Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

Japan’s Abe welcomes US move on North Korea

November 21, 2017

The Associated Press

People watch a TV screen showing file footage of North Koreas missile launch at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. U.S. President Donald Trump announced Monday the U.S. is putting North Koreas "murderous regime" on

The Latest on the U.S. declaration of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism (all times local):

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3:45 a.m.

Japan’s leader has welcomed America’s re-designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terror.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (SHIN’-zoh AH’-bay) tells reporters in Tokyo that Japan supports the move as a way to increase pressure on North Korea.

His statement Tuesday followed President Donald Trump’s announcement in Washington that the U.S. is putting North Korea on America’s terrorism blacklist. Trump said the designation is long overdue, and promised a new wave of sanctions as part of a maximum-pressure campaign.

Japan is increasingly nervous about North Korean advances in developing nuclear weapons. North Korea has sent missiles over Japan twice this year in tests into the Pacific.

———

3:25 a.m.

The Trump administration is due to announce new sanctions on North Korea on Tuesday after declaring it a state sponsor of terrorism in the latest push to isolate the pariah nation.

North Korea on Monday joined Iran, Sudan and Syria on the terror blacklist, a largely symbolic step as the administration already has the authority to impose virtually any sanctions it wants on Kim Jong Un’s government over its nuclear weapons development.

As part of its “maximum pressure” campaign, President Donald Trump said the Treasury Department would impose more sanctions on North Korea and “related persons” starting Tuesday, without hinting who or what would be targeted. It is part of rolling effort to deprive Pyongyang of funds for its nuclear and missile programs and leave it internationally isolated.

“It will be the highest level of sanctions by the time it’s finished over a two-week period,” Trump said.

———

Associated Press Writer Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this story.

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Trump declares North Korea ‘sponsor of terror’

November 20, 2017

BBC News

Media captionTrump: “North Korea supports acts of international terrorism”

President Trump has announced that the US is re-designating North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, nine years after it was removed from the list.

In a cabinet meeting, he said the move would trigger “very large” additional sanctions to be announced on Tuesday.

Mr Trump blamed the country’s nuclear programme, and support for what he called international acts of terrorism.

While announcing the decision, the US president said it “should have happened a long time ago”.

Mr Trump said that North Korea had “repeatedly supported international acts of terrorism” and added that the regime must act lawfully and also cease its nuclear weapons programme.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un continues to pursue nuclear weapons and missile programmes in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions.

Mr Kim has made no secret of Pyongyang’s plans to develop a missile capable of reaching the US mainland.

Last month, US Defence Secretary James Mattis said that the threat of nuclear attack from North Korea is increasing.

Monday’s announcement comes after the president returned from an extensive tour of Asia last week.

Includes video:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42058686

U.S. Rebuffs China’s Charm Offensive, Edging Closer to Trade War

November 20, 2017

U.S. looks at sanctions with the goal of fundamentally challenging Chinese trade practices

The U.S. and China are vying for influence in Asia, but tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, as well as President Donald Trump’s focus on prioritizing American interests, have complicated Washington’s agenda. Photo: AP

A month before President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing, Chinese officials presented an offer they thought Washington couldn’t refuse.

China proposed that during the trip, Mr. Trump and his counterpart, Xi Jinping, unveil a plan to widen foreign firms’ access to China’s vast financial industry, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It was a move previous U.S. administrations had sought for years.

To Beijing’s consternation, according to the people, Washington wasn’t interested. The offer was made a second time during one of Mr. Trump’s meetings at the Great Hall of the People. Hours after Air Force One took off from Beijing, China announced the opening on its own.

The cold shoulder from the White House reflects a fundamental shift in how the U.S. manages its relationship with China, one that suggests a bold gamble and a rocky road ahead despite the bonhomie of the presidential summit earlier this month in Beijing.

