Posts Tagged ‘US’

China Cozies Up to EU as Trade Spat With U.S. Escalates

July 16, 2018

Chinese premier and EU officials pledge support for global trading system

European Council President Donald Tusk, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attend a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday.
European Council President Donald Tusk, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attend a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. PHOTO: THOMAS PETER/REUTERS

BEIJING—China courted the European Union as an ally in its trade conflict with the U.S., offering to improve access for foreign companies and work with the EU on reforming the World Trade Organization.

At an annual summit on Monday, China gave EU leaders much of what they were looking for. Both sides committed to setting up a working group to look at a WTO revamp, made headway in reaching an investment treaty and pledged to cooperate on enforcing the Paris accord on climate change.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang along with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker vowed their support for the global trading system at a joint press briefing. The two sides later released a statement enumerating their points of agreement, the first time in three years they were able to do so.

China and the EU are both battling the U.S. over tariffs the Trump administration said are needed to compensate for unfair trade policies. Monday’s summit came a day after President Donald Trump, in a CBS interview, named the EU as the U.S.’s biggest foe globally because of “what they do to us on trade.”

Even so, EU leaders are mindful that the bloc shares many of Washington’s criticisms of China’s policies they see as discriminating against foreign companies. Mr. Tusk, who on Sunday fired back at Mr. Trump saying on Twitter that “America and the EU are best friends,” on Monday cited a common responsibility to improve, not tear down the world order.

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“The architecture of the world is changing before our very eyes,” Mr. Tusk said at the appearance with Mr. Li. The EU leader mentioned Monday’s meeting with Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and urged all to work together to address shortcomings in the WTO.

“I am calling on our Chinese hosts, but also on Presidents Trump and Putin to jointly start this process for a reform of the WTO,” he said.

Mr. Tusk specifically called for new WTO rules to deal with government subsidies, protection of intellectual property and forced technology transfer—all issues that the EU and the U.S. have criticized China over.

Mr. Li said that China is ready to step up. “We feel it is necessary to improve and reform the WTO,” he said. Mr. Li reiterated pledges to “significantly raise” market access for foreign companies and cut tariffs for some goods. He didn’t provide a timeline or discuss subsidies for favored industries.

Beijing has previously said it is willing to work on revising the WTO. It has turned to the body to protest U.S. tariffs, including saying Monday that it filed a new challenge to the Trump administration’s plans to clamp tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

Analysts sensed little new in China’s offer to the EU. “Statements in favor of multilateralism are nothing new and a working group on reforming the WTO is no concession,” said Lance Noble, senior policy analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics, a research firm.

EU leaders also suggested that China could show more resolve in addressing criticisms of its trade policies.

Mr. Li, in defending China’s treatment of foreign companies, pointed to German chemical giant BASF’s announcement last week that it received approval for a $10 billion wholly owned plant in China.

The BASF deal, said Mr. Juncker, “shows if China wishes to open up, it can choose to.”

China has been actively trying to woo the EU as trade tensions between Beijing and Washington have escalated. With tariffs from the U.S. looming last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested to a group of mostly European business executives that better treatment awaits companies whose countries aren’t caught in a trade fight.

In a sign of Beijing’s willingness to satisfy European priorities, China and the EU also issued a joint statement in support of the Paris climate-change accord. The two had agreed on the declaration ahead of a summit in Brussels last year following Mr. Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from the global agreement. But China pulled the plug on the announcement after EU officials refused Chinese entreaties on trade, particularly regarding Beijing’s bid to be recognized by Europe as a market economy.

In Europe earlier this month, Mr. Li met with leaders of Central and Eastern European countries and held a summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which they also renewed a commitment to a rules-based trading system.

EU leaders refrained on Monday from criticizing China on human rights, with Mr. Tusk only saying “differences persist.” Asked if he raised China’s detention of Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group, in re-education camps in the country’s northwest, Mr. Tusk said he brought up individual human-rights cases during the summit and didn’t elaborate further.

Last week, China released Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, after eight years of house arrest, and allowed her to relocate to Germany. It was widely seen as a gesture of goodwill toward Germany and the EU to help win them over against the U.S.

