Posts Tagged ‘Lavrov’

China says N.Korea crisis faces ‘turning point’ — Time for a “less bellicose tone”

August 15, 2017

AFP

© KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/File | China, which is Pyongyang’s main diplomatic ally, has repeatedly called on the United States and North Korea to tone down their bellicose rhetoric in recent day

BEIJING (AFP) – China said Tuesday that the North Korean nuclear crisis had reached a “turning point” and it was time to enter peace talks.

The comments by foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying came as the verbal sparring between the United States and North Korea took a less bellicose tone on Tuesday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said he would hold off on a threatened missile strike near Guam, though he warned the highly provocative move would go ahead in the event of further “reckless actions” by Washington.

Top US officials, meanwhile, said Washington was not interested in regime change in Pyongyang, and South Korean President Moon Jae-In warned that there could be no war without his country’s consent.

“It’s the turning point to make a resolute decision and return to peace talks,” Hua said when asked about Moon’s comments at a regular news briefing.

China, which is Pyongyang’s main diplomatic ally, has repeatedly called on the United States and North Korea to tone down their bellicose rhetoric in recent days.

“We now hope that all the concerned parties, in what they say and what they do, can contribute to extinguishing the fire (of the tense situation), rather than adding fuel to the fire,” Hua said.

Beijing has also pressed for a return of six-nation talks that have been dormant since 2009.

Hua applauded the “positive” article written by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the The Wall Street Journal in which they say that America has “no interest” in regime change in Pyongyang.

“We hope the US can translate this positive statement into concrete DPRK-related policies,” Hua said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name. “At the same time, we call on the DPRK to respond” to the positive statement.

China says U.S., North Korea should ‘put brakes’ on irritating each other

August 15, 2017

Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Russian counterpart in a telephone call on Tuesday that it is urgent that the United States and North Korea “put the brakes” on mutually irritating words and actions, the ministry said.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

Xi speaks with Trump, urges calm

August 12, 2017
FILE – This combination of file photos shows U.S. President Donald Trump on March 28, 2017, in Washington, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Feb. 22, 2017, in Beijing. Trump is suggesting ahead of his two-day meeting starting Thursday, April 6, 2017 with Xi that with or without Beijing’s help, he can “totally” handle North Korea, but his solution would have to be pretty clever. AP/Files

Chinese state media say President Xi Jinping, in a call with President Donald Trump, said all sides should avoid rhetoric or action that would worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

China Central Television on Saturday cited Xi as saying that Beijing and Washington are both interested in the denuclearization of the peninsula.

The report quotes Xi as saying: “At present, the relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula.”

Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons program that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States. China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

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11:55 p.m.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he will do everything he can to protect the Japanese people as tensions escalate over North Korean plans to send missiles flying over Japan toward Guam.

Abe says: “I will do everything, to the best of my ability, to protect the safety and property of the Japanese people.”

He made comments Saturday while visiting his father’s tomb in his ancestral hometown of Nagato in western Japan.

On Friday, the Defense Ministry said it was deploying four of Japan’s surface-to-air Patriot interceptors in western Japan to respond to a possible risk of fragments falling from missiles.

The ministry did not confirm whether Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has already issued an order to shoot down incoming missiles.

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10:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump has issued fresh threats of swift and forceful retaliation against nuclear North Korea, declaring the U.S. military “locked and loaded” and warning that the communist country’s leader “will regret it fast” if he takes any action against U.S. territories or allies.

The president appeared to draw another red line that would trigger a U.S. attack against North Korea and “big, big trouble” for its leader, Kim Jong Un. Trump’s comments, however, do not appear to be backed by significant military mobilization on either side of the Pacific, and an important, quiet diplomatic channel remains open.

Asked Firday if the U.S. was going to war, he said cryptically, “I think you know the answer to that.”

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4:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not speak for the U.S. on North Korea.

Merkel has said of Trump’s provocative warnings to the communist nation that “escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer.”