The financial opening initially attracted wide attention from market participants, and Beijing called it evidence of its commitment to market liberalization. U.S. reaction has been tepid. A White House spokeswoman on Friday called it “welcome but long overdue” and said: “It is also only one of a plethora of problems China needs to address in order to provide fair and reciprocal access to its market.”

The Trump administration, which recently completed a comprehensive review of China policy, is rejecting the longstanding practice of eking out concessions from Beijing on trade and market access around high-level meetings.

To Mr. Trump and his aides, that approach has yielded few substantive benefits but allowed China to continue policies that put American businesses at a disadvantage. One White House official refers to that pattern as Beijing’s “rope-a-dope” strategy. The administration is now investigating trade sanctions or enforcement actions against China with the goal of fundamentally challenging Chinese trade practices.

The White House is also trying to invest in the personal relationship between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi to absorb some of the shock of the coming trade measures.

That helps explain Mr. Trump’s unorthodox blend of tough talk on trade and effusive praise for Mr. Xi in Beijing. In China and around the globe, the White House is aiming to make an asset out of Mr. Trump’s unpredictability, which has been criticized by foreign-policy experts as a destabilizing influence on international negotiations over trade and national security.

Related

A Chinese Conglomerate’s Fall From Favor
China to Give Foreigners Greater Access to Its Financial Sector (Nov. 10)
In China, Trump Employs Tough Talk, Flattery With Xi (Nov. 9)
Decoding Trump’s China Trade Strategy (Nov. 5)
Where Donald Trump’s Unpredictability Could Hurt Him (Oct. 23)
“The U.S. now believes that only the threat of unilateral action will compel China to change,” says Scott Kennedy, a deputy director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

The new China strategy carries considerable risk. Some policy experts fear it could set off a trade war. Others, especially advocates of harsh sanctions, worry Mr. Trump might not follow through if Beijing steps up its charm offensive with further attempts to flatter him or if his agenda becomes monopolized by domestic issues, especially the tax overhaul proposed by the Republicans in Congress.

Still, in Beijing, the prospect of a much tougher U.S. stance is starting to sink in. China had hoped to show it is doing its part to improve the relationship by granting Mr. Trump a “state-visit-plus”—including a private dinner with Mr. Xi in the Forbidden City—and opening the financial sector.

“China realizes that it can’t continue to drive away foreign capital,” says He Fan, a professor at Peking University HSBC School of Business. “It likely will take more measures to open up its economy.”

Beijing is likely to point to any opening measures, however symbolic, to argue against unilateral action by Washington.

Under the new financial opening, Beijing pledged to let foreign securities firms own majority stakes in their Chinese ventures and to scrap foreign ownership limits on Chinese banks. Officials indicated the security-industry changes would be limited, at least initially.

Western officials treat such pronouncements with skepticism, pointing to China’s poor follow-up record and saying hurdles have grown despite similar pledges in the past.

“This opening-up comes at a late stage in development,” said the European Chamber of Commerce in a statement. “It is now difficult for foreign firms to capitalize on these changes as domestic Chinese firms have stronger positions in their respective industry.”

Such views are shared by U.S. officials. “The overall approach now is not to negotiate over crumbs, not celebrate small deals that will have limited impact,” one official said.

While attending meetings by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington in October, China’s Vice Finance minister Zhu Guangyao told U.S. officials about the new financial-opening plan, according to the people familiar with the discussions. The Chinese side had expected U.S. officials would welcome the proposal and agree to roll it out as a breakthrough during Mr. Trump’s visit to Beijing.

Instead, U.S. officials called it too little too late.

“We said, ‘No, we’re not going to take your gifts because you’re just trying to sucker us,’” said a U.S. official familiar with the discussions. “The idea with China is no negotiation because it will just make us beholden to them and reluctant to slam them on other stuff.”

The Trump administration trade team is weighing a half-dozen trade enforcement actions that are aimed directly, or indirectly, at China, with decisions expected by early next year.

