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TEHRAN, Iran, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) - Iran says if President Donald Trump wants to negotiate after pulling the United States out of the international deal meant to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, he'll have to make the call.

Monday's remarks by Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi came after Trump last week said that with the United States increasing sanctions on Iran, "at a certain point they're going to call me and say 'let's make a deal,' and we'll make a deal."

Ghasemi says, however, "maybe someday he will call Tehran and ask for negotiations - this is more likely."

If Trump calls, it's not clear whether anyone will answer, with Iran's top leadership rejecting talks with the US.

Other nations in the deal are negotiating with Iran to try and make it work without Washington.

BEIJING, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) - EU leaders and top diplomats urged US President Donald Trump to protect the world order at his summit on Monday with Vladimir Putin and dismissed his assertion that Europe was a US trade foe.

Trump triggered fresh concerns from European Council President Donald Tusk at an EU-China summit in Beijing, and from EU foreign ministers in Brussels, one of whom urged the US president to stand up for non-EU Ukraine and Georgia against Russia.

Trump said the European Union was a foe in trade while also calling Russia and China foes in some respects, before his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

"America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news," Tusk tweeted late Sunday from Beijing, without naming Trump directly.

Trump often uses the term "fake news" when he disagrees with news reports.

"Europe and China, America and Russia, today in Beijing and in Helsinki, are jointly responsible for improving the world order, not for destroying it," Tusk said in a separate tweet.

"I hope this message reaches Helsinki," the former Polish premier added.

Tusk echoed broader fears that Trump is tearing down the post World War II order in which the United States built a system of alliances and rules to advance peace and prosperity.

Trump told CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday that "I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade," adding Russia was also an enemy in some respects and that China was an economic foe.

The Trump administration has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Europe as well as on products from Mexico, Canada and China, sparking retaliation and fears of a global trade war.

Tusk warned in Beijing that trade tensions could spiral into a "hot conflict."

The Financial Times reported meanwhile that the Trump administration has rejected an EU call for an exemption from fresh US sanctions on companies operating in Iran.

The EU opposed Trump's decision to scrap a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions and go ahead with new sanctions on firms doing business with Tehran.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini repeated remarks that a change in US administration does not mean a change in friendship, adding Europe will always "be close friends and partners" with Washington.

But Mogherini, speaking to reporters upon arriving for talks with EU foreign ministers, said Europe has many other friends in the world, citing in particular Japan, with which it is signing a massive trade deal on Tuesday.

"It seems the whole world is his enemy," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian told reporters, adding Trump's remarks should be taken with a grain of salt.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders urged Trump to stand up for Ukraine and Georgia, countries on Europe's periphery where Russia has either invaded or backed break-away pro-Moscow rebels against the central government.

"It is very important to us to reaffirm our solidarity with the Ukraine and Georgia, the sovereignty of these two countries, the territorial integrity," he said.

During last week's summit in Brussels, Trump fuelled fears again about his commitment to NATO when he denounced European allies for falling short on spending pledges for the alliance.

In the run-up to the NATO summit, Tusk delivered a blunt message to Trump to appreciate his European allies, adding Washington does not have many others.

HELSINKI, July 16, 2018 (Reuters) - Hours before he was due to sit down for his first ever summit with Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump blamed “US foolishness” for bad relations between Washington and Moscow, while the Kremlin said it expected a tough meeting.

Trump’s comments show how much domestic political pressure he is under over the meeting in the Finnish capital Helsinki, while the Kremlin’s low expectations reflect its belief that the fact the summit is even happening is a Russian win.

Critics and his own advisers have urged Trump to use the summit to press Putin hard about election meddling and other “malign” activities. But hours before he was due to meet the Russian president, Trump focused his ire on his own country and the investigation into possible links between his 2016 campaign and Russia. The president has denied any collusion took place.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of US foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” wrote Trump on Twitter, referring to the investigation into possible collusion.

During a breakfast meeting with Finland’s president before the meeting with Putin in the Finnish capital, Trump appeared upbeat. Asked what he would say to Putin, Trump said: “We’ll do just fine, thank you.”

