Posts Tagged ‘U.S.’

US blacklists Kashmir ‘terror’ group

August 16, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | The US designation comes on the week that both India and Pakistan mark 70 years of independence from the British Empire — and the start of a bitter rivalry and decades of conflict over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States added the Kashmiri separatist group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen to its blacklist of terrorist organizations on Wednesday, amid renewed protests against Indian rule in the region.US authorities had already designated the group’s leader, Syed Salahuddin, a “global terrorist”, but he is still able to operate in Pakistani Kashmir, where his group has strong support.

The State Department designation bans US citizens and residents from dealing with the group and any assets found to belong to the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in areas under US jurisdiction will be frozen.

“Today’s action notifies the US public and the international community that HM is a terrorist organization,” the department said.

“Terrorism designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the US financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of US agencies and other governments.”

The US designation comes on the week that both India and Pakistan mark 70 years of independence from the British Empire — and the start of a bitter rivalry and decades of conflict over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Since 1989, rebel groups have fought in Indian Kashmir, demanding independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan, and tens of thousands — mostly civilians — have been killed.

On Sunday, two Indian soldiers and three rebels were killed in a gun battle after counter-insurgency forces surrounded separatists in a village just south of the city of Srinagar.

Burkina Faso Stunned by Another Deadly Extremist Attack

August 16, 2017

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — The scene was all too familiar: Islamic extremists striking a popular dining spot while dozens of patrons, many of them foreigners, took a break from daily life in Burkina Faso. Victims were gunned down at random. Gunfire rang out for hours as special forces worked to secure the scene.

After Sunday night’s deadly attack on Kwame N’krumah Avenue, some in this West African nation are wondering: How could this happen again only 200 meters (yards) away from the first massacre in January 2016? And why is the capital no safer?

Location of  Burkina Faso  (dark blue)– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)– in the African Union  (light blue)  –  [Legend]

“There are no words to explain our anger and despair,” said Ousseni Tanagda, whose job selling phone credit has suffered since the 2016 attack on a popular cafe. “I was afraid of staying here because the security measures set up earlier were no more strictly respected as they used to be.”

While Burkina Faso shares a border with volatile Mali — long home to such attacks — the 2016 massacre that killed 30 people shocked many in Ouagadougou. The capital is home to many foreigners working with the United Nations and international aid organizations in this desperately poor country on the edge of the Sahara.

After that attack, security measures were strengthened at sensitive places such as banks, hotels and restaurants, with many hiring armed security personnel. As more time passed without another attack, locals say some of those measures eased.

In recent months, however, the United States and France warned their citizens to avoid certain areas of Burkina Faso, mainly the unstable north near Mali and Niger but also the capital.

Already Sunday’s assault on the Aziz Istanbul restaurant that left 18 people dead has had political fallout, with one former minister saying it underscores “the failure of our security system.”

“Two attacks in about 18 months in the same spot with the same mode of operation, it’s not acceptable,” said Ablasse Ouedraogo, who served as foreign affairs minister during the era of longtime leader Blaise Compaore. “It’s as though we have not learned any lessons.”

Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising in late 2014, and some critics say the military has suffered during the years of political upheaval ever since. During the 2016 assault, Burkina Faso’s security forces waited for hours before trying to intervene despite having people at the scene. During Sunday’s attack, gunfire also rang out for nearly seven hours before officials noted there were only two assailants.

Capt. Guy Ye, spokesman for the special forces, said they are better equipped now than in 2016 but he acknowledged they are still learning.

“There were hostages who had to be freed before launching the assault against the terrorists who were hiding in the back of the restaurant,” he said.

Ouedraogo, the former minister, said the army and security sector need an overhaul. Already they’ve received specialized training from both the French and U.S. militaries.

Felix Alexandre Sanfo, a security expert, said Burkinabes are learning they must accept that the threat of terrorism is here to stay, just as it is in many other parts of the world.

“Many think it’s a problem that can be solved definitively,” Sanfo said. “We are not prepared to maintain an elevated level of vigilance on a permanent basis. People have quickly let down their guard because they think the danger is behind us.”

