more: Dialogue with North Korea must continue, says German President Steinmeier

More than 60 percent of South Koreans believe President Moon should sit down with Kim Jong Un at a summit designed to improve bilateral relations and ease the military tensions that have dogged the region for many years. A poll conducted on February 15 showed that 61.5 percent of South Korean adults nationwide were in favor of Moon travelling to ... Read More »

Two reasons behind Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

With President Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital being widely criticized in the US and abroad, many question his rationale. Scholars point to a political reason — and a psychological factor. The chorus of critics lambasting US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his plan to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv has only grown — both in the United States and around the world — since he announced it on Wednesday. As the UN Security Council held a special meeting on Friday in New York over the president's unilateral move, protesters across the Muslim world took to the streets to denounce the decision. Five European countries — Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and Italy – in a joint statement after the UN session called Washington's decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem "unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region." Read more: Israel airstrikes strike Gaza Strip during Palestinian 'day of rage' On Thursday, an impromptu survey of recent American ambassadors to Israel nominated by both Republican and Democratic presidents conducted by The New York Times, found that nine out of 11 of them disagreed with Trump's decision. Also in the US, more than 100 Jewish studies scholars across the country released a petition on Thursday opposing the move. With Washington facing widespread criticism for its decision to break with decades-long precedent in its stance towards Jerusalem, the question arises why the Trump administration would have decided to do so despite publicly voiced concerns from close US allies in the region and Europe. Appeal to evangelicals For Martin Indyk, former US special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and former US ambassador to Israel, the rationale behind Trump's decision is entirely domestic – and easily explained. "It was an appeal to his evangelical Christian base, pure and simple," Indyk, now the executive vice president of the Brookings Institution, wrote in an email. Steven Spiegel, director of the Center for Middle East Development at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), agreed that pleasing Trump's base of Christian and Jewish conservative supporters was a key element in the decision. During the presidential campaign, Trump had repeatedly promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Read more: Hamas calls for third intifada after US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital With Wednesday's declaration, Trump, who has struggled to win legislative victories despite his Republican Party holding control of both houses of Congress, fulfilled a campaign pledge and did so with relative ease. Low-hanging fruit Unlike many of Trump's other efforts to make good on his campaign promises, such as repealing former-President Barack Obama's health care reform or implementing a travel ban, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital is low-hanging fruit as it really can be done by presidential action alone. But there's another — non-political — factor that helps explain Trump's decision to undo decades of US foreign policy and that is Trump's inclination to shake things up, said UCLA's Spiegel. It's a penchant that in itself is not necessarily a bad idea, he added. "Shaking things up, coming up with a better idea – sure, but this wasn't weighted to do that, especially if you are not going to mention that East Jerusalem will be the Palestinian capital," he said. Read more: Palestinian youth fight to defend right to Jerusalem as capital Messing things up Both scholars disagreed with Trump's decision as well as how it was carried out, especially because it stands to cripple the administration's approach in the Middle East, one of the few regions where, according to Spiegel, Trump's policy had been received fairly positively until now. "Things seemed to be really better," he said. "They didn't like Obama generally in the Middle East and so, therefore, he seems to have taken advantage of that. He doesn't get the absolutely low grade he gets elsewhere. This messes it up." The Jerusalem decision clashes with Trump's broader Middle East strategy, said Indyk. "His aides tried to make it fit with his peacemaking strategy, but it was too unbalanced to assuage Palestinian anger." Spiegel said he thinks Trump's decision deals a serious blow to the Middle East peace process and will hurt Washington's perception in the region and beyond. "It's largely symbolic, especially because the embassy will not be moved for many years," former US special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations Indyk said. "But in the Middle East conflict is fueled by symbols."

