Posts Tagged ‘President Donald Trump’

Say It Isn’t So: Trump Administration Weighs Withdrawal From South Korea Trade Pact

September 3, 2017

President Donald Trump has been a critic of the five-year-old bilateral deal

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and President of South Korea Moon Jae-in at a White House press conference in June.
U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and President of South Korea Moon Jae-in at a White House press conference in June. PHOTO:MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Updated Sept. 3, 2017 6:59 a.m. ET

The Trump administration is weighing giving notice to South Korea of plans to withdraw from a five-year-old bilateral trade pact, with a decision arriving as soon as this coming week, according to people familiar with the matter.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained about the pact and the sharp increase in the U.S. trade deficit that followed the 2012 implementation of the agreement. Trade negotiators from the two countries held a series of tense meetings over the summer with American officials leaving unhappy with what they felt was Seoul’s unwillingness to make significant changes to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, known as Korus, according to people briefed on the meetings.

Talk of an exit comes as the Trump administration is simultaneously trying to round up support in South Korea and around the region to more aggressively oppose North Korea’s effort to build nuclear missiles that can hit the U.S.

A White House spokeswoman said Saturday that “discussions are ongoing” with Korea over the pact but declined to elaborate further. “We have no announcements at this time,” the spokeswoman said.

It is unclear whether the White House is really considering abrogating the pact, or wants to use the threat as a negotiating tactic to bring Seoul back to the bargaining table.

“It’s a real question how serious this is,” said one person outside the administration who was familiar with its discussions.

South Korea’s trade ministry declined to comment.

Trade officials in Seoul said it wasn’t appropriate to talk about what the two governments have yet to officially discuss. “The government is thoroughly preparing for all possibilities,” said a South Korean trade ministry official. Seoul would keep discussing the issue with Washington in an “open-minded” manner, the official said.

Inside the White House, Mr. Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have shown interest in withdrawing from the deal, said multiple people familiar with the internal debate. Mr. Trump has been frustrated with the slow pace of negotiations over Nafta and is eager to deliver on campaign promises to rewrite the nation’s free-trade agreements, the people said.

On the other side are the former and current military officers advising the president, including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who have urged more caution and questioned the timing of such a move, the people said.

Escalating trade pressure on South Korea is also likely to face resistance from the U.S. State Department and the Defense Department, which have been working closely with the Asian ally on a coordinated strategy to counter the rising threat from North Korea’s nuclear program— including Seoul’s willingness to install U.S.-made antimissile launchers over deep domestic political opposition.

Jon Wolfsthal, a fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said killing the free-trade agreement would make North Korea’s goal of driving a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea easier to reach.

With North Korea’s capabilities steadily advancing, “this would seem the worst time to engage an economic warfare with a close ally,” said Mr. Wolfsthal, senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the National Security Council during the Obama administration.

In a similar way, Mr. Trump threatened in April to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, before dropping that warning to renegotiate the deal with Canada and Mexico. Those talks are continuing this weekend in Mexico City, and Mr. Trump has in recent days revived his Nafta withdrawal threat should he be unhappy with the results.

Still, U.S. business groups that lobbied heavily for the pact under the Obama administration have taken seriously the potential Korus break, which was first reported by news publication Inside U.S. Trade, and launched a furious weekend effort to quell the prospect.

The National Association of Manufacturers sent an “alert” email to members shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday that said “we understand through multiple sources that. a notice of intent to withdraw. has been drafted.” The trade group urged its members “to weigh in as soon as possible with senior administration officials, Members of Congress and governors.” A similar flurry of business activity helped block the threatened Nafta withdrawal in April.

Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet with top advisers in the White House on Tuesday to discuss the potential withdrawal, according to a person familiar with the planning.

A break in the South Korea trade pact also would be seen by some critics as a sign of further American withdrawal from economic engagement in the region, following Mr. Trump’s January pullout from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which had been negotiated by former President Barack Obama with Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and others, but was never ratified by Congress.

Under the terms of the Korus pact, either side can pull out by giving 180 days notice.

Mr. Trump has branded Korus as “horrible,” and during a June White House meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in he said the two sides had agreed to renegotiate the deal.

Mr. Moon and his aides have repeatedly denied that they were willing to go that far, though they have agreed to discussions to review possible amendments to the pact.

Under the provisions of the agreement, each side has the right to request a meeting to discuss possible changes, and the Trump administration triggered that clause for the first time under the pact, leading to an Aug. 22 meeting.

That session was tense, according to people who were briefed on it, and the two sides didn’t reach any agreements about how to proceed. “Unfortunately, too many American workers have not benefited from the agreement,” Mr. Lighthizer said in a statement released after the discussion with his South Korean counterpart. “President Trump is committed to substantial improvements in the Korean agreement that address the trade imbalance,” added Mr. Lighthizer, who participated via videoconference.

A USTR fact sheet released with the statement said the U.S. trade deficit in goods with South Korea had more than doubled from $13.2 billion in 2011 —the year before the pact took effect—to $27.6 billion in 2016. It noted that the bilateral auto deficit made up about 90% of that deficit.

President Trump and some of his aides have cited bilateral deficits with trading partners as a clear indication of problems in an economic relationship —a view rejected by many economists, who say that broader macroeconomic factors like savings and investment levels drive trade imbalances, and those can’t be altered through trade agreements. But the Trump administration has told the South Korean government it wants to use their pact to address the deficit. At the August meeting, the South Korean government proposed a joint study to examine the causes of the imbalance.

While Mr. Lighthizer cited ongoing trade barriers in South Korea as a factor behind the growing imbalance, some economists say that a sharp economic downturn in the country in recent years has reduced South Korean imports across the board, and they argue that U.S. exports would have fallen much more than the 3% drop registered over the past five years.

Korus advocates also say that some sectors have benefited under the agreement and would suffer from a breach. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which also rallied its members Saturday to fight a pullout, circulated a fact sheet saying that “aerospace exports to Korea have doubled to $8 billion” under the pact, while “exports of key agriculture products have soared as Korus has begun to phase out double digit tariffs.”

The Chamber notice warned that a pullout “would rupture White House relations with the business and agriculture community”—ties that have already been strained in recent weeks over other issues, including the dissolution of various White House business councils in the wake of Mr. Trump’s handling of the mid-July Charlottesville, Va., protests.

A Korus pullout announcement would also likely aggravate Mr. Trump’s already tense ties with Capitol Hill. Lawmakers have repeatedly complained in recent months about what they consider insufficient consultation with the administration over trade policy. In a rare bipartisan move, the four Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate trade committees sent Mr. Lighthizer a letter in mid-July urging him to consult them closely as he reviewed Korus, and to be careful about any dramatic breaks. “The U.S. trade agreement with South Korea remains a key cornerstone of U.S. economic and strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region,” their letter began.

The administration’s debate over a possible Korus pullout comes amid a wide-ranging exploration of changing American trade policy. In addition to renegotiating Nafta, officials are ramping up trade pressure on China, and have studied the possibility of imposing new trade curbs on steel and aluminum imports in the name of national security. Beyond the TPP pullout, though, the administration has done little to change trade policy so far, despite the strong rhetoric.

Write to Jacob M. Schlesinger at jacob.schlesinger@wsj.com, Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com and Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-weighs-withdrawal-from-south-korea-trade-pact-1504375312

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Analysis: Trump vows to win the seemingly unwinnable war

August 22, 2017

By JULIE PACE and KEN THOMAS
The Associated Press

Donald Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is vowing to win what has seemed to be an unwinnable war.

How he plans to do so is still murky despite the months of internal deliberations that ultimately persuaded Trump to stick with a conflict he has long opposed.

In a 26-minute address to the nation Monday, Trump alluded to more American troops deploying to Afghanistan, but refused to say how many. He said victory would be well-defined, but outlined only vague benchmarks for success, like dismantling al-Qaida and preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan. He said the U.S. would not offer Afghanistan a “blank check,” but provided no specific timetable for the end of an American commitment that has already lasted 16 years.

Instead, Trump projected an “I got this” bravado that has become a hallmark of his presidency.

“In the end, we will win,” he declared of America’s longest war.

Victory in Afghanistan has eluded Trump’s predecessors: President George W. Bush, who launched the war after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and President Barack Obama, who surged U.S. troop levels to 100,000, but ultimately failed in fulfilling his promise to bring the conflict to a close before leaving office.

President Donald Trump gave a prime time address Monday announcing a policy shift on Afghanistan and South Asia. Jarrett Blanc, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argues Trump’s announcement marked little change. (Aug. 21)

As Trump now takes his turn at the helm, he faces many of the same challenges that have bedeviled those previous presidents and left some U.S. officials deeply uncertain about whether victory is indeed possible.

Afghanistan remains one of the world’s poorest countries and corruption is embedded in its politics. The Taliban is resurgent. And Afghan forces remain too weak to secure the country without American help.

“When we had 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, we couldn’t secure the whole country,” said Ben Rhodes, who served as Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

Trump offered up many of the same solutions tried by his predecessors. He vowed to get tough on neighboring Pakistan, to push for reforms in Afghanistan and to moderate ambitions. The U.S. will not be caught in the quagmire of democracy-building abroad, he said, promising a “principled realism” focused only on U.S. interests would guide his decisions.

Obama promised much of the same.

By simply sticking with the Afghan conflict, Trump’s plan amounts to a victory for the military men increasingly filling Trump’s inner circle and a stinging defeat for the nationalist supporters who saw in Trump a like-minded skeptic of U.S. intervention in long and costly overseas conflicts. Chief among them is ousted adviser Steve Bannon, whose website Breitbart News blared criticism Monday of the establishment’s approach to running he war.

After Trump’s speech, one headline on the website read: “’UNLIMITED WAR.” Another said: “What Does Victory in Afghanistan Look Like? Washington Doesn’t Know.”

Now Trump leads Washington and that question falls for him to answer. As a candidate, he energized millions of war-weary voters with an “America First” mantra and now faces the challenges of explaining how that message translates to U.S. involvement in a war across the globe, likely for years to come.

