Posts Tagged ‘US President Donald Trump’

Manchester bombing investigation: UK anger at U.S. for leaks

May 24, 2017

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Britain slams United States for leaking identity of Manchester suicide bomber

By Latika Bourke

Manchester bomb suspect identified

London: Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd has complained to her US counterpart over the leak of the identity of the Manchester suicide bomber to the American media.

Mrs Rudd took the extraordinary step of making the UK government’s frustration with the Americans public on Wednesday as counter-terror investigators worked to identify possible accomplices of 22-year old Salman Abedi.

A photo published by the BBC reportedly of Manchester bomber Salman Abedi.A photo published by the BBC reportedly of Manchester bomber Salman Abedi. Photo: Handout/BBC

On Wednesday morning, local time, police in Manchester arrested three people in the city’s south. They had already arrested a 23-year-old man in relation to the attack. US media identified that man as Abedi’s brother, citing “US officials”.

As was the case with the Westminster attack in April, British press held off reporting the attacker’s name – even though they knew it – to avoid endangering the investigation or tipping off any further suspects. But on Tuesday, US networks CBS and NBC named the perpetrator hours before Greater Manchester police confirmed his identity.

Mrs Rudd said while the leak of Abedi’s identity to US media had not compromised the investigation, it had the potential to jeopardise inquiries and draw media attention to places being searched.

“The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order protect operational integrity, the element of surprise, so it is irritating if it gets released from other sources,” the minister told the BBC’s Radio 4.

“I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again.

“They are perfectly clear about the situation and that it shouldn’t happen again.”

Home Secretary Amber Rudd (left) with Prime Minister Theresa May in Manchester on Tuesday.Home Secretary Amber Rudd (left) with Prime Minister Theresa May in Manchester on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images

The US and UK have one of the closest intelligence-sharing relationships in the world, as part of the “five-eyes” relationship, which also includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Britain’s anger follows consternation over US President Donald Trump’s sharing with the Russians of classified intelligence relating to an Islamic State plot – potentially compromising a source in the field.

Police at a building in Manchester where three people were arrested on Wednesday.Police at a building in Manchester where three people were arrested on Wednesday. Photo: Getty Images

Professor Lawrence Freedman from King’s College in London warned further leaks from the US would undermine the intelligence sharing relationship.

“US officials just don’t seem to be able to help themselves. It will get to the stage where UK officials will stop sharing,” he said.

Flowers placed at a vigil in Albert Square, central Manchester, for the 22 people killed in the blast.Flowers placed at a vigil in Albert Square, central Manchester, for the 22 people killed in the blast. Photo: AP

Mrs Rudd said the attacker was “known, up to a point, to the intelligence services.” She confirmed he had recently travelled to Libya.

She made her comments before arriving at 10 Downing Street for another meeting of the government’s emergency response committee, commonly called COBRa.

Something happening on Granby rd in . Scary stuff, riot van, fire engine, heavily armed police

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http://www.smh.com.au/world/britain-slams-the-united-states-for-leaking-identity-of-manchester-suicide-bomber-20170524-gwcg3u

King Salman Calls Trump’s Visit a “Turning Point” — Trump on Sunday urged Muslim leaders to take a stand against violence committed in the name of religion

May 22, 2017

AFP

© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP | A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on May 22, 2017, shows US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump waving as they board Air Force One before leaving Riyadh for Israel

RIYADH (AFP) – 

Saudi King Salman on Monday described US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Muslim kingdom in the Gulf as a “turning point” in relations between the two countries.

Trump on Monday concluded his landmark visit to Saudi Arabia, which he chose for his first foreign trip since taking office in January, during which the allies announced arms deals and investments worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

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“This is a turning point in relations between the two countries,” Salman told his council of ministers, according to state news agency SPA.

He said relations between the two countries will advance from a partnership to the “level of strengthening consultations, cooperation and coordination on all fronts”.