With President Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital being widely criticized in the US and abroad, many question his rationale. Scholars point to a political reason — and a psychological factor. The chorus of critics lambasting US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his plan to move the US Embassy from ... Read More »

Protesters in West Bank, Gaza, Mideast and Asia rail against Trump’s Jerusalem gambit

At least two are dead and a dozen injured during clashes with police Friday, as the protests extended into a second day. Thousands more protested across the Muslim world in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. At least two Palestinian protesters were killed during clashes with Israeli security forces in Gaza on Friday as protests over Jerusalem intensified. Palestinian protesters also clashed with Israeli police across the West Bank after Friday prayers, as Muslims across the Middle East and elsewhere joined in condemning US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In what has been dubbed a "day of rage," protesters in cities and towns threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Smoke was seen rising over Bethlehem. Trump's announcement this week upended decades of US diplomatic efforts to maintain a semblance of objectivity while leaving the status of a contested Jerusalem to peace negotiations between the two sides. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital for their future state, but Israel has refused that claim. Much of the international community considers East Jerusalem occupied territory. Jerusalem is home to key holy sites for Jews, Muslims and Christians, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem. More than a dozen Palestinians were hurt during Friday's clashes with police, according to Erab Fukaha, a spokeswoman for the Red Crescent paramedics. She said 12 Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets and one by live fire. More than 30 Palestinians were injured on Thursday in clashes with police. A call for holy war Palestinian political groups had called for a day of rage in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem on Friday, to protest Trump's decision. Separately, in Gaza, the leader of Hamas, a militant Islamic group, is pushing for a third intifada, or uprising, against Israel. The first intifada erupted in December 1987 and ended in 1993. The second intifada began in September 2000 and ended about five years later. Thousands of Palestinians were killed in the two uprisings. "Whoever moves his embassy to occupied Jerusalem will become an enemy of the Palestinians and a target of Palestinian factions," said Hamas leader Fathy Hammad as protesters in Gaza burnt posters of Trump. "We declare an intifada until the liberation of Jerusalem and all of Palestine." Meanwhile, militant al-Qaida leaders urged their followers around the world to target the strategic interests of the US and Israel. Muslims also took to the streets in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Somalia. More than 3,000 people protested outside a mosque in Istanbul, carrying Palestinian flags and chanting anti-US and anti-Israeli slogans. There were also protests in the capital, Ankara, and at least three other cities in Turkey. Across the street from the embassy in Ankara, protesters chanted: "USA, take your bloodied hands off Jerusalem."

At least two are dead and a dozen injured during clashes with police Friday, as the protests extended into a second day. Thousands more protested across the Muslim world in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. At least two Palestinian protesters were killed during clashes with Israeli security forces in Gaza on Friday as protests over Jerusalem intensified. Palestinian protesters ... Read More »

Germany warns US of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Germany's foreign minister has urged the White House of taking the decision, saying it "does not calm a conflict." Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Donald Trump called to tell him he plans to recognize Jerusalem. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday warned the US about the dangers of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. "Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not calm a conflict, rather it fuels it even more," Gabriel said. "It's in everyone's interest that this does not happen." Read more: Arab world warns US not to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital Gabriel's remarks come as the White House has suggested it may take the decision to relocate its embassy and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. On Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said US President Donald Trump called to inform him of plans to move the US embassy, reported the Palestinian Authority's official news agency. Abbas "warned of the dangerous repercussions of such step on the (long-stalled) peace process, security and stability in the region and the world," said Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh. The Jerusalem question The status of Jerusalem has been a key stumbling block during previous peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, in particular regarding the question of how to divide sovereignty and oversee holy sites. Another major issue is illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Read more: 'Palestinians want reconciliation' between Fatah and Hamas The international community has never recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital or its unilateral annexation of territory around the city's eastern sector, which it captured during the 1967 Six-Day War. However, Israeli officials have urged the Trump administration to take the decision. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on the White House to take the "historic opportunity" to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying he hopes to "see an American embassy here in Jerusalem next week or next month."