Trump and his wife Melania returned to their hotel after the breakfast and were expected to remain there for a few hours before the afternoon summit. Putin was due in Helsinki around lunch time.

The two leaders will first meet one-on-one with only their interpreters, followed by a working lunch accompanied by advisers, and a joint news conference.

While Trump has been abroad since last week, the special prosecutor investigating allegations that Russia interfered to help him win the 2016 presidential election indicted 12 Russians on Friday for stealing Democratic Party documents.

Trump’s foes at home have been scathing about his apparent refusal to criticise Putin. His 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?”

Neither side expects major breakthroughs from the talks and the outcome is uncertain given sharp differences between Washington and Moscow over everything from Syria to Ukraine.

For Putin, the fact that the summit is even happening despite Russia’s semi-pariah status among some Americans and US allies is a geopolitical win because, in Russian eyes, it shows that Washington recognises Moscow as a great power that cannot be isolated or ignored.

The Kremlin made clear beforehand it did not expect an easy meeting, taking Trump to task over his criticism of a planned Russian gas pipeline to Germany and suggesting it would be hard to find common ground on Syria because of differences over Iran.

Russia hoped however that the summit would be “the first step” in overcoming a crisis in relations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s RT TV station. “Presidents Trump and Putin respect each other and they get along well. There is no clear agenda. It will be determined by the heads of state themselves as they go along.”

Trump wants Russia to help Moscow to use its influence in Syria, where it is backing President Bashar al-Assad militarily, to push Iranian and Iranian-allied forces out.

“Of course Syria will be discussed by the two presidents,” said Peskov. “We all know what Washington thinks of Iran. But at the same time Iran is a good partner to us in terms of trade, economic cooperation and political dialogue. So this will not be an easy exchange of views.”

Trump has predicted he will be accused of being too soft on Putin no matter how the summit goes.

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

He has said he will raise the issue of Russian election meddling, but does not expect to get anywhere.

Beyond warm words, the summit could yield an agreement to begin repairing battered US-Russia relations, and maybe a deal to start talks on issues such as nuclear arms control and Syria.

The Helsinki summit is the capstone to a nearly week-long trip for Trump during which he has sown doubts about his commitment to the NATO military alliance, Washington’s so-called special relationship with Britain and US relations with the European Union that he called “a foe” on trade.

BRUSSELS, July 12, 2018 (News Wires) — President Donald Trump renewed his pressure tactics on fellow NATO nations to increase their defence spending on Thursday, hammering US allies on Twitter as he attended a second day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance.

Trump, in a series of tweets from Brussels, said that, "Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia."

He complained the United States "pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidise Europe" and demanded that member nations meet their pledge to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence, which "must ultimately go to 4 Per cent!"

Trump has taken an aggressive tone during the NATO summit, questioning the value of an alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy, torching an ally and proposing a massive increase in European defence spending.

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia's Vladimir Putin, Trump on Wednesday turned a harsh spotlight on Germany's own ties to Russia, alleging that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel's government "totally controlled" and "captive" to Russia.

He continued the attack on Thursday, complaining that, "Germany just started paying Russia, the country they want protection from, Billions of Dollars for their Energy needs coming out of a new pipeline from Russia."

"Not acceptable!" he railed before arriving late at NATO headquarters for a morning of meetings that will include talks with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Romania, Ukraine and Georgia. In the afternoon, he heads to his next stop: the United Kingdom.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, echoed Trump's rhetoric, telling Fox Business Network that "Germany is a tremendous problem, both for Europe itself, and for the United States in this sense."

"What's more surprising, the fact that the President Trump is calling them out on that or that previous presidents haven't?" he asked. "It's really extraordinary that Donald Trump has to be the person to point out that the emperor in Europe has no clothes."

The tough rhetoric against a core ally comes just days before Trump is set to meet one-on-one with Putin in Finland.

With scorching language, Trump questioned the necessity of the alliance that formed a bulwark against Soviet aggression, tweeting after a day of contentious meetings: "What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?"

During the meetings, he demanded via tweet that NATO countries "Must pay 2 per cent of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025" and then rattled them further by privately suggesting member nations should spend 4 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence — a bigger share than even the United States currently pays, according to NATO statistics.