Trump on Friday replied: “Let her speak for Germany,” adding, “She’s certainly not referring to the United States.”

The U.S. president’s warnings that Pyongyang will “regret” any threats or action against the U.S. are a break with the diplomatic language of his predecessors. But Trump said Friday that millions of Americans support their president “sticking up” for the U.S. and its allies.

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3:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his critics are only complaining about his tough rhetoric on North Korea “because it’s me.”

He says days of grave threats to the communist country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, would be welcomed as “a great statement” if “somebody else” uttered them.

Trump adds that millions of Americans support his words because “finally we have a president that’s sticking up for our nation and frankly sticking up for our friends and our allies.”

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3:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says North Korea’s leader will “regret it fast” if he threatens or acts against Guam, or any other U.S. territory or ally.

Trump says tens of millions of Americans support his tough position on North Korea’s nuclear threat.

Following days of grave threats to North Korea, Trump directed his latest warning Friday directly to the communist country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

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1:10 p.m.

An escalating exchange of provocative rhetoric between the United States and North Korea is alarming international leaders. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, estimated the risk of a military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea as “very high,” and said Moscow is deeply concerned.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to say whether Germany would stand with the U.S. in case of a military conflict with North Korea. She called on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the issue.

Japan has started deploying land-based Patriot interceptors after North Korea threatened to send ballistic missiles flying over western Japan and landing near Guam.

Meanwhile, American and South Korean officials said they would move forward with large-scale military exercises later this month that North Korea claims are a rehearsal for war.

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12:45 p.m.

A Democratic congressman is urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to reconvene the House from its summer recess to consider legislation prohibiting a pre-emptive nuclear strike against North Korea.

Rep. David Cicilline (sihs-ihl-EE’-nee) of Rhode Island, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says that in light of President Donald Trump’s “reckless words” threatening North Korea, the House should immediately take up legislation barring a pre-emptive nuclear strike without prior congressional authorization.

Cicilline said Trump “has made a dangerous situation even worse by recklessly asserting that the United States is ‘locked and loaded’ to bring ‘fire and fury’ to North Korea.”

Cicilline said Trump’s bellicose language against North Korea has raised alarms around the world, adding that “if the president will not defuse this situation, then Congress must.”

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11:20 a.m.

Japan has started deploying land-based Patriot interceptors after North Korea threatened to send ballistic missiles flying over western Japan and landing near Guam.

The Defense Ministry said Friday the PAC-3 surface-to-air interceptors are being deployed at four locations: Hiroshima, Kochi, Shimane and Ehime.

The deployment is largely aimed at responding to the risk of falling fragments while missiles fly over the region.

The four PAC-3 systems are brought from eastern Japan, as its missile defense is largely centered around Tokyo. They are expected to arrive in the designated sites early Saturday.

The ministry did not confirm whether Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has already issued an order to shoot down incoming missiles.

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9:35 a.m.

Russia’s foreign minister says the risk of a military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea is “very high.”

Sergey Lavrov said Friday that Russia is strongly worried about escalating rhetoric coming from Pyongyang and Washington. He added that “when it comes close to fight, the one who is stronger and wiser should be the first to step back from the brink.”

Asked how Moscow would act in case of a military conflict between the U.S. and the North, Lavrov answered it would do everything it could to prevent the worst-case scenario.

Lavrov said Russia doesn’t accept the North’s nuclear weapons bid and pointed at a proposal by China and Russia under which Pyongyang would freeze its nuclear and missile tests while the U.S. and South Korea would halt their military drills.

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9:15 a.m.

Despite tensions and talk of war, life on the streets of the North Korean capital Pyongyang remains calm.

There are no air raid drills or cars in camouflage netting as was the case during previous crises. State-run media ensures that the population gets the North Korean side of the story, but doesn’t convey any sense of international concern about the situation.

North Koreans have lived for decades with the state media message that war is imminent, the U.S. is to blame and their country is ready to defend itself.