Germany’s foreign minister has urged the White House of taking the decision, saying it “does not calm a conflict.” Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Donald Trump called to tell him he plans to recognize Jerusalem. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday warned the US about the dangers of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “Recognizing Jerusalem ... Read More »

Russia ‘increasing oil exports’ to North Korea

At a time when the United States is calling for more restrictions on fuel exports to North Korea, Russia may be attempting to avoid the total collapse of the regime in Pyongyang. Julian Ryall reports from Tokyo. The price of diesel oil and gasoline in North Korea has dropped sharply in the last month, according to reports from within the isolated republic, with Russia apparently stepping up supplies in spite of international efforts to isolate the regime of Kim Jong Un and force Pyongyang to abandon its development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles. According to "citizen journalists" who report on events inside North Korea for the Osaka-based Asia Press International (API) news agency, fuel prices began to fall in November after several months of fluctuations. Reports put the price of one kilogram of diesel oil at US$0.82 (0.7 euros) now, down 60 percent from early November, while gasoline is being sold for around $2 (1.68 euros) per one kilogram, down 25 percent. The sharp declines come despite increasingly stiff sanctions imposed on Pyongyang, including measures designed specifically to limit the amount of fuel that North Korea can obtain. Resolution 2375, adopted by the United Nations Security Council shortly after the North's sixth underground nuclear test on September 3, singled out fuel supplies for sanctions, and the US government has since stepped up its calls for China to halt the flow of oil over the border. Oil over the border One of API's correspondents claims, however, that "massive amounts" of fuel are coming into the border province of Yanggang from Russia. "It is difficult to know exactly how much fuel is getting into North Korea, but it does appear that Russia has recently been supplying Pyongyang with fuel," said James Brown, an associate professor of international relations and an expert on Russia-North Korean trade at the Tokyo campus of Temple University. "It appears that Russia, in particular, but also China, are losing patience with the US," he told DW. "They feel that they have done their part in putting new pressure on North Korea but that Washington should be doing more." While Beijing and Moscow supported sanctions in the autumn, North Korea went for more than two months without launching any missiles, Brown points out. Yet Washington made it clear that it was going ahead with joint US-South Korea air exercises, which began in South Korean air space on Monday. When the US confirmed that the largest ever joint air exercises - 230 aircraft practicing attacks on North Korea's nuclear facilities and missiles bases - would proceed as planned, Pyongyang resumed missile launches. The intercontinental ballistic missile launched on November 29 is understood to have a range of around 13,000 km, putting anywhere in the US within range. Read more: North Korea: UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman visits Pyongyang Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump discuss Syria, Ukraine, North Korea in hour-plus call Hurting the North "Russia may very well feel that the US provoked the most recent missile test by the North and it is not at all clear that Beijing and Moscow will help cut off all fuel supplies because that that represents the 'nuclear option' that would really hurt the North," Brown said. "And while that is exactly what the US wants, Russia is extremely wary of the consequences of the North collapsing," he added. Moscow's concerns include conflict breaking out on its Far East border, a sudden influx of vast numbers of refugees or a civil war in the North in which numerous players are vying to win control of the country's nuclear weapons. Daniel Pinkston, a professor of international relations at the Seoul campus of Troy University, agrees that there are indications that Moscow is trying to "stabilize" the situation in North Korea in order to avoid a collapse, while some point out that restricting deliveries of fuel oil during the North's notoriously harsh winters would inevitably have a humanitarian cost on ordinary people. "There is also the argument that if the North Korean leadership feels that the screws are being tightened too much and that their situation is deteriorating and there are no prospects of it improving, then they might take some kind of coercive, kinetic action to change that situation," he said. Read more: US military base in South Korea mired in corruption scandal Escalate a way out "Even if they accept that they are in a relatively weakened position and have no chance of winning an all-out war, it is possible that they might try to escalate their way out of a deteriorating situation with the threat of some kind of action in return for concessions." There are also suggestions that Russian policy in the Far East is being shaped by President Vladimir Putin's hostility towards the West over the conflict in the Ukraine, while relations between Moscow and Washington are uncomfortable due to allegations of Russia meddling in the US elections. In addition, Brown points out that if Russia is able to obtain some kind of economic leverage over North Korea, it might give Moscow leverage that could be used to encourage the US to drop its hostility. "Similarly, that leverage might be used to encourage Pyongyang to dial back the aggression, making Moscow appear as the "responsible stakeholder in the region," he added.

