Posts Tagged ‘Trump administration’

EU, Japan and US to ramp up trade pressure on China

December 12, 2017

Three economies will target ‘severe excess capacity’ in sectors like steel

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer
By Shawn Donnan in Buenos Aires
FT (Financial Times)

The EU, Japan and the US are set to announce a new alliance to take on China more aggressively over trade issues such as overcapacity in steel and forced technology transfers, in a rare effort at international economic co-operation by the Trump administration.

In a statement due to be issued on Tuesday on the sidelines of a World Trade Organization meeting, the three economies will target the “severe excess capacity” in important sectors like steel and the role of illegal subsidies, state financing and state-owned enterprises in fuelling it, according to a draft read to the Financial Times.

Also targeted are the rules in countries such as China that require foreign investors to hand over important proprietary technologies or house content and data on local servers.

The statement will not name China. But it reflects all three economies’ growing angst about its continuing economic rise, officials said. It also addresses two of the Trump administration’s main complaints against China — its flooding of global markets with cheap steel, aluminium and other commodities and the way it is using intellectual property rules to acquire strategic technologies.

Mr Trump and his aides have lashed out at China and revived US trade statutes to launch controversial investigations that could lead to punitive tariffs and other trade sanctions.

But the EU and Japan have been seeking to talk the administration out of unilateral action, arguing that co-operating with the EU and countries like Japan would better serve US interests and do more to raise pressure on Beijing.

The goal is to stave off a feared surge in protectionism. A new study due to be released on Tuesday by Simon Evenett, a researcher at St Gallen University in Switzerland, is set to show that protectionist measures introduced since the 2008 global financial crisis have caused the growth of EU exports to stall.

Subsidies, Mr Evenett said, have been a major component of that. “This isn’t the protectionist mix our forefathers would have recognised and reflects the holes in the WTO’s rule book, especially as they relate to subsidies,” he said.

EU officials are also keen to convince the Trump administration to embrace the WTO as a venue for fighting its trade battles rather than going it alone. Tuesday’s statement is due to call for “enhancing trilateral co-operation in the WTO”, according to one EU official.

The move comes amid a combative biennial meeting of ministers from the WTO’s 164 member countries in Buenos Aires. Many see the Trump administration’s assault on the institution as casting a dark cloud.

Addressing his fellow ministers on Monday, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said the WTO faced “serious challenges” including “losing its essential focus on negotiation and becoming a litigation-centred organisation”. He called for the WTO to do more to focus on issues like chronic industrial overcapacity and the role of state-owned enterprises in distorting global trade.

He also complained about WTO rules that allow China and other major emerging economies special treatment that exempts them from certain requirements.

“If in the opinion of a vast majority of members playing by current WTO rules makes it harder to achieve economic growth, then clearly serious reflection is needed,” he said.

Mr Lighthizer did not mention a US bid to force change in a WTO dispute-settlement arm that it sees as too interventionist.

Because the US is now blocking the filling of vacancies on its appellate body as members’ terms run out, one of the main subjects of discussion on the sidelines in Buenos Aires has been what many fear is a US bid to dismantle the dispute system. Monday marked the final day of a Belgian member’s four-year term, leaving the appellate panel with just four of its seven judges in place.

In meetings with fellow ministers Mr Lighthizer has continued to lay out the US’s complaints about the dispute system. But he has not offered any potential solutions, officials say.


Russia says ready to exert influence on North Korea: Ifax

December 8, 2017

North Korean soldiers attend a mass rally to celebrate the North’s declaration on Nov. 29. (AFP/Kim Won-Jin)

MOSCOW: Russia has communication channels with North Korea open and Moscow is ready to exert its influence on Pyongyang, Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov as saying on Tuesday.

He was also quoted by RIA as saying that North Korea was seeking a direct dialogue with the United States on its nuclear program, while it was not in need of security guarantees either from China or Russia.
In Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Katina Adams said the Trump administration still wanted a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the nuclear and missile threat from Pyongyang, but told Reuters:
“(North Korea) has shown through its actions that it is not interested in talks. We must remain focused on increasing the costs for Pyongyang to continue to advance its WMD programs.”