On the contrary, regional security analysts point to a deepening and troubling Islamic extremism movement in northern Burkina Faso, where an Australian doctor who had spent decades treating civilians has been abducted and remains missing.

The region is now the home of a Burkinabe extremist figure, Malam Dicko, who has collaborated with militants across the border in Mali. Among his objectives has been seeking to end the use of French, the former colonizer’s language, in regional schools. Burkinabe forces backed by French military counterparts have tried to take out Dicko but he remains at large.

Burkina Faso is now one of five regional nations putting together a 5,000-strong force to fight the growing threat from extremists in the vast Sahel region. The first units are expected to deploy in October and all battalions should be on the ground by March. The countries have been pressing the international community to help funding; a gap of 305 million euros ($356 million) remains.

Burkina Faso’s government knows it must move quickly to avoid the political instability and human suffering inflicted by extremists to the north in Mali.

“If we do not master intelligence quickly, we will continue to count the dead due to terrorism because the situation is alarming,” said an intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

“We are vulnerable now, and the situation calls for lucid, cool and objective analysis.”

___

Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Where did North Korea get its missile technology?

August 16, 2017

A new media report claims North Korea was able to develop its missile system after buying rocket engines on the black market in Ukraine. Kyiv denies the link. In this international mystery, the clues lead to Russia.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko visits a rocket plant (picture alliance/dpa/epa/M. Markiv)

Anyone who asks Vitaly Zushtchevski about the allegations being made against his former employer is quickly interrupted. “It is a lie,” said the ex-deputy production manager for engines at Yuzhmash, the former Soviet rocket manufacturer based in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro. According to a New York Times report published on Monday, North Korea’s surprising progress in missile technology may be linked to Yuzhmash.

The engineering plant is in financial difficulty, and this may be the reason why criminals and former employees reportedly smuggled old Soviet engines, or parts of them, into North Korea. The Times referred to a study conducted by Michael Elleman from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London and assessments by US intelligence agencies. The newspaper did not provide evidence, only clues.

Read – German weapons makers profiting from Korea tensions

Aiding a technological leap

Elleman has analyzed North Korean medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles of the Hwasong 12 and 14 types, whose extended range holds the potential to hit the United States. He concluded that the surprisingly fast development in the last two years has only been possible with the help of foreign suppliers, meaning countries from the former Soviet Union. Even the German missile expert Robert Schmucker from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) agreed with Elleman’s analysis, although he avoided any explicit accusations.

Experts believe that the one-chamber engine used in the latest Hwasong missiles is reminiscent of the Soviet RD-250 rocket engine, which had two chambers and was developed in the 1960s.

It is difficult to prove whether the RD-250 was also manufactured by Yuzhmash. Vitaly Zushtchevski said that they received these engines from Russia, where they were “produced in low quantities.” Elleman suggested that they were also made in Ukraine. In his IISS study, he wrote that “hundreds, if not more” RD-250 engines have remained in Russia, as well as in Ukraine, adding it is also possible that Moscow is Pyongyang’s supplier.

North Korean rocket (picture alliance/AP Photo)Does North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile contain old Soviet technology?

“We have never produced the types of engines that are shown in the New York Times article,” said Zushtchevski, who worked at Yuzhmash for almost five decades. The retired engineer confirmed that since the end of the company’s cooperation with Moscow, triggered by the annexation of Crimea, the rocket plant in Dnipro has been “virtually dead.” Smuggling technology into North Korea is unfathomable to him. Kyiv and Yuzhmash officials both denied the Times report. Elleman suspects the government in Kyiv knew nothing about the smuggling.

Read – North Korea: Who would have to go to war with Trump?

Shadow of the past

It is the first time that Yuzhmash, the former manufacturer of the giant Soviet SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile, has been suspected of violating UN sanctions or any other international treaties. However, Pyongyang has shown its interest in Ukrainian expertise in the past. In 2012, two North Koreans were tried in Ukraine for spying on Yuzhmash.