In a rare moment of public self-reflection, Trump acknowledged that his position on Afghanistan had changed since taking office and sought to sway his supporters who would normally oppose a continuation of the war.

“My original instinct was to pull out,” Trump said. “But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, in other words, when you’re president of the United States.”

Trump pointed to “three fundamental conclusions” about U.S. interests in Afghanistan — all of which appeal to patriotism and nationalistic pride.

The president said the nation needs to seek “an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices” made by U.S. soldiers — a line that harkened back to promises made by Richard Nixon during the 1968 campaign to bring “an honorable end” to the war in Vietnam.

Trump also warned that a rapid exit would create a vacuum that terrorists like the Islamic State group and al-Qaida would fill, leading to conditions similar to before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And he noted that the security threats in Afghanistan are “immense,” and made the case that it is key to protecting the U.S.

The U.S. currently has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. Pentagon officials proposed plans to send in nearly 4,000 more to boost training and advising of the Afghan forces and bolster counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and an Islamic State group affiliate trying to gain a foothold in the country.

To those U.S. service members, Trump promised nothing short of success.

“The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory,” he said. “They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win.”

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EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics for The Associated Press since 2007. Follow her at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC .

Ken Thomas has covered the White House and national politics for the AP since 2011. Follow him at http://twitter.com/kthomasDC .

https://apnews.com/d60c6004e9a14e998aea734524b6a905/Analysis:-Trump-vows-to-win-the-seemingly-unwinnable-war

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Petition Calls on Trump to Officially Recognize ‘Antifa’ as a Terrorist Organization

August 20, 2017

A White House petition created Thursday is calling on President Trump to officially recognize the radical left-wing Antifa movement as a terrorist organization.

“Antifa has earned this title due to its violent actions in multiple cities and their influence in the killings of multiple police officers throughout the United States,” the petition reads.

Antifa has been known to provoke right-wing activists, and has made appearances in Berkeley, California, in March and Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.

In the most recent incident in Charlottesville, the violent protesters clashed with right-wing activists protesting the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Although Trump has not called out “Antifa” by name, he did condemn white supremacists and violent “alt-left” protesters.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump told reporters at Trump Tower on Tuesday. “What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. That was a horrible, horrible day.”

The petition had 29,169 signatures as of Saturday evening – still shy of just over 70,000 signatures before it is eligible for an official response from the White House.

Other petitions demanding that Trump take action against similar advocacy groups have circulated through the White House’s petition site, like one attempting to get Trump to recognize Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization, but none have gotten an official response from the White House.

Aspen Security Forum: Former CIA Head Says If Trump Fires Mueller, U.S. Government Officials Should Refuse to Follow the President’s Orders

July 25, 2017

In the most vocal opposition to president Donald Trump yet, former CIA Director John Brennan said that if the White House tries to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, government officials should refuse to follow the president orders, as they would be – in his view – “inconsistent” with the duties of the executive branch.

“I think it’s the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out. I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue. That Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this government is at stake and something needs to be done for the good of the future,” Brennan told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum, effectively calling for a coup against the president should Trump give the order to fire Mueller.

The exchange is 43 minutes into the clip below:

(Full transcript here)

Brennan appeared alongside his former colleague, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and both men who served in the Obama administration, told Blitzer they have total confidence in Mueller. “Absolutely. It was an inspired choice- they don’t come any better, ” Brennan said adding that “If Mueller is fired, I hope our elected reps will stand up and say enough is enough.” Some have responded with questions where Brennan’s devotion to the Constitution was in the aftermath of the events in Benghazi.

Image result for john brennan, photos

John Brennan. Photo by: J. Scott Applewhite, The Associated Press

Falling back on his neocon roots, James Clapper, who has waged a long-running vendetta with Trump, once again warned about Russian interference in US affairs. When asked about the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort with a Russian lawyer and others, he responded: “I’m an old school, Cold War warrior and all that – so I have, there’s truth in advertising, great suspicions about the Russians and what they do. A lot of this to me had kind of the standard textbook tradecraft long deployed by Russians. It would have been a really good idea maybe to have vetted whoever they were meeting with.”

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and closeup

Then Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before a Senate (Select) Intelligence hearing on “World Wide Threats” on Capitol Hill in Washington January 31, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Clapper was also asked about Trump’s comparison of the intelligence community to Nazi Germany. Clapper said he called the President-elect nine days before he left the Obama administration saying he “couldn’t let that reference pass” and it was an insult to him, CIA Director John Brennan and the workforce. “That was a terrible, insulting affront, not just to me or John, we get paid the big bucks, but I’m talking about the rank and file, men and women, patriots and intelligence community — that was completely inappropriate and over the top – I had to do something about it.”

And so he did: on the call Clapper said Trump asked him to “to put out a statement rebutting the contents of the dossier which I couldn’t and wouldn’t do. It was kind of transactional” referring to a dossier that alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. It was not clear if he wouldn’t and couldn’t do it because the contents were legitimate, in his view, or because the dossier is what started the whole “Russian collusion” narrative in the first place. Curiously, Clapper saw it as a favor to Trump not to issue a statement: Clapper was asked by Blitzer why he didn’t put out a statement replying: “The whole point of the dossier by the way was we felt an obligation to warn him to alert him to the fact it was out there. That was the whole point.”

It was not clear if James Comey, whose subsequent leak to the NYT led to the appointment of Mueller, would have applied the same reasoning when asked by Trump to rebut the dossier’s contents.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/former-cia-director-calls-coup-if-trump-fires-mueller

See also:

Angry Former Spy Chiefs, Anxiety, and Discord Over Trump at a Security Forum

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/angry-former-spy-chiefs-anxiety-and-discord-at-a-security-forum-over-trump

Sweden Intensifies Crackdown on Illegal Immigrants (The Rarely Spoken Truth: Donald Trump Was Right)

July 13, 2017

STOCKHOLM — Sweden has intensified its crackdown on illegal immigrants after a failed asylum-seeker killed five people in Stockholm, but the move has raised concerns that more migrants will be driven underground to join a shadowy underclass.

In the past months, police have staged wider sweeps on workplaces to check papers, netting undocumented workers, sending a warning to employers and sparking heated debate in a nation that has been traditionally tolerant to migrants.

In May, police carried out their biggest raid so far when dozens of officers swooped on a constructions site in Stockholm. Nine were caught and sent to detention centers, while another 40 escaped by scrambling onto scaffolding and across roof tops.

Swedish authorities had already started to tighten up on illegal immigrants, but police stepped up their activities after Uzbek construction worker Rakhmat Akilov drove into Stockholm shoppers in April.

“We have an unlimited amount of work,” said Jerk Wiberg, who leads the Stockholm police unit in charge of domestic border controls. A 22-year veteran who has caught thousands of illegal immigrants, Wiberg led the raid at the construction site in May.

After Akilov became another militant in Europe to use a truck as a weapon, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven made it clear that “no means no” for those whose asylum bids are rejected. Akilov, whose lawyer said he had admitted to committing the crime, had been in hiding after his asylum request was denied.

The Migration Agency estimated 10,000 asylum-seekers a year will choose to disappear rather than be deported. Up to 50,000 undocumented immigrants already work in hotels, transport, construction and restaurants, the agency said last year.

Migration Minister Morgan Johansson said that a “dual labor market … where a growing group lives on the outside of society and remains in Sweden” after having been denied residency was unacceptable.

“It also increases the risk of them being exploited. We cannot have it that way,” he said, adding: “One way is to go after the employers … (using) expanded workplace checks.”

While cheap migrant labor is welcomed by some small businesses, government officials and economists worry that the shadow economy undercuts Sweden’s economic model, whose generous welfare provisions and high wages are built on high rates of productivity and one of the world’s heaviest tax regimes.

ANTI-IMMIGRANT PARTY

Tough measures against immigrants go against the grain for many in Sweden, a country of 10 million which once called itself “a humanitarian superpower” that generously welcomed migrants fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

But attitudes appear to be changing and a 2017 study by Gothenburg University showed 52 percent favored taking fewer refugees into the country with 24 percent opposed. Two years ago 40 percent backed reducing refugee numbers with 37 opposed.

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats are now the second biggest party in polls with support of around a fifth of Swedes.

The Social Democrats, the country’s biggest party in every election since 1917 and leader of the governing coalition with the Greens, has been forced to balance its traditional left-wing credentials with the need to enforce immigration laws.

Despite political support for the crackdown and tougher rules on immigration, police struggle to enforce deportations. Between January and April police deported just under 600 people, a third fewer than in the same period last year.

Some of those caught were freed because detention centers were full, while others cannot be deported as they don’t have passports to prove their country of origin or their home countries refuse to take them.

The government never discloses how many are held in detention centers, saying there are about 360 beds and deportees are normally repatriated within three weeks. The government has told the migration agency to add another 100 beds.

An extra 800 million crowns ($95 million) has been added to the police budget this year to bolster the clampdown, but senior officers say this is not enough.

WIDENING THE NET

In 2016, police made about 1,100 unannounced workplace checks, almost three times more than in 2015, and caught 232 illegal immigrants. A further increase is expected in 2017 as the net widens. Illegal immigrants are also detained through checks at transport hubs, on vehicles or after committing crime.

Deportations made up a small fraction of the 20,000 rejected asylum seekers who left Sweden last year.

“We have been able to increase the number of people who leave Sweden substantially. But we’re listening to the police and we have paved the way for more resources and wider powers,” Johansson said in an interview, adding:

“We will have to increase that number further.”

Expanded police powers include workplace checks without concrete suspicion of a crime, to be allowed from next year, with sharply higher fines for employing illegal immigrants.

Immigrants themselves have been unnerved. When police burst into a pizzeria in the southern city of Malmo where Ehsanulla Kajfar, a 38-year-old Afghan refugee, was working in May he said he thought they were looking for “terrorists or drug dealers”.

He was surprised to be handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a police vehicle as tax officials scrutinized the restaurant’s employee ledger. He was told his papers were not in order and was taken to a detention center.