At a park in central Pyongyang Friday evening, young people practiced volleyball and grandparents and parents watched children on climbing frames and swings.

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9 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she doesn’t see a military solution to rising tensions between the United States and North Korea and called for a de-escalation of the rhetoric.

Asked Friday about U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest statements, Merkel declined to say whether Germany would stand with the U.S. in case of a military conflict with North Korea. She said, “I don’t see a military solution and I don’t think it’s called for.”

Merkel called on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the issue. She says Germany would work to find diplomatic solutions with the countries involved, the U.S. and China in particular, but also South Korea.

She added: “I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer.”

Earlier this week, Trump said the U.S. would slam the North with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it provoked America again.

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8 a.m.

President Donald Trump is warning of military action “should North Korea act unwisely.”

Trump tweeted: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”

North Korea has announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers. If carried out, it would be its most provocative missile launch to date.

Trump said this week the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continued to threaten the U.S.

Indonesia, Russia to work together to fight terrorism

August 9, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talks with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia and Russia pledged Wednesday to strengthen cooperation in cyber-security and counter-terrorism as concern grows about the spread of radicalism in Southeast Asia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is on a two-day visit to Indonesia, said the two countries would work together more closely to counter the spread of Islamic State (IS) ideology.

“The threat that the ISIL is has not vanished. Its members have been spreading all over the world, including areas close to the Russian and Indonesian borders,” Lavrov said, using another acronym for the group.

Hundreds of radicals from Indonesia have flocked abroad to fight with IS, and the country has seen a surge in plots and attacks linked to the jihadists over the past year.

Indonesian officials have also said dozens of Indonesians have travelled to the southern Philippine city of Marawi to fight with militants loyal to IS.

The militants seized parts of the city over two months ago and have resisted all attempts by the Philippine army to evict them.

“We have agreed that our special services will pay particular attention to increasing coordination in our joint efforts to fight this scourge,” Lavrov said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the two countries had strong ties on political and defence issues, and Indonesia wanted to deepen trade ties.

The ministers also discussed tensions on the Korean peninsula, the South China Sea and conflict in the Middle East, but gave no details.

U.S., Russia Must ‘Deal With’ Conflict, Tillerson Says

August 7, 2017

Secretary of state says U.S. will respond to expulsion of diplomats by Sept. 1

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, second from right, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, second from right, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Sunday. PHOTO: US DEPARTMENT OF STATE HANDOUT/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
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Updated Aug. 7, 2017 5:09 a.m. ET

MANILA—U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russia’s foreign minister that the U.S. would respond to that country’s recent expulsion of American diplomats by Sept. 1 and that the nations must confront the distrust created by Moscow’s meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

Mr. Tillerson, speaking with journalists Monday at an Asian regional security conference in the Philippines, said that he told his Russian counterpart in a meeting a day earlier that he wanted Russia to “understand just how serious this incident had been and how seriously it had damaged the relationship between…the American people and the Russian people.”

He told Russia that “We simply have to find some way to deal with that,” Mr. Tillerson said.

Mr. Tillerson and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov got together Sunday for an hour in a much-anticipated meeting on the sidelines of the conference following a spell of increasing acrimony over sanctions against Russia adopted by the U.S. Congress and reluctantly signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the meeting began with Mr. Lavrov explaining the reasoning behind Russia’s decision to expel U.S. diplomats. The decision came “after a long wait for the U.S. not to go down the path of confrontation. But, unfortunately, Russophobic members of Congress prevented that from happening,” the ministry said.

The ministers discussed a range of global issues, including cybersecurity, North Korea, Syria and Ukraine, the ministry said.

The sanctions were intended to punish Russia after the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Moscow had sought to interfere in the election, which Mr. Trump won. Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by saying the U.S. would have to cut 755 diplomats and staff in the country by September.

Mr. Tillerson said Monday that he asked Mr. Lavrov several clarifying questions about that move, and promised a U.S. response by Sept. 1.

