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Colombian President-elect will not recognise Venezuela’s government, says to withdraw from UNASUR

Venezuelanalysis | June 21, 2018

Colombian President-elect Ivan Duque has vowed to not send an ambassador to Caracas upon assuming the presidency, claiming not to recognise the Venezuelan government in heated statements less than two weeks after his electoral victory.

“We can’t accept having links with a government which we consider to be illegitimate,” declared the winner of the June 17 election. Duque obtained 54 percent of the vote amid a 53 percent participation.

The president-elect, who will take power on August 7, also characterized Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as a “dictator,” alleging the existence of government-sponsored “drug trafficking structures.”

Similarly, Duque criticised Venezuela’s recent May 20 elections, which he considers to have been “openly manipulated.”

Venezuela’s May 20 presidential elections were declared free and fair by numerous international accompaniment missions who observed the process in the Caribbean nation.

By contrast, Colombia’s recent balloting has drawn significant criticism, with Colombia’s Immediate Reception for the Electoral Transparency Unit (URIEL) registering 1,239 complaints on the day of voting, 51 percent of which referred to “pressure and threats” to voters.

Duque is considered a hard-line politician of the right wing Democratic Centre center who is extremely close to party head and ex-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, both in his rejection to the Colombian peace process and in the aggressive tone taken in relation to Caracas.

However, unlike Uribe, who stated days after his presidency was over that an invasion to Venezuela had been on the table, Duque has calmed concerns over a possible military encounter between NATO member Colombia and Venezuela, saying that he will not “assume a warlike attitude towards Venezuela.”

Nonetheless, the new Colombian president has threatened to denounce his Venezuelan counterpart at the UN Security Council. Duque has also promised to withdraw from regional body UNASUR for its “complicity” with Venezuela.

The tense relations between Colombia and Venezuela since 1999 have not stopped the abundant, migration between the two populations. It is estimated that more than five million Colombians entered Venezuela fleeing the civil war and government persecution. Likewise, recent data suggests that more than one million Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia in the past two years.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela To Not Participate in Guyana-led Process at ICJ

teleSUR | June 18, 2018

Venezuela expressed its decision to not participate in the procedure that the government of Guyana introduced before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in relation to the territorial dispute over the Essequibo, its Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.

“The Venezuelan delegation has informed the president of the court, through a letter signed by the President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro Moros, of its sovereign decision not to participate in the procedure that Guyana intends to initiate, since the Court manifestly lacks jurisdiction over an action unilaterally proposed by the neighboring country, which does not have the consent of Venezuela, “the statement said.

The decision was made after a meeting took place at The Hague between the Venezuelan delegation led by Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, accompanied by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, along with President of the ICJ Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf.

Venezuela has claimed the region part of its territory for hundreds of years, but an agreement signed in 1966 by the United Kingdom, which was Guyana’s then-colonizer, granted authority of the area to Guyana. Upon receiving independence, Guyana continued to claim the region, sparking a diplomatic conflict over the territory.

The dispute reemerged when Exxon Mobil Co. found massive oil reserves in the territory, and threw its weight behind Guyana, awarding contracts to begin drilling.

June 19, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

Iranian President Suggests Pullout of Advisors, Foreign Military From Syria

Sputnik – 13.06.2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has discussed the situation in Syria, as well as prospects of Iran deal with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in a telephone call, the official website of the Iranian president reported.

Hassan Rouhani noted that Tehran had sent its military advisers to the Arab republic at the request request of its legitimate government in order to help Damascus fight terrorism. He expressed hope that no “foreign military presence” would be needed after the terrorist threat had been eradicated.

Israel accuses Iran of sending the country’s troops to Syria in order to attack it from Syrian territory. Tel Aviv has already conducted several airstrikes against Syrian bases under a pretext of Iranian Revolutionary Guards being stationed there. Tehran and Damascus deny these accusations.

The two presidents also discussed the current state of the JCPOA. Rouhani praised the stance that Europe took to keep the deal alive after the US withdrawal, but noted that, so far, statements had not been “accompanied by practical and tangible measures and solutions.”

“If Iran cannot benefit from the privileges of this agreement, remaining in it will not be possible,” the Iranian president said.

Emmanuel Macron confirmed commitment to the JCPOA and assured Rouhani that France is working on “a series of measures and practical solutions” to make the deal work.

The US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, with President Donald Trump claiming the deal was “flawed” at its core. Other parties to the agreement have confirmed their readiness to stick with the deal and work out solutions against possible US sanctions.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Trump-Kim Historic Summit Concludes With Ambitious Agreement

Sputnik – 12.06.2018

The first-ever summit of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has concluded with an agreement in which Pyongyang reaffirmed its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, while the United States pledged to provide security guarantees.

The final document is made up of only four points: the agreement to establish new bilateral relations, decision to join efforts to “build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula,” Pyongyang’s confirmed commitment to denuclearization, and the repatriation of the remains of the US military personnel, either prisoners of war or missing in action after the 1950-1953 war.

In response to Kim’s confirmation of denuclearization intentions, Trump has promised to provide security guarantees to Pyongyang.