In 2002, there were press reports claiming that Ukraine wanted to supply Iraq with modern radar systems. Kyiv denied the reports and no radar systems were found in Iraq. But there were cases of verified smuggling. In 2005, the then-prosecutor general of Ukraine admitted in a newspaper interview that a group of Ukrainians and Russians illegally sold 18 cruise missiles to China and Iran in 2001.

Kim Jong-un watches a rocket test (Reuters/KCNA)North Korean rocket technology has made significant strides in recent years

Oleg Uruski, former head of the State Space Agency of Ukraine, finds it improbable that the same could have happened in this case, saying that the state has a multistage monitoring system. However, Uruski did not rule out that the clues point to wrongdoing. “A crime is possible in every sphere,” he said.

Pointing the finger at Moscow

Observers in Kyiv believe that the Times article may be part of a targeted campaign by Russia. In an analysis published on Tuesday, the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS) in Kyiv wrote that the US publication shows “signs of an information attack on Ukraine.” Among other things, the aim of the article is apparently to divert attention from “their own missile technology shipments to North Korea” and to discredit Ukraine, especially in the eyes of the US.

“Russia shares a border with North Korea, so one can deliver anything, even entire engines,” said Mykhailo Samus, the CACDS deputy director for international affairs. Ukraine, on the other hand, would have logistical problems, he said.

TUM’s Robert Schmucker said that the latest story is about more than just the engines. “What about the missiles? The information itself is of no use; you need production facilities, technical equipment and above all, good quality control,” he said. “A lot more must have come from Ukraine than just a few engines.”

http://www.dw.com/en/where-did-north-korea-get-its-missile-technology/a-40107204

South Korean Party Calls for US to Bring Back Tactical Nukes

August 16, 2017

BEIJING — A South Korean conservative party has called for the United States to bring back tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula to better cope against North Korean threats.

The opposition Liberty Korea Party said Wednesday it adopted the demand as official party line following a meeting of its lawmakers in Seoul.

The party’s call comes amid a tense standoff between United States and North Korea over the North’s recent ICBM tests and threats to fire missiles toward Guam that has also raised fears in South Korea about a potential military clash in the peninsula. China’s foreign minister was quoted as saying the U.S. and North Korea should “hit the brakes” on their threatening words in the dispute.

Washington withdrew tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea in the 1990s.

Young Afghans See Opportunities Dwindle as Security Worsens — “Growing sense of hopelessness and despair”

August 16, 2017

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUG. 16, 2017, 2:12 A.M. E.D.T.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Sultan Hossaini sent three of his children from their rural home to the capital, Kabul, hoping they would gain degrees and employment in the new Afghanistan that was promised after the overthrow of the Taliban.

But one was killed by a suicide bomber, and the other two face dwindling opportunities and mounting fears as the country slides into chaos.

Despite 16 years of war and billions of dollars in international aid, security is worsening and jobs have grown scarce. More than 2.5 million Afghans have fled — the second largest refugee population after Syria’s.

Hossaini’s oldest son, Khadim, was 10 years old when the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. He went on to study computer science and earn a degree, but these days he is searching for work.

Khadim’s younger sisters, Najiba and Maryam, were part of the first generation of Afghan women to attend school after the fall of the Taliban, who had outlawed women’s education. Najiba studied information technology and was eventually hired by the Petroleum Ministry, which sent her to Japan to earn a master’s degree.

But as the Hossainis pursued their dreams, Afghanistan remained mired in conflict. The Taliban have expanded their reach across much of the country, where they compete with increasingly powerful warlords. Corruption is rife, and the economy is in ruins.

Maryam, who is studying computer science in Kabul, said her sister had considered staying in Japan, fearful of the growing unrest. But Najiba eventually returned, only to have her improbable journey ended by a suicide bomber, who rammed his car into a bus full of Petroleum Ministry employees on July 31.

“All my dreams for my country, for my children, died with Najiba,” said Hossaini.

Maryam recalls racing from hospital to hospital until finally she found what remained of her sister — a hand and a leg. She recognized her sister’s engagement ring, which Najiba’s fiance had given her after making two trips to their rural home in the Daikhundi province to convince her parents he was good enough to marry their accomplished daughter.