Mr. Trump, who has said that relations between the powers are at “an all-time low,” has publicly questioned the intelligence findings on the election and dismissed investigations by Congress and a Justice Department special prosecutor into the matter. Russia has denied meddling in the election.

Mr. Tillerson said Mr. Lavrov indicated “some willingness” to resolve tensions over Ukraine. The countries have been in conflict since 2014, when Moscow annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and Russian-backed separatists started a war in the eastern part of the country.

After the territory grab, the U.S. and the European Union imposed sanctions on Mosow, which Russia has tried unsuccessfully to have lifted. Mr. Trump, who has spoken favorably of the Russian leader, has called for the two countries to make peace.

Mr. Tillerson said the administration viewed the relationship with Russia with pragmatism.

“We want to work with them on areas that are of serious national security interest to us while at the same time having this extraordinary issue of mistrust that divides us,” Mr. Tillerson said. “That’s just what we in the diplomatic part of our relationship are required to do.”

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Write to Ben Otto at ben.otto@wsj.com

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-russia-must-deal-with-conflict-tillerson-says-1502093045

Amid US-Russia feuding, chief diplomats Tillerson and Lavrov stay tight-lipped over talks

August 6, 2017

Neither responded to a shouted question about how new sanctions might affect their discussions

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The Associated Press
August 6, 2017

The United States and Russia are feuding, expelling diplomats in what Washington calls a new post-cold war low. But that did not stop US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov from meeting for the first time since the Trump administration imposed new sanctions against Moscow.

The two held talks on Sunday on the sidelines of an Asian regional gathering in the Philippines, and as investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election push ahead. They smiled and exchanged pleasantries but made no substantive remarks to journalists, who were briefly permitted to observe the start of the meeting.

Neither Tillerson nor Lavrov responded to a shouted question about how the new US penalties might affect their discussions. More than an hour later, Tillerson emerged from the meeting and boarded his motorcade without commenting.

Tillerson and President Donald Trump opposed the sanctions package, passed by Congress in July, which makes it harder for Trump to ever ease penalties on Russia. Trump signed the bill last week, but called it “seriously flawed”.

The White House said Trump’s opposition stemmed from the bill’s failure to grant the president sufficient flexibility on when to lift sanctions. Trump’s critics saw his objections as another sign that he is too eager to pursue closer ties to Russia, or to protect the former cold war foe from penalties designed to punish Moscow for its actions in Ukraine, election meddling and other troublesome behaviour.

Even so, Trump’s administration has argued there’s good reason for the US to seek a more productive relationship. Tillerson has cited modest signs of progress in Syria, where the US and Russia recently brokered a cease-fire in the war-torn country’s southwest, as a sign there’s fertile ground for cooperation.

Yet Russia continues to dismiss any suggestion it interfered in the US election. The former Russian ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak, denied the allegations in an interview screened on Russian state television on Saturday. He said he was merely carrying out his duties as a diplomat when he met with members of Trump’s campaign team.

“Any diplomat, Russian or not, works to better understand the policy of a country he’s posted to, figure out what the new administration’s course is and understand where cooperation is possible,” Kislyak said.

Still, a US Justice Department investigation is moving ahead into Russia’s election interference and potential Trump campaign collusion.

Trump denies any collusion and has repeatedly questioned US intelligence about Moscow’s involvement. Trump has tried to turn the issue into a political rallying cry, arguing that the controversy is an attempt by Democrats and the media to undermine the many millions of Americans who voted for him.

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2105644/amid-us-russia-feuding-chief-diplomats-tillerson-and

Tillerson, Russia’s Lavrov Hold Talks in Manila: Interfax

August 6, 2017

MOSCOW — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began talks on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations forum in Manila, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on Sunday.

The meeting is their first face-to-face talks since President Donald Trump reluctantly signed into law new economic sanctions that Russia said amounted to a full-scale trade war and ended hopes for better ties.