It was the most recent in a series of demands and insults that critics fear will undermine a decades-old alliance launched to counterbalance Soviet aggressions. And it comes just days before Trump sits down with Putin at the conclusion of his closely watched European trip.

Trump has spent weeks berating members of the alliance for failing to spend enough of their money on defence, accusing Europe of freeloading off the US and raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defence if they were ever attacked.

He described the current situation as "disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States."


From Brussels, Trump heads to England, where May's government is in turmoil over her plans for exiting the European Union.

Although administration officials point to the long-standing alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom, Trump's itinerary will largely keep him out of central London, where significant protests are expected.

Instead, a series of events — a black-tie dinner with business leaders, a meeting with May and an audience with Queen Elizabeth II — will happen outside the bustling city, where Mayor Sadiq Khan has been in a verbal battle with Trump.

Woody Johnson, the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, dismissed the significance of the protests, telling Fox News that one of the reasons the two countries are so close "is because we have the freedoms that we've all fought for. And one of the freedoms we have is freedom of speech and the freedom to express your views. And I know that's valued very highly over here and people can disagree strongly and still go out to dinner."

He also said that meeting the queen would be an experience that Trump "will really cherish."

BRUSSELS, July 11, 2018 (News Wires) - Chancellor Angela Merkel recalled her own youth in Soviet-dominated East Germany and said Germany was independent in its policy choices in a pointed response to US President Donald Trump saying Berlin was “totally controlled by Russia”.

Three hours after Trump’s startling tirade over German imports of Russian gas and its slowness to increase defence spending, Merkel told reporters on arrival at a NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday: “I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union.

“I am very happy that today we are united in freedom, the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions. That is very good, especially for people in eastern Germany.”

She also defended Germany’s contribution to an alliance which Trump says has placed too much burden on the US taxpayer: “Germany does a lot for NATO,” she said.

“Germany is the second largest provider of troops, the largest part of our military capacity is offered to NATO and until today we have a strong engagement towards Afghanistan. In that we also defend the interests of the United States.”

 

 

BRUSSELS, July 11, 2018 (News Wires) - In a combative start to his NATO visit, President Donald Trump asserted Wednesday that a pipeline project has made Germany “totally controlled” by and “captive to Russia” and blasted allies’ defence spending, opening what was expected to be a fraught summit with a list of grievances involving American allies.

Trump, in a testy exchange with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, took issue with the US protecting Germany as it strikes deals with Russia.

“I have to say, I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia,” Trump said at breakfast with Stoltenberg. “We’re supposed to protect you against Russia but they’re paying billions of dollars to Russia and I think that’s very inappropriate.”

The president appeared to be referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would bring gas from Russia to Germany’s northeastern Baltic coast, bypassing Eastern European nations like Poland and Ukraine and doubling the amount of gas Russia can send directly to Germany.

The vast undersea pipeline is opposed by the US and some other EU members, who warn it could give Moscow greater leverage over Western Europe.

Trump said “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia” and urged NATO to look into the issue.

Stoltenberg pushed back, stressing that NATO members have been able to work together despite their differences.

It was an unusual criticism coming from Trump, who has appeared eager to cozy up to Putin and who has dismissed the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia tried to
undermine Western democracy by meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Trump win. During the campaign, Trump often resorted to the tactic of falsely accusing his
opponents of things he had been criticised for doing.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced hours after the tit-for-tat over Germany that Trump would meet later Wednesday with Merkel, as well as with French

President Emmanuel Macron. Journalists will not be allowed to cover either meeting, she said.

The dramatic exchange set the tone for what was already expected to be a tense day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance. Trump is expected to continue hammering
jittery NATO allies about their military spending during the summit, which comes amid increasingly frayed relations between the “America first” president and the United States’
closest traditional allies.

“The United States is paying far too much and other countries are not paying enough, especially some. So we’re going to have a meeting on that,” Trump said as he arrived at the
breakfast, describing the situation as “disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States and we’re going to make it fair.”

“They will spend more,” he later predicted. “I have great confidence they’ll be spending more.”

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