Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Jared Kushner Calls on Netanyahu in Israel Amid New Middle East Peace Effort

June 21, 2017

KUSHNER MEETS NETANYAHU TO CONTINUE PEACE PUSH

BYJPOST.COM STAFF
JUNE 21, 2017 18:12

Kushner is currently in Israel on a short visit to help assist in Mideast peace negotiations.

Jared Kushner and Prime Minister Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Trump administration senior adviser Jared Kushner in his Jerusalem office on Wednesday.

Kushner, who is also US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, was accompanied by White House lead international negotiator Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Kushner is currently in  Israel on a short visit to help assist in Mideast peace negotiations.

Netanyahu warmly welcomed his American guests and commented during their meeting that the present moment offers an “opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity and peace.”

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“I know of your efforts and the president’s efforts and I look forward to working with you to reach these common goals,”  he continued, adding that he sends his warmest regards to President Trump.

Kushner thanked the prime minister for the reception, saying that it was “an honor to be here.”

Before their meeting in the capital, Kushner visited the mourning family of slain Border Police officer St.-Sgt-Maj. Hadas Malka, shortly after arriving to Israel in a bid to restart peace talks.

Malka, 23, was killed Friday evening while guarding the Old City’s Damascus Gate in a terrorist attack carried out by three Palestinian assailants armed with knives and an improvised automatic weapon after illegally entering Jerusalem from the West Bank.

According to a Malka family spokesperson, Kushner, who was accompanied by Friedman, spent roughly 30 minutes with her parents during the shiva (week-long family mourning period in Judaism) call.

“He offered the condolences to the bereaved family from the US president, who spoke to his son-in-law on the way and asked that he be kept updated about the visit,” the friend told Ynet.

“Kushner said that the president himself asked him to express condolences on behalf of the United States.”

The Trump administration has placed a high premium on restarting Mideast peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, repeatedly referring to a final-status agreement as “the ultimate deal.”

Daniel Eisenbud contributed to this report.

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http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Kushner-meets-Netanyahu-to-continue-peace-push-497526

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Russia To Target U.S. and Coalition Aircraft Over Syria

June 19, 2017

Russia steps up rhetoric after U.S. fighter shoots down Syrian government jet

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June 19, 2017 10:33 a.m. ET

MOSCOW—Russia escalated tensions with the United States Monday, promising to actively track U.S. and coalition aircraft over Syria with air defense systems and warplanes, the country’s defense ministry said.

In a statement released Monday, the Russian military said it would treat U.S. and coalition operating west of the Euphrates Rivers as “aerial targets,” but stopped short of threatening a shootdown.

“In regions where the…

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Russia warns US-led coalition over downing of Syrian jet

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Defence ministry says planes flying west of Euphrates will be treated as targets and that it has suspended safety agreement with US

A US navy F/A-18 Super Hornet
The Pentagon confirmed that a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet had shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday. Photograph: US DoD handout/EPA

Russia’s defence ministry has said it will treat any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river in Syria as a potential target, after the US military shot down a Syrian air force jet on Sunday.

The ministry also said it was suspending a safety agreement with Washington designed to prevent collisions and dangerous incidents in Syrian airspace.

According to the Pentagon the Syrian jet in question had dropped bombs near US partner forces involved in the fight to wrest Raqqa from Islamic State (Isis) control. It was the first such US attack on a Syrian air force plane since the start of the country’s civil war six years ago.

In an apparent attempt at deescalation, Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the defence and security committee at the upper chamber of Russian parliament, described the defence ministry’s statement as a warning. “I’m sure that because of this neither the US nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft,” he told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. “That’s why there’s no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft.”

Ozerov said Russia will be tracking the coalition’s jets, not shooting them down, but he added that “a threat for those jets may appear only if they take action that pose a threat to Russian aircraft”.

The deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said the US strike “has to be seen as a continuation of America’s line to disregard the norms of international law.

“What is this if not an act of aggression? It is, if you like, help to those terrorists that the US is fighting against, declaring they are carrying out an anti-terrorism policy.”

The Russian response increases the risk of an inadvertent air fight breaking out between US and Russian warplanes in the skies above Syria.