The team is looking at invoking a Cold War-era law that was last used in the early 1980s to block steel and aluminum imports in the name of national security. It is also studying dusting off another law last used in 2002 to protect domestic producers claiming to have been damaged by a sudden surge of cheap imports; solar panels and washing machines are goods in focus.

The U.S. and China are vying for influence in Asia, but tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, as well as President Donald Trump’s focus on prioritizing American interests, have complicated Washington’s agenda. Photo: AP

Shortly before Mr. Trump’s trip to Beijing, his Commerce Department issued a lengthy study justifying the continuing branding of China as a “nonmarket economy,” a status that allows the U.S. to impose extra high duties on Chinese imports found to have been illegally subsidized or “dumped” below production costs. Commerce has since imposed duties of up to 162% on Chinese aluminum foil and 194% for hardwood plywood. China has filed a complaint over that designation to the World Trade Organization.

At the same time, Mr. Trump’s trade agency is building a broad case to charge China with “unfair trade practices” by improperly pressuring American companies to turn over valuable intellectual property as the price for entering the Chinese market.

Still, the question is when, or whether, the administration will actually take action on these fronts. So far, trade enforcement has taken a back seat to White House priorities such as winning passage of a tax cut and securing Chinese cooperation to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.

U.S. officials have struggled to find remedies that won’t trigger a wide backlash from industries that consume Chinese products or free-trade Republicans in Congress. Excessively harsh sanctions could also provoke a full-blown trade war, some policy experts say.

Although an open line to Mr. Xi could help in managing a trade crisis and allow for more meaningful deal-making, efforts to forge a personal rapport with previous Chinese leaders have rarely borne fruit.

“The development of personal relations is a fact, not a strategy,” the White House spokeswoman said. Messrs. Trump and Xi “seem to have established a good personal relationship, as the president has with many world leaders,” she added.

Already, some supporters of Mr. Trump’s promised China trade crackdown have grown frustrated at the limited results. The Alliance for American Manufacturing, a group formed by the United Steelworkers union and U.S. steelmakers, praised Mr. Trump in April when he launched his study on national-security steel tariffs, and his aides had promised action by June.

Now, they have launched a petition drive protesting the delays and demanding the administration follow through.

The deadline “is long past — and still no action,” the petition reads. “President Trump pledged to stand up for America’s working class—and it’s time for him to make good on his word.”

Asked Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council about the delays, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said: “Well, the president has indicated that he doesn’t want that to come out until after the tax legislation is dealt with.”

Write to Lingling Wei at lingling.wei@wsj.com, Jacob M. Schlesinger at jacob.schlesinger@wsj.com, Jeremy Page at jeremy.page@wsj.com and Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com

North Korea petitions Russia to let workers stay despite sanctions

November 17, 2017

MOSCOW (Reuters) – North Korea has petitioned the Russian parliament to help 3,500 migrant workers from the isolated Asian country stay in Russia despite new U.N. sanctions, the Interfax news agency reported on Friday, citing a Russian lawmaker.

 Image result for North Korean overseas workers, photos
North Korean overseas workers

Tougher sanctions on North Korea, imposed by the United Nations Security Council over Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs on Sept. 11, banned countries from providing new work permits for North Korean nationals, but allowed existing workers to remain.

Most of the around 30,000-40,000 North Korean migrants legally working in Russia were hired before the new sanctions entered into force and the ban will not affect them, Interfax said, quoting an earlier statement from Maxim Topilin, Russia’s labor minister.

But the ban could apply to 3,500 workers who only signed their contracts in September, the month when the U.N. Security Council, including Russia, voted for the new sanctions, Interfax reported.

It cited Kazbek Taysayev, a lawmaker in the lower house of parliament and a member of a “friendship group” between the Russian and North Korean parliaments, as saying:

“North Korea’s embassy officially addressed us. We supported them and sent our petitions in order to let these people stay so that they can work.”