“Sweden used to be a nice country, even when I was living underground,” he told Reuters. “Now although I have a residence permit from Italy and I am registered at the tax agency in Sweden, I’m still locked in a detention center.”

IMMIGRANTS FEARFUL

Nicaraguan Hugo Eduardo Somarriba Quintero, 37, said he was wrongly detained in the big raid in Stockholm in May due to an error by authorities and then released. Migration Agency records confirmed the details of his case.

“But I’ve lost my job – the company where I was working was dropped from the construction site (because of irregularities in not checking work papers properly). Now I am looking for work and there is no job for me,” he tearfully told Reuters, adding:

“Before there was a lot of tolerance for migrants. Now the laws are harder.”

Muhammad, a 22-year old Afghan who declined to give his family name, has been in hiding for three years in Malmo since his asylum application was rejected.

He has moved three times this year and never stays in a place longer than three months. All his belongings are packed in a suitcase and two plastic bags if he needs to leave in a hurry.

Muhammad relies on food stamps from the church and leftover food from restaurants and grocery stores.

He has learned to avoid the city center when there is an increase in policing and gets help from other immigrants and volunteers who work for asylum-seekers’ rights. They warn each other of police checks and raids through text messages.

“Last time the police made a push to find immigrants, my friend stayed inside for 15 to 20 days,” Muhammad said. “But I can’t stay inside all the time, its too depressing.”

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Mansoor Yosufzai, additional reporting by Alister Doyle, editing by Peter Millership)

Related:

Trump insists he was RIGHT about violence in Sweden as he tells CPAC he ‘took a lot of heat’ for roping Scandinavian nation into terror talk

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4257174/Trump-insists-RIGHT-violence-Sweden.html#ixzz4mgpg4qFb
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 (February 24, 2017)

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Thailand approves $5.2B for delayed China rail project

July 11, 2017
Published July 11, 2017, 8:16 PM

By Agence France-Presse

Thailand’s military government on Tuesday approved $5.2 billion to build the first stretch of a high-speed railway that will ultimately link Bangkok to southern China, a massive joint infrastructure project with Beijing that has been dogged by delays.

The project is part of China’s huge regional infrastructure plan to build a high-speed rail network connecting the southern city of Kunming with Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Construction has already begun in Laos but the Thai segment of rail has been stymied for years by tussles over financing, loan terms and protective labor regulations in the Southeast Asian kingdom.thailand-flag

The funding approval from Thailand’s cabinet came after junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha invoked his absolute powers last month to clear a series of legal and technical hurdles standing in the way of the deal.

Image result for Prayuth Chan-ocha, photos

Prayuth Chan-ocha

“The Cabinet has approved phase one of the high speed railway… from Bangkok to Korat with 179 billion baht ($5.2 billion) budget for a four-year plan,” said Kobsak Pootrakool from the Prime Minister’s office.

The first stage of the high-speed line will run 250 kilometres (150 miles) between Bangkok and the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat.

The plan is to then extend the track to Nong Khai on the border with Laos.

Thailand will cover the construction costs but the vast majority of technical expertise will come from Chinese engineers — something that has disgruntled local firms who were angered by Prayut’s decision to loosen restrictions placed on foreign engineers.

“Thailand will be responsible for the construction, while China will be responsible for design,” Thai Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said Tuesday.

The rail deal is one of the biggest foreign investment projects in Thailand in years and is part of Beijing’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ infrastructure drive which aims to revive ancient Silk Road trading routes.

China’s largesse and increased investment presence in Asia comes as rival power the United States becomes more isolationist under President Donald Trump.

Thailand’s junta has cosied up to Beijing since its 2014 power grab, shelling out billions on Chinese arms and welcoming investment from the regional superpower.

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China is the nation gaining the most, so China should step up to pay for a greater share of the planned railway network, the Thai transport minister said less than a month agao

China leads the way: Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai inspecting a model at the launch of China High Speed Rail Exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in December last year. It is undeniable that China garners the most support in the bid for the HSR project, beating countries such as Japan.

China leads the way: Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai inspecting a model at the launch of China High Speed Rail Exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in December last year. It is undeniable that China garners the most support in the bid for the HSR project, beating countries such as Japan.

‘No, I didn’t hack your election’: Trump challenges Putin over meddling in first face-to-face meeting at G20 summit that went on for two hours and resulted in Syrian ceasefire deal

July 7, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person

  • Donald Trump met Russian President Vladimir Putin face to face for the first time at the G20 summit Friday
  • The meeting ran for two hours and 16 minutes
  • Putin told Russian state media that cybercrime was among the topics discussed
  • Ukraine – a hot topic since Russia’s invasion and lingering hostilities – and counterterrorism came up 
  • Trump told Putin it was ‘an honor’ to be with him in Hamburg, Germany, for first bilateral meeting
  • Trump and Putin’s meeting comes at a pivotal time in relations between Russia and the United States
  • Federal investigators are continuing to look into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election
  • Officials are also investigating possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials
  • The meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 global economic powers opened Friday in Hamburg, Germany

President Donald Trump raised the simmering issue of Russian election interference in a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin – and Putin denied it, according to secretary of state Rex Tillerson.

Bringing up that highly charged issue that his team refused to telegraph was on the table, Trump ‘pressed’ Putin on election interference.

The president ‘pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement,’ Tillerson said. President Putin denied such involvement as I think he has in the past,’ he continued.

Tillerson, who was in the meeting, said the Russians pushed Trump for proof and evidence of a claim the president himself doubted as recently as Thursday.

‘The president at this point pressed him and felt like at this point, let’s talk about how do we go forward,’ Tillerson said.

Trump said that he was 'honored' to meet Putin as they sat down together on Friday afternoon. As the meeting started he said that he and Putin had been 'discussing various things and I think it's going very, very well'

Trump said that he was ‘honored’ to meet Putin as they sat down together on Friday afternoon. As the meeting started he said that he and Putin had been ‘discussing various things and I think it’s going very, very well’

Putin said after the meeting that cybersecurity was among the topics that came up.

Tillerson said the two men agreed the issue had become a ‘substantial hindrance’ to the relationship.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Putin was behind a Moscow-backed effort to interfere in the presidential elections.

They ‘agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United STates and our democratic process as well as those of other countries,’ according to Tillerson.

He said there was not a lot of ‘relitigating’ of past problems.

‘We simply have to find a way to go forward,’ he said.

But Tillerson who has publicly called out Russia for election interference in the past, said he was ‘not dismissing the issue in any way.’

The face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin stretched on for more than two hours – and was quickly followed by news the U.S. and Russia had reached an agreement on a cease fire in Syria.

The closely-watched meeting had only been scheduled to run for 30 minutes. Instead, it ran for two hours and sixteen minutes.

The cease fire is to take effect Sunday at noon in Damascus, the Associated Press reported, without adding further details. Israel and Jordan were reported to be part of the agreement. The agreement had been in the works for months.

The sign of possible progress in Syria – where Russia is the primary backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – came more than two hours after Trump said it was ‘an honor’ to meet Putin.

The deal, confirmed by three U.S. officials, is distinct from a plan for “de-escalation zones” that were part of a Russia-brokered deal that did not include the U.S.

Putin told Russian state media that cybercrime was among the topics discussed.  Others topics included Ukraine and countering terrorism, Putin said.

Putin told the president he was ‘delighted’ to meet for the first time. And with that, the dance was on.

The two leaders of nations that once squared off in Cold War iciness sat down in a neutral setting Friday, representing their nations at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany.

The men’s first high-stakes handshake had happened hours earlier in a backstage moment captured by a German government photographer.

With the drama all but gone, Trump and Putin sat before cameras in advance of a meeting that was expected to last more than a half-hour.

Accompanying each man was the smallest of entourages: for Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and a translator, and for Putin, his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and a translator.

On the agenda, according to White House officials, was everything from the Ukraine to NATO arms buildups.

Hands extended: Trump and Putin move towards a very public handshake as they sit down at the G20 in Hamburg

Hands extended: Trump and Putin move towards a very public handshake as they sit down at the G20 in Hamburg

 The pair spoke briefly to the press before starting their meeting, and Trump said that he was looking forward to some 'positive talks' with Putin

 The pair spoke briefly to the press before starting their meeting, and Trump said that he was looking forward to some ‘positive talks’ with Putin

Just a few of us: The Russian delegation consisted simply of Putin, his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and their translator, while the U.S. side was President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and their translator

Just a few of us: The Russian delegation consisted simply of Putin, his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and their translator, while the U.S. side was President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and their translator

Establishing a rapport: A White House official said the president had a checklist of things he wanted to deal with but that the meeting was about assessing what sort of relationship he could have with Putin

Establishing a rapport: A White House official said the president had a checklist of things he wanted to deal with but that the meeting was about assessing what sort of relationship he could have with Putin

Putin does the talking: The Russian president said he was 'delighted' to meet with the U.S. leader

Putin does the talking: The Russian president said he was ‘delighted’ to meet with the U.S. leader

No answers: Trump ignored shouted questions on election meddling as he met with Putin, the man said to be behind it - something Trump came close to acknowledging in Poland, but not far enough for Democrats

No answers: Trump ignored shouted questions on election meddling as he met with Putin, the man said to be behind it – something Trump came close to acknowledging in Poland, but not far enough for Democrats

Thin smile: Putin appeared to come close to a grin as Trump made a point about reporters and photographers allowed into the start of their meeting

Thin smile: Putin appeared to come close to a grin as Trump made a point about reporters and photographers allowed into the start of their meeting

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin gave one another a warm welcome on Thursday as they shook hands during their introduction at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin gave one another a warm welcome on Thursday as they shook hands during their introduction at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany

In video of the meeting, Trump is seen shaking Vlad's hand rightie-to-rightie, and using his left hand to pat the underside of Putin's arm 

In video of the meeting, Trump is seen shaking Vlad’s hand rightie-to-rightie, and using his left hand to pat the underside of Putin’s arm

The pair smiled and told one another they would see each other soon in a private meeting. Trump earlier tweeted that he had 'much to discuss' with the Russian leader

The pair smiled and told one another they would see each other soon in a private meeting. Trump earlier tweeted that he had ‘much to discuss’ with the Russian leader

At one point during their brief initial meeting, Putin pointed at Trump as they continued to shake hands. Their private meeting is scheduled for later on Friday

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and EU institutional chiefs Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk were nearby when Trump and Putin greeted one another. Trump is pictured rubbing the Russian leader's back 

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and EU institutional chiefs Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk were nearby when Trump and Putin greeted one another. Trump is pictured rubbing the Russian leader’s back

The promise of a fresh start to US-Russia relations has been eclipsed by allegations of collusion between the Kremlin and members of Trump's election campaign team 

The promise of a fresh start to US-Russia relations has been eclipsed by allegations of collusion between the Kremlin and members of Trump’s election campaign team

Trump watches Putin as he speaks to President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker at the G20 summit on Friday

But administration insiders wouldn’t say if the president planned to upbraid his Moscow counterpart for meddling in the election that brought him to power.