Trump’s Jerusalem Stance Raises Tension With Arab Allies

December 7, 2017

Saudi Arabia and Jordan criticize move to recognize city as Israel’s capital; Iraq summons U.S. ambassador

The first signs of strain with President Donald Trump’s administration among his closest Arab allies have surfaced over the policy shift on Jerusalem, an indication that the U.S. is at risk of alienating potential partners in the pursuit of Mideast peace and the building of a coalition to counter Iran.

In a rare public rebuke to its most important ally, Saudi Arabia in a statement Thursday criticized the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy to the city. It called…
Trump recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital would raise regional tensions
China Daily
In a welcome move to some and a controversial move to others, US President Donald Trump is reportedly expected to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital later this week.

JERUSALEM – In a welcome move to some and a controversial move to others, US President Donald Trump is reportedly expected to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital later this week.

Any such announcement has inflammatory potential in an already volatile region.

Israel has controlled the western part of Jerusalem since its inception in 1948. In 1967, after the Mideast war, Israel captured the eastern part of Jerusalem from Jordan and declared both parts it’s united capital.

The move was never recognized by the international community, including Israel’s closest ally, the US.

The Palestinians see eastern Jerusalem as the future capital of their state.

Jerusalem is home to all of the Israeli government offices and while foreign embassies are situated in Tel Aviv, dealings with the Israeli government are done largely in Jerusalem, the capital that no one recognizes.

Jerusalem is home to sites holy to Islam, Judaism and Christianity, making it a focal point for many people around the globe.

Now, in what seems to be an attempt to appease both Israel and his constituents on the evangelical right, Trump may recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in order to cushion the blow on an undelivered election promise, transferring the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, another controversial move.

It is still unclear, however, whether the US will make such a move, and if so, will it recognize both sides of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital? Or just the western side?

“Trump is a friend of Israel and he thinks that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and recognizing the historic links between the Jews and the city is the right thing to do,” Prof. Efraim Inbar, President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, told Xinhua.

Inbar believed Trump will be “ambiguous” about what part of Jerusalem the US will recognize.

“Nobody really disputes Israeli sovereignty over west Jerusalem,” Inbar added. While there is a de-facto recognition of western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, this sovereignty remains unrecognized by the whole of the international community.

Up until now, both Israelis and Americans have repeatedly said that the status of Jerusalem needs to be determined in bilateral negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

American media has quoted US Defense officials saying a new policy on Jerusalem would endanger American diplomatic missions worldwide, further highlighting how delicate the matter is.


Hamas calls for Palestinian uprising in response to Trump’s Jerusalem plan


JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) – The Islamist group Hamas urged Palestinians on Thursday to abandon peace efforts and launch a new uprising against Israel in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.

The Israeli military said it was reinforcing troops in the occupied West Bank, deploying several new army battalions and putting other forces on standby, describing the measures as part of its “readiness for possible developments”.

Protests so far have been scattered and largely non-violent.

But dozens of Palestinians gathered at two points on the Gaza border fence with Israel and threw rocks at soldiers on the other side. Inside Gaza, thousands of Palestinians rallied, some chanting: “Death to America! Death to the fool Trump!” and burning tires.

Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy on Wednesday by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, imperiling Middle East peace efforts and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies alike.

(For a graphic on possible Jerusalem U.S. Embassy sites, click

The status of Jerusalem – home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions – is one of the biggest obstacles to reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada (Palestinian uprising) in the face of the Zionist enemy,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech in Gaza.

Haniyeh, elected the group’s overall leader in May, urged Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs to hold rallies against the U.S decision on Friday, calling it a “day of rage”.

Naser Al-Qidwa, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior official in his Fatah party, urged Palestinians to stage protests but said they should be peaceful.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital. Palestinians want the capital of an independent state of theirs to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.