Write to Eva Dou at eva.dou@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-cozies-up-to-eu-as-trade-spat-with-u-s-escalates-1531737461

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Juan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins

July 16, 2018

On Monday, President Trump will meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

The big question is: Why is Trump meeting with Putin at all?

On Friday, 12 Russian intelligence operatives were indicted by a U.S. grand jury for a conspiracy to interfere with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign while helping Trump win the White House.

By Juan Williams
The Hill
July 16, 2018

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US President Donald Trump meets with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Right now, the Russians are already busy hacking into the 2018 midterms. 

“With the U.S. midterms approaching, Russian trolls found ways to remain active on Twitter well into 2018, trying to rile up the American electorate with tweets on everything from Roseanne Barr’s firing to Donald Trump Jr.’s divorce,” the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) recently explained the Russian interference as an ongoing successful propaganda effort intended to “create instability and doubt in governments, because they believe they benefit from the chaos and loss of confidence in U.S. institutions.”

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James Langford

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a former Republican senator, said on Friday that “the warning lights are blinking red again” when it comes to the danger from Russian cyberattacks.

But President Trump doesn’t see a problem. “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election,” the president tweeted June 28.

And a Gallup survey released last week found Trump’s view is leading his fellow Republicans to embrace Russia. “The percentage of Republicans calling Russia a friend or ally is up sharply since 2014, from 22 percent to 40 percent,” the pollsters reported.

Last week in London, Trump was pushed to say he will bring up Russian interference in U.S. politics but he predicted little would come of it.

“I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me,’” Trump said downplaying Russian interference. “There won’t be a Perry Mason here…But I will absolutely firmly ask the question. And hopefully we’ll have a very good relationship with Russia.”

Democrats are pointed in explaining why Trump sees no problem.

Putin “supported President Trump over Hillary Clinton,” said Eliot Engel (D- N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in May.

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Eliot Engel

Engel added: “If we allow foreign interference in our elections so long as it supports our political objectives, then we’ve put party before country and put our democracy in crisis.”

That did not stop a delegation of seven Republican senators and a congresswoman from going to Russia recently on what looked like a water carrying mission for Trump’s alternative reality.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R- Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, came back to Capitol Hill to say that Russian interference in U.S. elections, while not acceptable, is “not the greatest threat to our democracy,” and “we’ve blown it way out of proportion.”

He later said the Republican visitors had warned the Russians about interference.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who led the delegation to Russia over the Independence Day break, offered a Trump-like view of U.S.-Russian relations:

“The United States does not want, nor does it need, to resume a Cold War posture with Russia, and our delegation trip was a small step towards trying to ensure that does not happen,” he said.

That led Sen. Ben Cardin (D- Md.) to say the delegation’s trip made it clear “there are members of the Senate who are either naïve or they don’t recognize the real risk factors that Russia imposes on our system of government.”

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Ben Cardin

And last week the president appeared to distance himself from U.S. allies as if pursuing a Russian agenda.

A translated clip from Russian state-run television has gone viral in progressive media circles showing a Russian commentator marveling at Trump’s trashing of NATO.

“I never thought I’d live to see this!” the Russian commentator exclaims. “Neither the USSR nor Russia, who tried many times to drive the wedge between transatlantic allies, but the main player, Washington, and President Trump himself is doing everything to break down the foundations of transatlantic alliance and unity.”

In fact, Trump falsely claimed that Germany was a “captive” to Putin because “60 to 70 percent of their energy comes from Russia.”

The insulting mischaracterization drew a sharp rebuke from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“I myself experienced a part of Germany that was controlled by the Soviet Union, and I am very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany,” Merkel said. “We decide our own policies and make our own decisions, and that’s very good.”

By contrast, Trump never misses an opportunity to say nice things about Vladimir Putin.

As a candidate, he said Putin was “a leader far more than our President (Obama)” and a “strong leader.”

And despite pleas from his aides, Trump congratulated Putin on his election victory earlier this year — legitimizing what many international observers believe to be a sham election.

Meanwhile, Trump’s former campaign manager awaits trial for illicit ties to Russia and his former National Security Adviser stands a felon for lying about his contacts with Russia.

Trump is banking on Soviet-style propaganda in the U.S. to make Russian interference, along with the Mueller investigation, into a partisan issue.