And Trump ignored reporters’ questions about whether he would raise the uncomfortable but geopolitically crucial topic.

German chancellor Angela Merkel praised the meeting when asked about it at the summit. ‘I hail Trump and Putin meeting on the summit’s sidelines,’ she said.

Democrats have criticized Trump for taking office under a cloud of controversy, saying the Kremlin installed him in the White House through a series of computer hacking exploits aimed at weakening Hillary Clinton and raising doubts about U.S. election integrity.

Republicans have largely insisted Trump won the Oval Office because Clinton was a weak candidate who ignored the lessons of U.S. electoral history.

As history yields to future, Trump and Putin will inevitably have to get a practical feel for each other, at a time when most of the world imagines them as yin and yang – opposite, but deeply familiar.

One administration official said Friday that Trump ‘would be happy to listen a bit, before making demands, since the two men really don’t know each other.’

A second official said the president would go into the meeting with a ‘mental checklist’ of things to discuss, but that the short window of time meant they would likely have ‘only enough space to establish a working relationship.’

I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally – and I hope that as you have said our meetings will yield positive results.
Putin to Trump

Trump said repeatedly during his campaign that it would be ‘a good thing’ for the United States if Washington and Moscow had a relationship based on more than mutual distrust.

On Friday he told journalists: ‘We’ve had some very, very good talks.’

Through a translator, Putin said phone calls to the White House ‘are never enough, definitely.’

‘I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally – and I hope that as you have said our meetings will yield positive results.’

The first meeting was less choreographed and far less anticipated.

The German government captured the ordinarily hidden first handshakes and back-slaps by mounting a video camera on top of an official photographer’s camera.

Trump was seen shaking Putin’s hand, while using his left hand to pat the underside of Putin’s arm.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, facing them from the other side of a cocktail table, leaned obliviously while the two men appear to chuckle at a private joke.

The surprising gesture was more familiar than anything else shown on the 40-second video clip, which was first published on Facebook.

When Putin greeted UK Prime Minister Theresa May, for instance, the handshake is formal, curt and respectful – with the leaders bowing to each other slightly.

But when Trump came up to the same table to see Putin, the how-do-you-do is more congenial – the stuff of fishing buddies or bowling teammates.

In a later clip, Trump was shown extending his left arm to pat Putin’s back while he smiles broadly.

Until Thursday, the two men had reportedly never met. Trump is trying to establish a rapport with Putin, one White House aide said Friday, in the hope that the two men can reach a detente and avoid a new Cold War.

But the US president’s critics warn that Putin, a former KGB spymaster, is a master of manipulation who can meet every Trump volley with an overhand smash.

The footage was shot during the leaders’ ‘retreat’ – an informal gathering before the more consequential meetings that form the basis of G20 policy discussions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes part in a family photo along with French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S.President Donald Trump, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, South African President Jacob Zuma, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Brazilian President Michel Temer, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, U.N. Secretary-general Antonio Guterres, Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Senegal's President Macky Sall, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano

German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes part in a family photo along with French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S.President Donald Trump, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, South African President Jacob Zuma, Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Brazilian President Michel Temer, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, U.N. Secretary-general Antonio Guterres, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Senegal’s President Macky Sall, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano

Trump (second from left in the front row) and Putin (fourth from right in the front row) stood far from another in a group shot of the leaders involved in the G20 summit

Trump (second from left in the front row) and Putin (fourth from right in the front row) stood far from another in a group shot of the leaders involved in the G20 summit

After the photo was take, Macron and Trump chatted as Trudeau and Pena Nieto stood by. Throughout the weekend, the group will discuss climate change and global trade

After the photo was take, Macron and Trump chatted as Trudeau and Pena Nieto stood by. Throughout the weekend, the group will discuss climate change and global trade

Merkel covers her face as she speaks to Trump at the start of the G20 on Friday. US Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin (back right) was also at the event

Merkel covers her face as she speaks to Trump at the start of the G20 on Friday. US Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin (back right) was also at the event

Putin listens to Merkel as she appears to reference someone's height during the first working session of the G20 

Putin listens to Merkel as she appears to reference someone’s height during the first working session of the G20

Mediator Merkel? The German Chancellor listens in as Macron and Trump exchange a few words 

Mediator Merkel? The German Chancellor listens in as Macron and Trump exchange a few words

Merkel, Trump and Macron talk before getting down to business at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting

Merkel, Trump and Macron talk before getting down to business at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting

Macron and Trump laughed as they stood next to one another during a posed group photo of all of the world leaders at the G20 Summit

Macron and Trump laughed as they stood next to one another during a posed group photo of all of the world leaders at the G20 Summit

Merkel told leaders of the Group of 20 economic powers Friday that millions of people are hoping they can help solve the world's problems, and warned them that they must be prepared to make compromises. Pictured above, Trump and Macron at the event

Merkel told leaders of the Group of 20 economic powers Friday that millions of people are hoping they can help solve the world’s problems, and warned them that they must be prepared to make compromises. Pictured above, Trump and Macron at the event

Before Putin, Trump tried to manage another rocky international relationship as he with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.  Pena Nieto insists Mexico will not pay. Trump hailed Pena Nieto as a 'friend' in their face-to-face meeting on Friday, but said he 'absolutely' wants Mexico to pay for the wall

Before Putin, Trump tried to manage another rocky international relationship as he with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Pena Nieto insists Mexico will not pay. Trump hailed Pena Nieto as a ‘friend’ in their face-to-face meeting on Friday, but said he ‘absolutely’ wants Mexico to pay for the wall

Pena Nieto had been scheduled to visit the White House shortly after Trump took office, but he scrapped the trip at the last minute due to disagreement with Trump over the US president's insistence that Mexico pay for the wall he has vowed to build along the US-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration

Pena Nieto had been scheduled to visit the White House shortly after Trump took office, but he scrapped the trip at the last minute due to disagreement with Trump over the US president’s insistence that Mexico pay for the wall he has vowed to build along the US-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration

From left to right, Trump, China's President Xi Jinping, Merkel, Argentinia's President Mauricio Macri and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull turn around for photographers at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting

From left to right, Trump, China’s President Xi Jinping, Merkel, Argentinia’s President Mauricio Macri and Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull turn around for photographers at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting

British Prime Minister Theresa May, US President Donald Trump, Chinese President  Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel smile for the cameras

British Prime Minister Theresa May, US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel smile for the cameras

Macron (center right) talks to Merkel (center left, back to camera) as Trump (right) looks on during the opening session of the G20

Macron (center right) talks to Merkel (center left, back to camera) as Trump (right) looks on during the opening session of the G20

Trump talks to the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) and others before the beginning of first working session of the G20 Nations Summit

Trump talks to the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) and others before the beginning of first working session of the G20 Nations Summit

Merkel (center) talks to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (left) as European Council President Donald Tusk (R) listens during the opening session of the G20 summit

Merkel (center) talks to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (left) as European Council President Donald Tusk (R) listens during the opening session of the G20 summit

Trump speaks to Macron and Merkel ahead of the start of the Summit. Trump will be visiting Paris next week in honor of Bastille Day

Trump speaks to Macron and Merkel ahead of the start of the Summit. Trump will be visiting Paris next week in honor of Bastille Day

Trump and his colleagues will remain in Hamburg until Saturday. He earlier tweeted that he had ‘much to discuss’ with the Russian leader.

‘I look forward to all meetings today with world leaders, including my meeting with Vladimir Putin. Much to discuss,’ Trump wrote, adding the hashtag #USA and an American flag emoji.

Friday’s much-anticipated encounter in Hamburg, Germany, comes at a pivotal time in US-Russian relations. Trump will be closely watched to see if he confronts Putin over Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Ahead of the G20 Summit’s start, Trump vowed to fight for US interests, despite the ‘Fake News Media’ he claims covers him inaccurately.

‘I will represent our country well and fight for its interests! Fake News Media will never cover me accurately but who cares! We will #MAGA!’ he Tweeted ahead of the G20 Summit, where he will meet with world leaders.

Trump sat next to Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May as they prepped to start the first working session of the G20 meeting

Trump sat next to Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May as they prepped to start the first working session of the G20 meeting

From left to right, President of Brazil Michel Temer, Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, President of Argentina Mauricio Macri, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Donald J. Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May during the plenary session of the G20 Summit in Hamburg

From left to right, President of Brazil Michel Temer, Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, President of Argentina Mauricio Macri, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Donald J. Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May during the plenary session of the G20 Summit in Hamburg

Merkel, sitting in the center of the room in red, spoke to the group of world leaders at the plenary session of the G20 Summit

Merkel, sitting in the center of the room in red, spoke to the group of world leaders at the plenary session of the G20 Summit

Trump sits alone at the beginning of the plenary session of the G20 Summit as others involved in the talks take their seats

Trump sits alone at the beginning of the plenary session of the G20 Summit as others involved in the talks take their seats

China's President Xi Jinping and Trump begin listening into the discussion on the first day of the G20

China’s President Xi Jinping and Trump begin listening into the discussion on the first day of the G20

Trump (center) smiles towards Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (second right, back to camera) while Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) takes his seat

Trump (center) smiles towards Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (second right, back to camera) while Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) takes his seat

May (left) chats with Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan (second right) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (second left) at the beginning of the plenary session

May (left) chats with Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan (second right) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (second left) at the beginning of the plenary session

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto talk at the start of the "retreat meeting"

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto talk at the start of the ‘retreat meeting’

Merkel talks to Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg

Merkel talks to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg

Merkel gets comfortable as she begins her bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G20 summit on Friday

Merkel gets comfortable as she begins her bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G20 summit on Friday

The president arrived Friday morning after most of his international counterparts, shaking hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel with a friendly ‘How are you?’ greeting.

