EU Calls for Peace among US, China and Russia to Ease Global Tensions

The European Union on Monday urged the United States, China and Russia to work together to ease worsening global trade tensions, warning that they could otherwise spiral into “conflict and chaos”.

The comments from EU Council President Donald Tusk come as Washington and Beijing stand on the brink of a trade war which many fear could hammer the global economy, while the US has also picked fights with allies in Europe and Canada.

“It is the common duty of Europe and China, but also America and Russia, not to destroy (the global trade order) but to improve it, not to start trade wars which turned into hot conflicts so often in our history,” Tusk said in Beijing.

“There is still time to prevent conflict and chaos.”

Tusk spoke at an annual EU-China summit held Monday against the backdrop of the deepening trade discord.

The EU — the world’s biggest single market with 28 countries and 500 million people — is trying to buttress alliances in the face of the protectionism unleashed by US President Donald Trump’s “America First” administration.

The meeting between Chinese and European officials in Beijing, which also included European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, came as Trump prepared to hold talks in Helsinki with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Trump fuelled the rising rancour in a interview aired Sunday in which he labelled the EU, Russia and China as “foes” of the United States.

– ‘Multilateralism under attack’ –

Tusk said the world needs trade reform and not confrontation.

“This is why I am calling on our Chinese hosts, but also on Presidents Trump and Putin, to jointly start this process from a thorough reform of the WTO (World Trade Organization),” Tusk said, without specifying the reforms.

“Today we are facing a dilemma: whether to play a tough game, such as tariff wars and conflict in places like Ukraine and Syria, or to look for common solutions based on fair rules,” Tusk said.

In a meeting later with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Juncker said that “multilateralism is under attack, an attack unprecedented since the end of World War II.”

“We cannot accept that through unilateral attacks, the multilateral system should be damaged,” he said, also stressing the need for WTO reform.

French President Emmanuel Macron had called in late May for talks on overhauling the WTO at a time when European companies were bracing for punishing US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports that ultimately went into effect on June 1.

Besides the steel and aluminium tariffs on the EU, Russia and major US trading partners, Trump earlier this month implemented tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports, drawing a tit-for-tat response from Beijing.

Washington last week threatened yet more measures on another $200 billion in Chinese goods.

Beijing has said it would retaliate for that, and on Monday the Commerce Ministry said it had added the $200 billion tariff threat to existing WTO complaints which it has lodged against Washington.

The back-and-forth has heightened fears that trading powers will hunker down into a destructive all-out trade war that could hit global growth.

China said on Monday that its economic growth rate had slowed slightly to 6.7 percent in the second quarter of this year, from 6.8 percent the previous quarter, and a government spokesman warned that a trade conflict threatens all the countries concerned.

“The China-US trade friction unilaterally provoked by the United States will have an impact on the Chinese and US economies,” said Mao Shengyong, a spokesman for the national statistics bureau.

“Now that the world economy is deeply integrated, industrial chains have become globalised, and many related countries also will feel an impact.”

Iran Refuses To Give Into Pressure From US

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has agian blasted US President Doald Trump saying the country will not give into his pressures.

Rouhani, in a speech broadcast live on state television, said Trump’s action on the international deal was “appalling and illegal” and had hurt America’s global reputation.

Rouhani said Iran maintained the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

Recall that Trump on May 8, withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, unravelling the signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor Barack Obama, isolating the U. S. from its Western allies and sowing uncertainty before a risky nuclear negotiation with North Korea.

The decision, while long anticipated and widely telegraphed, leaves the 2015 agreement reached by seven countries after more than two years of gruelling negotiations in tatters.

The U.S. reimposed the stringent sanctions it imposed on Iran before the deal and is considering new penalties.

Iran said it will remain in the deal, which tightly restricted its nuclear ambitions for a decade or more
in return for ending the sanctions that had crippled its economy.

So did France, Germany and Britain, raising the prospect of a trans-Atlantic clash as European companies face the return of American sanctions for doing business with Iran.

China and Russia, also signatories to the deal, are likely to join Iran in accusing the U.S. of violating the accord.

Trump’s move could embolden hard-line forces in Iran, raising the threat of Iranian retaliation against Israel or the United States, fueling an arms race in the Middle East and fanning sectarian conflicts from Syria to Yemen.