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Gareth Jones)

France Wants Major Powers to Make ‘Proposals’ to Syrian Warring Parties

July 19, 2017

PARIS — France wants major powers involved in the Syrian crisis to join a contact group that would make proposals to warring parties, in an effort to break a deadlock in political negotiations, the French foreign minister said.

Emmanuel Macron’s election victory has given Paris a chance to re-examine its policy on Syria. The change being proposed is to drop demands that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down as a pre-condition for talks, although French officials still insist he cannot be the long-term future for Syria.

France now appears to be aligning its foreign policy with the U.S. priorities of fighting terrorism and seeking better ties with Russia, a move that it calculates could give it a role as a go-between between the two powers, especially on Syria.

“This initiative presumes that we don’t set a pre-condition to the talks that Bashar al-Assad must leave,” Jean-Yves le Drian told CNews in an interview carried Wednesday on its website. That should encourage Russia to enter the process, he said.

Image result for Jean-Yves le Drian, photos

Jean-Yves le Drian

Le Drian gave no details on what new proposals might be offered, a potential format for the contact group or how it would affect existing peace efforts under the auspices of the United Nations, which have limped on for several years with no visible progress.

The foreign ministry and president’s office did not respond to questions on the initiative.

Macron has said he hoped that such a group would comprise the five permanent members of the Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – regional powers and opposition and government officials.

A Middle Eastern diplomat said the U.S. President Donald Trump had agreed in principle to the idea during last week’s visit to Paris, although he wanted the group to comprise only the Security Council members.

Macron, a centrist elected in May, said in June he no longer considered Assad’s departure a pre-condition for a negotiated settlement to the conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven more than 11 million from their homes.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva on Wednesday, Russia’s ambassador Alexei Borodavkin said Moscow saw this as a positive development.

“What is important I think is that this initiative is also based on the assumption which was announced by President Macron that France is no longer demanding that Assad should immediately resign,” he said.

The French idea of a contact group has already been broached to some of the potential parties, although several French diplomats said it the idea was still vague.

Steffan de Mistura, the UN mediator for the Syria talks now being conducted, commented on the proposal in Geneva last Friday, after the seventh round of those talks in Geneva.

“In fact the UN would be in a position therefore of doing what we’re doing at the moment but with one difference, that you would have those countries who are actually very influential, being in a position also perhaps influencing directly during the talks,” de Mistura said. “Should I be against that? That’s exactly what the UN needs to have and wants to have.”

(Reporting by John Irish and Tom Miles, editing by Larry King)

Ukrainian Separatists Proclaim a New State — Malorossiya will apparently include Donetsk and Luhansk, much of Ukraine’s industrial heartland and the Road To Crimea

July 18, 2017

MOSCOW — Separatists in eastern Ukraine have proclaimed a new state on the territories they control.

More than 10,000 people have died in fighting after Russia-backed rebels took control of parts of Ukraine’s industrial heartland in April 2014. Ukraine signed a cease-fire deal with the separatists in 2015 which also provided for a gradual return of the areas into Kiev’s fold while giving some autonomy to the areas. The agreement was never fully implemented.

The separatist Donetsk News Agency on Tuesday quoted separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko as saying that the rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk would form a state called Malorossiya. Zakharchenko said they are drawing up a constitution that would be put up to a popular vote later.

There was no immediate comment from Russia, which has been supporting the rebels.

Image result for Donetsk and Luhansk

Russia’s Lavrov: Show Me at Least One Fact Moscow Meddled in U.S. Election

July 12, 2017

MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday he wanted to be shown at least one fact proving Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“I don’t know anything about this fact. It’s amazing that serious people are making a mountain out of a molehill,” Lavrov told a news conference during a visit to Belgium. His comments were broadcast live by Russian state Rossiya 24 TV channel.

Lavrov was reacting to reports that U.S. President Donald Trump’s eldest son was blamed for meeting a Russian lawyer that emails show might have had damaging information about Hillary Clinton last year.

(Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Maria Kiselyova)