Merkel, as the host leader, greeted every head of state personally on a red carpet as camera shutters clicked.

She got kisses on the cheek from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.

After 15 leaders had arrived, an announcer said the welcome proceedings were over. Merkel exited but came back several minutes later to greet Trump, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump clasped Merkel on the shoulder as they both disappeared inside the G20 meeting room.

During a brief photo call at the top of the leaders’ retreat, Trump was seated between Merkel and UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

While May chatted with the US president, Merkel faced away from them and chatted with Macron.

PROTESTERS CLASH WITH POLICE AS G20 GETS UNDERWAY IN HAMBURG

A police station has been firebombed and cars and buildings set alight in the German city of Hamburg, where world leaders are holding crunch talks today.

Police have called for reinforcements after tens of thousands of protesters descended on Hamburg, causing chaos.

Shocking footage shows smoke billowing from vehicles as the city hosting the G20 summit looked like a warzone.

German police confirmed this morning that the police station had been targeted by ‘perpetrators of violence’, as thousands of officers flood the streets anticipating violent demonstrations.

Hamburg police say they have used a water cannon to clear a blockade by protesters ahead of the opening of the Group of 20 summit

Hamburg police say they have used a water cannon to clear a blockade by protesters ahead of the opening of the Group of 20 summit

Police said the incident happened on the banks of the Outer Alster lake, some distance from the trade fair grounds where the summit is being held, on Friday morning. They said they had repeatedly told a group of protesters to clear the road

Police said the incident happened on the banks of the Outer Alster lake, some distance from the trade fair grounds where the summit is being held, on Friday morning. They said they had repeatedly told a group of protesters to clear the road

Officers repeatedly used water cannons, as well as pepper spray and batons, on Thursday evening amid clashes with violent protesters

Officers repeatedly used water cannons, as well as pepper spray and batons, on Thursday evening amid clashes with violent protesters

It comes after more than 70 people were injured in clashes between riot police and anti-capitalists last night, with a march named ‘Welcome to Hell’ descending into chaos.

This morning Hamburg police used a water cannon to clear a blockade by protesters ahead of the opening of the summit.

A spokeswoman for the US First Lady told DPA: ‘We have not received the all-clear from police to leave the residence.’

Other spouses including Theresa May’s husband Philip and French president Emmanuel Macron’s wife Brigette have also been told to stay indoors.

A visit to a climate change centre by G20 spouses has been cancelled, DPA reports.

Hamburg police, who are already being backed up by officers from other German states as well as from Austria, made the request for reinforcements ‘in order to get relief’, a spokesman said.

Video shows cars set ablaze during anti-G20 protest in Hamburg
The meeting opens after skirmishes Thursday evening between police and violent protesters elsewhere in the port city, Germany's second-biggest. Police said that at least 76 officers were hurt, one of whom had to be taken to a hospital with an eye injury after a firework exploded in front of him

The meeting opens after skirmishes Thursday evening between police and violent protesters elsewhere in the port city, Germany’s second-biggest. Police said that at least 76 officers were hurt, one of whom had to be taken to a hospital with an eye injury after a firework exploded in front of him

Protesters clash with German police dressed in full swat gaer during the start of the G-20 summit in Hamburg on Friday

Protesters clash with German police dressed in full swat gaer during the start of the G-20 summit in Hamburg on Friday

A female protester is detained by several German police officer during demonstrations in Hamburg during the G20 Summit

A female protester is detained by several German police officer during demonstrations in Hamburg during the G20 Summit

Police push away activists who tried to block a street during the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday, an event gathering leaders from around the world

Police push away activists who tried to block a street during the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday, an event gathering leaders from around the world

Police said the blockade happened on the banks of the Outer Alster lake, some distance from the trade fair grounds where the summit is being held. They said they had repeatedly told a group of protesters to clear the road.

Officers repeatedly used water cannons, as well as pepper spray and batons, on Thursday evening amid clashes with violent protesters.

Up to 100,000 anti-capitalist protesters are expected to descend on the city today, as heads of state including US President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin meet for the G20 talks.

Police said that at least 111 officers were hurt during yesterday’s clashes, one of whom had to be taken to a hospital with an eye injury after a firework exploded in front of him. Twenty-nine people were arrested and a further 15 temporarily detained.

Organiser Andreas Blechschmidt criticised what he said was a heavy-handed and ‘massive’ police response with batons.

‘The police should have reacted proportionally… It wasn’t necessary. There are a lot of people injured,’ Blechschmidt said on N-TV. Around 30 people were arrested.

Demonstrators use concrete blocks to barricade the road near Schlump station on the opening day of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Demonstrators use concrete blocks to barricade the road near Schlump station on the opening day of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Demonstrators use concrete blocks to barricade the road near Schlump station on the opening day of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Demonstrators use concrete blocks to barricade the road near Schlump station on the opening day of the G20 summit in Hamburg

‘War, climate change, exploitation are the result of the capitalist system that the G20 stands for and which 20,000 police are here to defend,’ demonstrator Georg Ismail told AFP.

Burned out cars today bear testimony to the violence ahead of the talks. Police believe as many as 8,000 protesters are ready to commit violence. More than 70 people were injured in last night’s clashes.

Officers say they repeatedly asked a group of demonstrators to remove their masks and hoods last night, but instead officers were hit with bottles and bricks – breaking the window of a riot van.

They then decided to separate the group from the rest of the march, which they estimated at 12,000 people in total.

The violence broke out near the start of the demonstration at a riverside plaza used for Hamburg’s weekly fish market.

As leaders arrived yesterday, riot police fired water cannon at a group of about a thousand black-clad protesters who hurled bottles in a demonstration organisers had dubbed ‘Welcome to Hell’.

Some 20,000 police from all of Germany’s 16 states have been deployed on the streets of Hamburg.

The room, a cavernous sea of bright yellow carpet, put at least 50 feet of distance between Trump and Putin, who was seated a quarter of the way around the giant circle.

But the two men did meet and shake hands and greeted each other warmly.

‘They shook each other’s hand and said that they would soon hold a separate meeting, would soon see each other,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

When asked if Putin was looking forward to the talks and whether he had lots of questions for Trump, Peskov said he did.

US lawmakers and federal investigators are continuing to look into Russia’s election interference, along with possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian government officials.

Russia has been accused by four US intelligence agencies of interfering in the national election that hoisted Trump to power last year.

That puts Trump under intense scrutiny over how he handles the sit-down with Putin, a former Russian intelligence agent known to come well-prepared to meetings like this.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, is welcomed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the first day of the G-20 summit in Hamburg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) welcomes Russia's President Vladimir Putin as he arrives to attend the G20 summit in Hamburg

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin were greeted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of the the G20 summit on Friday

Ahead of the meeting, Trump vowed to fight for US interests, despite the 'Fake News Media' he claims covers him inaccurately 

Ahead of the meeting, Trump vowed to fight for US interests, despite the ‘Fake News Media’ he claims covers him inaccurately

The president arrived Friday morning after most of his international counterparts, shaking hands with  Merkel with a friendly 'How are you?' greeting

The president arrived Friday morning after most of his international counterparts, shaking hands with Merkel with a friendly ‘How are you?’ greeting

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Russia's President Vladimir Putin as he arrives to attend the G20 summit in Hamburg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as he arrives to attend the G20 summit in Hamburg

Merkel and Putin laughed as they shook hands at the start of the G20 Summit on Friday morning. The G20 meetings will last two days

Merkel and Putin laughed as they shook hands at the start of the G20 Summit on Friday morning. The G20 meetings will last two days

During a brief photo call at the top of the leaders' retreat, Trump was seated next to Merkel as all of the leaders said in circular formation

During a brief photo call at the top of the leaders’ retreat, Trump was seated next to Merkel as all of the leaders said in circular formation

Trump chatted with UK Prime Minister Theresa May as Merkel faced away from them and spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron

Trump chatted with UK Prime Minister Theresa May as Merkel faced away from them and spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron

Putin attends a BRICS leaders' meeting as he takes part in the G20 summit in Hamburg ahead of his meeting with Trump on Friday

Putin attends a BRICS leaders’ meeting as he takes part in the G20 summit in Hamburg ahead of his meeting with Trump on Friday

Putin laughed as he spoke with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto as South African President Jacob Zuma sits nearby during a talk at the G20 Summit

Putin laughed as he spoke with Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto as South African President Jacob Zuma sits nearby during a talk at the G20 Summit

Putin and Pena Nieto lean across their chairs to talk at the start of the "retreat meeting" on the first day of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Putin and Pena Nieto lean across their chairs to talk at the start of the ‘retreat meeting’ on the first day of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Trump said at a news conference in Poland on Thursday that Russia ‘could have’ interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign, but he’s not convinced that it was the sole meddler.

‘I think it was Russia, and it could have been other people in other countries,’ Trump said. ‘Nobody really knows.’

He added that the US Intelligence Community has made high-profile mistakes in the past, so ‘nobody really knows for sure.’

Trump sought to redirect any scrutiny toward his predecessor, Barack Obama, accusing him of allowing Moscow to meddle on his watch.

Though the Obama administration warned Russia publicly and privately before Election Day to stop interfering, questions have since been raised about whether the office holder acted aggressively enough to stop the threat.

‘They say he choked. Well, I don’t think he choked,’ Trump said. ‘I think he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and he said, ‘Let’s not do anything about it’.’

Trump said the CIA had informed Obama about the hacking months before the election but added that ‘mistakes have been made.’