The president, however, framed his decision as the fulfilment of a bedrock campaign promise and as the act of a dealmaker dissolving a fatally flawed agreement.

He predicted his tough line with Iran would strengthen his hand as he prepared to meet North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to begin negotiating the surrender of his nuclear arsenal.

Trump’s announcement drew a chorus of opposition from European leaders, several of whom lobbied him feverishly not to pull out of the agreement and searched for fixes to it that would satisfy him.

It also drew a rare public rebuke by Obama, who said Trump’s withdrawal would leave the world less safe, confronting it with “a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle
East.”

China Expresses Regrets Over U.S Decision

China has expressed regret over the U.S decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council saying the image of the United State as a defender of rights was “on the verge of collapse”.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, announced the decision to pull out of the Council on Tuesday over what she said was a chronic bias against Israel and a lack of reform. Rights groups have criticised the decision as sending a message that the U.S. was turning a blind eye to abuses across the world.

According to Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, China expresses regret at the U.S. decision to withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“China will continue working with all sides to make its contribution to the healthy development of human rights around the world via constructive dialogue and cooperation,” Geng said.

Asked about U.S. criticism of China’s rights record, Geng said the U.S. was ignoring the facts and that anyone, who was without prejudice, could see the enormous progress China had made on rights.

The official publication of China’s top anti-graft watchdog said in a commentary the U.S. decision to leave the council “has put the American peoples’ boastful image of being a defender of human rights on the verge of collapse’’.

“The separation of immigrant families on the U.S.-Mexico border showed the hypocrisy of the U.S. and that it cannot and should not criticise other countries’ rights record,’’ it said.

Human rights have long been a source of tension between the world’s two largest economies, especially since 1989 when the U.S. imposed sanctions on China after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

A report says China regularly rejects criticism of its human rights record and points to its success at lifting millions out of poverty.

However, the ruling Communist Party brooks no political dissent and since President Xi Jinping took office, dozens of rights lawyers and activists have been arrested or jailed in a crackdown that activists say is worse than any in decades.

Beijing also releases an annual report, lambasting the U.S. for its rights problems, invariably citing racism, political standards and gun violence.

China Calls For Sanctions Relief

China has revealed that sanctions relief could be considered for North Korea. China signed up for increasingly tough UN sanctions against its isolated neighbour following Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear and missile tests but has always said sanctions should be accompanied by talks for a political resolution.

China is North Korea’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, despite its anger at Pyongyang’s saber rattling.

China’s call for sanctions relief came after the U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Speaking in Beijing following Trump and Kim’s signing of a joint statement at the end of their historic summit in Singapore, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated that China has always strictly abided by all UN resolutions on North Korea.

“The UN Security Council resolutions that have been passed say that if North Korea respects and acts in accordance with the resolutions, then sanction measures can be adjusted, including to pause or remove the relevant sanctions,” Geng told a daily news conference.

“China has consistently held that sanctions are not the goal in themselves.

“The Security Councils actions should support and conform to the efforts of current diplomatic talks towards denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and promote a political solution for the peninsula.”

Beijing has key strategic interests when it comes to North Korea, and has long feared that a collapse of its isolated neighbour could push waves of refugees into northeastern China, or that nuclear war on the Korean peninsula could contaminate swathes of the country.

North Korea also serves as a valuable buffer state between China and U.S. forces in South Korea.

Speaking earlier in the day also in Beijing, the Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said China hoped the U. S. and North Korea can reach agreement on a peace deal.

“We hope that the two countries’ highest leaders can dispel interference, establish mutual trust, overcome difficulties and can reach a basic consensus on promoting and achieving the denuclearization of the peninsula and promoting and establishing a peace mechanism for the peninsula,” Wang told newsmen.

“Of course, we are willing to see all relevant sides making positive efforts on this. China will continue to play our constructive role,” he added.

Wang said China views the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue as a security issue, and what is most important is for the U. S. and North Korea to sit down to find a way to resolve their problems.

“At the same time, there needs to be a peace mechanism for the peninsula, to resolve North Korea’s reasonable security concerns.

“I think nobody can doubt the extremely unique and important role China has played. And this role will continue.”

The 1950 to 1953 Korean War ended with an armistice and a state of war still technically exists between the two Koreas.