The winner in all of this madness is Putin. He is dividing Americans against themselves and America against her allies.

Only the American voters can stop it.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

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http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/397140-juan-williams-putin-wins-as-gop-spins
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Sen. Rand Paul: Asking for Russian hackers’ extradition a ‘moot point’—https://wsvn.com/news/politics/sen-rand-paul-asking-for-russian-hackers-extradition-a-moot-point/

Did Hillary’s email security negligence as U.S. Secretary of State invite Russian cyber meddling?

Not Sure Where Trump’s Russia Diplomacy Goes? Yet It Could Easily Eclipse the Barack Obama Diplomacy and Hillary Clinton’s Reset Button and E-Mail Give Away…

July 16, 2018

Many Americans are tired of Putin’s Russia getting the best of the U.S. Russia stole Crimea away while everyone was looking, started a war in Ukraine, Invaded Syria and broke every promise it ever made.

Russia shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 due to ineptitude or just unvarnished meanness.

The Issues for President Trump in Helsinki couldn’t be bigger.

He has tried to downplay expectations.

But like most Americans, out expectations here at Peace and Freedom were very low already.

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The now famous reset button caper: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after she gave him a device with red knob during a meeting on March 6, 2009 in Geneva. FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) …. Reset was misspelled to the Russian word for “overcharge.”

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Did Hillary’s email security negligence as U.S. Secretary of State invite Russian cyber meddling?

Hillary Clinton was exonerated for mishandling classified email by:

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Putin’s Aggression Is the Issue in Helsinki

July 16, 2018

Trump shouldn’t make a deal on Syria or Ukraine, or keep silent on Russia’s crimes against the West.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet in Hamburg, July 7, 2017.
Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet in Hamburg, July 7, 2017. PHOTO: CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS

President Trump arrived Sunday in Helsinki in the manner of most of his predecessors: with little awareness of recent Russian history and in apparent confusion about what a meeting with Vladimir Putin can achieve. Reacting to concerns about Mr. Putin’s career in Russian intelligence, Mr. Trump said at a recent rally: “Putin’s fine. He’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re people.” According to a news report, White House advisers describe the Trump-Putin meeting “as a chance to reset a tense relationship.”

The tension in U.S.-Russian relations, however, is the result of Mr. Putin’s aggression, not a lack of communication. If the summit leads to formal agreements or informal deals that legitimize recent Russian actions, the aggression will become worse.

Three issues are vitally important to the U.S.: Russia’s aggression in Syria, its occupation of Crimea and support for separatists in Eastern Ukraine, and its interference in the West, including election meddling and the nerve-gas attack in Britain. In each case, Mr. Putin seeks American acquiescence.

Russia has been fighting in Syria for three years, during which it has completely changed the course of battle in favor of Bashar Assad. Reports on a possible deal, quoting Israeli, European and American experts, suggest the U.S. could accede to Mr. Assad’s remaining in power in exchange for Russian promises to limit Iranian influence.

Such an outcome would not end the Sunni-Shiite split in the Middle East, and Syrian opposition leaders have warned that a U.S. “betrayal” would create the conditions for a jihadist uprising. It would also signal acceptance of Russia’s tactic of attacking civilian targets, including hospitals, to put pressure on rebel groups. If such attacks prove successful and are tacitly accepted by the West, nothing would prevent Moscow from using them in the future.

On Ukraine, Mr. Trump has hinted that he may consider recognizing Russia’s claim to Crimea, which Mr. Putin seized in 2014. This could encourage Russia to reactivate the war in Eastern Ukraine. But the most important consequence would likely be to plunge Ukraine into civil unrest.

The situation already is very tense, the result of corruption, a lack of reform, and the absence of any serious Ukrainian strategy to end the war in the Donbas. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the war zone, and although the conflict is at a stalemate, cease-fires are constantly violated and the death toll rises. Despite an official ban on trade between Ukraine and the separatist areas, long convoys of cars and trucks loaded with alcohol, cigarettes and coal carry on illicit business, angering and bewildering Ukrainian soldiers.