In Putin, Trump sees a potential ally in the war on radicalism in the Middle East.

Trump was welcomed with a handshake from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, as he arrived at the Summit

Trump was welcomed with a handshake from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, as he arrived at the Summit

Trump tweeted ahead of the summit that he's looking forward to his first meeting with Putin at an international summit in Hamburg, Germany

Trump tweeted ahead of the summit that he’s looking forward to his first meeting with Putin at an international summit in Hamburg, Germany

Leaders of the world's rich and developing nation are discussing a variety of issues over two days of meetings at the G20 Summit, including trade and climate change

Leaders of the world’s rich and developing nation are discussing a variety of issues over two days of meetings at the G20 Summit, including trade and climate change

President Donald Trump is tweeting that "everyone" in Hamburg, Germany is talking about the Democrats' response to Russian election hacking ahead of his highly-anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin

President Donald Trump is tweeting that ‘everyone’ in Hamburg, Germany is talking about the Democrats’ response to Russian election hacking ahead of his highly-anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Trump has two big meetings on his schedule apart from the formal summit agenda. He'll meet for the first time as president with Russian President Vladimir Putin and will also hold talks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto

Trump has two big meetings on his schedule apart from the formal summit agenda. He’ll meet for the first time as president with Russian President Vladimir Putin and will also hold talks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto

On Thursday, Trump again refused to accept the conclusion by multiple US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered to try to help Trump win last November

Trump's motorcade on Friday was decorated with American and German flags ahead of the G20 summit  in Hamburg

Trump’s motorcade on Friday was decorated with American and German flags ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg

President of France Emmanuel Macron arrived at the summit alongside his wife, Brigitte Trogneux

They were welcomed by the of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz

President of France Emmanuel Macron arrived at the summit alongside his wife, Brigitte Trogneux. They were welcomed by the of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz

THERESA MAY’S HUSBAND JOINS G20 SPOUSES INCLUDING FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON’S WIFE FOR A BOAT TOUR OF HAMBURG

Theresa May’s husband Philip joined the world leaders’ consorts club today as he mingled with spouses of some of the most powerful people on earth.

Mr May, 59, was in glamorous company in Hamburg, Germany, as he made his first overseas foray in the role.

Among those who joined him for a riverboat cruise this morning were French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife Brigitte and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

By convention, a separate programme of events is organised to entertain wives, girlfriends and husbands who attend major summits.

Theresa May's husband Philip joined the world leaders' consorts club today as he mingled with spouses of some of the most powerful people on earth. He is pictured (right) in Hamburg today next to Thobeka Madiba Zuma (left), wife of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma

Theresa May’s husband Philip joined the world leaders’ consorts club today as he mingled with spouses of some of the most powerful people on earth. He is pictured (right) in Hamburg today next to Thobeka Madiba Zuma (left), wife of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma

Among those who joined him for a riverboat cruise today were French President Emmanuel Macron's wife Brigitte (left, with Juliana Awada, wife of Argentinian President Mauricio Macri)

Among those who joined him for a riverboat cruise today were French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife Brigitte (left, with Juliana Awada, wife of Argentinian President Mauricio Macri)

Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, wife of Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and their son Hadrien leave a ship after a boat tour of the spouses programme on the first day of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany

Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, wife of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and their son Hadrien leave a ship after a boat tour of the spouses programme on the first day of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany

The pictures emerged as it was reported that US First Lady Melania Trump and other spouses had been trapped inside their hotel rooms this afternoon amid fierce protests in the city. Their visit to a climate change centre has been cancelled, DPA reports.

Mr May will spend much of the next two days in the company of Joachim Sauer, Angela Merkel’s husband, who will host the consorts on her behalf.

Mr Sauer, a theoretical chemist who grew up in communist East Germany, is normally a low-profile figure.

He has organised a ‘climate change-themed’ programme for those attending.

Mr May, who is likely to be the only husband in attendance, was due to join the leaders’ wives on a river boat cruise before visiting a climate change centre in the German city.

Brigitte Macron, wife of France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Juliana Awada, wife of Argentine President Mauricio Macri, disembark from a riverboat after a tour of the city

Brigitte Macron, wife of France’s President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Juliana Awada, wife of Argentine President Mauricio Macri, disembark from a riverboat after a tour of the city

Angelica Rivera (left), partner of Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, and her daughter Regina Castro (right) leave the boat 'Diplomat' on the river Elbe as they take part in the G20 Summit Spouse Programme in Hamburg, Germany

Angelica Rivera (left), partner of Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, and her daughter Regina Castro (right) leave the boat ‘Diplomat’ on the river Elbe as they take part in the G20 Summit Spouse Programme in Hamburg, Germany

He is the first British consort to attend a major summit since Sarah Brown.

Samantha Cameron disliked that side of her role and never travelled with her husband to a summit.

On Tuesday it emerged that Sauer, who usually shuns publicity, would take the visiting dignitaries sightseeing and to the spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert house.

The leaders’ spouses were also due to take in views of Germany’s ‘Gateway to the World’ city on a cruise tour of the country’s biggest port, in whose harbour-front bars the Beatles started their rise to fame.

The G20 spouses’ tour also includes Hamburg’s neo-Renaissance town hall, an imposing building dating from the late 1800s, which boasts almost as many rooms as Britain’s Buckingham Palace.

On Friday evening, the spouses are to be treated to Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, the EU’s anthem, at Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie, whose glass structure is meant to evoke frozen waves, and which offers sweeping views of Germany’s second largest city.

Iriana Joko Widodo (left, wife of Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, and Emine Erdogan (right), wife of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among those who joined the tour

Also in attendance was Akie Abe, wife of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzō Abe

Iriana Joko Widodo (left, in red), wife of Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, and Emine Erdogan (left, in purple), wife of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among those who joined the tour. Also in attendance was Akie Abe, wife of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe

Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, also travelled to Hamburg as her husband joined G20 leaders

Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, also travelled to Hamburg as her husband joined G20 leaders

The Republican president and his administration have held off on slapping Moscow with new sanctions as they assess Putin’s willingness to work with the US to defeat ISIS and remove Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria.

Experts on Putin have said it is Trump who should be worried that the Russian president will try to earn concessions.

Putin, like other world leaders who have Trump’s number, is most likely to get what he wants by flattering him.

‘I would be surprised if Vladimir Putin offers any concessions in exchange for restoring what Russia sees as its inalienable rights,’ Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, told the Associated Press.

‘If no agreement is reached, Russia will take retaliatory measures, which could trigger new U.S. moves,’ he added.

Trump’s deal-making skills and his electoral victory are especially ripe for the complimenting, foreign leaders have found, although Putin is less likely to bring up the latter than other people in positions of power who have sat across from the billionaire.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G-20 summit in Hamburg

German chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G-20 summit in Hamburg

Trudeau told a German newspaper on Friday the leaders of G20 countries meeting in Hamburg would tell US President Donald Trump he should take the lead in addressing climate change

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron greet each other the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron greet each other the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday

Macron said on Thursday, a day before the start of the G20 Summit, that he supported a two-state solution to end the Middle East conflict

Macron said on Thursday, a day before the start of the G20 Summit, that he supported a two-state solution to end the Middle East conflict

German chancellor Angela Merkel , right, welcomes Britain's Prime Minster Theresa May, at the G-20 summit in Hamburg

German chancellor Angela Merkel , right, welcomes Britain’s Prime Minster Theresa May, at the G-20 summit in Hamburg

May will call on world leaders to choke off funding for terrorists which is being funnelled through the international financial institutions as the G20 meets in Germany

May, who has previously said Britain was disappointed by Trump's decision last month to withdraw the United States from the global agreement, is due to hold a bilateral meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit

May, who has previously said Britain was disappointed by Trump’s decision last month to withdraw the United States from the global agreement, is due to hold a bilateral meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit

A close ally of Syria and Iran, Trump called on Russia from Poland to cease its ‘destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes’ in his most forceful remarks on the subject yet during a Thursday speech.

Russia must choose to join the US and its allies in their ‘fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself,’ Trump said.

Putin’s government is presently aligned with ‘powers that seek to test our will, undermine our confidence, and challenge our interests,’ Trump stated.

‘To meet new forms of aggression, including propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare, we must adapt our alliance to compete effectively in new ways and on all new battlefields,’ he declared.

Russia has made no indications that it would be willing to sell out Assad in order to take out ISIS. To the contrary, it has continued to work with the ruling class in the face of vicious assaults on women and children.

Trump’s attitude coming into office had been to let the civil war in Syria resolve itself. A chemical weapons attack in April that killed 89 changed his mind.

Merkel greets South Korea's President Moon Jae-in as he arrives for the G20 leaders summit. Ahead of the summit, Moon met with Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss North Korea

Merkel greets South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in as he arrives for the G20 leaders summit. Ahead of the summit, Moon met with Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss North Korea

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who earlier in the day had breakfast with Merkel, greets the German chancellor at the start of the G20 summit 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who earlier in the day had breakfast with Merkel, greets the German chancellor at the start of the G20 summit

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, left, greets Merkel at the summit. Rajoy on Wednesday described as "authoritarian delirium" plans by the ruling parties in the northeastern Catalonia region to declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of a promised referendum October 1, if voters say 'yes'

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, left, greets Merkel at the summit. Rajoy on Wednesday described as ‘authoritarian delirium’ plans by the ruling parties in the northeastern Catalonia region to declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of a promised referendum October 1, if voters say ‘yes’

Merkel greets Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto at the beginning of the G20 summit. Pena Nieto will meet with Trump later during the two-day event

Merkel greets Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto at the beginning of the G20 summit. Pena Nieto will meet with Trump later during the two-day event

Merkel welcomes India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg. Modi earlier this week visited Israel, the first-ever by an Indian prime minister

Merkel welcomes India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg. Modi earlier this week visited Israel, the first-ever by an Indian prime minister

Merkel officially welcomes Japan Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, to the opening day of the G20 summit. Japan and the European Union agreed a free trade pact on Thursday to create the world's biggest open economic area and signal resistance to what they see as Trump's protectionist turn

Merkel officially welcomes Japan Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, to the opening day of the G20 summit. Japan and the European Union agreed a free trade pact on Thursday to create the world’s biggest open economic area and signal resistance to what they see as Trump’s protectionist turn

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, is welcomed by Merkel at the summit, where he will also have meetings with President Trump

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, is welcomed by Merkel at the summit, where he will also have meetings with President Trump

‘These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this horrific attack and all other horrific attacks, for that matter,’ he said during a news conference the following day.