Lasting peace has obvious benefits for China, especially in bolstering the development of its rust-belt and landlocked northeast which borders North Korea and would suffer in the even of conflict.

Iran Warns North Korea Aginst Accepting Nuclear Deal

Iran has warned North Korea against accepting any nuclear deal with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Iran’s government spokesman, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, was quoted as saying by IRNA new agency;

“We don’t know what type of person the North Korean leader is negotiating with.

“We are facing a man who revokes his signature while abroad.

“It is not clear that he would not cancel the agreement before returning back home,”

Trump pulled the U.S. out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran on May 9, calling it deeply flawed and re-imposing unilateral sanctions.

Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, signed a joint statement on Tuesday, pledging to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula while Washington committed to providing security guarantees for its old enemy.

The joint statement signed at the end of their historic summit in Singapore gave few details on how either goal would be achieved but Trump fleshed out some details at a news conference.

“President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” said the statement.

He also said Kim had told him North Korea was destroying a major engine-testing site used for missiles, but maintained international sanctions on Pyongyang would stay in place for now.

Trump said joint military exercises with South Korea would be halted. He said the move would save Washington a tremendous amount of money and would not be revived “unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should”.

NAN reports that Trump going against advice from European allies, he said he would reimpose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

In response, Iran said it was preparing to restart uranium enrichment, key for making both nuclear energy and weapons.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said: “The U.S. has announced that it doesn’t respect its commitments.

“I have ordered the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran to be ready for action if needed, so that if necessary we can resume our enrichment on an industrial level without any limitations.”

He said he would “wait a few weeks” to speak to allies and the other signatories to the nuclear deal first.

“If we achieve the deal’s goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place,” he said.

US Fears Rumored Sonic Weapons Resurface

A US health alert issued for China over a mysterious illness has revived fears of a rumoured sonic weapon that first surfaced after a scare involving American diplomats and their families in Cuba two years ago.

Staff who fell ill after hearing strange sounds are being examined by doctors at a consulate in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, with several evacuated to the US and at least one diagnosed with brain trauma.

The new cases eerily echo the odd noises and subsequent illnesses suffered by 24 US diplomats evacuated from Cuba since 2016, deepening a baffling medical enigma.

But the incident also poses a diplomatic conundrum — how to respond to what some fear may be a deliberate attack against Americans by shadowy foes on Chinese soil.

According to a New York Times report, US officials have privately raised questions about whether China, or Russia, might have separately or in tandem targeted the diplomats.

Washington has so far taken care not to implicate Beijing, which has told US officials it is investigating the incident.

“Until they are certain of the cause, it seems premature to make accusations,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “I don’t think the US is calling it an ‘attack’.”

It is in stark contrast to the US handling of the Cuba case, when the State Department lashed out at Havana for failing to protect its diplomats.

Washington expelled 15 Cuban diplomats, arguing the authoritarian state must have either carried out the assaults or known who was behind them. President Donald Trump said he held Cuba responsible, although Havana denied any involvement.

There are clear reasons for the US to avoid rocking the boat so readily this time.

As a rising superpower, Beijing possesses significantly greater clout than impoverished Havana, with the cases coming at a precarious moment in US-China relations.

Ongoing talks to avoid a full-blown trade war are balanced on a knife edge, and Beijing’s cooperation is likely to be key if hopes for North Korea’s denuclearisation ahead of next week’s summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un are to be realised.

– Many theories, no proof –

Still lacking proof to support allegations against Cuba, US officials could also be facing up to claims there were no “sonic attacks” after all.

Although the American victims heard strange noises — described as static or the sound of metal sheets waving — studies have cast doubt on the “acoustic weapon” hypothesis.

A University of Pennsylvania team examined 21 affected staff from the Cuba embassy, and found they suffered symptoms typical of concussion such as headaches and memory loss.

“There is no known mechanism for audible sound to injure the brain,” said study author Douglas Smith. “We are pretty certain that it was not the sound itself that caused the injury.”

A Canadian investigation into similar illnesses among its own diplomats in Cuba in April said a sonic attack was “now considered unlikely”, while FBI agents sent to Havana reportedly found no evidence to support the theory.