Against this background, far-right groups in Ukraine that have attacked art exhibitions, gay events and antifascist demonstrations seek to exploit Ukrainian veterans’ resentment. Far-right paramilitary groups played a critical role early in the war, and some fear they could turn against the government, particularly if the West endorses Russia’s seizure of Crimea.

In the case of Mr. Putin’s crimes against the West, no deal is necessary. Mr. Trump’s silence is enough. The handful of Republican senators who traveled to Moscow early this month to protest U.S. election interference undercut their message with their presence. The Russians denied interference and changed the subject. If Mr. Trump does not raise the issue with Mr. Putin, the Russians will consider the matter closed.

Mr. Putin also wants Mr. Trump to keep silent about the attempted murder of the Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and the killing of a British civilian, Dawn Sturgess, with Novichok, a Russian nerve agent. Sturgess is believed to have accidentally come into contact with Novichok—a chilling reminder that if Russia is left free to carry out killings in the West, anyone can be a victim.

Most of all, Mr. Putin will want Mr. Trump to be silent about Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down over Eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Last year I was asked to be an expert witness in the case against Russia, brought by relatives of the 298 victims, in the European Court of Human Rights. I was prepared to testify that although MH17 might have been downed accidentally by Ukrainian separatists, the Putin regime’s action in providing the irregulars with a weapon like the BUK-M1 missile showed a wanton disregard for human life.

This May, however, the Netherlands and Australia announced that the joint task force investigating the incident had concluded that MH17 was shot down by a BUK-M1 belonging not to separatists but to the Russian 53rd Air Defense Brigade, based in Kursk. Jerry Skinner, the aviation lawyer representing 274 relatives of the victims, determined with the confidential help of a former BUK-M1 field commander that the camera in the launcher from which the missile was fired was capable of obtaining a thermal image of the target. The two engines of a large commercial airliner like the MH17 Boeing 777 could not have been mistaken for the smaller, single engine of a Ukrainian military jet. It was also determined with the help of Ukrainian air-traffic control that no Ukrainian aircraft were in the sky within 30 miles of the Malaysian plane. The evidence suggests that MH-17 or one of three other passenger airliners in the air corridor at that time was targeted deliberately.

Russia behind crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, investigators say

Russia has denied involvement in the downing of MH17, producing more than 60 alternative theories, each of which has been debunked. For the sake of international air travelers everywhere, Mr. Trump needs to raise the evidence of Russian culpability with Mr. Putin.

There are no opportunities for good deals with Russian aggression. Mr. Trump has a chance to make that clear.

Mr. Satter is affiliated with the Hudson Institute and Johns Hopkins University. His most recent book is “The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/putins-aggression-is-the-issue-in-helsinki-1531680433

The EU is our Foe: Donald Trump stuns Brussels with trade rant comparing bloc to Russia

July 16, 2018

S President Donald Trump has slammed the EU as America’s trading “foe”, comparing Brussels to the likes of Russia and China.

Donald Trump and Melania arrive in Helsinki for summit with Putin

Mr Trump has lashed out at Brussels’ trading policies with the US, during a pre-summit interview with CBS News, dubbing the EU in the same category as Russia and China as trade rivals.

He told CBS News: “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade.”

President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, responded to Mr Trump’s comments on twitter, using one of the US President’s well-known phrases.

He wrote: “America and the EU are best friends.

“Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.”

Mr Trump’s comments come ahead of his highly anticipated meeting with Russian President, Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

The US President has arrived in Finland’s capital this evening, after a spending a weekend playing golf at his private club in Scotland.

Vladimir Putin remains in Moscow for Russia’s World Cup, but is set to travel to Finland’s capital, in his first bilateral summit with Mr Trump since the US President took office in January 2017.

Donald Trump PutinGETTY

Donald Trump lashed out at the EU for being a trading “foe”

Mr Trump and his government have softened their expectations for the meeting, and are reportedly not setting the bar high for a tangible result with the Russian President.

Speaking to CBS news, the US President said: “I go in with low expectations.

“I’m not going with high expectations.”

John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser said that the US would not be aiming for “deliverables”, stating that the summit would be “unstructured”, as the two presidents are expected to begin with one-on-one talks.

Donald Trump HelsinkiGETTY

Donald Trump arrived in Helsinki today, for meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin

US Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, told NBC news: “It isn’t a summit.