The king also praised an “historic agreement” between Gulf monarchies and Washington “to take firm measures to target the financing of terrorism” and the setting up of a Riyadh-based centre for this task, SPA said.

The ministers also hailed the launch of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh on Sunday.

Dubbed “Etital”, Arabic for moderation, the centre “embodies the kingdom’s great efforts and its ongoing fight against terrorism”, SPA reported.

In his first foreign speech, Trump on Sunday urged Muslim leaders to take a stand against violence committed in the name of religion, describing the struggle against extremism as a “battle between good and evil”.

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Israel Pulls Out All The Stops For Visit By U.S. President Donald Trump — ‘“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”

May 20, 2017
BY GREER FAY CASHMAN
MAY 19, 2017 23:51

 

Israelis are rolling out the red carpet, literally.

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 At an unimaginable cost in time, effort and human resources, both the Americans and the Israelis are leaving no stone unturned for the visit on Monday of US President Donald Trump, who will be the first sitting President to visit the Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem. Other US Presidents who visited the Wall did so before they were elected or after leaving office – or both.

On Thursday, an American advance team visited Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem in case of an emergency situation that would require medical treatment for the president. They inspected the helicopter landing pad, the CT scanning facilities, and the operating theaters.

On Sunday, a dress rehearsal for the visit will be held at Ben Gurion Airport with the participation of representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, IDF and the Airports Authority as well as the police.

Last week, members of the US Military Mess who will serve as Trump’s personal chefs and valets arrived at the King David hotel to familiarize themselves with the kitchen and with the requirements of kashrut. There have been many changes at the hotel in order to accommodate the Americans – something that Sheldon Ritz, director of operations at the hotel, termed “controlled chaos.”

After long days with the detail-conscious American advance team, it transpired in the final analysis that President Trump has no special demands. Any food that he will be eating in the hotel is being brought on Air Force One and will all be kosher in deference to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, who are orthodox Jews. All that the King David was asked to do was to organize hairdressing and make-up appointments and to ensure that there would be no other guests in the hotel.

On Friday night, Ritz managed to oversee a dinner for 120 people in honor of the Premier of Quebec who was staying at the hotel, and another dinner for an Australian trade delegation, which likewise checked out on Saturday. The King David’s housekeeping staff are not permitted to enter Trump’s suite to clean up or even to lay the linens on the bed. The Americans take all this upon themselves, Ritz told The Jerusalem Post on Friday. All journalists traveling with Trump on Air Force One will stay at the King David, where a press center will be set up for them in addition to the larger press center at the Mamilla hotel.

The Government Press Office is setting up a press center at the Mamilla Hotel, which is within easy walking distance of the King David and the Dan Panorama, where most other journalists will be staying. There will be approximately 100 work stations equipped with high-speed Internet connections that will enable the uploading of video files, live Internet broadcasts, real-time access to raw materials and the ability for journalists to work directly with their office or broadcast outlets.

Every journalist will be given a personal app to enable high quality live broadcast via cell phone camera with minimal 1.5-second delay. All app users will receive a unique URL thus enabling each individual their own distinct broadcast channel with a transmission link that can be sent to their media outlets and social media.

The GPO will also provide services for on-line video streaming of live broadcasts, video players to view live broadcasts via a media asset management system, and a satellite downlink for the recorded live broadcasts, plus technical support services.

Smolenskin Street, where the Prime Minister ‘s Residence is located, is a small street full of cracks, uneven patches and potholes in the road. The Prime Minister’s residence is the last house on the street, and is number nine. For more than two years, half the street has been sealed off by a metal enclosure, plus a traffic barrier and heavy black curtains. Residents of the street are permitted on some occasions to pass through, but not always, and even when given permission by a security guard are often stopped by someone from the border police and have to argue their way through.

For more than a week now, even the rare privilege of walking to the end of the street has been denied the residents, because the whole of the enclosed area was dug up, re-fitted with security devices and other infrastructure and paved nicely for the Trump visit. The rest of the street is still a mess. Workers on Friday were putting the finishing touches on a huge security tent, much tighter than the one that was put up for Barack Obama.