Trump announced his administration would begin a process of moving the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step expected to take years and one that his predecessors opted not to take to avoid inflaming tensions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hailed Trump’s announcement as a “historic landmark”, said on Thursday many countries would follow the U.S. move and contacts were underway. He did not name the countries he was referring to.

“President Trump has immortalized himself in the chronicles of our capital. His name will now be held aloft, alongside other names connected to the glorious history of Jerusalem and of our people,” he said in a speech at Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Other close Western allies of Washington, including France and Britain, have been critical of Trump’s move. Pope Francis has called for Jerusalem’s status quo to be respected, while China and Russia have also expressed concern.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said: “The European Union has a clear and united position. We believe the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states and with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”

A demonstrator reacts during a protest against the U.S. intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Umit BektasTrump’s decision has raised doubts about his administration’s ability to follow through on a peace effort that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has led for months aimed at reviving long-stalled negotiations.

The United Nations Security Council is likely to meet on Friday to discuss the U.S. decision, diplomats said.


Israel and the United States consider Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2007, a terrorist organization. Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and its suicide bombings helped spearhead the last intifada, from 2000 to 2005.

“We have given instruction to all Hamas members and to all its wings to be fully ready for any new instructions or orders that may be given to confront this strategic danger that threatens Jerusalem and threatens Palestine,” Haniyeh said.

“United Jerusalem is Arab and Muslim, and it is the capital of the state of Palestine, all of Palestine,” he said, referring to territory including Israel as well as the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Slideshow (26 Images)Haniyeh called on Western-backed Abbas to withdraw from peacemaking with Israel and on Arabs to boycott the Trump administration.

Abbas said on Wednesday the United States had abdicated its role as a mediator in peace efforts. Palestinian secular and Islamist factions have called for a general strike and rallies on Thursday.

Fearing recrimination could disrupt reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah and other Fatah delegates arrived in Gaza on Thursday to meet Hamas.

The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem, believing its status should be resolved in negotiations. No other country has its embassy in Jerusalem.

Trump’s decision fulfils a campaign promise and will please Republican conservatives and evangelicals who make up a sizeable portion of his domestic support.

He said his move was not intended to tip the scale in favor of Israel and that any deal involving the future of Jerusalem would have to be negotiated by the parties, but the move was seen almost uniformly in Arab capitals as a sharp tilt towards Israel.

The United States is asking Israel to temper its response to the announcement because Washington expects a backlash and is weighing the potential threat to U.S. facilities and people, according to a State Department document seen by Reuters.

Protests broke out in areas of Jordan’s capital, Amman, inhabited by Palestinian refugees, and several hundred protesters gathered outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday after Trump’s announcement.

Protests are expected on Thursday in Pakistan, where the government said of Trump’s move: “It is a serious setback to the rule of law and international norms. It signals a severe blow to the Middle East peace process.”

Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan said the United States was “exposing its colonial ambition in Muslim territory”.

Palestinians switched off Christmas lights on trees outside Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe Jesus was born, and in Ramallah, next to the burial site of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in protest.

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Germany warns US of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — “Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not calm a conflict, rather it fuels it even more.”

December 5, 2017

Germany’s foreign minister has urged the White House of taking the decision, saying it “does not calm a conflict.” Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Donald Trump called to tell him he plans to recognize Jerusalem.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state that would form part of a UN-backed two-state solution to the decades-long conflict

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday warned the US about the dangers of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not calm a conflict, rather it fuels it even more,” Gabriel said. “It’s in everyone’s interest that this does not happen.”

Read more: Arab world warns US not to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital

Gabriel’s remarks come as the White House has suggested it may take the decision to relocate its embassy and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

On Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said US President Donald Trump called to inform him of plans to move the US embassy, reported the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency.