“Every day someone is dying. Who can live in Afghanistan without wondering if they will be the next to be killed?” Maryam said. “We have only one hope now in Afghanistan, and that hope is just to survive.”

Andrew Wilder, vice president of the United States Institute for Peace’s Asia program, said Afghanistan’s young were the greatest benefactor of a post-Taliban “bubble economy” generated by international aid as well as opium trafficking.

“High-paying jobs were relatively plentiful for bright young Afghans with English language and computer skills,” he said.

Those opportunities dwindled as the security situation worsened, and the bubble finally burst after 2014, when the U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission. Aid organizations also scaled back efforts in response to the growing chaos and the need to address other global crises, including in Syria and Iraq.

The deterioration has fueled a “growing sense of hopelessness and despair” that has led many Afghans to flee, Wilder said.

Afghanistan’s deputy minister of youth affairs, Kamal Sadat, sees a missed opportunity.

“We had a golden chance to change things with all the money which came in,” he said. “We didn’t use those opportunities the way we should have.”

He said more attention was paid to building schools and universities than to staffing them with quality teachers. Nowadays many Afghans have turned to private institutions instead.

Many young people say they know of someone who has left and that they would do the same if they had the means.

Shaban Hamraz works in a local grocery store, but the 19-year-old says he hopes to leave Kabul for Iran or Turkey. Three friends recently headed to neighboring Iran, and Hamraz has heard that some smugglers charge as little as $1,400 for the crossing.

Of those who remain, many refuse to attend school or pursue other opportunities because of the violence.

“In just one month, three attacks in Afghanistan killed almost 100 people,” said Ahmad Riaz, an 18-year-old high school graduate. “I have no heart to go out of the house.”

An Afghan man, who asked not to be named because he works for a foreign organization and fears Taliban retribution, said he sent his entire family to live in Turkey last year after a Taliban assault on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, where his son was a student.

He recalls watching the bodies being carried away from the campus as he fearfully awaited word on his son. He finally emerged unharmed at 4 a.m. He says he kept his family in Afghanistan through decades of war and instability, but now he believes it’s too dangerous for them.

Despite the challenges, there are still pockets of hope.

Mahal Wak was in the vicinity of the blast that killed Najiba, and recalls the screaming, the shrapnel and the bodies. “I was in a bad condition,” the 17-year-old said. “But all I could think of at the time was to help the wounded, the children.”

She’s determined to remain in the country, and to continue working as a model for traditional embroidered Afghan clothing. “If (the Taliban) think this is wrong that is their mistake. We are sharing our culture,” she said.

Her employer, Ajmal Haqiqi, who hails from the restive Ghazni province, said he exhibits and markets the traditional clothing in hopes of preserving Afghanistan’s 5,000-year-old culture.

“I think if I die here or somewhere else, does it matter?” he said. “I love my country.”

____

Associated Press writer Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.

Iran’s risky nuclear deal threat

August 15, 2017

Commentary

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is under pressure from Washington and conservative forces in Tehran. Threats of revitalizing the nuclear problem actually diverge from his interests, says DW’s Matthias von Hein.

Iranian nuclear plant (dapd)
By Matthias von Hein

Politics are often paradoxical, no more so than in the Middle East. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has just cast doubt on one of his greatest foreign policy successes. But one must assume that Rouhani does not actually wish to cancel the international nuclear deal that was reached in 2015. His threat of backing out of the agreement if the US imposed further sanctions can be seen as a cry for help – not to let things get out of hand.

The nuclear deal, of course, has many opponents in Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Tehran, as well. Iranian opponents of the deal are mobilizing – all the more so since Rouhani won a landslide re-election victory in May. The conservative establishment, led by the powerful Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has done everything it can since then to limit Rouhani’s power and torpedo Iran’s opening to the West, something desired by the president and the majority of the population. Hassan Rouhani invested significant political capital in rapprochement with the West and the nuclear deal. Now he is confronted with the fact that Iran is being denied its share in the deal by a government in Washington that has set a confrontational course with Tehran by imposing new sanctions, overtly looking for ways of letting the entire nuclear deal fall through, and openly speaking of regime change in Tehran.