This has not stopped speculation about other possible weapons potentially using microwaves, infrasound or ultrasound, despite technical difficulties in projecting these types of energy over long distances and through structures.

A University of Michigan study in March posed an alternative theory, suggesting the illnesses could be caused by bugging or surveillance jamming devices.

The study showed ultrasonic signals from such devices could clash with each other to create the strange sounds heard by diplomats.

Importantly, this theory would suggest there was no malicious intent — and even that the US’s own equipment could be the cause.

Others have claimed the illness may simply be psychological and dismissed the whole affair as mass hysteria.

– China sceptical –

In China, analysts have queried the absence of a suitable motive for an attack.

“If the Chinese government did it, then why?” said Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University. “Is it happy to drive the diplomats out of China? I can’t see the reason behind it.”

“The Chinese government will not express its dissatisfaction with the US in this way,” added Wu Xinbo, a US politics expert at Fudan University.

“I think the whole event is nonsense.”

The Iranian Nation Will Resist Against The U.S. Plots- Rouhani

President Hassan Rouhani has revealed that Iran will not surrender to U.S. pressures.

“They think they can make the Iranian nation surrender by putting pressures on Iran, by sanctions and even threats of war…
“The Iranian nation will resist against the U.S. plots,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

Rouhani’s statement comes a day after Washington imposed new sanctions on following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran also said that new sanctions imposed on it by Washington were an attempt to derail efforts to save the 2015 nuclear deal by its remaining signatories following the U.S. withdrawal from the accord.

The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Iran’s central bank governor, three other individuals and an Iraq-based bank, a week after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal Iran signed with world powers to curb its nuclear program.
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Iran has described the sanctions as illegal and has warned that if talks to rescue the accord fail, it would ramp up its nuclear program to a level more advanced than before.

“With such destructive measures, the American government is trying to influence the will and decision of the remaining signatories of the JCPOA (nuclear agreement),” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

British, French and German foreign ministers met in Brussels on Tuesday to see how they can save the nuclear deal without the U. S., but appeared hard-pressed over how their companies could continue doing business with Iran once Washington begins to reimpose sanctions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif said the meeting had been a good start, but he wanted to see guarantees materialize.

European powers on Monday vowed to keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive without the U. S. by trying to keep Iran’s oil and investment flowing, but admitted they would struggle to provide the guarantees Tehran seeks.

The deal between Iran and six world powers lifted most international sanctions in 2016 in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme, under strict surveillance by the UN nuclear watchdog.

On May 8, President Donald Trump abandoned the pact he branded “the worst deal ever” and reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran.

South Sudan Begs Not To Be Abandoned By US

South Sudan’s government on Wednesday has begged the U. S. not to “abandon” the country after Washington said it would review its assistance programmes because it could not continue a partnership with leaders perpetuating “endless war”.

“We are asking the U. S. not to abandon this country (South Sudan) because we need them … their role to assist the population of South Sudan is crucial and cannot be ignored”, said foreign affairs ministry spokesman Mawien Ariik.

The U. S. is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan, which has been in the throes of a civil war since late 2013 that has displaced around a third of the 12 million-strong population and killed tens of thousands of people.

In a sharply worded statement on Tuesday the White House said the United States was a “proud and hopeful supporter” of South Sudan when it gained independence in 2011.

“Seven years later, the leaders of this country have squandered this partnership … killed their own people, and repeatedly demonstrated their inability and unwillingness to live up to their commitments to end the country’s civil war.”

The U.S. funding provides aid to millions of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda and lifesaving assistance such as food to people still inside the war-torn country.

Washington’s statement says the U. S. is committed to saving lives but does not want its assistance to “prolong the conflict” or facilitate corrupt behavior by elites.

Production in some of South Sudan’s oil fields has been shut down due to the conflict, but the government says around 130,000 barrels per day of oil are being produced.

Juba spends well more than half its budget on weapons and paying soldiers, according to UN experts.

Washington should “reconsider whatever harsh matter they are taking against this country”, Ariik told Reuters.

The government led by President Salva Kiir is fighting a war with a number of rebel groups, some of them loyal to former vice president Riek Machar, who is under house arrest in South Africa.

The warring parties signed a ceasefire in December in the Ethiopian capital, but it was violated within hours.
A new round of talks is scheduled to begin o May 26 after delays, but there is little hope among diplomats it will end the war.