Abbas “warned of the dangerous repercussions of such step on the (long-stalled) peace process, security and stability in the region and the world,” said Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state that would form part of a UN-backed two-state solution to the decades-long conflictPalestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state that would form part of a UN-backed two-state solution to the decades-long conflict

The Jerusalem question

The status of Jerusalem has been a key stumbling block during previous peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, in particular regarding the question of how to divide sovereignty and oversee holy sites. Another major issue is illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Read more: ‘Palestinians want reconciliation’ between Fatah and Hamas

The international community has never recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or its unilateral annexation of territory around the city’s eastern sector, which it captured during the 1967 Six-Day War.

However, Israeli officials have urged the Trump administration to take the decision. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on the White House to take the “historic opportunity” to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying he hopes to “see an American embassy here in Jerusalem next week or next month.”

Europe sounds alarm

In Europe, the US proposal has been met with skepticism and warnings. French President Emmanuel Macron  said on Tuesday that he reminded Trump that the status of Jerusalem should be determined during negotiations for a two-state solution.

Read more: The Temple Mount: A clash of cultures

After meeting with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, said any action that risked undermining efforts to restart peace talks “must absolutely be avoided.”

“A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, so that the aspiration of both parties can be fulfilled,” Mogherini said.

South Korea, U.S. kick off large-scale air exercise amid North Korean warnings

December 5, 2017

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea and the United States launched large-scale joint aerial drills on Monday, officials said, a week after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced missile as part of a weapons programme that has raised global tensions.

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U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron, deploy during Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 at Osan Air Base, South Korea, December 3, 2017. U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Handout via REUTERS

The annual U.S.-South Korean drill, called Vigilant Ace, will run until Friday, with six F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to be deployed among the more than 230 aircraft taking part. The exercises have been condemned as a provocation by the isolated North.

F-35 fighters will also join the drill, which will also include the largest number of 5th generation fighters to take part, according to a South Korea-based U.S. Air Force spokesman.

Around 12,000 U.S. service members, including from the Marines and Navy, will join South Korean troops. Aircraft taking part will be flown from eight U.S. and South Korean military installations.

South Korean media reports said B-1B Lancer bombers could join the exercise this week. The U.S. Air Force spokesman could not confirm the reports.

 Image result for North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visits the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Academy, photos

FILE PHOTO: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un visits the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Academy on its 70th anniversary, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang October 13, 2017. KCNA/File Photo via REUTERS.

The joint exercise is designed to enhance readiness and operational capability and to ensure peace and security on the Korean peninsula, the U.S. military had said before the drills began.

The drills come a week after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile ever in defiance of international sanctions and condemnation.

 Image result for K-55 self-propelled artillery, photos

The South Korean army’s K-55 self-propelled artillery vehicles take part in a military exercise near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Pyongyang blamed U.S. President Donald Trump for raising tensions and warned at the weekend the Vigilant Ace exercise was pushing tensions on the Korean peninsula towards “a flare-up”, according to North Korean state media.

North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country called Trump “insane” on Sunday and said the drill would “push the already acute situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war”.

The North’s KCNA state news agency, citing a foreign ministry spokesman, also said on Saturday the Trump administration was “begging for nuclear war by staging an extremely dangerous nuclear gamble on the Korean peninsula”.

North Korea regularly uses its state media to threaten the United States and its allies.

Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Paul Tait

Opinion: Arab States Will Likely Cave If Donald Trump Names Jerusalem Israel’s Capital — “Verbal missives will soon subside.”

December 4, 2017


 DECEMBER 3, 2017 22:43

Unless domestic reaction becomes unexpectedly explosive, Riyadh, Cairo and Amman can be expected to confine their responses to verbal missives that will soon subside.

Abbas Salman

Mahmoud Abbas with Saudi King Salman.. (photo credit: SAUDI PRESS AGENCY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

If the Palestinians are counting on a strong response from Arab states if the Trump administration recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, they are likely to be disappointed.

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Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh Malki called Sunday for an emergency meeting of the Arab League amid US media reports that US President Donald Trump is going to deliver a speech on Wednesday in which he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Malki said the meeting would discuss “necessary steps regarding this irresponsible American measure.”