As Trump dropped bombs on the facility in Syria where the attack was launched from several days later he urged ‘all civilized nations’ to join the US ‘in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.’

Before Putin, Trump tried to manage another rocky international relationship as he with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Pena Nieto had been scheduled to visit the White House shortly after Trump took office, but he scrapped the trip at the last minute due to disagreement with Trump over the US president’s insistence that Mexico pay for the wall he has vowed to build along the US-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration. Pena Nieto insists Mexico will not pay.

Trump hailed Pena Nieto as a ‘friend’ in their face-to-face meeting on Friday, but said he ‘absolutely’ wants Mexico to pay for the wall.

Pena Nieto insists Mexico will not pay for the wall.

Saudi Arabia's State Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, left, is welcomed by Merkel on Friday. Saudi Arabia's King Salman isn't attending the event

Saudi Arabia’s State Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, left, is welcomed by Merkel on Friday. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman isn’t attending the event

Merkel, right, welcomes Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, at the G-20 summit. Gentiloni spoke to Trump in a phone call ahead of the event 

Merkel, right, welcomes Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, at the G-20 summit. Gentiloni spoke to Trump in a phone call ahead of the event

Merkel (R) officially welcomes South African President Jacob Zuma (L) on the opening day of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Merkel (R) officially welcomes South African President Jacob Zuma (L) on the opening day of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Brazil's President Michel Temer is welcomed by Merkel as he arrives for the G20 leaders summit. Earlier this week, Temer had to present his legal defense against corruption allegations, a move seen as a bid to reduce the likelihood of being suspended from office and tried at the Supreme Court

Brazil’s President Michel Temer is welcomed by Merkel as he arrives for the G20 leaders summit. Earlier this week, Temer had to present his legal defense against corruption allegations, a move seen as a bid to reduce the likelihood of being suspended from office and tried at the Supreme Court

Merkel officially welcomes Argentinan President Mauricio Macri to the G20 summit. Last month, Macri boosted public spending ahead of a crucial mid-term election

Merkel officially welcomes Argentinan President Mauricio Macri to the G20 summit. Last month, Macri boosted public spending ahead of a crucial mid-term election

Merkel welcomes the president of the European council, Donald Tusk at the G-20 summit in Hamburg on Friday. Tusk held a joint press conference with Japan's Abe and fellow EU institutional chief Jean-Claude Juncker before the event

Merkel welcomes the president of the European council, Donald Tusk at the G-20 summit in Hamburg on Friday. Tusk held a joint press conference with Japan’s Abe and fellow EU institutional chief Jean-Claude Juncker before the event

Merkel officially welcomes President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker (left) to the opening day of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Merkel officially welcomes President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker (left) to the opening day of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Trump said, ‘it’s great to be with my friend the president of Mexico’. Pena Nieto said he hopes to continue a ‘flowing dialogue’.

He reassured Pena Nieto in April that he would not pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which involves the United States, Mexico and Canada.

But Trump said he could still withdraw if he concludes that a renegotiated pact would not produce ‘a fair deal’ for all sides.

The Putin meeting is the highlight of a hectic, four-day European visit for Trump, who addressed thousands of Poles in an outdoor speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday.

He met in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, and had dinner with two Asian allies – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in – to discuss North Korea’s aggression.

The Group of 20 gathering of the world’s leading rich and developing nations is the first since Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, deeply disappointing Merkel and other US allies who had hoped to maintain momentum in battling climate change.

Even as Trump has said in vague terms he would like to renegotiate the Paris accord, European leaders have vowed to press forward.

ANGELA MERKEL COMES FACE-TO-FACE WITH ERDOGAN AFTER ‘NAZI PRACTICES’ JIBE

This is the moment German chancellor Angela Merkel came face-to-face with Tayyip Erdogan – months after the Turkish leader accused her of ‘Nazi practices’.

Merkel sat down for talks with the Turkish president last night on the eve of the summit in Hamburg, northern Germany amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

Relations are strained between the two leaders after Erdogan who this week sharply criticised the German government’s rejection of his plans to address Turkish citizens outside the G20 event.

This is the moment German chancellor Angela Merkel came face-to-face with Tayyip Erdogan - months after the Turkish leader accused her of 'Nazi practices'

This is the moment German chancellor Angela Merkel came face-to-face with Tayyip Erdogan – months after the Turkish leader accused her of ‘Nazi practices’

In March the outspoken Turkish leader accused Merkel of ‘committing Nazi practices… to my Turkish brothers and sisters in Germany.’

The accusation, which drew widespread criticism, was one of a string of Turkish comments drawing Nazi parallels with present-day Germany and the Netherlands in a dispute over restrictions on Turkish officials campaigning there in a referendum campaign.

Last night, the pair were pictured shaking hands before a meeting.

It came after Germany rejected a request by Erdogan to address Turkish citizens while attending the G20 summit in Germany in another blow to the troubled ties of the allies.

Sigmar Gabriel said Ankara had submitted a formal request for Erdogan to speak to Turkish citizens in Germany on the sidelines of the July 7-8 summit of leading economies. He said Turkey had ignored his express advice not to do so.

A spokesman for Merkel last week confirmed that Erdogan’s request to speak at a non-G20 event would be denied.

Merkel and Erdogan were pictured shaking hands before a meeting ahead of the start of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Merkel and Erdogan were pictured shaking hands before a meeting ahead of the start of the G20 summit in Hamburg

Gabriel said such appearances by Erdogan, who has addressed Turks in Germany before, would be inappropriate. Germany did not want to play host to the domestic problems of another country, the minister told reporters during a visit to Russia.

He also cited security concerns for Erdogan’s request being rejected.

Ties between Germany and Turkey have soured due to disagreements over a range of political and security issues, worsening significantly in the past year due to Turkey’s jailing of a German-Turkish journalist, Ankara’s refusal to let German lawmakers visit German troops at a Turkish air base.

Among other grievances, Erdogan has decried as ‘Nazi era tactics’ decisions by local German authorities to ban rallies by Turkish politicians before it held a referendum in April which widened presidential powers.

Erdogan has previously been permitted to address Turkish citizens living in Germany, home to an estimated 1.4 million eligible Turkish voters and around 3 million people with a Turkish background.

But Gabriel said he wanted to change that policy for all non-EU countries, given the experiences of the last months, and had discussed the issue with Merkel.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4675262/It-s-honor-Trump-tells-Putin-G20.html#ixzz4mAfY7gmz
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U.S. and Russia reach agreement on a cease-fire in southwest Syria

July 7, 2017

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — The United States and Russia have reached agreement on a cease-fire in southwest Syria, three U.S. officials said Friday as President Donald Trump held his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The deal marks a new level of involvement for the U.S. in trying to resolve Syria’s civil war. Although details about the agreement and how it will be implemented weren’t immediately available, the cease-fire is set to take effect Sunday at noon Damascus time, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the cease-fire publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Image may contain: 1 person

Jordan and Israel also are part of the agreement, one of the officials said. The two U.S. allies both share a border with the southern part of Syria and have been concerned about violence from Syria’s civil war spilling over the border.

The deal is separate from “de-escalation zones” that were to be created under a deal brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran earlier this year. The U.S. was not a part of that deal. Follow-up talks this week in Astana, Kazakhstan, to finalize a cease-fire in those zones failed to reach agreement.

Previous cease-fires in Syria have collapsed or failed to reduce violence for long, and it was unclear whether this deal would be any better.

Earlier in the week, Syria’s military had said it was halting combat operations in the south of Syria for four days, in advance of a new round of Russia-sponsored talks in Astana. That move covered southern provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida. Syria’s government briefly extended that unilateral cease-fire, which is now set to expire Saturday — a day before the U.S. and Russian deal would take effect.

The new agreement to be announced Friday will be open-ended, one U.S. official said, describing it as part of broader U.S. discussions with Russia on trying to lower violence in the war-ravaged country. Officials said the U.S. and Russia were still working out the details as Trump and Putin concluded their more than two-hour meeting on Friday.

The U.S. and Russia have been backing opposing sides in Syria’s war, with Moscow supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Washington supporting rebels who have been fighting Assad. Both the U.S. and Russia oppose the Islamic State group in Syria.

The U.S. has been wary of letting Iran gain influence in Syria — a concern shared by Israel and Jordan, neither of which wants Iranian-aligned troops amassing near their territories. A U.S.-brokered deal could help the Trump administration retain more of a say over who fills the power vacuum left behind as the Islamic State is routed from additional territory in Syria.

Though U.S. and Russian officials had been discussing a potential deal for some time, it didn’t reach fruition until the run-up to Trump’s meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit in Germany, officials said.

Before Trump’s meeting with Putin — his first with the Russian leader — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled that Syria’s civil war would be high on the agenda. Tillerson said in a statement before departing for Germany for the meeting that the U.S. remained open to cooperating with Russia through “joint mechanisms” to lower violence in Syria, potentially including no-fly zones.

“If our two countries work together to establish stability on the ground, it will lay a foundation for progress on the settlement of Syria’s political future,” Tillerson said on Wednesday.

Moscow reacted angrily when the U.S. downed a Syrian jet last week after it dropped bombs near the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces conducting operations against the Islamic State group. Russia warned its military would track aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition as potential targets over Syria and suspended a hotline intended to avoid midair incidents.

___

Salama and Lederman reported from Washington.