US sanctions affect EU businesses

The US sanctions policy has also caused European companies to exercise caution with business commitments in Iran, as such dealings can lead to penalties from Washington. This is especially true for banks and financial institutions. Without their help, however, trade cannot gain any momentum because of problematic financing. Ultimately, European companies are not regulated in Brussels, but instead, in Washington, and Iran’s integration into the world economy can fall by the wayside.

Matthias von Hein (DW/M. von Hein)DW’s Matthias von Hein

Washington’s aggressive rhetoric strengthens the hawks in Tehran, and Rouhani must take this into account. Just last Sunday, parliament increased the budget for the country’s missile program and the Revolutionary Guard Corps. And of course, Iranian leaders are watching North Korea. Kim Jong-un is using the threat of nuclear weapons to ensure the survival of his regime – all the more so when international pressure mounts on him. And he has been successful, so far. Tehran may now be wishing it had some of its nuclear options back on the table.

The nuclear deal has made the world safer

One thing is certain: The deal is working. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has now approved six Iranian reports on compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran is much further away from creating nuclear weapons than it was three years ago. The world has become much safer. However, one cannot expect the nuclear deal to attain goals that it was not created for, including Iran’s good conduct in other political issues like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

It is nonetheless becoming more important for Europeans to continue their support for the nuclear deal and also back the moderate political forces in Iran in general, just as the European Union did 10 days ago when the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, flew to Tehran for Rouhani’s inauguration.

http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-irans-risky-nuclear-deal-threat/a-40104951

Related:

.
.
.
.
.

The Latest: Pence Praises Argentine President’s Pro-Business Work

August 15, 2017

The Associated Press

Vice President Mike Pence is praising Argentina’s “bold reform agenda” and describing the country as an “inspiration” for the hemisphere and the world.

Aug. 15, 2017, at 12:21 p.m.

The Latest: Pence Praises Argentine President’s Pro-Business Agenda

The Associated Press

Image may contain: 2 people, suit

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, shakes hands with Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri at the government residence in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Pence is on a official visit to Argentina until Wednesday, when he will be heading to Chile on a week-long visit to Latin America. (Juan Mabromata/POOL photo via AP) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Latin America (all times local):

12:10 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is praising Argentina’s “bold reform agenda” and describing the country as an “inspiration” for the hemisphere and the world.

Pence is speaking during a joint press conference with Argentine President Mauricio Macri (mah-CREE’). Macri has put into place a series of pro-business economic changes.

Pence tells Macri, “We applaud your political and economic reforms.”

Pence is also thanking Macri for his opposition to the breakdown of democracy in Venezuela and calling on Latin America to do more to oppose the political changes in Venezuela.

___

11:10 a.m.

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri (mah-CREE’) is meeting with Vice President Mike Pence at Macri’s presidential residence in the Buenos Aires suburbs.

Pence was greeted warmly by Macri on his arrival. Macri said it was good to see the vice president again.

The two posed for an official photo before sitting down for a joint meeting with their staffs.

Macri and Pence will also be delivering statements and answering questions from reporters as Pence seeks to highlight economic reforms in Argentina and ramp up pressure against Venezuela.

___

10:30 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has participated in a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate Jose de San Martin, an Argentine general who helped lead the revolution against Spanish rule in Argentina, Chile and Peru.

The ceremony was part of the vice president’s visit to the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral, where he bowed his head at the altar and then participated in the commemoration. Pence also spent time at a memorial for Jews who died in the Holocaust and in a pair of deadly attacks on the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in the 1990s.

Pence is to meet with Argentina’s president after the tour.

___

10:10 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is to honor the liberator of Argentina, Peru and Chile from Spain at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral.

Pence will commemorate Jose de San Martin in a wreath-laying ceremony at the cathedral, the first event in a busy day that includes meetings, a joint press conference with Argentina’s president and a speech at the city’s stock exchange.