The US military confirmed that a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet had shot down a Syrian SU-22 on Sunday. The US said the Syrian jet had dropped bombs near Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters who are aligned with US forces in the fight against Isis. Damascus said its plane had been on anti-Isis mission.

Col John Thomas, a spokesman for US Central Command, said there were no US forces in the immediate vicinity of the Syrian attack but that the SDF was under threat for more than two hours.

The growing risk of a direct confrontation between the US and Russia follows a decision by Donald Trump to grant his military chiefs untrammelled control of US military strategy in Syria.

Tensions have also been bubbling between Washington and Moscow over efforts to dislodge Isis from its Raqqa stronghold.

Russia, a staunch supporter of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has been pressing the US to make the removal of Isis a joint land and air operation, but discussions over Syria’s long-term political future appear to have ground to a halt, leaving the US military to operate in a political vacuum.

The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters working alongside western special forces, said it would take action to defend itself from Syrian warplanes if attacks continued.

The Trump administration has promised to improve arms supplies to the SDF after it concluded that it was the force most capable of freeing Raqqa from Isis.

In a sign of how complex the Syrian peace process has become, Russian-sponsored peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, are scheduled to resume on the same day – 10 July – as talks convened by the UN in Geneva.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced the date on Monday in the knowledge that it would coincide with the UN schedule. He also said that the UN’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, would take part.

A spokesman for de Mistura said “the subject is currently being discussed”.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/19/russia-target-us-led-coalition-warplanes-over-syria

Russia halts US aviation cooperation over downing of Syrian jet

June 19, 2017

AFP, Reuters and The Associated Press

© Omar haj kadour, AFP | A Syrian army jet fires rockets over the village of Rahbet Khattab in Hama province on March 23, 2017.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-06-19

The Russian defence ministry said Monday that it was halting aviation cooperation with the United States after the US downed a Syrian government warplane on Sunday, a move one Russian official described as a clear “act of aggression”.

The Russian defence ministry said it was halting cooperation with Washington within the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria, effective immediately. It also accused the United States of not using the proper communication channels before shooting down the Syrian army jet.

“The command of the coalition forces did not use the established communication channel for preventing incidents in Syrian airspace,” the ministry said, adding that Moscow “ends cooperation with the American side from June 19”.

Moreover, any coalition aircraft flying to the west of the Euphrates will be treated as targets, the defence ministry said.

“Any flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, discovered west of the Euphrates river will be tracked as aerial targets by Russia’s air defences on and above ground.”

URGENT: Russian military halts Syria sky incident prevention interactions with US as of June 19 – Moscow https://on.rt.com/8f9g pic.twitter.com/w27zQsyy5y

RT

@RT_comCoalition’s airborne objects in Russian Air Force’s Syria missions areas to be tracked as targets – Moscow https://on.rt.com/8f9g  pic.twitter.com/PHqYQjI6Yo

Voir l'image sur Twitter

Russia previously suspended the memorandum of understanding on air safety in April to protest against US airstrikes launched in response to a suspected chemical attack.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, on Monday firmly condemned the United States for shooting down the Syrian plane, calling it an “act of aggression”.

“This strike has to be seen as a continuation of America’s line to disregard the norms of international law,” Ryabkov told journalists in Moscow on Monday, the TASS news agency reported. “What is this if not an act of aggression?”

Ryabkov said the Kremlin had also warned the United States not to use force against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime Moscow ally.

A Syrian jet plane

The incident marked the first time an American fighter jet had taken down a Syrian warplane, which Washington accused of attacking US-backed fighters.

The tensions come as the US-led coalition and allied fighters battle to evict the Islamic State (IS) group from its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

>> Read more: MSF says 10,000 Syrians flee Raqqa as battle for the city nears

The Syrian jet was shot down after regime forces engaged fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance battling IS jihadists with US support, in an area close to Raqqa. The American F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down the Syrian SU-22 around 7pm as it “dropped bombs near SDF fighters” south of the town of Tabqa, the coalition said in a statement.

It said that several hours earlier, regime forces had attacked the SDF in another town near Tabqa, wounding several and driving the SDF from the town.

The coalition said the Syrian warplane had been shot down “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces”.

Syria’s army disputed the account, saying its plane was hit while “conducting a mission against the terrorist Islamic State group”.