But the bitter reality for the Palestinians is that key Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Jordan with its Palestinian majority and role as custodian of Jerusalem holy sites – are simply too dependent on US goodwill to get into a real row with the Trump administration. This is a case where each of their national interests trumps Arab solidarity.A United Jerusalem Celebrates its Diversity (YouTube/ Israel’s Foreign Affairs Min.)

Unless domestic reaction becomes unexpectedly explosive, Riyadh, Cairo and Amman can be expected to confine their responses to verbal missives that will soon subside.

“They will at least pretend to be objecting vociferously. But as long as he doesn’t move the embassy, they will put up with it after a few days of protesting,” said Gabriel Ben-Dor, a Middle East specialist at the University of Haifa. “The moderate Arab states will understand this is a compromise for Trump between his commitments and the practical realities. They’ll protest vocally, but that’s all.”

Given close Saudi-US ties, Riyadh may even be expected by Washington to temper the anger of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the step, according to Brandon Friedman, a Saudi specialist at Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center.

“If the rumors are true about tight US-Saudi coordination and a back channel between Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and [Trump adviser] Jared Kushner, the Saudis may be expected to reach out to the Palestinian Authority and to manage Abbas,” he said. “One imagines that at the beginning there will be a lot of aggressive rhetoric among the Palestinians if the US goes ahead with this. But if the US coordinates with the Saudis, it could be their job to reassure the Palestinians to get them to back away from the most provocative things they could do and to manage them. But that will be a tall order.”

The Saudis can be expected to put their own strategic interests before the Palestinian issue, Friedman said.

And their main strategic interest is pushing back against what they perceive as Iranian expansion in the region – be it in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen or Syria. For this, they need Washington, and they are hoping the Trump administration will take a more combative posture toward Iran than its predecessor. This need is more important to them than tangibly backing the Palestinians in a dispute with Washington.

Still, Friedman said, “It is way too early to say the Saudis will throw the Palestinians under the bus. To say that, we need to know more about the American step – what it means and how it affects any final status agreement.”

Jordan’s response will likely also be a function of its dependence on the US.

Jordan Times columnist Daoud Kuttab said in a phone interview from Amman that the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would likely trigger demonstrations called by professional unions, parties and the Muslim Brotherhood. Parliament can be expected to make a very strong statement, he added.

But beyond issuing its own statement, there is not much the palace can do, Kuttab said.

“I don’t think they can do much about the US because they need the US for financial support,” he said. “They can make clear it’s not conducive to peace and that as custodian of the holy places, Jordan will oppose it.”

Jordan received $1.4 billion in aid in 2017.

Kuttab said the fact that the US Embassy in Israel is not being moved and the fact that the Israel Embassy in Amman, a magnet for demonstrations, is closed may temper the protests.

“People look for what is actionable rather than statements,” he said. “The fact that it looks like the embassy move is being postponed means the US is giving lip service, though it is a violation of international law, its own laws and its own commitment.”


Egypt, Jordan Warn U.S. Over Trump’s Plan to Recognize Jerusalem as Israeli Capital

December 4, 2017

The countries’ foreign ministers tell the U.S. secretary of state that the move could lead to a collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

By Amir Tibon (Washington) Dec 04, 2017 9:12 AM

WASHINGTON – The foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan spoke on Sunday with American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and warned him against declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that President Donald Trump is considering carrying out later this week.

The two foreign ministers told Tillerson that such a move, which would alter decades of American foreign policy, could led to violence in the Middle East and a collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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Jordan’s King Abdullah (R) meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan October 22, 2017. MUHAMMAD HAMED/REUTERS

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri told Tillerson that Jerusalem’s historical and religious significance should lead to caution when dealing with the diplomatic status of the city, stating how important the issue is to the Palestinians, but also to the wider Arab and Muslim world.

Shukri added that Egypt is interested in helping build trust between Israel and the Palestinians, so that the two sides can reach a just and comprehensive peace agreement.