Even if the workers signed their contracts after the ban took effect, they had started making arrangements and preparing the documents earlier and could be allowed to stay, said Taysayev.

The U.N. resolution said it did not apply to work permits “for which written contracts have been finalized prior to the adoption of this resolution.”

North Korea’s embassy in Moscow was not available for immediate comment.

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn

Map shows before the sanctions began….

Image result for North Korean overseas workers, photos

Poland blasts ‘scandalous’ EU parliament call for sanctions

November 15, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said the European Parliament’s move was “scandalous”

STRASBOURG (FRANCE) (AFP) – Poland’s prime minister reacted furiously on Wednesday after the European Parliament called for the country to face EU sanctions over its controversial judicial reforms.Members of the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution condemning “grave violations” of the rule of law, and of triggering a procedure that could eventually suspend Warsaw’s voting rights in the European Union.

Poland’s rightwing government and the EU have been at loggerheads for months over proposed changes to the Polish court system that Brussels views as a threat to the union’s underpinning democratic values.

Rightwing Polish lawmakers walked out of the vote in Strasbourg, France, and Polish premier Beata Szydlo launched a furious attack on the move by the parliament.

“At the European summit on Friday I will give my views on the scandalous events in the European Parliament,” Szydlo said on Twitter, referring to a meeting of EU leaders in Sweden this week.

 Image result for Frans Timmermans, photos
European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans

She condemned opposition Polish MEPs for “defaming” the country by staying in parliament for the vote.

The proposals to overhaul Poland’s judicial system have led to mass street protests and prompted Polish freedom icon Lech Walesa to express concern about his country’s fate in Europe.

The EU says all the Polish reforms pose a “systemic threat” to the rule of law, with Brussels having warned it could trigger Article Seven of the EU’s treaties, which deals with the Rule of Law.

That could eventually lead to the so-called nuclear option of freezing Poland’s voting rights within the bloc.

“We have now sent four letters to the Polish authorities to seek a meeting” but received no response, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, who has been leading the EU’s response on the issue, told MEPs.

A growing east-west split in the EU has seen Brussels take on both Poland and Hungary over a series of issues including rights and the countries’ refusal to take in any migrants.

zap-burs-dk/arp/ser

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Tillerson says Myanmar sanctions won’t solve Rohingya crisis at this time

November 15, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Richard SARGENT, Hla Hla Htay | More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have streamed into Bangladesh in recent months
NAYPYIDAW (MYANMAR) (AFP) – Washington’s top diplomat on Wednesday said he would not yet push for sanctions against Myanmar over the Rohingya refugee crisis, but he called for a independent investigation into “credible” allegations that soldiers were committing atrocities against the Muslim minority.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was speaking after a one-day stop in Naypyidaw, as global outrage builds over impunity for a military accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya.

His comments came as de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi hit back at accusations that she has been silent over the refugee crisis, saying she has focused instead on speech that avoids inflaming sectarian tensions.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled the mainly Buddhist country since the military launched a counterinsurgency operation in northern Rakhine state in late August.

While Myanmar’s military insists it has only targeted Rohingya rebels, refugees massing in grim Bangladeshi camps have described chilling and consistent accounts of widespread murder, rape and arson at the hands of security forces and Buddhist mobs.

Speaking after meetings with the army chief and Suu Kyi, Tillerson said that broad economic sanctions is “not something that I’d think would be advisable at this time”.

“We want to see Myanmar succeed,” he told reporters at a joint press briefing alongside Suu Kyi. “You can’t just impose sanctions and say therefore the crisis is over.”

But he said Washington was “deeply concerned by credible reports of widespread atrocities committed by Myanmar’s security forces and vigilantes” and urged Myanmar to accept an independent investigation into those allegations.

“The scenes of what occurred out there are just horrific,” he added.

Suu Kyi’s administration has dismissed reports of atrocities and has refused to grant entry to UN investigators charged with probing those allegations.