At a time when the United States is calling for more restrictions on fuel exports to North Korea, Russia may be attempting to avoid the total collapse of the regime in Pyongyang. Julian Ryall reports from Tokyo. The price of diesel oil and gasoline in North Korea has dropped sharply in the last month, according to reports from within the ... Read More »

Fallen soldier’s mother says President Donald Trump disrespected her son

The US president is alleged to have told the wife of a soldier killed in action in Niger that her husband "knew what he signed up for." The soldier's mother said she was present when Trump made the "insensitive" remarks. The mother of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was killed in an ambush by Islamist militants in Niger this month, told The Washington Post newspaper on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump "disrespected" her son in a condolence phone call. Cowanda Jones-Johnson backed the account of Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a Democrat, who claimed Trump told Johnson's widow, Myeshia Johnson, that her husband "must have known what he signed up for." "President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband," Jones-Johnson told The Washington Post. Trump's statement was first reported by Wilson, who said she was with Johnson's widow on the way to receive the fallen soldier's remains at Miami International Airport when the president called to express his condolences. According to Wilson, Trump told Myeshia Johnson that her husband "knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens it hurts anyway." The representative described the president's statement during the five-minute call as "so insensitive" in an interview with Miami Local 10 news. After the phone call, Myeshia "was crying, she broke down." Referring to President Trump, Wilson said 'he didn't even know his name.'" President Trump lashed back, terming Wilson's claim as "totally fabricated." Trump later told reporters: "I did not say what she said," and "I had a very nice conversation." When asked about what "proof" he could offer, Trump said: "Let her make her statement again then you will find out." Before Trump's tweet, the incident had already gone viral on American media, making it the latest event in a growing controversy following Trump's accusation that past presidents often did not honor fallen military servicemen and women. Read more: How Donald Trump turned a simmering NFL controversy into a movement that splits the country Politicizing the fallen At a Monday press conference, when pressed on whether or not he had reached out to the relatives of troops killed in an October 4 ambush in Niger, President Trump claimed that previous presidents had not contacted family members of soldiers who had died in combat. "The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls," Trump said on Monday, later adding that he didn't know whether President Obama in particular called fallen soldiers' families. "President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn't. I don't know. That's what I was told," he said. "All I can do is ask my generals. Other presidents did not call, they'd write letters. And some presidents didn't do anything." In response to Trump's claim, retired army General Martin Dempsey tweeted that both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama honored military service and implicitly criticized Trump for politicizing military deaths. Trump also drew his own chief of staff, John Kelly, into the controversy during a Tuesday interview on Fox News Radio. "You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?" Trump said, referencing Kelly's son who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. According to US media reports citing an anonymous White House official, Obama did not call Kelly upon his son's death, though it was not known whether the former president wrote a letter. Obama did receive Kelly at a White House breakfast for family members of soldiers killed in combat. There is no official protocol outlining presidential actions to be taken upon death of military servicemen and women. However, it is typical for presidents to express their condolences in a phone call or letter. Some also visit air bases or airports to receive the remains of the fallen as they are flown back to the US.