It warned of “the grave consequences of this flagrant aggression”.

International imbroglio

The SDF entered Raqqa for the first time earlier this month and now holds four neighbourhoods in the east and west of the city.

In a further escalation of military action in Syria, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it launched a series of missiles into Syria on Sunday in revenge for deadly attacks on its capital that were claimed by the Islamic State group. It said the missiles were “in retaliation” for a June 7 attack on the parliament complex and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that killed 17 people.

Assad has focused his forces further east, to the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, which is largely under IS group control and where government forces are besieged in part of the provincial capital.

Outside of coalition operations, US forces have only once directly targeted the regime – when Washington launched air strikes against an airbase it said was the launchpad for an alleged chemical attack that killed more than 80 civilians in April.

The Kremlin denounced those US strikes as an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law”.

Syria’s war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests but has since spiralled into a complex and bloody conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people and become a proxy war for regional powers as well as ensnaring the United States and Russia.

Interfax reported that Ryabkov and the US under secretary of state, Thomas Shannon, would meet in St Petersburg on June 23 to discuss persistent tensions in bilateral ties.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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The Syrian SU-22 fighter bomber was shot down by an American F18 Super Hornet after it had dropped bombs near the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces north of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)-held city of Raqqa in northern Syria.

The US, which has special forces troops in the area, had earlier sent a warning to the Syrian military to stop targeting the forces and called on Russia to rein in its ally, but they were ignored.

Russia, which intervened militarily to back the Syrian regime in 2015,on Monday condemned the US action, saying it flouted international law.

“It is, if you like, help to those terrorists that the US is fighting against, declaring they are carrying out an anti-terrorism policy,” Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said, adding it was a “dangerous escalation”.

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Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said: “It is hard for me to choose any other words but these: if you [the US] can’t help you should at least not interfere. As your ‘efforts’ once again do nothing but help the militants.

“You are fighting the wrong party: it is not the Syrian army that perpetrates terror attacks in European capital cities.”

See the whole report:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/18/us-forces-shoot-syrian-jet-first-time-move-described-self-defence/

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Russian diplomat: U.S. downing of Syrian warplane is ‘support of terrorists’: TASS

June 19, 2017

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Moscow sees the downing of a Syrian government warplane by the United States as an “act of aggression and support of terrorists”, TASS news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Monday.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov)

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The truth is, the U.S. has communicated with Russia and Syria many times not to fly in a threatening manner in certain areas. The consequences of Syria’s Russian-supported actions are clear. Russia’s answer is more fake news and propaganda. Peace and Freedom Editor

Islamic State Calls For Attacks in the United States, Europe, Russia, Australia, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and the Philippines during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan

June 14, 2017
Updated June 14, 2017, 2:20 PM

By AP, Reuters, AFP, Genalyn D. Kabiling

 

With its strongholds in Iraq and Syria slipping from its grasp, the Islamic State (IS) group called on followers to launch attacks in the United States, Europe, Russia, Australia, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and the Philippines during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan which began in late May.

An audio message was distributed on Monday on Islamic State’s channel on Telegram, an encrypted messaging application. It was attributed to the militant group’s official spokesman, Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer.

The authenticity of the recording could not be independently verified, but the voice was the same as a previous audio message purported to be from the spokesman.

“O lions of Mosul, Raqqa, and Tal Afar, God bless those pure arms and bright faces, charge against the rejectionists and the apostates and fight them with the strength of one man,” said al-Muhajer. Rejectionist is a derogatory term used to refer to Shi’ite Muslims.

Members of Iranian security forces take cover during an attack on the Iranian parliament in central Tehran, Iran, June 7, 2017. Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

“To the brethren of faith and belief in Europe, America, Russia, Australia, and others. Your brothers in your land have done well so take them as role models and do as they have done.”

With attacks in Egypt, Britain and Iran among others and a land-grab in the Philippines, the group is trying to divert attention from its losses and win over supporters around the world in the twisted competition for jihadi recruits during the Muslim holy month.

The militants insisted in their English language magazine this week that losing territory has only made it work that much harder to kill. The attacks since Ramadan’s beginning on May 26 show the sweep of the group’s ambition – from attacking the West, to expanding in the Philippines, to targeting Shiite powerhouse Iran – something al-Qaida itself never risked.