– Powerless or complicit? –

But Washington has been careful to draw a distinction between Suu Kyi’s fledgling civilian administration and the military, who controls all security policy.

While she lacks power over the army, Suu Kyi has become a punching bag for rights groups disappointed by her failure to publicly criticise the military or defend Rohingya against rising Islamaphobia.

Suu Kyi, who rarely holds press conferences, addressed those criticisms on Wednesday.

“I have not been silent… what people mean is what I say is not interesting enough,” she told reporters.

“What I say is not meant to be exciting, it’s meant to be accurate… not set people against each other.”

The US was a major ally in the democratic transition that eventually led to Suu Kyi taking office in 2016 in a power-sharing arrangement with the army, ending five decades of brutal junta rule.

Under a junta-drafted constitution the military still controls key security ministries, including border and defence, and retains a de facto veto on any constitutional change.

Suu Kyi’s defenders say she must tread lightly to avoid provoking an army that could roll back democratic gains at any time.

As anger over the plight of Rohingya mounts abroad, Myanmar’s army has dug-in with its denial of abuses — while also curbing access to the conflict zone.

Ahead of Tillerson’s arrival the commander-in-chief published an internal probe that exonerated soldiers of all allegations, saying there was no evidence troops had killed civilians, raped women or used “excessive force” in Rakhine.

Rights groups blasted the report as an attempt to “whitewash” atrocities by a military with a long history of abuses, especially against ethnic minorities in border regions.

by Richard SARGENT, Hla Hla Htay

China to Send Envoy to North Korea After Trump’s Visit to Beijing

November 15, 2017

U.S. president pushed for more action from Beijing to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear program

Song Tao, wearing a headset, will leave for North Korea on Friday.Photo: Astafyev Alexander/Zuma Press

China said it would send a special envoy to North Korea, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, days after U.S. President Donald Trump pushed for more action from Beijing to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear program.

Song Tao, a special envoy of President Xi Jinping, will leave for North Korea on Friday, Xinhua said. It said the visit would include briefings on last month’s Communist Party congress, citing a Wednesday announcement by the international department of the party’s Central Committee.

The U.S. has repeatedly pushed Beijing to do more to pressure North Korea to slow its development of nuclear weapons, and Mr. Trump did so again during his summit with Mr. Xi in Beijing.

It wasn’t clear from the Xinhua report whether Pyongyang’s nuclear program would be on the agenda during Mr. Song’s visit, or how long he would be in North Korea.

During his almost two weeks in Asia, Mr. Trump emphasized his personal rapport with regional leaders and several times called for China’s help on North Korea, including in an address before South Korea’s National Assembly. As he left the region on Tuesday, Mr. Trump said he thought he had secured a commitment from Mr. Xi on the issue.

Related

  • A North Korean Defector’s Dash to Freedom
  • In China, Trump Employs Tough Talk, Flattery With Xi (Nov. 9)
  • China Orders Shutdown of North Korea-Connected Businesses (Sept. 28)
  • China to Cut Oil Exports to North Korea (Sept. 23)

Mr. Xi and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have never met, and relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have grown tense this year as the Kim regime has advanced its weapons program.

While wary of enacting measures that could bring about North Korea’s collapse, Beijing has moved to enforce United Nations sanctions on its neighbor, including bans on North Korean trade in coal, iron ore and textiles, and curbs on oil trade.

High-level meetings between Chinese and North Korean officials have taken place about once a year in recent years. Mr. Xi met with North Korean officials, including Mr. Song’s counterpart, Ri Su Yong, in Beijing in 2016, and Mr. Song visited North Korea in October 2015 as part of a delegation that met with Mr. Kim.

Since the conclusion of the party congress, Mr, Song has also visited Laos and Vietnam and briefed them about the congress, according to Xinhua reports.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency also announced the planned visit from Mr. Song.