Notices went up in the street and its surroundings advising motorists which streets would be blocked to traffic and parking. The notices were also placed on car windshields. The problem is that the notices are in Hebrew only, and the area is full of French and English speaking immigrants, not all of whom are sufficiently fluent in Hebrew to understand the content of the notice.

At the President’s residence, less than ten minutes walk away from that of the Prime Minister, road workers had been digging up the pavement for months to create a new entrance. It had nothing to do with the Trump visit, but was more or less completed in time for it. On Thursday and Friday, presidential staff were busy laying fresh new flower beds, assembling the stages for the media, installing media equipment and rolling out red carpets. Carpet sweeping at the President’s residence is done manually, and it is a very frustrating exercise for the people employed to do the sweeping, because almost without fail, after every speck of dust has been removed, someone will walk on the carpet and leave footprints. Efforts to prevent this by covering certain sections with a white piece of cloth are to no avail, because they are ignored by most of the people walking on the carpet.

President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama will be part of the welcoming group of dignitaries who will greet President Trump on arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport, and will then have to rush back to Jerusalem to greet him again when he arrives at the President’s Residence.

It is customary when presidents of the United States or popes of Rome visit the President that they plant a tree together in the presidential garden. This time it will be an almond tree, and not any of the previously planted species, but it will be marked with a plaque whose message will be in the same gist as those of other tree planting ceremonies: ‘“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may they prosper that love thee. Peace be in thy walls, and prosperity in thy palaces.” (Psalms 122)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have a little more breathing space than Rivlin. His meeting with Trump at the King David Hotel is scheduled for 6 p.m. At 7.30, Netanyahu and his wife Sara will host a dinner for Trump and his wife Melania at the Prime Minister’s residence, where other invitees will be subjected to the most stringent of security requirements.

At 8 p.m., Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will host a dinner at the King David Hotel for Trump’s entourage and the Israeli delegation.

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Trump will visit Yad Vashem, and from there will go to the Israel Museum, where he will deliver a farewell statement prior to his departure from Israel.

All the dignitaries who will be at the airport on Monday to greet him on his arrival will be back there on Tuesday for a 4 p.m. farewell ceremony. No one from the King David will be permitted to enter his suite until he is well out of Israeli air space.

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http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Israel-pulls-out-all-the-stops-for-Trump-visit-492287

Trump putting US intelligence ties at risk: experts

May 16, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Paul HANDLEY | US President Donald Trump speaks to the press with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following meetings in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, May 16, 2017

WASHINGTON (AFP) – With his shoot-from-the-hip tweets targeting US spies and alleged Oval Office leak of secrets to the Russians, President Donald Trump has damaged White House relations with American and allied intelligence agencies and put national security at risk, current and former officials said Tuesday.

Diplomats, former intelligence officials and senior politicians said Trump’s attitude could make allies less willing to share their secrets with the United States, and render US spy chiefs less able to provide the White House with crucial security information.

Ex-CIA director Leon Panetta warned that Trump’s behavior risks polluting relations between the intelligence agencies of the United States and its allies.

“He cannot just, you know, go ahead and reveal classified information without creating some huge problems within the intelligence community,” Panetta said on CNN, reacting to an explosive Washington Post report claiming Trump shared top secret information with Russia’s foreign minister and its ambassador to the United States.

The information allegedly leaked to the Russians, reportedly on Islamic State group efforts to place laptop computer bombs on commercial aircraft flights, was provided by a Middle Eastern country “that made very clear that they did not want this intelligence shared,” Panetta said.

“The damage is that this country may cut off any kind of intelligence provided to the United States on very sensitive issues that relate to the national security of this country.”

The New York Times reported that the information was provided, at least in part, by Israel — which had allegedly urged Washington be careful in handling it.