Trump Says West Must Defend Its Civilization

July 7, 2017

U.S. president speaks to thousands of Poles during his second trip to Europe

Trump spoke in front of a crowd at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on Thursday

Trump spoke in front of a crowd at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on Thursday, July 6, 2017

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By Peter Nicholas and Anton Troianovski

The Wall Street Journal
July 7, 2017

In a bid to broaden the nationalist vision he has long embraced, President Donald Trump has described the West as locked in a struggle it could lose unless it can “summon the courage” to see it through.

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Mr Trump chose Poland as the backdrop for a defining foreign policy speech of his early presidency, calling the country’s perseverance in World War II and afterward a model for Western nations that face sinister threats of their own today.

“The story of Poland is the story of a people who have never lost hope, who have never been broken, and who have never, ever forgotten who they are,” Mr Trump said at Krasinski Square, site of a memorial to a 1944 Polish uprising against the Nazis. His speech came a day before he was to meet for the first time with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump before bilateral talks on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017. Steffen Kugler/Courtesy of Bundesregierung/Handout via REUTERS
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He exhorted the West to recognise the existential peril embodied by terrorists who have struck repeatedly at centres of Western arts and culture, including Paris, London and New York.

“We are confronted by another oppressive ideology — one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe,” Mr. Trump said. “America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another. We’re going to get it to stop.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-says-west-must-defend-its-civilization-1499355200

With the address, the U.S. president sought to provide an intellectual grounding for some of the controversial policies he has pushed since taking office: the travel ban, building a border wall, and aggressive actions against illegal immigrants.

All these initiatives have faced setbacks. Courts have delayed and constrained Mr. Trump’s efforts to restrict travel from six Muslim-majority countries he says pose an elevated risk of terrorism. It isn’t clear whether he will win congressional support or funding for the wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, a linchpin of his effort to stop illegal migrants.

Detractors have said Mr Trump’s moves reflect an anti-Muslim, nativist bias evident from the earliest days of his campaign. But in Mr Trump’s telling, his steps are needed to fortify a Western culture at risk of being washed away.

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” Mr Trump said, amid chants of “Donald Trump! Donald Trump!”

“Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilisation in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” he asked.

A main architect of the speech was Stephen Miller, a senior adviser and part of a populist-nationalist wing at the White House led by strategist Steve Bannon, White House aides said.

At times Mr Bannon’s clout has seemed in doubt. He has clashed with the president’s son-in-law, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and at times Mr Trump has seemed to lose patience with him. But the Bannon-Miller faction doesn’t appear to be in retreat, and White House aides indicated they were pleased with Mr Miller’s work. As Mr Trump flew from Poland to Germany for a summit meeting, reporters on the plane could overhear aides congratulating Mr Miller on the speech.

Image result for Stephen Miller, trump advisor, photos

The president told The Wall Street Journal in the spring that Mr Bannon was merely “a guy who works for me.”

In tone and substance, the speech departed from the typical pattern of Mr Trump, who relishes the instant impact that Twitter provides in 140-character bursts. A senior adviser who briefed reporters on the speech shortly before its delivery said the aim was to portray Mr Trump’s positions with more philosophical sweep.

Thursday’s address had a loftier ring than his address in Saudi Arabia in May, when Mr Trump said America’s global role should be guided by what he called “principled realism.” That approach, as he described it, emphasises transactions on economic and security agreements over other concerns, such as human-rights abuses.

“We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes — not inflexible ideology,” he said then in remarks before Muslim leaders.

The senior adviser said of Thursday’s address: “The core theme of this speech is a defence of Western civilisation.”

The message isn’t necessarily an easy one for Mr Trump to pull off. While he celebrated traditions of “free speech” and “free expression” in his speech, he has faced mounting criticism over his broadsides against news outlets reporting on election interference and a federal investigation into Trump associates’ possible collusion in attempts by Russia to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

On his trip abroad, he kept up that criticism of USnews outlets. At a news conference in Warsaw, Mr Trump was asked about his dust-up with the CNN after he recently tweeted a video portraying him wrestling a logo of the network to the ground. “What we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free press,” he said. “We don’t want fake news.”

Today, Mr Trump is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Mr Putin, a figure he praised during his presidential campaign, at a summit of leaders from the Group of 20 leading nations. USintelligence agencies have concluded Russia meddled in the election with a goal to elect Mr Trump.

It was unclear whether Mr Trump would bring up the matter or caution Mr Putin not to try interfering again. At his news conference on Thursday, Mr Trump said “no one really knows for sure” who was behind the interference.

Far from guaranteeing Western civilisational norms, Mr Trump could be coaxed into abandoning them if he isn’t careful in his dealings with Mr Putin, said USSen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “There’s a significant risk that Putin will play to Trump’s ego and will attempt to pressure him to abandon what are our core American traditions,” Mr Coons said.

In Thursday’s speech, Mr Trump criticised Moscow for its interference in Ukraine and its support for governments in Iran and Syria.

“We urge Russia to cease its destabilising activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran,” Mr Trump said.

But some European officials wondered if Mr Trump would carry those criticisms into Friday’s meeting.

“There’s no doubt that President Trump’s position regarding Russia is, on many occasions, different than what he presented today in Warsaw,” said European Council President Donald Tusk, a former centre-right Polish prime minister. “I understand this, the audience one’s addressing often dictates the tone.”

. U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pose for a photograph prior to a bilateral meeting on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, Thursday, July 6, 2017. The leaders of the group of 20 meet July 7 and 8. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, pool)

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met Mr Trump on Thursday in Hamburg, said the US leader’s trip to Poland — which some Western European politicians had feared could deepen rifts on the continent — didn’t worry her “at all.”

“We have our agenda here, but there are different conceptions of globalisation,” Ms. Merkel said, previewing the G20 summit. “There don’t always have to be losers where there are winners.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-says-west-must-defend-its-civilization-1499355200

See also:

The Merkel-Trump handshake heard ’round the world

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/06/politics/merkel-trump-handshake/index.html

U.S. charges President Erdogan’s Washington security team with assault

June 15, 2017

AFP and Reuters

© AFP file photo

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-06-15

Washington prosecutors have charged a dozen Turkish security and police officers with assault after an attack on protesters during Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visit to the U.S. capital last month, officials said on Thursday.

The daytime brawl outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in the city on May 16 left nine protesters injured and strained U.S.-Turkish relations.

A video posted online showed men in dark suits chasing protesters and punching and kicking them as Washington police struggled to intervene.

“I condemn this attack,” Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters at a news conference announcing the charges. “It was an affront to our values.”

Arrest warrants for the members of Erdogan‘s security detail have been issued, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham said.

“If they attempt to enter the United States, they will be arrested,” he said.

Newsham said there was no probable cause to arrest Erdogan, who watched the confrontation unfold from a nearby car.

A total of 18 people have been charged in the incident. They include two Canadians and four Americans, according to prosecutors.

Two men were arrested on Wednesday. Sinan Narin of Virginia faces a charge of felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor assault, and Eyup Yildirim of New Jersey faces two charges of felony assault and a misdemeanor assault charge.

Some additional suspects still have not been identified, the police chief said.

(REUTERS)

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Shocking footage has emerged showing violent clashes between people protesting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters in Washington DC

Shocking footage has emerged showing violent clashes between people protesting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters in Washington DC

Two elderly men - who were protesting against the Turkish leader - were pictured after the clashes with blood pouring from their heads

A protester with a megaphone is pictured with blood smeared across his face, hand, and clothing

Two elderly men – who were protesting against the Turkish leader – were pictured after the clashes with blood pouring from their heads

Protesters demonstrating against Turkish President Erdogan were attacked by what appeared to be suited bodyguards (left) of the president

Protesters demonstrating against Turkish President Erdogan were attacked by what appeared to be suited bodyguards (left) of the president

Flint Arthur, one of those at the protest against Erdogan, told CNN why they were demonstrating.

‘We are protesting (Erdogan’s) policies in Turkey, in Syria and in Iraq,’ he said, before turning the comments towards the tactics adopted by those supporting the president.

‘They think they can engage in the same sort of suppression of protest and free speech that they engage in in Turkey.

‘They stopped us for a few minutes … but we still stayed and continued to protest Erdogan’s tyrannical regime.’

This suited man - believed to be a bodyguard of the Turkish president - was filmed kicking a protester who was on the ground
This man tried to run away after kicking a woman who was on the ground

This suited man – believed to be a bodyguard of the Turkish president – was filmed kicking a female protester who was on the ground. Then he tried to run away

Men in suits were filmed at the start of the video running across the street to physically attack the protesters

Men in suits were filmed at the start of the video running across the street to physically attack the protesters

The men wearing suits appeared to start the physical altercations - based on videos posted online on Tuesday

The men wearing suits appeared to start the physical altercations – based on videos posted online on Tuesday

A woman (pictured) had to receive treatment after she was knocked down and kicked by men in suits

This man received treatment after he suffered a severe cut to the head

A woman (left) had to receive treatment after she was knocked down and kicked by men in suits, while the man on the right had a severe cut to the head

The Guardian reports protesters were carrying the flag of the Kurdish PYD party.

Doug Buchanan, a DC Fire and EMS spokesman, said two of those hurt were seriously injured and were taken to hospitals by ambulance.

He said by phone that emergency personnel were called to the residence about 4.30pm Tuesday.

Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck says the altercation broke out between two groups but he didn’t elaborate on the circumstances.

Police are seen securing the street outside the Turkish embassy on Tuesday after clashes broke out

Police are seen securing the street outside the Turkish embassy on Tuesday after clashes broke out

Washington Police (left and right) battled to control the wild scenes on Tuesday afternoon

The altercation (pictured) came the same day that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with President Donald Trump at the White House

Washington Police (left and right) battled to control the wild scenes on Tuesday afternoon

He said two people were arrested, including one who was charged with assaulting a police officer.

The altercation came the same day that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with President Donald Trump at the White House.

The State Department declined to comment.

Donald Trump welcomes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to the White House for talks

Donald Trump welcomes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to the White House for talks

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the press following meetings with US President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the press following meetings with US President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4513490/Turkish-president-s-bodyguards-attack-protesters-DC.html#ixzz4hK2xe6Wd
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From March 31, 2016 —