Song Tao, wearing a headset, will leave for North Korea on Friday.Photo: Astafyev Alexander/Zuma Press

Separately on Wednesday, North Korea lashed Mr. Trump as an “old lunatic” and “human reject” in its first direct response to the U.S. president’s National Assembly speech in Seoul last week.

Mr. Trump devoted much of his 35-minute-long speech before the legislature to listing North Korea’s human-rights abuses in unusual detail. He also appealed directly to Mr. Kim to choose a different path and referenced Mr. Kim’s grandfather, the founder of the North Korean state who in death remains the country’s “eternal president.”

On Wednesday, a commentary in North Korea’s main party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, accused Mr. Trump of attacking the country’s supreme leadership and having “painted a black picture of the DPRK,” using shorthand for the country’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

It added that Mr. Trump’s remarks “cannot but be viewed as the final confirmation of the White House’s policy hostile to the DPRK…and an open declaration of war not to allow the existence of the Korean people any more.”

“He will be forced to pay dearly for his blasphemy any moment,” the commentary read. It didn’t specify what kind of countermeasures it would deploy.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-to-send-envoy-to-north-korea-after-trumps-visit-to-beijing-1510719531

Former U.S. intelligence officials: Trump being ‘played’ by Putin

November 13, 2017
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By John Wagner
The Washington Post
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Two top former U.S. intelligence officials said Sunday that President Trump is being “played” by President Vladi­mir Putin on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and accused him of being susceptible to foreign leaders who stroke his ego.
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“By not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin that we know you’re responsible for this, I think he’s giving Putin a pass,” former CIA director John Brennan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
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“I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

Appearing on the same program, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said he agrees with that assessment.

“He seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards and all the trappings and pomp and circumstance that come with the office, and I think that appeals to him, and I think it plays to his insecurities,” Clapper said.

Trump told reporters traveling with him in Asia that Putin had assured him at a conference in Danang, Vietnam, on Saturday that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and he indicated that he believed Putin was sincere.

Later, in a news conference Sunday in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Trump appeared to be trying to parse his earlier remarks, saying, “What I said is that I believe [Putin] believes that.”

“As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership.  I believe in our intel agencies, our intelligence agencies,” Trump added.

In his earlier remarks to reporters, Trump also referred to Brennan and Clapper as “political hacks.” Brennan said Sunday that he considers Trump’s characterization “a badge of honor.”

Both men were highly critical of Trump for not saying more emphatically that Putin was behind the Russian interference in the U.S. election, a conclusion strongly endorsed by the U.S. intelligence community.

“I don’t know why the ambiguity about this,” Brennan said. “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process. And to try paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding, and, in fact, poses a peril to this country.”

Clapper said, “It’s very clear that the Russians interfered in the election, and it’s still puzzling as to why Mr. Trump does not acknowledge that and embrace it and also push hard against Mr. Putin.”

Appearing later on CNN, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin came to Trump’s defense, brushing aside the comments of Brennan and Clapper.

“Those were the most ridiculous statements,” Mnuchin said. “President Trump is not getting played by anybody.”

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Mnuchin said Trump wants to focus on thorny issues posed by North Korea and Syria and is trying to get Russia on board with the U.S. strategy.

“I think the country is ready to move on off of this and focus on important issues,” he said.

Marc Short, Trump’s director of legislative affairs, said Sunday that the president does concur with a January 2017 assessment by the intelligence community about Russian meddling.

 

“But let’s be careful and be straight about what it is the president believes right now,” Short said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“He believes that after a year of investigations of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, there is zero evidence of any ballot being impacted by Russian interference,” Short said. “What the president is trying to do right now is recognize the gravest threat that America faces is North Korea developing nuclear weapons. And nuclear weapons in North Korea is a greater threat than Russia buying Facebook ads in America.”

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/11/12/former-u-s-intelligence-officials-trump-being-played-by-putin/?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-card-politics%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.f0eddcc6f020
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After Trump’s Bonhomie in Beijing, a Trade Face-Off Brews — In China, “Trump was played like a fiddle.”