– ‘Holy grail’ at risk-

Douglas Smith, a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security, said Trump appeared to put at risk the “holy grail” of the spy world: the means and methods of intelligence collection.

“Imagine how a foreign government is going to feel when information they view as highly sensitive — they’ve probably collected it in a very secretive and challenging way — is so cavalierly given away to a foreign power who is by no means our friend.”

Trump’s controversial meeting with Russian diplomats came one day after he threw his administration into turmoil by taking the rare step of firing his FBI director James Comey, who had been overseeing investigations into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia to skew the 2016 election.

Veteran Republican Senator John McCain warned that reports Trump divulged to Russia information provided by a US ally “sends a troubling signal to America’s allies and partners around the world and may impair their willingness to share intelligence with us in the future.”

Karin Von Hippel, director-general of London’s RUSI military think tank, predicted “there’s definitely going to be nervousness about what to share and when,” although she was confident sharing “won’t come to a standstill.”

That message was echoed by Yves Trotignon, a former counter-terrorism analyst for France’s DGSE intelligence agency, now with risk consultant Riskeco, who said Trump violated a basic tenet of intelligence sharing.

“We don’t give intelligence supplied by one ally’s service to another, unless everything has been made very clear. This is a basic rule which President Trump obviously does not know,” he told AFP. “The United States cannot afford to lose the confidence of its allies that could at one point leave it on its own.”

– Keeping politics out –

The twin developments of Comey’s ouster and Trump’s alleged sharing of secrets with Moscow have raised concerns to a new level within the intelligence community.

US presidents strive for strong relationships with their top intelligence advisors as soon as they come into office.

The country’s security can rest heavily on the level of trust between the president and the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Director of National Intelligence.

Trump has made little apparent effort to cement those ties — as illustrated most dramatically, but far from exclusively, by Comey’s abrupt dismissal.

In four months since becoming president, Trump has insulted the CIA as chronic leakers, rejected unanimous assessments that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, skipped daily intelligence briefings, and named widely distrusted former army general Michael Flynn, who was fired by his predecessor Barack Obama, to be his national security advisor.

Stephen Slick, a former CIA operations officer and now director of the Intelligence Studies Project at the University of Texas-Austin, said rank-and-file intelligence officers remain apolitical and focused on their work.

He noted, however, that the heads of the key agencies were political figures — with a duty to keep politics out of the intelligence process.

“It is important that they use their experience to insulate the intelligence process and products from politics, and resist efforts by the administration or its critics to draw the community into ongoing partisan frays,” he told AFP.

by Paul HANDLEY
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Republicans, Democrats demand ‘full explanation’ on Trump sharing secrets with Russia — “This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president.”

May 16, 2017

AFP

© Handout photo Russian Foreign Ministry/AFP | (L to R): Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US President Donald Trump and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office.

Latest update : 2017-05-16

US President Donald Trump is facing criticism for sharing top secret intelligence with Russian officials during a meeting in the Oval Office last week, prompting both Democrats and Republicans to demand a “full explanation”.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump revealed highly classified information on the plans of the Islamic State (IS) group during a May 10 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak.

Citing unnamed officials, the Post reported that the intelligence included plans by the Islamic State group to threaten airliners in a plot involving laptop computers.

The intelligence originated from a Middle Eastern ally that did not authorise the United States to pass the information on to Russia. The rules of espionage usually allow governments and intelligence agencies to have a significant say in how their information is shared.

By not respecting these protocols, the officials said, Trump’s revelation threatened the cooperation of an ally “that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State”.

“This is code-word information,” a US official familiar with the matter told the Post, referring to an intelligence classification that ranks even above top secret. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies”.

One official with knowledge of the Oval Office meeting said Trump told Lavrov of the “great intel” he receives as president. “I have people brief me on great intel every day,” he said.

Such seemingly off-the-cuff revelations could prompt allies and sources in the field to avoid passing sensitive intelligence to the White House in the future, thereby jeopardising US operations and security.