“It’s a meeting. This is an attempt to see if we can defuse and take some of the drama, and quite frankly some of the danger, out of the relationship right now.”

Mr Trump’s meeting with the Russian President comes days after 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted in the US over alleged of Democrats ahead of the 2016 US election.

The Helsinki summit comes as one of the most important West vs East meeting since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, however, NATO members countries fear Mr Putin might seek a deal that undermines the alliance.

Donald Trump HelsinkiGETTY

Mr Trump said he is was “not going with high expectations”, for his meeting with Mr Putin

Just last week, Mr Trump lashed out at NATO countries for failing to increase their defence spending.

Mr Trump tweeted yesterday: “Heading to Helsinki, Finland – looking forward to meeting with President Putin tomorrow.

“Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia…”

Thousands of human rights activists have taken to Helsinki’s streets on Sunday, to protest against the controversial presidential summit.

Donald Trump HelsinkiGETTY

Mr Trump and Melania were welcomed by US ambassador to Finland Robert Frank Pence and wife, Susan

Mika Aaltola of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs told the Guardian: “Finns don’t view themselves as being neutral between east and west.

“Since the end of the cold war, the policy has been that Finland is part of the west. We have built a society that is very solid and unified, world class in terms of many rankings, as a way of getting out of the geographical bind we found ourselves in.”

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/989294/donald-trump-EU-trade-russia-china-putin-brexit

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US-Russia summit: Human Rights Groups Shed Light on Issues

July 16, 2018

Gay rights activists welcomed US President Donald Trump to his summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin by emblazoning their message across the walls of Finland’s presidential palace.

The US-based Human Rights Campaign used the Helsinki venue to draw attention to the plight of sexual minorities in Chechnya, the autonomous Russian republic run by Putin’s autocratic ally Ramzan Kadyrov.

Reporters and officials gathered in Helsinki for Monday’s summit saw the slogans above the harbour-front venue.

© AFP | Activists used a projector ro emblazon their message on the Finnish presidential palace ahead of the US-Russia summit

One of the slogan read: ‘Trump and Putin: Stop the Crimes Against Humanity in Chechnya.’

Activists say lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face discrimination in Russia, particularly in Muslim-majority Chechnya, where Kadyrov’s government is accused of jailing and torturing gay men.

The Human Rights Campaign also criticizes Trump’s US administration for allegedly having failed to speak out on LGBT rights in Russia while trying to set up the summit and mend frayed ties with the Kremlin.

“Trump has unconscionably turned a blind eye to some of the worst anti-LGBTQ atrocities in a generation, including monstrous attacks on gay and bisexual men in Chechnya,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global.

“HRC is here in Helsinki to demand Donald Trump end his deafening silence, publicly condemn these Chechen crimes against humanity, and call on Putin to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Trump and Putin were to meet one-on-one later Monday before giving a joint news conference to conclude the one-day summit.

AFP

US rejects Europe’s hopes of relief from Iran sanctions

July 16, 2018

Pompeo and Mnuchin letter insists on ‘unprecedented financial pressure’ on Tehran

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Peugeot parent PSA has already cut back its involvement in Iran rather than risk facing US sanctions © AFP

Michael Peel in Brussels

International companies active in Iran face the threat of US sanctions within weeks after Washington rebuffed a high-level European plea to exempt crucial industries that would help keep a nuclear deal with Tehran alive.

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, and Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, have written a letter formally rejecting an appeal for carve-outs in finance, energy and healthcare because Washington wants to maximise financial pressure on Iran, according to diplomats with knowledge of its contents.

The request for exemptions was lodged last month by ministers from Germany, France and the UK, as well as their EU counterpart. The US rejection means the first wave of Washington’s Iran sanctions is due to take full effect early next month.

The action is another sign of the growing transatlantic rift between the US and Europe underscored by the bruising meeting between President Donald Trump and Nato allies last week. In an interview with CBS News broadcast on Sunday, Mr Trump referred to the EU as “a foe” on trade issues.

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The 2015 nuclear agreement — also signed by Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia — lifted many international sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on Tehran’s nuclear programme. Iran has said it will only stay in the deal if the Europeans guarantee it will continue to receive economic benefits.