“They can say here is something that al-Qaida has refrained to do,” said Assaf Moghadam, an author and analyst of jihadi groups. “From their perspective it’s been a great Ramadan so far.”

But a powerful counter-message is emerging in recent days. With the month of fasting also a time of high television ratings in the Arab world, the telecommunications company Zain has launched a commercial that begins with footage of a man fabricating a suicide bomb. By the end, faced with bloodied victims and survivors of extremist attacks, the man stumbles and fails in his mission. “Let’s bomb delusion with the truth,” a man sings. The ad has been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube. “We will counter their attacks of hatred with songs of love,” it ends.

The attack on Iran marked a new stage for the Islamic State group, which had threatened the Shiite-majority state repeatedly without actually striking it.

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Philippine troops in Marawi

Fight continues

The Philippine government has expressed concern over the reported Islamic State’s call for more terror attacks during the Ramadan but is still determined to quell security threats, including the raging Maute-led rebellion in Marawi City.

Government forces will continue to fight until Marawi is completely cleared of the armed groups and peace and order have been restored, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

“With concern and with continued decisiveness,” Abella said in a Palace press briefing when asked about the government’s response to the ISIS threat of more attacks.

“Tuluy-tuloy po ang laban. (The fight continues). I just said, we will not stop until it’s finished,” he said about government operations to resolve the Marawi conflict.

Support

China supports the Philippine government’s “anti-terrorism” operations against Islamist militants, the Chinese foreign ministry said Monday after US special forces provided support to Filipino troops.

The US embassy in Manila said Saturday that special forces were assisting the Philippine military with ongoing operations in the southern city of Marawi, which insurgents overran on May 23.

“Terrorism is the common enemy of mankind. China understands and firmly supports (Philippine President Rodrigo) Duterte’s leadership and its government in fighting terrorism,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing.

“We support these antiterrorism operations,” he said.

Lu was asked about China’s views on the assistance provided by Washington to the Philippine military.

“On the operations launched by the Philippine government on their territory, in principle, we welcome the constructive support of the international community, on the basis of the respect of the Philippine government’s own will, and of the Philippines’ sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Lu said.

The announcement of US help in the embattled southern region of Mindanao comes after Duterte has sought to reduce the Philippines’ reliance on the United States and build much closer ties with China and Russia.

Under Duterte, the Philippines has moved to ease tensions with Beijing over rival territorial claims in the South China Sea.

 

‘Five Eyes’ talks to focus on encryption: Australian PM

June 13, 2017
Reuters

Officials from the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will meet next month to discuss plans to press technology firms to share encrypted data with security agencies, Australia’s prime minister said on Tuesday.

The meeting of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing coalition in Canada would focus on how to ensure “terrorists and organized criminals are not able to operate with impunity in ungoverned digital spaces online”, Malcolm Turnbull said.

“The privacy of a terrorist can never be more important than public safety – never,” he said in parliament.

Technology companies like Facebook Inc and Apple Inc have come under growing pressure to share encrypted information to prevent terror attacks.

Apple and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but both companies have previously resisted sharing such information citing privacy concerns.

Turnbull’s comments echo that of British Prime Minister Theresa May who said on June 4 that international cooperation and regulation was needed to remove the “safe space” that allowed extremists to thrive online.

“We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace,” she said.

Australia has seen a series of lone-wolf Islamist-inspired attacks recently, prompting a review of police tactics.

Turnbull last week signaled a drive to reform parole laws, including a ban on parole for violent offenders with links to militancy, following a deadly siege claimed by the Islamic State group.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Stephen Coates)

United Nations Continues To Fight Against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

June 10, 2017
12:04 AM June 07, 2017

We are about to celebrate the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Food and Agriculture Organization Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), the world’s first binding international treaty aimed at combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

 Image may contain: sky, ocean, cloud, twilight, outdoor, water and nature

This illegal modality accounts for around one-sixth of all fish caught in the oceans, and constitutes a great public danger as it undermines global efforts to make sure that fish—the world’s most produced, consumed and traded animal protein—are a sustainable resource for global nutrition and food security, as well as for millions of jobs.