Divulging such information could also place intelligence sources at imminent risk. The source in question, moreover, was not a US informant but one cultivated by an allied nation.

Senior Security Contributor Michael Morell says the source that says Pres. Trump gave classified information to Russians “is now at risk”

While Trump did not reveal how the intelligence was gathered, he did reveal the name of the IS group-controlled city where the threat was detected. From this location Russia could likely identify the US ally who gathered the information or determine which intelligence capabilities were involved, the Post said.

Russia and the United States are both battling the Islamic State group in Syria and do share some information about the jihadists’ moves. But Russian operations in the country are largely aimed at bolstering the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, while the Trump administration launched air strikes on Assad targets following a deadly chemical attack in April and has said Assad should play “no role” in Syria’s future.

Trump’s meeting with the Russian envoys was controversial from the start, as Russian photographers were allowed to take pictures while US media were barred from the Oval Office.

The White House later expressed outrage that photos of the gathering were made public after the Russian embassy posted them on Twitter.

@realDonaldTrump meeting has just started | В Овальном кабинете началась встреча С.Лаврова с Д.Трампом

“They tricked us,” one White House official told CNN, adding: “That’s the problem with the Russians – they lie.”

WH furious over Russian government photos of Trump meeting with Lavrov/Kislyak. “They tricked us,” an official said of Russians “They lie.”

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees, as well as the FBI, continue to investigate the extent of Russian attempts to influence the US presidential election. The meeting with Russian officials came the day after Trump fired the FBI director, James Comey, who was overseeing the bureau investigation.

Ambassador Kislyak has also figured prominently in the allegations of improper contact between Trump associates and Russian officials. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign after not revealing the true nature of his talks last year with Kislyak while Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself from any Russia investigations after he failed to disclose his meetings with the ambassador while being questioned under oath.

Soon after the talks, senior White House officials appeared to recognise that the discussions had taken a problematic turn, with the Post reporting that a series of calls was made to the CIA and the National Security Agency in what were likely attempts at damage control.

Political aftershocks

National Security Adviser HR McMaster was unequivocal in denying that sources had been compromised, emphasising that Trump had not revealed any “intelligence sources or methods” in his meeting with the Russians. He said that Trump and Lavrov had merely “reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation”.

“At no time – at no time – were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of state (Rex Tillerson), remember the meeting the same way and have said so,” McMaster continued.

But despite the denials, the Post report sent shock waves around Washington, with Republicans joining Democrats in calls for a “full explanation” from the White House.

“We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount,” said Doug Andres, spokesman for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration.”

This sentiment was echoed by the top-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.

“Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country,” Schumer said on Twitter.

“The president owes the intelligence community, the American people and Congress a full explanation.”

“To compromise a source is something that you just don’t do,” the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, told reporters. “That’s why we keep the information that we get from intelligence sources so close, is to prevent that from happening.”

Some legal experts said the allegations involved potentially serious wrongdoing on the part of the president.

“This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president of the United States,” said Alan Dershowitz, a prominent US legal expert and former Harvard Law professor, in an interview with CNN on Monday.

.@AlanDersh reacts to WaPo story: “This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president”

But others pointed out that the US president has a legal right to declassify information as he sees fit, so Trump’s decision to share intelligence broke no laws.

“The classification system is not based on a law,” said Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy specialist with the Federation of American Scientists, in comments to the New York Times. “It is an expression of presidential authority, and that means that the president and his designees decide what is classified, and they have the essentially unlimited authority to declassify at will.”

Trump himself seized on this justification on Tuesday, tweeting that he had the “absolute right” to share the information.

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining … to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” he wrote in two tweets.

As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining….

…to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.

Anyone else sharing sensitive intelligence, however, risks losing security clearance and his or her government position. An individual could also face up to 10 years in prison on charges related to the Espionage Act, which makes it a felony to reveal certain information on US national defence to unauthorised sources.

