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

in AMERICAS/POLITICS by

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.

North Korea says no U.S. talks planned at Olympics, Pence vows continued pressure

in ASIA/POLITICS by

North Korea says it has no intention of meeting U.S. officials during the Winter Olympics that start in South Korea on Friday turning off hopes the Games will help resolve a tense standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons program. However, the North’s high-ranking delegation, including the younger sister of its leader Kim Jong Un, will meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in and have lunch with him on Saturday.

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

in AMERICAS/ECONOMY/ENERGY/POLITICS by

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.

Japan seeking policy talks with China before leaders’ visits

in ASIA/POLITICS by

Japan is proposing fresh dialogue with China in several specific fields to prepare for the potential resumption of reciprocal leaders’ visits. It is a significant thaw in Japan-China relations, that are showing signs of improvement: Neither Abe nor Xi has held talks in the format of an official visit to the other’s country since they both took office in 2012. Frameworks will concern the climate change and how best to reduce emissions; the nuclear disarmament to reduce tensions over the fundamental difference in their position (Japan is sheltered by the U.S. “nuclear umbrella”, while China has its own nuclear arsenal); the common ground about counterterrorism.

Trump rejects peace talks with Taliban in departure from Afghan strategy

in AMERICAS/POLITICS by

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday rejected the idea of talks with the Taliban after a series of deadly attacks in Afghanistan, in an apparent contradiction of his own strategy to end America’s longest foreign war. Trump condemned the militant group for the carnage in Kabul and pledged to “finish what we have to finish”. Trump’s comments suggest he sees a military victory over the Taliban, an outcome that military and diplomatic officials say cannot be achieved with the resources and manpower he has authorized. When he announced an increase in U.S. troops to Afghanistan in August, U.S. officials said the goal was to force the Taliban to negotiate a political settlement.

Manafort had his own people in every Ukrainian ministry

in EUROPE/POLITICS by

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 hromadske.ua 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.

North Korea condemns latest U.S. sanctions

in ASIA/DEFENCE by

North Korea condemned the latest U.S. sanctions announced this week aimed at curbing the Nation’s development nuclear weapons. A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said the U.S. sanctions are “a manifestation of atrocious intention to throw a wet blanket over the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation and to aggravate the situation” and that the United States should stop such “anachronistic” policy towards North Korea.

Desperate scream of Half-Witted Dotard

in ASIA/POLITICS by

The official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Rodong Sinmun, said that recently Trump, who is crazy about the hostile policy toward the DPRK, tweeted that he has a “big and strong nuclear button”. Trump’s bluff is regarded by the DPRK as just a spasm of a lunatic frightened by the might of Juche Korea and a bark of a rabid dog. Experts on the Korean issue said that it is not fitting for the president to put the dangerous and serious issue like a nuclear war on twitter and it is an irresponsible behavior leading the situation to the brink of a war. The U.S. shouldn’t doubt even a bit the DPRK’s nuclear deterrent bolstered to settle the showdown with the U.S. but behave with prudence.

Trump looking to stop sending weapons to Syrian Kurdish fighters

in AMERICAS/PRESS RELEASE/REGIONS by

Trump makes surprise deal. Turkish leaders said Monday they fully expect the United States to follow through on president Donald Trump’s surprise pledge last week to stop sending weapons to Syrian Kurdish fighters. American support might not matter all that much to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, as some of the group’s leaders say they would be willing to join forces with the Syrian government if their demands for a federal state in the north are granted by Damascus. It’s unclear what Syria’s allies in Iran or Russia think of that plan, as they’re working with Turkey to forge some sort of settlement to the fighting. Either way, trouble lies ahead. In a region awash in weapons, the Kurds will likely find ways to keep the flow of weapons coming. FP’s Paul McLeary visited a U.S.-run training camp for the SDF in northern Syria earlier this year, where the Kurds said they fully expected to have to fight the Turks once they expelled the Islamic State from their country.

According to U.S Ambassador Volker the meeting with Surkov on Donbas was a “step back”

in EUROPE/PRESS RELEASE/REGIONS by

U.S. Ambassador Kurt Volker, the Trump administration’s special envoy charged with ending the war in Ukraine, says that his recent meeting with Vladislav Surkov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Belgrade on November 13 on a UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas, was a “step back,” according to the U.S. edition of the POLITICO magazine. “Our third meeting was a step back,” Volker told POLITICO. “They went back to their original proposal again. I don’t know what the next step after this is. It could be that that happened for completely other reasons having nothing to do with Ukraine, just where we are in our U.S.-Russian relationship. It could have had to do with the lack of a bilateral meeting between President Putin and President Trump.” Volker recalled that Moscow had proposed deploying a UN mission to protect OSCE monitors in Donbas. Washington, in turn, said that peacekeepers should monitor the ceasefire throughout the entire area – from the contact line to the Ukrainian-Russian border stretch between Russia and the self-proclaimed republics.

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