The PSMA, which currently has 46 parties including the European Union, marks a sea change both in its legal form and in its practical potential. Under its protocol, foreign fishing vessels must show all required operating licenses, their activity logs, and submit to inspections of their catch. Port authorities are obliged to deny services to vessels in violation of the rules and to report them to other countries, making it harder for illegal operators to offload and sell the fish they catch elsewhere.

The FAO, which brokered the treaty, is also delivering other tools to put an end to IUU fishing. It has a new initiative to improve flag-state compliance, a new set of voluntary guidelines on catch documentation schemes—a passport of sorts without which fish can lose access to markets—and is in the process on creating a transparent and comprehensive global record of fishing vessels. All of these instruments complement the PSMA.

It is noteworthy that the new treaty was in fact enhanced and expanded, not watered down, in its journey from draft text to binding law. That clearly shows how seriously the international community supports a powerful, viable and enduring instrument to end IUU fishing.

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Vietnam Coast Guard 8005 vessel allegedly hits a Vietnamese-flagged fishing boat, which had been caught by Indonesian authorities for alleged poaching in Indonesian waters. The boat sinks and Indonesian patrol personnel Gunawan Wibisono guarding it is held hostage by the Vietnamese authorities. (The Jakarta Post/Source) — May 22, 2017

I call upon all nations that have not yet joined the PSMA to become part of it.

As important as it is to make its remit universal, what is more important is making the new rules stick. Implementing the PSMA will require a host of actions, including streamlined cross-border real-time communications systems, national legislative reviews, and skilled inspectors capable of identifying actual fish both by species and likely age, as well as ascertaining whether the gear used to catch them is allowed.

The new rules’ ultimate strength will be determined by the weakest link, so all countries have a stake in making sure that no member lacks the technical capacity to deliver on treaty obligations.

The PSMA explicitly acknowledges that developing countries and small island-states may need assistance in carrying out the monitoring, control, surveillance and compliance tasks that the treaty requires, and all parties have pledged to provide that assistance.

I am confident that many countries will join the United States, Norway and Sweden, which have already confirmed their contribution to this global capacity-building program. Allow me to note that the FAO is already committing substantial resources of its own to this effort.

Ocean governance is evolving quickly, and the FAO has played a central role in steering capture fisheries toward sustainable management. With the PSMA, the international community has produced a powerful, viable and enduring instrument to serve as a basis for effectively combating illegal fishing.

José Graziano da Silva is director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/104585/way-put-end-illegal-fishing#ixzz4jaXaYv00
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FILE photo provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac —  A Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Afghanistan: Kabul to host peace summit after week of deadly violence

June 5, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Afghans help a wounded man at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31, 2017 that left scores dead

KABUL (AFP) – 

Kabul will host a multinational peace conference on Afghanistan Tuesday, as the capital reels from a wave of bombings and clashes that left more than 100 people dead and hundreds wounded in the last week.

Much of Kabul remains on lockdown ahead of the conference, labelled the “Kabul Process”, with tighter than usual security including more armed checkpoints and armoured vehicles patrolling the streets, and tight restrictions on civilian traffic.

Representatives of around two dozen countries will attend the meeting, which aims to build international support on ways to restore security in the conflict-torn country, the government said on Monday.

“The Kabul Process is meant to reach a consensus with the region and the world for peace in Afghanistan,” said presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi.

Kabul has been on edge since a truck bombing last Wednesday in the highly fortified diplomatic quarter killed at least 90 people and wounded hundreds, the deadliest attack in the city since 2001.

Four more people were killed Friday when hundreds of protesters incensed by the bombing clashed with police, prompting officials to beat them back with live rounds in the air, tear gas and water cannon.

The protesters, holding a sit-in for a fourth day Monday near the bombing site, have demanded the resignation of Afghanistan’s security chiefs, including national security advisor Hanif Atmar.

And on Saturday, at least seven people were killed when suicide bombers tore through a row of mourners who were attending the funeral of one of the protesters, the son of an influential Afghan senator.

No group has claimed the attacks, but the government has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for Wednesday’s bombing.

Previous international efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table have failed, but diplomats in Kabul hailed Tuesday’s conference as a stepping stone to peace.

