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Trump tells Israel peace means compromise; U.S. envoy under fire


U.S. President Donald Trump told Israel on Friday that it too would need to make “significant compromises” for peace with the Palestinians, even as they accused one of his Middle East envoys of bogging down diplomacy with what they see as pro-Israel bias. The Palestinians were outraged by Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a move overturning decades of U.S. reticence on the city’s status, and say they are looking at additional world powers as potential mediators. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper that was excerpted ahead of its full publication on Sunday, Trump described his Jerusalem move as a “high point” of his first year in office. The language of Trump’s announcement did not rule out a presence in Jerusalem for the Palestinians, who want the eastern part of the city – captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally – as their own capital.

Congress votes to reopen government, passes budget deal


Congress ended an hourslong federal government shutdown early Friday, sending President Donald Trump a $400 billion budget deal that sharply boosts spending and swells the federal deficit. The White House said Trump would sign the measure Friday morning. The 240-186 vote came in the pre-dawn hours, putting to bed a five-and-a-half hour federal freeze that relatively few would notice. Many who did quickly labeled it a pointless, head-scratching episode. The shutdown was the second in three weeks. The breakdown came largely in the Senate, when after a day of inaction, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky went rogue and stalled a vote in protest over his party’s willingness to bust the budget. But Democrats also had their divisions and wrangling, largely with liberal upset the measure was not tied to any plans to assist the “Dreamer” immigrants.

China’s import roars back to life in January; exports also beat forecasts


China’s trade machine kicked up a gear in January after stumbling the previous month, with exports and imports both growing much more than expected. Exports in January rose 11.1 percent from a year earlier, picking up from a 10.9 percent gain in December, official data showed. Analysts had expected growth to cool for a second straight month to 9.6 percent. Imports surged 36.9 percent, the General Administration of Customs said, the fastest pace since last February and smashing analysts’ forecast of 9.8 percent growth. However, data from China in the first two months of the year must always be treated with caution due to business distortions caused by the timing of the long Lunar New Year holidays. Some of the jump in imports may have been due to inventory building ahead of the holidays rather than a pick-up in consumption, though economists said the data was still positive. China benefited from a global trade boom in 2017. However, while global demand is tipped for another strong year, expectations of growing trade disputes with the United States could weigh on China’s shipments in 2018. President Donald Trump slapped steep tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels last month. China is the world’s biggest solar panel producer. Trump also is considering recommendations on import restrictions for steel and aluminum or other trade sanctions against China over its intellectual property practices. “The uncertainty surrounding Sino-U.S. trade ties remains a key potential downside risk in the near term”, said Betty Wang, senior China economist at ANZ in Hong Kong. Sharp gains in the yuan are also threatening China’s competitiveness, with an official business survey last week suggesting the currency’s appreciation led to a decline in big exporters’ activity last month.

‘Let’s talk’: Japan hopes low-key strategy averts U.S. trade flare-up


Economic talks between the United States and Japan, tackling topics from persimmons and potatoes to energy and infrastructure, have helped keep Tokyo clear of protectionist moves such as those that recently hit Chinese solar panels and South Korean washers. Japan hopes that “let’s talk” approach – plus warm personal ties between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump – will keep friction in check. But officials and lawmakers say the outlook could change if the unpredictable U.S. leader turns his attention to Tokyo’s 7 trillion yen ($63.62 billion)trade surplus ahead of U.S. congressional elections in November. Also efforts to showcase the U.S.-Japan security alliance in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats will probably take precedence over trade when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits Japan from Tuesday, officials on both sides said.