Date created : 2017-05-16

Saudi king hopeful over ‘historic’ Muslim-US summit

May 15, 2017

AFP

© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP | Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, in a handout picture provided by the royal palace on April 24, 2017

RIYADH (AFP) – 

Saudi King Salman on Monday expressed hope a “historic” summit to be held Sunday between Arab and Muslim nations and US President Donald Trump will enhance ties and promote tolerance.

The summit will be one of three forums held during a visit by Trump, who is making Saudi Arabia his first overseas stop since assuming office in January.

Trump has frequently been accused of fuelling Islamophobia but aides described his decision to visit Saudi Arabia as an effort to reset relations with the Muslim world.

Along with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), at least 18 other Muslim nations have been invited to the summit, including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Niger and Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population.

Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran is not invited.

Salman told a cabinet meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah that the meeting “comes in light of the challenges and sensitive situations that the world is going through”.

According to the official Saudi Press Agency, “he expressed his hope that this historic summit will establish a new partnership in the face of extremism and terrorism and spreading the values of tolerance and coexistence” while enhancing security.

Trump is to also hold a bilateral summit with Saudi Arabia and talks with the GCC on Saturday.

Washington and Riyadh have a decades-old relationship based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil.

But US ties with Riyadh and its Gulf neighbours became increasingly frayed during the administration of president Barack Obama.

Saudi leaders felt Obama was reluctant to get involved in the civil war in Syria and was tilting toward Shiite-dominated Iran.

The Saudis have found a more favourable ear in Washington under Trump, who has denounced Iran’s “harmful influence” in the Middle East.

Trump’s firing of FBI director ‘domestic matter’: Kremlin

May 10, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | US President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey (pictured)

MOSCOW (AFP) – 

The Kremlin on Wednesday described the firing of the FBI director James Comey by US President Donald Trump as an internal matter that had nothing to do with Russia.

“This is absolutely a domestic matter for the United States, a sovereign decision by the US president which has absolutely nothing to do with Russia and cannot have anything to do with it,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

The US president stunned Washington by firing Comey, the man who leads the agency charged with investigating whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russia to sway the November elections.

Asked how the change of leadership would affect bilateral relations, Peskov said “we hope that it won’t affect them at all.”

The head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian senate Konstantin Kosachev earlier called Trump’s firing of Comey “quite elegant” in comments to Interfax news agency.

“He removed a figure who was inconvenient for him using the same accusations that Trump’s own opponents had previously presented against the FBI director,” Kosachev said.

Trump’s rival in the election Hillary Clinton blamed Comey for her defeat after he revealed just before the polls that he was re-opening a probe into Clinton’s use of a personal email server while serving as secretary of state.

Erdogan says US debates over Jerusalem embassy move ‘wrong’

May 8, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | US President Donald Trump had promised during his campaign to move the American embassy, pictured here in Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem

ISTANBUL (AFP) – 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said debates over the possibility of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem are “extremely wrong” and should be dropped.

US President Donald Trump had promised during his campaign to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, whose status is one of the thorniest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking at a forum in Istanbul, Erdogan said everyone should be careful on issues that concerned the status of Jerusalem, warning that even “relocating a stone” in the city could have serious implications.

“The debates over the possibility of US moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem are extremely wrong and should certainly drop from the agenda,” the Turkish president said.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

In 1980, Israel declared “reunited” Jerusalem its capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the US moving its embassy.

Erdogan, a fervent supporter of Palestinians, made peace with Israel in June last year after bilateral ties deteriorated over the 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship that killed 10 Turkish activists.

North Korea detains another US citizen — The regime shows no fear of the U.S. or China

May 7, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP/File | North Korea has arrested and jailed several US citizens in the past decade, often releasing them only after high-profile visits by current or former US officials or former US presidents

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea announced Sunday it had detained a US citizen for “hostile acts” — its second arrest in a fortnight of an American as tensions rise between Pyongyang and Washington.