“The launch of the Kabul Process tomorrow is an important marker for each and every country in the region to show its true support for Afghanistan’s aspirations for peace,” said Dominic Jermey, the British ambassador to Kabul.

“This includes taking steps to tackle the challenges posed by terrorist networks and to prevent terrorists receiving support, whether from states or individuals.”

The conference will be attended by a host of nations, including the United States, India, China and regional nemesis Pakistan, which Afghanistan has long blamed for sponsoring the resurgent Taliban.

The tense week of violence during the holy fasting month of Ramadan has left hospitals in Kabul overwhelmed, with many running beyond capacity to treat the injured.

The Italian-run Emergency hospital, seen as a medical lifeline, has voiced fears for the safety of its staff with protesters camped close to the facility.

“With the unfortunate events… in Kabul, our hospital has been put on the frontline,” Emergency said in a statement.

“To continue our work we are asking only one thing: Security around our hospital and not to be targeted intentionally.”

Italy Still Isolated in Shouldering Migration Crisis After G7

May 27, 2017

TAORMINA, Italy — Italy chose to host a Group of Seven summit of wealthy nations on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean, looking to draw attention to the migrant crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of people set sail from Africa in search of a better life in Europe.

But world leaders on Saturday said little that will help Italy manage the steady flow of migrants to its shores or enable it to cope with the growing number of new arrivals.

“Even though this summit took place in Sicily, a stone’s throw from where so many migrants have died, it produced no concrete steps to protect vulnerable migrants or to address the root causes of displacement and migration,” said Roberto Barbieri, the local director of humanitarian group Oxfam.

Rome had hoped to persuade other major industrialized nations to open more legal channels for migration and to focus attention on food security — policies which were meant to lower the number of people who set off for Europe.

Africans have been fleeing toward Europe in the thousands. Most that don’t drown end up in Italy. © AFP/File

But the plan was scrapped before the two-day summit even started, with the United States, Britain and Japan unwilling to commit to major new immigration initiatives.

The final communique outlined medium-term commitments to bolster African economies and promote sustainable agriculture, but it focused more on the need for each country to guarantee national security than on how to limit migration.

Countries “reaffirm the sovereign rights of states to control their own borders and set clear limits on net migration levels,” said the communique.

“DESPERATE MEASURES”

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the language was decided “weeks ago” by diplomats from G7 nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and the United States.

“It wasn’t an issue that was the focus of debate, other than recognizing the humanitarian importance of taking people in as this region has done,” Gentiloni said of Sicily, which has seen hundreds of thousands of migrants arrive since 2014.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there had been “excellent” discussion on the need boost economic opportunity, in particular during outreach sessions with five African leaders on Saturday, so that people “are not driven to take desperate measures to improve their lot”.

Both the United States and Britain opposed the Italian pre-summit initiative to draft a stand-alone G7 statement entitled “G7 Vision on Human Mobility”, an Italian official said.

That document included language on the need for open, safe and legal paths for migrants and refugees, according to excerpts seen by Reuters.

Italy has been put under increasing pressure as EU partners have refused to relocate large numbers of asylum seekers, and some have closed their southern borders to keep migrants out of their own countries, effectively sealing them in Italy.

More than 175,000 asylum seekers live in Italian shelters. With sea arrivals at a record pace this year, the issue is hotly debated by politicians facing a general election within a year.

Over the past 10 days, almost 10,000 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya, where people smugglers cram them onto unsafe boats. Dozens died, including many children.

“We know that the deadliest season is upon us. It starts pretty much now, at least it has for the last few years,” Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said on Friday.

“We expect these coming weeks to be much worse.”

(With additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

Trump joins G7 summit on climate, trade and terrorism — “Bringing the different positions closer together.”

May 26, 2017

G7 leaders are meeting with US President Donald Trump in Italy to press him on issues like terrorism and trade. Trump’s stance on climate change has proven to be especially contentious.

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 German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Donald Trump pose for a family photo with G7 leaders at the Ancient Greek Theater of Taormina, Friday, May 26, 2017, in Taormina, Italy. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) began talks Friday in the ancient Italian town of Taormina on Sicily, to discuss the world economy and other global issues.