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The Israeli flag flutters in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque and the city of Jerusalem, December 1, 2017.THOMAS COEX/AFP
read more:

Shukri’s Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi, also called Tillerson with a similar, perhaps even harsher, warning. Safadi said after the call that he had highlighted the “dangerous consequences of recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel.” He added that such a decision would “trigger anger across the Arab and Muslim world, fuel tension and jeopardize peace efforts.” It should be noted that while Jordan and Egypt both released official statements about the conversations, as of Sunday night, the United States did not.

Over the weekend, senior Palestinian officials warned that U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or the relocation of the American embassy would put an end to peace talks. President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeinah, said Saturday that such a step is a dangerous development that would destabilize the region, while Hamas has called for a popular uprising to thwart such a “conspiracy.”

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri looks at his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris, Tuesday Oct. 24, 2017.Kamil Zihnioglu/AP

Last week, Jordanian King Abdullah warned the Trump administration and senior members of Congress about the dangers of moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The king said during a working visit to Washington that such a move could strengthen terrorist groups across the Middle East and lead to the collapse of any peace initiative currently being planned by the Trump administration. Abdullah met on Sunday with American Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Jordan.

Amir Tibon
read more:

America First or America Alone? Trump’s withdrawal agenda — “If Donald Trump and one or two smart strategists had used all of Trump’s Tweet Time to think and write a global U.S. strategy, we’d all be a lot better off….”

December 3, 2017


© AFP/File / by Cyril JULIEN | Under Donald Trump, the United States has been disengaging from an increasing number of multilateral commitments

WASHINGTON (AFP) –  Since President Donald Trump took office in January, the US has abandoned or threatened to quit several international accords under his “America First” policy.Trump’s advisors insist the slogan does not imply any new isolationist stance, but a pattern of disengagement from multilateral commitments has emerged.

On Saturday, the Trump administration announced it was withdrawing the US from a United Nations pact to improve the handling of migrant and refugee situations, deeming it “inconsistent” with its policies.

Richard Haass, former head of State Department policy under George W. Bush, has dubbed the Trump administration’s pattern the “withdrawal doctrine.”

Here are some of the accords that Trump has abandoned or threatened:

– Withdrawal –

— The US mission to the United Nations announced Saturday that the United States was ending its participation in the Global Compact on Migration.

In September 2016, the 193 members of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a non-binding political declaration, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, pledging to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they have access to education and jobs.

The Global Compact, based on the declaration, is due to be presented at the UN General Assembly next year.

But the US mission said the declaration “contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with US immigration and refugee policies and the Trump Administration’s immigration principles.”

— Washington said in October it was pulling out of the UN’s Paris-based culture and education body, UNESCO, accusing it of “anti-Israel bias.”

The withdrawal is to take effect at the end of next year, when the US will establish an “observer mission” to replace its UNESCO representation.

— Trump announced in June that the US will withdraw from the 196-nation Paris agreement on climate change and seek to negotiate a new global deal.

Declaring he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump complained that the accord gives other countries an unfair advantage over US industry and destroys American jobs.

The US pullout will not take effect before November 2020.

— Within days of taking office, Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was billed as the world’s biggest trade pact when signed in February 2016 with 11 other Asia-Pacific nations but not China.

The US pullout killed the deal before it could even be implemented. Trump pledged to negotiate bilateral pacts that would be more favorable to his country.

– Renegotiation –

— In October, Trump withdrew his support for the nuclear agreement signed in July 2015 by Iran and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany.

The pact’s fate is now in the hands of Congress, which may decide to break it by imposing new US sanctions on Iran, and Trump has warned that he may unilaterally quit it at any time.

— Trump has ordered a renegotiation of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada, which he has called the worst trade deal ever signed.

Talks began in August but Trump has threatened to pull out of the pact and negotiate bilateral deals if his country did not get a fairer shake by the end of this year.

— The US president wants reform of the United Nations “bureaucracy,” accusing the world body of bad management. Washington is the largest financial contributor to the world body.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has stressed that Washington would continue evaluating its role in UN agencies.

– Criticism –

— On the campaign trail, Trump called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “obsolete” before qualifying his remarks and demanding that members of the alliance increase their defense budgets.