Kim Hak Song was detained on Saturday, the state news agency KCNA reported. “A relevant institution is now conducting detailed investigation into his crimes,” it added.

It said Kim had worked for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), as had the US citizen detained last month.

The two-paragraph report gave no further details of the arrest of Kim Hak Song.

Last Wednesday the North confirmed the arrest on April 22 of Kim Sang-Duk, or Tony Kim, for trying to “overturn” the regime.

The arrest of Kim Hak Song means four US citizens are currently being held in the North.

Pyongyang is engaged in a tense standoff with the administration of new US President Donald Trump over its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology — founded by evangelical Christians from overseas and opened in 2010 — is known to have a number of American faculty members. Pupils are generally children from the North’s elite.

Taiwan Shouldn’t Worry: Open Dialogue with The U.S. Certainly Ahead

April 28, 2017

By
Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said a direct telephone call with US President Donald Trump could take place again and urged China to step up its global responsibility to keep the peace as a large nation.

“We have the opportunity to communicate more directly with the US government,” Tsai said in an interview with Reuters yesterday. “We don’t exclude the opportunity to call President Trump himself, but it depends on the needs of the situation and the US government’s consideration of regional affairs.”

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Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has makeup applied during an interview with Reuters at the Presidential Office, Apr 28, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

The interview was the first since Trump, as US president-elect, took a congratulatory telephone call from Tsai in early December last year. It was the first known contact between leaders of the two sides in nearly four decades and he cast doubt on Washington’s long-standing policy of acknowledging Beijing’s “one China” policy.

However, since then, Trump in February agreed to honor the “one China” policy and then hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at his Florida resort earlier this month.

Despite this, Tsai said Taiwan’s ties with the US, its biggest political ally and arms supplier, have been improving.

She added that Taiwan might need to buy the most advanced stealth jet the US has.

“We don’t rule out any items that would be meaningful to our defense and our defense strategy, and the F-35 is one such item,” Tsai said, in the first remarks by a top Taiwanese official on the matter.

As part of arms talks, Taiwan will eventually have to submit a weapons purchase list to Washington.

However, Tsai said that senior officials are not yet in place in the Trump administration to handle the issue.

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense yesterday said it was resolutely opposed to any nation selling arms to Taiwan.

Image result for F-35 Lightning II jets, photos

Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun (楊宇軍) made the comment at a monthly news briefing in Beijing when asked about the possible sale of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jets from the US to Taiwan.

Speaking from her Presidential Office as she nears her first-year anniversary in office, Tsai urged Xi to act like a leader.

“China now needs to have its own sense of responsibility,” Tsai said.

“I hope Chairman Xi Jinping, as a leader of a large country and who sees himself as a leader, can show a pattern and flexibility, use a different angle to look at cross-strait relations, and allow the future of cross-strait ties to have a different kind of pattern,” she said.

China continues to pressure Taiwan, Tsai said, adding that next month’s meeting of the decisionmaking body of the WHO would be an important benchmark for relations between the two sides.

Taiwan has said it is facing a more complicated task this year in securing an invitation for the meeting after Beijing last year said that acceptance of the “one China” principle was a condition for Taiwan’s attendance.

When she first took office, China slammed Tsai’s inaugural speech as offering an “incomplete answer” to what it called the exam on bilateral relations.

“Why not say we both are facing a new exam. We also look forward to China using a different perspective to face this new exam,” Tsai said.

“China now needs to have its own sense of responsibility,” Tsai said, adding that the world is changing and China must change too.

Recalling her historic call with Trump, Tsai talked about more possibilities.

“My first feeling was that this is a new [Trump] government and perhaps under this new government there will be many different possibilities that appear,” Tsai said.

Tsai tweeted congratulations to Trump minutes after he took office in January, and when asked if she might tweet him again, Tsai said: “Might not be a bad idea. I’ll give some thought to it.”