“The Government of South Sudan has lost credibility, and the U. S. is losing patience,” the White House declared.

Buhari’s US Speech Is Rice Without Stew By Fredrick Nwabufo

I listened to the speech of President Muhammadu Buhari in the quaking consciousness of an Arsenal Football Club fan. Every football aficionado knows that the club has not been performing “exceptionally” lately.

Before Buhari, US President Donald Trump spoke. He gave a debilitating smirk when he talked about the “killing of Christians and burning of churches in Nigeria”.  He said: “This is horrible; we cannot allow this to happen.”

I was expecting Buhari to address this aspect of Trump’s speech with gravitas. But I was served rice without stew. All words no point. I was disappointed that the president showed his default lack of spunk and alacrity on the killings in the country in the speech.

I was expecting him to at least – in one sentence – state the measure his government was taking to address the problem. But he divagated to blaming the herdsmen killings on the crisis in the Middle East again.

Also, Buhari donated generous paragraphs in his speech to “thanking and congratulating” Trump. He appeared subdued; like he was in the house of a benefactor. I had expected him to show his “presidential stamina”.  But, perhaps, the Trump factor trumped him.

By the way, President Buhari said Nigeria is a secular state. Is this a fact? A secular state when the government spends billions of naira annually on pilgrimages for both Christians and Muslims? A secular state when religion is exalted above the constitution and all known laws?

Well, maybe I expected too much from President Buhari’s speech being his first at the White House under Trump. His speech was at best vapid and tepid.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Calls On Muslim Nations To Unite Against US

There is great tension between Iran and the United States and the recent call by Supreme leader Khamenei might have just poured fuel in the fire.

Recall that Iranian president Hassan Rouhani blasted US president Donald Trump dismissing him as a businessman who have no idea about international matters.

Rouhani spoke after French President Emmanuel Macron flew to Washington to try to persuade Trump not to scrap the 2015 agreement – under which Iran curbed its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.

“They say that with the certain leader of a European country we want to make a decision about a seven-sided agreement,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

“For what? With what right?”

“You don’t have any background in politics. You don’t have any background in law. You don’t have any background on international treaties,” Rouhani said.

“How can a tradesman, a merchant, a building constructor, a tower constructor make judgments about international affairs,” he added referring to Trump’s career as a property developer.

Now according to state television Iran’s supreme leader has called on Muslim nations to unite against the U.S.,saying Tehran would never yield to its arch foe’s “bullying”.

“The Iranian nation has successfully resisted bullying attempts by America and other arrogant powers and we will continue to resist.

“All Muslim nations should stand united against America and other enemies,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
said.

The other powers that signed the agreement with Iran – Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France, have all said they want to preserve it.

 

Iran’s Rouhan Publicly Insults US Trump

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has dismissed US President Donald Trump “tradesman” who lacked the qualifications to deal with a complex international publicly insulting him on live TV making reference to Trumps Career part over Tehran’s nuclear agreement.

Rouhani spoke after French President Emmanuel Macron flew to Washington to try to persuade Trump not to scrap the 2015 agreement – under which Iran curbed its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.

“They say that with the certain leader of a European country we want to make a decision about a seven-sided agreement,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

“For what? With what right?” he added.

He reserved particular scorn for the U.S. president, who has called the agreement one of the worst deals ever negotiated and has threatened to restore U.S. sanctions next month unless what he sees as severe flaws are fixed.

“You don’t have any background in politics. You don’t have any background in law. You don’t have any background on international treaties,” Rouhani said.

“How can a tradesman, a merchant, a building constructor, a tower constructor make judgments about international affairs,” he added referring to Trump’s career as a property developer.

The other powers that signed the agreement with Iran – Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France, have all said they want to preserve it.

Many in the West see it as the best hope of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and heading off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

In a bid to salvage the deal while satisfying Trump’s call for tougher action, Macron’s has proposed that the U.S. and Europe block any Iranian nuclear activity until 2025 and beyond, address Iran’s ballistic missile programme and generate conditions for a political solution to contain Iran in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold talks with Trump in Washington on Friday.

Senior Iranian officials have said repeatedly that Iran’s ballistic missile programme is not up for negotiation.