Once in office, Trump caused jitters among US partners by waiting almost six months before clearly stating his support for Article Five of the alliance’s treaty, which states that an attack on one ally is an attack on all.

— The US president regularly denounces “protectionist” measures by the European Union and the US trade deficit with Germany. Washington targeted Germany and six other nations in March with punitive anti-dumping duties on steel plates.

— Talks, begun in 2013, for the proposed US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have been suspended, but US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has made it clear that the US side is only interested in a deal that would reduce US trade deficits.

— The World Trade Organization is also in the Trump administration’s sights. At a July meeting of the G20 group of major economies, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not exclude renegotiating multilateral accords.

Trump has said a border adjustment tax, which has been advanced by some Republicans to favor exports, could be a job creator. But it could also be at odds with existing rules under the WTO.

by Cyril JULIEN
A former George W. Bush Cabinet member told Peace and Freedom, “If Donald Trump and one or two smart strategists had used all of Trump’s Tweet Time to think and write a global U.S. strategy, we’d all be a lot better off….”

US ‘has reassured Israel it won’t abandon Syria to Iran’

December 3, 2017

Washington official tells Channel 10 America will maintain its presence ‘until the end of the civil war’ and seek to push Iran away from Israeli border

A pro-regime fighter flashes the sign of victory on August 21, 2016 as he drives a tank in the southern district of Ghweiran in the Syrian northeastern city of Hasakeh, where Kurdish forces were advancing. (AFP/STR)

A pro-regime fighter flashes the sign of victory on August 21, 2016 as he drives a tank in the southern district of Ghweiran in the Syrian northeastern city of Hasakeh, where Kurdish forces were advancing. (AFP/STR)

Washington has sought to calm Israeli concerns that Iran will take advantage of a Syrian ceasefire to cement its presence along Israel’s northern border, assuring Jerusalem that it will maintain its activities in the country until a permanent solution is reached, Channel 10 reported Saturday.

“We’ve made it clear to Israel that we are not pulling out of Syria, we are staying there until the end of the civil war,” an unnamed administration official told the Israeli TV station.

“The ceasefire agreement is the first stage. We will try to widen the buffer zone and push the Iranians back, 20 kilometers (12 miles) at first, and later perhaps as far as Damascus.”

Israel has expressed ongoing concern over the ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia in southern Syria, saying it does not sufficiently address Iranian military ambitions in the area.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that the agreement perpetuates Iranian plans to set up a disruptive long-term presence on Israel’s northern border, something he has repeatedly vowed that the Jewish state won’t tolerate.

Syria’s neighbors suspect that Iran seeks to carve out a land route through Syria that would create a territorial continuum from Iran and Iraq to Lebanon.

On Friday night Arab media reports said Israel fired missiles at a military base Iran has been building near the Syrian city of ​​al-Qiswa, southwest of Damascus.

The alleged Israeli attack came three weeks after the BBC reported that Iran was building a permanent military base in Syria just south of Damascus. The British broadcaster commissioned a series of satellite pictures that showed widespread construction at the site.

Arab media outlets have reported that 12 Iranian troops were killed in the attack.


Trump puts talks to boost China economic ties on ice — Lack of action on the Chinese side

December 2, 2017

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David Malpass
Treasury’s David Malpass says Beijing is not liberalising economy as hoped
By Sam Fleming in New York and Shawn Donnan in Washington
FT- Financial Times

NOVEMBER 30, 2017

Donald Trump’s administration has put its main programme for bolstering economic relations with China on ice as it complains about the two countries’ swollen trade imbalance, and says Beijing’s efforts to liberalise its economy have gone into reverse.

David Malpass, a top economic diplomat for the administration, said in an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday that the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue with Beijing is “stalled” and that there are no plans to revive talks. The decision comes after the dialogue between the two countries in July ended without any tangible progress.

The CED is a prominent programme involving cabinet-level officials in Washington and counterparts in Beijing and aimed at resolving trade and investment issues.