One EU diplomat said the return of US sanctions against Tehran jeopardised both European companies with dealings in Iran and the EU’s efforts to sustain the nuclear accord after Mr Trump withdrew from the pact in May.

“We do not think it’s helpful in relation to the situation in Iran,” the diplomat said. “There are also extraterritorial risks in these sanctions for EU operators.”

Mr Pompeo and Mr Mnuchin wrote in their letter that the US wants to use sanctions to create “unprecedented financial pressure” on Iran until it makes a “tangible, demonstrable and sustained shift” in policies, according to diplomats familiar with its contents.

The US in May set out 12 demands for Iran to meet, including stopping uranium enrichment, scrapping its ballistic missile programme and ending its involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts including Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

Federica Mogherini (L), High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a meeting at the table at the Palais Coburg Hotel, where the Iran nuclear talks meetings are being held, in Vienna, Austria on July 6, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR)

Federica Mogherini (L), High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a meeting. (AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR)

The Pompeo-Mnuchin letter said the US will allow only limited carve-outs from sanctions if Washington deems them necessary for its own national security reasons or for humanitarian purposes, diplomats added.

The rejection of the European request, which included exemptions for banking activities and the extension or adaptation of US deadlines to reimpose sanctions in August and November, comes despite signals from Mr Pompeo just last week that the US might grant waivers.

“There will be a handful of countries that come to the United States and ask for relief . . . We’ll consider it,” he told Sky News Arabia during a visit to Abu Dhabi.

US Iran demands point to ‘regime change by back door’

EU foreign ministers are likely to hold talks on their response in Brussels on Monday. An EU spokesperson said the EU and its members would continue to resist the Trump administration’s efforts to scrap the accord.

They will “continue to underline to the US their expectation that US sanctions should not be imposed in a manner that prevents European economic operators from undertaking legitimate business with Iran in line with commitments under the nuclear deal,” the spokesperson said.

The EU is working on several measures to counter the renewed US sanctions, including non-dollar denominated finance lines, possible direct payments for oil to Iran’s central bank, and an update to a law drawn up in the 1990s to shield European companies from previous US sanctions against Iran, Libya and Cuba.

But decisions by companies including Peugeot parent PSA and French oil major Total to cut back their involvement in Iran highlight how many European companies will be reluctant to risk being targeted by the US.

Twitter @mikepeeljourno

Additional reporting by Katrina Manson in Washington

https://www.ft.com/content/6a16440a-8837-11e8-bf9e-8771d5404543

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Trump brands EU a ‘foe’ of the US ahead of Putin meeting

July 16, 2018

President Donald Trump named the European Union as a top adversary of the United States before arriving in Helsinki on Sunday on the eve of his high-stakes summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

© Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva / AFP | US President Donald Trump waves upon arrival at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport on July 15, 2018.

Trump and his top aides were downplaying expectations for Monday’s summit as Trump continued to rattle allies by lumping in the EU with Russia and China after barnstorming across Europe, causing chaos at the recent NATO summit and in a trip to the United Kingdom.

Trump spent the weekend in Scotland at his resort in Turnberry, golfing, tweeting and granting an interview to CBS News in which he named the EU, a bloc of nations that includes many of America’s closest allies, at the top of his list of biggest global foes.

“I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade,” Trump said, adding that “you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.”

He said that Russia is a foe “in certain respects” and that China is a foe “economically … but that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive.”

Trump has been reluctant to criticize Putin over the years and has described him in recent days not as an enemy but as a competitor.

On Sunday, Trump flew to Finland, the final stop on a weeklong trip that began last Tuesday. Near Trump’s hotel, police roped off a group of about 60 mostly male pro-Trump demonstrators waving American flags. Big banners said “Welcome Trump” and “God Bless D & M Trump” and a helicopter hovered overhead.

Chants of “We love Trump, We love Trump” broke out as the president’s motorcade passed, and Trump waved.

Trump set expectations for the summit low, telling CBS News, “I don’t expect anything. … I go in with very low expectations.” His national security adviser said they weren’t looking for any “concrete deliverables.”