Pence has been traveling through Latin America on a trip aimed at boosting economic ties. The cathedral was the church of Pope Francis during his tenure as the archbishop of Buenos Aires.

___

8 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is in Argentina, where he’s expected to praise President Mauricio Macri’s economic reforms days after local midterm elections that were seen as a boost for Macri’s pro-business agenda.

Pence is expected to meet with local officials, hold a joint press conference with Macri and deliver a speech as the Buenos Aires stock exchange focused on economic ties between the two countries. Pence is on a week-long visit to Latin America.

Investors have praised Macri’s decision to cut government spending, reduce taxes on exports and end economic distortions that led to years of high consumer prices under his predecessor.

Macri and President Donald Trump enjoy a personal relationship dating back years from their days as businessmen. Both hope to leverage those ties to boost U.S.-Argentina relations.

Donald Trump sends tough signal to China on unfair IP, tech practices

August 15, 2017

WASHINGTON – The United States in effect served notice on China on Monday (Aug 14) by opening an investigation into unfair trade practices focused on intellectual property (IP) and advanced technology.

But punitive action is still about a year away, and conclusions may also depend on the outcomes of the current international pressure campaign on North Korea led by the US, but in which China has a key role as the Pyongyang regime’s economic lifeline.

While the US administration has not linked trade issues with progress on North Korea, the President has explicitly linked the two. China insists that any action on trade must conform to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, and must not be linked to North Korea, where it says Beijing’s influence is limited.

Mr Trump’s memo directs US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether to launch an investigation – which in turn could give the President authority to take measures under Section 301 of its Trade Act, against China if it finds that country is damaging American interests by stealing IP or unfairly forcing transfer of technology.

For the US, this has long been a major bone of contention with China. A 2017 report of the US’s IP Commission on “The Theft of American Intellectual Property” estimated that in 2015 “anywhere from US$58 billion to US$118 billion of counterfeit and pirated tangible goods may have entered the United States.”

Yet the US business community is not entirely united, analysts say.

“Some see the potential for retaliation the Chinese could take against their commercial or market access issues wholly unrelated to IP” Amy Celico, a former senior director for China at the USTR and currently head of the China team at the consultancy Albright Stonebridge Group, told The Straits Times.

“But other industries feel they are facing an existential threat to their ability to operate in the Chinese market and they agree that something has to happen, the administration has to stand up to China on unfair trade practices.”

Mr Trump told journalists at a brief event where he signed the memo “Washington will turn a blind eye no longer.”

“I’m directing the United States Trade Representative to examine China’s policies, practices, and actions with regard to the forced transfers of American technology and the theft of American intellectual property.”

“We will stand up to any country that unlawfully forces American companies to transfer their valuable technology as a condition of market access. We will combat the counterfeiting and piracy that destroys American jobs, we will enforce the rules of fair and reciprocal trade that form the foundation of responsible commerce” he said.

Left unsaid was the question of North Korea. The US has been pressing Beijing which accounts for some 90 per cent of North Korea’s trade, to pull the plug on Pyongyang to force the regime to stop its nuclear missile programme.

On August 11 Mr Trump said “We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China. They know how I feel. It’s not going to continue like that but if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade.”

“Certainly it seems the administration is trying to use every possible tool in dealing with this critical issue of North Korea” Ms Celico said in a phone interview.

“The Chinese have come out quite forcefully as they see it as a stick the administration is using to get China to be more aggressive in dealing with North Korea, and they are disavowing any kind of linkage as destabilising for the bilateral relationship.”

“The problem for President Trump is he’s the one who linked these two issues. Looking into launching an investigation rather than launching an investigation, would seem to be responsive to Chinese pressure.”

Ms Yun Sun, a Fellow at the Stimson Centre in Washington, told The Straits Times: “It’s an investigation at this stage, it could take a year.”

“With the Party Congress coming up President Xi Jinping does not want any major instability in foreign affairs. Also, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are supposed to visit China to pave the way for President Trump’s visit.”

“I think the Chinese will appear to be angry but I don’t see any substantive retaliation on trade” she said.