US, Taliban do not want peace


According to the U.S. deputy secretary, John Sullivan, Taliban attack on civilians show that Taliban do not want peace, but war. “Unfortunately, at this stage, everyone but the Taliban appears ready for peace. The Taliban’s reprehensible attacks targeting innocent civilians demonstrate that they are not ready to enter into good faith peace negotiations”, Sullivan said. The U.S. deputy secretary Sullivan who has visited Kabul noted that pressures are ongoing for bringing the Taliban group to the negotiation table and emphasized on an Afghan led-peace process. “Our policy is for continue to – for us to continue to put pressure on the Taliban – military, economic, political – to bring them to the negotiating table where the ultimate resolution will be through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process,” he said. Sullivan said that U.S. seriously asked  Pakistan to end violence, take practical measures and cooperate with the Afghan government. “We have made clear to the Pakistani Government our expectations for them to take action against terrorists that are in sanctuaries in Pakistan to reduce the pressure and the threat of violence in Afghanistan, and to contribute to a lasting and enduring peace in Afghanistan and the region”, he added. Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump said that the group was “killing innocent people left and right so we don’t want to talk with the Taliban. There may be a time but it may be a long time”. The Taliban warned that Trump’s rhetoric would most certainly result in more war and bloodshed.

Manafort had his own people in every Ukrainian ministry


U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had his own people in every ministry in Ukraine. Such conclusions were made by Franklin Foer, a staff writer at The Atlantic, according to His article reveals still unknown things from the biography of the U.S. political consultant. Foer notes that Manafort developed a highly personal relationship with disgraced ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. They often played tennis and visited a bathhouse. Manafort got Yanukovych to wear the same suits as he did and to comb the hair backward as he does. “Manafort taught him how to smile and how to do small talk. And he did it all quietly, from a back seat. He did it very elegantly”, Foer wrote. At the same time, the journalist notes that Manafort has deeply penetrated into the Ukrainian political system. “Paul has a whole separate shadow government structure… In every ministry, he has a guy”, Foer said.

Lebanon: Berri urges ‘boycott’ of Trump administration


Nabih Berri, during the Conference of Islamic Parliaments in support of Jerusalem in Iran, renewed his appeal for the transfer of the Islamic embassies from Washington and for the boycott to the administration of President Donald Trump until the latter cancels the controversial recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also called for the closure of all Israeli embassies in Arab and Islamic capitals and the annulment of the Oslo peace accords, which form the basis of relations between Palestinians and Israel Negotiations for a peace process in the words of Berri they should remain firm until there is a clear announcement that blocks the settlement process.

Xi Jinping calls on Donald Trump to revive economic dialogue programme


In their first phone conversation this year Chinese President Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump to resume talks to improve economic ties between the two nations, both countries should take “constructive measures” to open their markets to each other and “broaden cooperation” to address their trade and economic issues.
The request arrives while tensions rise over the huge imbalance in Sino-US trade.
China’s trade surplus with the US in fact grew to a record US$275.8 billion in 2017, counter to Trump’s goal of narrowing the US trade deficit with China.

 Russia, China Must ‘Work Together’ to Avoid DPRK ‘Time Bomb’ Say, Experts


Beijing government advisors observe that the risk of war on the Korean peninsula is at its highest point in decades. Senior government advisers and military officers warned Beijing on Saturday that the escalation of the war of words between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un indicates that China must remain on high alert for war on the Korean peninsula, as the risk of conflict has never been greater. “North Korea is a time bomb”, detailed China’s executive-level State Council cabinet advisor Shi Yinhong during a Beijing conference on the Korean crisis. “We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator”, said Shi, a Renmin University international relations professor, cited by the South China Morning Post (SCMP). Chinese government advisor Shi agreed with Tillerson’s observation, noting that any hope for peace cannot rest with Kim and Trump, and pointing out that China and Russia must work together to convince Pyongyang and its adversaries in the west to stand down from their aggressive military footing.

Flynn Admits to Lying, Says Trump Team Knew of His Russia Talks


Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents and is providing cooperation that promises to take Special Counsel Robert Mueller deep into Donald Trump’s administration. Speaking in court as part of his plea agreement, Flynn, 58, said Trump’s team asked him to make contact with Russians and that he told the incoming administration what he was doing. Flynn called a senior official from the transition team for guidance before talking to the Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. and then reported back to the transition team after the call. The plea is a major step for Mueller’s quickly advancing investigation. Mueller has already charged Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy over their earlier business activities, as well as a guilty plea from George Papadopoulos, a campaign adviser who pursued Russia’s help during last year’s election. Papadopoulos is cooperating with the probe.

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