He also said in the interview taped Saturday that he “hadn’t thought” about asking Putin to extradite the dozen Russian military intelligence officers indicted this past week in Washington on charges related to the hacking of Democratic targets in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

But after being given the idea by his interviewer, Trump said, “Certainly I’ll be asking about it.”

The U.S. has no extradition treaty with Moscow and can’t compel Russia to hand over citizens. Russia’s constitution prohibits extraditing its citizens to foreign countries.

Contradicting Trump in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the idea of asking Putin to turn over the 12 military intelligence officials was “pretty silly” and argued that doing so would put the U.S. president in a “weak position.”

He also argued that Trump is entering the summit with a stronger hand because of the indictments.

“I think the president can put this on the table and say, ‘This is a serious matter that we need to talk about,'” said Bolton, adding that asking for the indicted Russians to be turned over would have the opposite effect.

In the CBS News interview, Trump declined to discuss his goals for the summit   “I’ll let you know after the meeting,” he said   but said he believes such sessions are beneficial.

He cited his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June as a “good thing,” along with meetings he’s had with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Nothing bad is going to come out of” the Helsinki meeting, he said, “and maybe some good will come out.”

From aboard Air Force One, Trump complained in tweets that he wasn’t getting enough credit for his meeting with Kim and railed that “Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people” as he headed to sit down with Putin.

Putin is regarded as creating a culture of violence and impunity that has resulted in the killing of some Russian journalists. Trump regularly criticizes American news media outlets and has called out some journalists by name.

Trump complained: “No matter how well I do at the Summit,” he’ll face “criticism that it wasn’t good enough.”

“If I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough   that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!” he tweeted.

Trump also praised Putin for holding the World Cup, which finished up Sunday.

Trump and Putin have held talks several times before. Their first meeting came last July when both participated in an international summit and continued for more than two hours, well over the scheduled 30 minutes. The leaders also met last fall during a separate summit in Vietnam.

But Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, said Monday’s meeting “is really the first time for both presidents to actually sit across the table and have a conversation, and I hope it’s a detailed conversation about where we might be able to find some overlapping and shared interests.”

Congressional Democrats and at least one Republican have called on Trump to pull out of Monday’s meeting unless he is willing to make Russian election-meddling the top issue. Huntsman said the summit must go on because Russian engagement is needed to solve some international issues.

“The collective blood pressure between the United States and Russia is off-the-charts high so it’s a good thing these presidents are getting together,” he said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump has said he will raise the issue of Russian election meddling, along with Syria, Ukraine, nuclear proliferation and other topics. Bolton described the meeting as “unstructured” and said: “We’re not looking for concrete deliverables here.”

(AP)

Israel’s Netanyahu discussed Syria, Iran with Trump — After meeting Putin in Russia

July 15, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he discussed Syria and Iran with US President Donald Trump ahead of the latter’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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In remarks to the Israeli cabinet, Netanyahu said he spoke by phone on Saturday with Trump and that the US president reiterated his commitment to Israel. In Helsinki on Monday, Trump will meet Putin, Damascus’ big-power backer and a regular interlocutor with Tehran.

Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, July 15, 2018. (Reuters)

My deal is the only Brexit deal — By Theresa May

July 15, 2018

My deal is the only Brexit deal – wreck it at your peril: THERESA MAY’s steely warning to Tory rebels AND those bully boys from Brussels

Our Brexit deal for Britain seizes the moment to deliver the democratic decision of the British people and secure a bright new future for our country outside the European Union.

It restores our national sovereignty, so that it is our Government that decides who comes into our country, our Parliaments that make our laws and our courts that enforce them.

It puts an end to the vast membership subscriptions we pay to Brussels, delivering a Brexit dividend to support domestic priorities like our long-term plan for the NHS.

It grasps the opportunities of an independent trade policy, freeing us to forge new trade deals with allies across the world – including America, where President Trump has made it clear he wants a trade deal and is now confident we will be able to do it.

And it enables us to build the new economic and security partnerships we want to see with the European Union. Because Brexit isn’t about trading with other countries instead of trading with Europe, it is about doing both.