The two-day summit, at a cliff-top hotel overlooking the Mediterranean brings four fresh faces to the meeting, with the new leaders of the UK, France, Italy and the United States joining veteran G7 leaders from Germany, Canada and Japan.

“No doubt, this will be the most challenging G7 summit in years,” President of the European Council Donald Tusk said before the meeting.

Trump slams Germany’s US trade surplus as “very, very bad”

Opinion: The bull in a china shop

Trump calls on NATO members to contribute ‘fair share’

The summit has been billed as a major test for consensus-building, particularly over seemingly irreconcilable differences between US President Donald Trump and the world’s other major democracies over his stances on trade, migration and climate change.

“It won’t be an easy discussion,” summit host and caretaker Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni admitted the evening before the meeting. “The Italian presidency will try to ensure it is a useful one, capable of bringing the different positions closer together.”

It is also hoped that the final declaration will make clear some of Trump’s positions that have confounded other G7 leaders.

Security

In the wake of this week’s terror attack in Manchester G7 leaders have united against terrorism. But even on this normally uniting issue friction emerged after Britain yesterday said it had temporarily stopped sharing some information about the Manchester investigation with US intelligence over leaks to the media.

Trump is expected to ask G7 nations to contribute more money to fight against terrorism.  On other security issues — including Syria, Libya and North Korea – there is broad agreement. But differences may emerge over issues like Trump’s plan to reduce US funding for UN peacekeeping operations. 

EU Council President Donald Tusk said on Friday he agreed with Trump on the necessity to fight terrorism. “I totally agreed with him when he said the international community, the G7, the United States, Europe – should be tough, even brutal, with terrorism and ISIS” – an alternate acronym for the so-called “Islamic State” (IS).

Trump meanwhile reached an agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday to expand sanctions against North Korea, as Pyongyang ramps up its missile and nuclear programs. “President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agreed their teams would cooperate to enhance sanctions on North Korea, including by identifying and sanctioning entities that support North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs,” the White House said in a statement following the leaders’ meeting in Sicily.

http://www.dw.com/en/trump-joins-g7-summit-on-climate-trade-and-terrorism/a-38989226

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Migration crisis looms over G7 meeting

Climate change

One of the most contentious issues between Trump and fellow G7 leaders has been climate change. Trump has questioned human-induced climate change and may pull the US out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate change deal.

On Friday, Trump’s economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said the the president’s views on climate changing are “evolving” and that he “feels much more knowledgeable” on the topic than he did previously.

A spokesperson for Germany’s environment ministry said the country is “lobbying at all levels right now for the US to remain in the Paris Agreement.”

G7 Gipfel Angela Merkel und Donald Trump (Getty Images/M.Medina)German officials have been lobyying the US to stick with Paris climate deal

Nikolai Fichter also told reporters that Germany views environmental protection as “a modernization program for national economies,” dismissing the suggestion put forth by US economic adviser Gary Cohn that measures to curtail global warming could have a negative impact on the economy.

In Brussels on Thursday, European leaders including new French President Emmanuel Macron met with Trump to press the president on climate change.

Trump has said that he will not make a decision on the Paris deal until after the G7 meeting. He is likely to discover, if he already hasn’t, that climate change for other G7 members is not just a question about the environment but also about security.

Trade

Another sticking point is trade amid concern Trump is pursuing protectionist policies under his “America First” policy.  The new US administration earlier this year at the G20 finance ministers meeting in Germany blocked a pro-free trade declaration.

Trump has also vowed to renegotiate NAFTA, pulled the US from the TPP Asian trade pact, and put negotiations for a trade and investment treaty with Europe known as TTIP on ice.

G7 Gipfel runder Tisch (Getty Images/)Security, trade and the environment are the key issues on the table at this G7 meeting

In Berlin, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer responded to Trump’s suggestion that bilateral deals might be reached between Washington and individual EU member states. Schaefer reiterated that the EU “has a common trade policy that is implemented by the European Commission” and that the bloc “has done very well as an increasingly big and powerful economic bloc by agreeing trade deals for the [entire] union and for individual member states.”

He added that it could be “thorn in the side” of the US that the EU “is probably a stronger and more powerful trade bloc than the United States of America or NAFTA.”

cw/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)