 

 http://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/trump-sends-tough-signal-to-china-on-unfair-ip-tech-practices

China says N.Korea crisis faces ‘turning point’ — Time for a “less bellicose tone”

August 15, 2017

AFP

© KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/File | China, which is Pyongyang’s main diplomatic ally, has repeatedly called on the United States and North Korea to tone down their bellicose rhetoric in recent day

BEIJING (AFP) – China said Tuesday that the North Korean nuclear crisis had reached a “turning point” and it was time to enter peace talks.

The comments by foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying came as the verbal sparring between the United States and North Korea took a less bellicose tone on Tuesday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said he would hold off on a threatened missile strike near Guam, though he warned the highly provocative move would go ahead in the event of further “reckless actions” by Washington.

Top US officials, meanwhile, said Washington was not interested in regime change in Pyongyang, and South Korean President Moon Jae-In warned that there could be no war without his country’s consent.

“It’s the turning point to make a resolute decision and return to peace talks,” Hua said when asked about Moon’s comments at a regular news briefing.

China, which is Pyongyang’s main diplomatic ally, has repeatedly called on the United States and North Korea to tone down their bellicose rhetoric in recent days.

“We now hope that all the concerned parties, in what they say and what they do, can contribute to extinguishing the fire (of the tense situation), rather than adding fuel to the fire,” Hua said.

Beijing has also pressed for a return of six-nation talks that have been dormant since 2009.

Hua applauded the “positive” article written by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the The Wall Street Journal in which they say that America has “no interest” in regime change in Pyongyang.

“We hope the US can translate this positive statement into concrete DPRK-related policies,” Hua said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name. “At the same time, we call on the DPRK to respond” to the positive statement.

Top U.S. general says committed to working through difficulties with China

August 15, 2017

Reuters

AUGUST 15, 2017 / 5:35 AM

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford reviews a Chinese honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Bayi Building in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. (AP Photo – Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

BEIJING (Reuters) – There are many difficult issues between the United States and China but both share a commitment to work through them, the United States’ top general said on Tuesday during a visit to Beijing amid tension over nuclear-armed North Korea.

“I think we have to be honest. We have many, many difficult issues where we don’t necessarily share the same perspective,” Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army.

“We share a commitment to work through these difficult issues,” he added, without elaborating.

Fang said China attached great important to his visit and had arranged for him to observe a military exercise.

In a later statement, China’s Defence Ministry said the two discussed North Korea, Taiwan and the South China Sea and signed a framework agreement on a China-U.S. military dialogue mechanism, though it gave no details.

Fang said cooperation was the only correct choice for the two countries, and their two militaries could certainly become good cooperative partners, the ministry added.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Gen. Fang Fenghui shake hands after signing an agreement to strengthen communication between the two militaries amid tensions concerning North Korea at the Bayi Building in Beijing, China August 15, 2017.Mark Schiefelbein/Pool

“The Chinese military is willing to make efforts with the U.S. side to strengthen strategic communication, increase strategic mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, appropriately handle problems and disputes and effectively manage and control risks,” the ministry cited Fang as saying.

The United States has called on China to do more to rein in its isolated neighbor North Korea, while China has said it is Washington that needs to be making more efforts to lessen tensions and speak directly to Pyongyang.

 Image may contain: 5 people, people sitting, table and indoor
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, second left, speaks during a meeting with Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of the general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, not shown, at the Bayi Building in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

North Korea’s leader has delayed a decision on firing missiles towards the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam while he watches U.S. actions a little longer, the North’s state media said on Tuesday, as South Korea’s president said Seoul would seek to prevent war by all means.

China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, say they are committed to having a stable military-to-military relationship, but there are deep fault lines.

China has been angered by U.S. freedom of navigation patrols near Chinese-controlled islands in the disputed South China Sea and U.S. arms sales and support for self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as a wayward province.

The United States has expressed concern about what it calls unsafe intercepts of U.S. aircraft by the Chinese air force and a lack of transparency in China’s military spending, China being in the midst of an ambitious military modernization program.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie, Robert Birsel