November 12, 2017

Beyond empty summitry, a harder-edged U.S. strategy comes into focus

HANOI—On its face, Donald Trump’s deference to Xi Jinping at their summit was a victory for China, although not nearly the surrendering of U.S. leadership in Asia to the Chinese strongman that some critics allege.

Mr. Xi’s China, Mr. Trump said, paying fulsome tribute to the omnipotence of the newly crowned supreme leader standing next to him, could fix the Korean nuclear crisis “easily and quickly.”

On Chinese trade abuses, he appeared to absolve Mr. Xi of all responsibility, provocatively suggesting there is honor in the way Chinese leaders game the global trading system to win advantage for their people. “I give China great credit,” he said.

Look beyond the flattery, however, and a harder-edged strategy comes into focus.

As Mr. Trump lavished praise on the Chinese president—“you’re a very special man,” he purred—three U.S. aircraft-carrier strike groups prowled the Western Pacific. They are a reminder of the military options the Pentagon is weighing against Pyongyang, knowing that while China could do more to pressure Kim Jong Un to slow his nuclear buildup, Mr. Xi’s leverage is in fact limited.

Meanwhile, back in Washington lower-level aides are dusting off a rarely used Cold War-era trade weapon that invokes national-security considerations to push back against Chinese steel and aluminum dumping. The action reflects an acknowledgment that Mr. Xi has no intention of abandoning predatory industrial policies to bring China, in his words, “closer to the center” of the world, and that conventional counters to Chinese abuses, like World Trade Organization complaints, don’t work.

All this suggests that a largely vacuous meeting in Beijing, featuring a high quota of bonhomie from Mr. Trump and a low measure of economic deliverables from Mr. Xi, may go down in history as the prelude to a face-off on trade and other contentious issues that Mr. Trump repeatedly threatened during his campaign but has so far conspicuously failed to bring on.

Indeed, empty summitry may have been part of the White House game plan.

Both sides normally strain for agreements to show progress toward the all-round engagement that has been the Holy Grail of successive U.S. presidents since Nixon. This time was different. Nobody was fooled by the $250 billion in commercial deals signed. Some were already in the works, hastily packaged up for the occasion, while others were memorandums of understanding that mean just that—paper promises that often end up in the bin.

Focus exclusively on his gushing personal diplomacy and the view might be Mr. Trump was played like a fiddle.

Dwell on the modest takeaways and the White House appears to have used the summit to signal it is no longer playing the old game of pretend. Is this why, after Mr. Trump had left Beijing, his hosts figuratively ran after their guest with a more substantial offer—improved market access for U.S. securities firms and banks? White House aides suggest this concession was granted, not demanded.

In this more nuanced reading of the summit from Washington’s perspective, Mr. Trump’s assigned role was to enhance a rapport with Mr. Xi that will help anchor the relationship in advance of expected turbulence ahead.

There was nothing subtle, though, about Mr. Trump’s address to Asian leaders gathered in the Vietnamese coastal resort of Da Nang. In front of a group dedicated to multilateral trade, he thundered his insistence on one-on-one agreements. Instead of offering a sweeping American vision for the region to compete with Mr. Xi’s “China Dream,” which often overrides the ideals and ambitions of smaller Asian nations, he came up with a slogan coined in Japan—a “free and open Indo-Pacific”—with hardly any elaboration.

Borrowing a line from Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” Mr. Trump took a dig at the ethno-nationalism that imbues Mr. Xi’s dream, as well as his “Belt and Road” initiative: “The world has many places, many dreams, and many roads,” he said to scattered applause. His America First stridency, though—“but in all of the world there’s no place like home”—was received in silence.