Theresa May said: 'This is the scale of the opportunity before us and my message to the country this weekend is simple: we need to keep our eyes on the prize. If we don¿t, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all'

Theresa May said: ‘This is the scale of the opportunity before us and my message to the country this weekend is simple: we need to keep our eyes on the prize. If we don’t, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all’

This is the scale of the opportunity before us and my message to the country this weekend is simple: we need to keep our eyes on the prize.

If we don’t, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all.

This is a time to be practical and pragmatic – backing our plan to get Britain out of the European Union on March 29 next year and delivering for the British people.

I know there are some who have concerns about the ‘common rule book’ for goods and the customs arrangements which we have proposed will underpin the new UK-EU free trade area.

I understand those concerns. But the legacy of Brexit cannot be a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland that unpicks the historic Belfast Agreement. It cannot be the breaking up of our precious United Kingdom with a border down the Irish Sea. And it cannot be the destruction of integrated supply chains and just-in-time processes on which jobs and livelihoods depend.

This means we have to have friction-free movement of goods, avoiding the need for customs and regulatory checks between the UK and the EU.

And this cannot happen if products have to go through different tests for different markets, or if customs declarations have to be made at the UK/EU border.

I am yet to see a workable alternative future trading arrangement that would deliver on our commitments to Northern Ireland, preserve the constitutional integrity of the UK and deliver on the result of the referendum.

But our Brexit deal for Britain achieves exactly this – and it can work. For the common rule book only covers industrial goods and agricultural products and only those rules which are necessary to ensure free flow at the border. The regulations that are covered are largely stable and supported by a large share of our manufacturing businesses. And there will always be a parliamentary lock to ensure that our Parliament has the sovereign ability to reject any new law or regulation, while recognising there would be proportionate implications for the operation of the future relationship, were they to do so.

So I believe we need to come together behind our plan.

As the Trade Bill returns to the Commons this week, there are some planning to vote for amendments that would tie us to a permanent customs union with the EU.

This would be the ultimate betrayal of the Brexit vote. It would remove our ability to have an independent trade policy at all, conceding Britain’s role on the global stage as a force for free trade and endangering people’s jobs and livelihoods. This Government will never stand for that.

There are others who are planning to try and bring down a Bill that is essential in enabling us to prepare for life outside the European Union. This would put at risk our ability to make the necessary preparations for a no deal.

And this could lead to a damaging and disorderly Brexit because without this Bill passing we would not be able to retain the benefits of more than 40 existing trade arrangements; and neither will we have the means to protect consumers, industries and workers from being undercut by unfairly traded goods in a post-Brexit Britain.

She added: 'The legacy of Brexit cannot be a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland that unpicks the historic Belfast Agreement. It cannot be the breaking up of our precious United Kingdom with a border down the Irish Sea'

She added: ‘The legacy of Brexit cannot be a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland that unpicks the historic Belfast Agreement. It cannot be the breaking up of our precious United Kingdom with a border down the Irish Sea’

As I have said many times, we can get a good deal and that is what is best for Britain. But we should also prepare for no deal. Not to do so would be grossly irresponsible. So I urge Parliamentarians on all sides to consider this when they are voting.

Finally, some people have asked whether our Brexit deal is just a starting point from which we will regress. So let me be clear. Our Brexit deal is not some long wish-list from which negotiators get to pick and choose. It is a complete plan with a set of outcomes that are non-negotiable.

People voted to end free movement. So free movement will end. People voted to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in our country; and we are going to deliver that too.

We will leave the Single Market and customs union, and get out of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy. We will have that independent trade policy and a new UK-EU free trade area with a common rulebook for industrial goods and agricultural products.

We will maintain high standards in keeping with our values, so we continue to promote open and fair trade. We will have that parliamentary lock on all new rules and regulations. We will not tolerate a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland or between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

And we will maintain close co-operation with the EU on security to keep our people safe while ensuring we have our own independent foreign and trade policy. None of these things is up for debate.

So the negotiations with the European Union are not going to be easy for Brussels – and I don’t intend them to be. As President Trump has said, I’m a tough negotiator. And just as I made clear to him on Friday – I say to the British people today: I am not going to Brussels to compromise our national interest; I am going to fight for it. I am going to fight for our Brexit deal – because it is the right deal for Britain.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5954683/THERESA-MAYs-steely-warning-Tory-rebels-bully-boys-Brussels.html