The US president is alleged to have told the wife of a soldier killed in action in Niger that her husband “knew what he signed up for.” The soldier’s mother said she was present when Trump made the “insensitive” remarks. The mother of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was killed in an ambush by Islamist militants in Niger this ... Read More »

Huntsman takes up Moscow post at a time of historically poor relations

The new US ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, has presented his diplomatic credentials to Vladimir Putin in Moscow. He takes up the post at an especially contentious time in relations between the two countries. The new United States ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Kremlin ceremony in which the American presented his diplomatic credentials. The 57-year-old statesman and businessman will need all of his diplomatic skills if he is to help repair a relationship his predecessor John Tefft said was at a "low point." Relations between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War, and have been marked by tit-for-tat retaliations that began with US sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and subsequent support for separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Relations have continually worsened amid accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Read more: Facebook says 10 million US users saw Russia-linked ads Disagreeing with the boss? During his Senate confirmation hearings last week, Huntsman made clear what he thought about the accusations, despite statements by Trump calling them a hoax: "There is no question, underline no question, that the Russian government interfered in the US election last year.” Adding, "Moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies.” The billionaire businessman, whose family company has holdings in Russia, will also take up his post with a greatly diminished team after Russia's Foreign Ministry ordered the US to cut staff by two-thirds in July in response to new US sanctions, leaving the US with 755 fewer employees on the ground. Huntsman has promised to confront Russia in addressing human rights abuses and over its actions in Ukraine and Syria. But it would seem that his first order of business may be to defuse a diplomatic row that erupted upon his arrival in Moscow. Russia's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday announced that US authorities had broken into residencies at Russia's San Francisco consulate and threatened retaliation for what Moscow called a hostile and illegal act. Washington ordered Russian staff to vacate the consulate last month as part of the diplomatic tug-of-war. Read more: US orders Russia to close San Francisco consulate An American abroad Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, has served each US president since Ronald Reagan in some capacity. Among other roles, he was the US ambassador to Singapore in 1992-1993 under George H.W. Bush and later Bill Clinton, then ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011 under Barack Obama. Huntsman also served as President George W. Bush's deputy US trade representative, and was the acting chairman of the foreign policy think tank the Atlantic Council when he was tapped by President Donald Trump to take up the Moscow post. In 2012 he ran as a Republican party candidate for the US presidency.

The new US ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, has presented his diplomatic credentials to Vladimir Putin in Moscow. He takes up the post at an especially contentious time in relations between the two countries. The new United States ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Kremlin ceremony in which the American presented his diplomatic ... Read More »

Body found in search for missing USS John S. McCain sailors

The remains of some missing Navy sailors have been found in a compartment of the USS John S. McCain, a US commander has said. Ten sailors went missing after the destroyer collided with an oil tanker off Singapore. One body and other human remains were uncovered during a search for 10 sailors who went missing on a US destroyer collision, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet announced on Tuesday. "Divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today," US Admiral Scott Swift told reporters in Singapore. He added that it was "premature to say how many and what the status of recovery of those bodies is." Read more: USS John S. McCain - Why maritime regulations are crucial to avoid collisions Malaysian navy crews participating in a three-nation air and sea search for the sailors had also found a body, Swift confirmed. He said the body found by the Malaysians would have to be identified to "determine whether it's one of the missing sailors or not." "We will continue the search and rescue operations until the probability of discovering sailors is exhausted," Swift added. Five other sailors were injured when the USS John S. McCain collided with a Liberian-flagged oil tanker early on Monday in busy shipping lanes around the Strait of Singapore. The crash tore a huge hole in the warship's hull, flooding the vessel with water. Read more: US Navy vessel collides with ship off Singapore US Navy launches investigation It was the second fatal collision in two months after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a cargo ship off Japan in June, killing seven sailors. Swift also announced a fleet-wide global investigation will take place following the latest deadly crash, saying that the crashes "cannot be viewed in isolation. Read more: US Navy fires commanders over deadly collision He said the US Navy would conduct the probe "to find out if there is a common cause ... and if so, how do we solve that." The oil tanker involved in Monday's collision sustained some damage but no crew were injured, the Singapore government said.

The remains of some missing Navy sailors have been found in a compartment of the USS John S. McCain, a US commander has said. Ten sailors went missing after the destroyer collided with an oil tanker off Singapore. One body and other human remains were uncovered during a search for 10 sailors who went missing on a US destroyer collision, ... Read More »

Scroll To Top