There’s his problem: The marketing of nationalism, each country for itself, creates fissures in Asia. Whether Mr. Trump is confronting North Korean nuclear terror, or Chinese territorial assertiveness, he needs an Asian coalition behind him, which means first of all promoting common values in a region of traders. Mr. Xi understands this, at least rhetorically. He got a standing ovation for his speech that spoke of “building a community with a shared future for mankind.”

Mr. Xi’s attempts to pose as the savior of open markets and globalization draw as much skepticism today as when he first pitched himself in that role at Davos earlier this year.

But what he offers is inclusion, not retreat.

Having forged the region in its own image—a free-trading and substantially democratic dynamo—the U.S. now risks bequeathing the fruits to a rising China.

Write to Andrew Browne at andrew.browne@wsj.com

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-trumps-bonhomie-in-beijing-a-trade-face-off-brews-1510487311

Trump Creates Twitter Storm — Slams ‘haters’ over Russia — Snipes at North Korea’s Kim Jong-un — I would NEVER call him “short and fat”

November 12, 2017

US President Donald Trump unleashed a twitter storm from his Asia tour on Sunday, slamming “haters and fools” playing politics with US-Russia ties and declaring that he would never describe North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “short and fat”.

Currently on the Vietnam leg of a five-nation sweep through the region, the US president, who has been relatively quiet on Twitter since leaving Washington, put out half-a-dozen tweets in quick succession ahead of his official welcoming ceremony in Hanoi.

The missives covered a range of subjects from Mr Trump’s relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, China’s efforts to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme, and a sarcastic tweet about his efforts to make “a friend” of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The US president, who met with Mr Putin several times on the margins of the just-concluded APEC summit in the Vietnamese resort of Danang, took a fresh swipe at critics of his efforts to forge a close working relationship with the Russian leader.

When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!

“When will all the haters and fools out there realise that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he tweeted.

“There (sic) always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!” he added.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One while flying to Hanoi on Saturday, Mr Trump said he believed Vladimir Putin was being sincere when he denied meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Mr Trump, whose key former aides are under US investigation for possible collaboration with the Kremlin, said he had repeatedly asked Putin about the claims during their chats in Danang.

“He (Putin) said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again,” Mr Trump, who is marking one year since his shock election victory, told the reporters.

“I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” he added.

Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!

Mr Trump’s Sunday morning tweets also focused on North Korea and its nuclear weapons ambitions that have been a dominant theme on each leg of his Asia tour.

Taking exception to descriptions by North Korean officials and state media of him as an “old” man, Mr Trump declared himself disappointed by what he took to be a personal attack from the North’s young leader.

“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Mr Trump said.

“Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!” he added.

North Korea is extremely sensitive to any remarks – even if not meant seriously – that it sees as disrespectful of the country’ ruling Kim dynasty, whose members are revered as near deities.

Does the Fake News Media remember when Crooked Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was begging Russia to be our friend with the misspelled reset button? Obama tried also, but he had zero chemistry with Putin.

Since becoming president, Mr Trump has engaged in an escalating war of words with Kim, trading personal insults and threats of military strikes and raising concerns about an outbreak of hostilities.

Over the past week, Mr Trump has urged Asian leaders to take a united front against the threat posed by the isolated North, warning at APEC that the region “must not be held hostage to a dictator’s twisted fantasies”.

Late Saturday, Pyongyang hit back, calling his Asia trip “a warmonger’s visit for confrontation” and saying it would only serve to accelerate Pyongyang’s push for nuclear statehood.

In another tweet Sunday, Mr Trump said Chinese leader Xi Jinping had agreed to toughen sanctions against North Korea, whose impoverished economy is hugely reliant on trade with China.

“President Xi of China has stated that he is upping the sanctions against (North Korea). Said he wants them to denuclearise. Progress is being made,” he wrote.

The US administration thinks China’s economic leverage over North Korea is the key to strong-arming Pyongyang into halting its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

China has made no sanctions announcement in recent days, and it was unclear if Mr Trump was referring to statements Xi may have made during their summit in Beijing on Thursday, or when they met at APEC.

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