However, the document does not mention Washington’s determination to achieve a complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.

The two sides have agreed that a follow-up meeting would be attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant official from North Korea.

New Hopes

The first-ever summit of Trump and Kim took place in Singapore at the Capella Hotel on the island of Sentosa south of the main island. Trump said after the talks that the denuclearization process would begin soon, while Kim said the signing of the agreement signified a new beginning in the bilateral relations and promised “a major change” in the future.

Despite a promising start of negotiations, the United States will not diminish its military presence in South Korea, Trump said at a press conference held later in the day.

At the same time, the United States will suspend military exercises on the Korean peninsula as long as the talks with North Korea are progressing, Trump said. The US president noted that the suspension would help Washington save “a tremendous amount of money.”

Trump added that the sanctions against North Korea would remain in place as long as nuclear weapons remain in the picture. Nevertheless, Trump said that, as a concession to Pyongyang, he had halted plans for 300 new sanctions.

Neighbors Welcome Results

North Korea’s neighbors have welcomed the potential progress in the resolution of the crisis.

Russia is not only welcoming the potential progress but is ready to provide assistance in the form of political support or specific proposals, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Sputnik.

Ryabkov expressed hope that the movement forward on the Korean issue would unblock the possibility for economic cooperation on the Korean peninsula.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the very fact of the meeting was possible, but noted that the Russian side has not seen any documents yet.

China, in turn, said that the results of the Trump-Kim meeting were an important step toward denuclearization and lasting peace on the peninsula.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has refrained from an assessment of the summit but expressed hope that North Korea would change its policy in the future.

The Japanese official stressed that Tokyo appreciated the efforts made by Trump, but would like to learn about the details of the summit from the US side.

US Foreign Minister Taro Kono has said that the full dismantlement of nuclear facilities in North Korea may take decades, but the destruction of nuclear weapons and relevant facilities would not take long.

South Korean presidential adviser Moon Jung-in has expressed a similar opinion in an interview to the Nikkei newspaper, arguing that the settlement of all issues related to North Korean missile and nuclear programs as well as the dismantlement of relevant facilities would take a decade.

According to Moon, North Korea may demand political, economic and military guarantees in exchange for denuclearization.

International Community

The Trump-Kim joint statement is a clear sign that the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is achievable, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.

“The ultimate goal, shared by the entire international community and as expressed by the United Nations Security Council, remains the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The Joint Statement signed by the U.S. and DPRK leaders today gives a clear signal that this goal can be achieved,” Mogherini said in a statement.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson welcomed the results of the summit and called the talks between Trump and Kim “constructive.”

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Iraq receives dozens of advanced T-90 battle tanks from Russia

Press TV – Jun 7, 2018

The Iraqi military has received dozens of more advanced T-90 battle tanks from Russia under a major deal struck between Moscow and Baghdad last year.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry, in a statement released on Thursday, announced that it had taken delivery of 39 tanks, adding that the armored fighting vehicles had been distributed between two battalions of an army brigade.

The statement said that Iraqi military personnel had already been trained by Russian experts on how to operate the battle tanks.

Iraqi Army Chief of Staff General Othman al-Ghanimi said on February 19 that his country’s army had received 36 Russian-made T-90 battle tanks.

The T-90 is a third-generation Russian battle tank built upon the time-proven Soviet T-72 design.

It is among the best-selling tanks in the world, and known for its firepower, enhanced protection and mobility.

The T-90 features a smoothbore 2A46M 125mm main gun, which can fire both armor-piercing shells and anti-tank missiles.

The advanced tank also features sophisticated armor, ensuring all-round protection of the crew and critical systems, including explosive reactive armor and active infrared jammers to defend it from inbound rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missiles and other projectiles.

Indian, Algerian and Azerbaijani militaries have purchased hundreds of T-90 battle tanks in past years. Kuwait, Vietnam and Egypt have also expressed strong interest in buying the tank.

The Iraqi military plans to reinforce its fleet of M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks with T-90s. A large number of American M1A1 Abrams tanks have been damaged in the fight against Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

June 7, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Russia pushes back at US on North Korea

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | June 4, 2018

The visit by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Pyongyang on May 31 was a poignant moment for both countries. This was a rare meeting between a senior Russian official and a member of the Kim dynasty. Yet, Russia has been the oldest friend and mentor of the ruling family in Pyongyang.

Kim’s family escaped from Japanese-occupied Korea to the Soviet Union in 1920 when the revered founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, was only eight years old. He grew up in Russia, joined the Red Army and fought the Japanese in Manchuria. When World War II ended, Kim returned to his country and with some Soviet backing, went on to lead North Korea’s Communist Party and lay the foundations of the new state north of the 38th parallel.

Make no mistake, it was not a coincidence that Kim received Lavrov on the same day his deputy Vice-Chairman Kim Yong-chol met US President Donald Trump at the White House. Kim told Lavrov in front of TV cameras: “I highly value the fact that Putin’s administration strictly opposes the US’ hegemony. You strictly oppose, and we are always ready to conduct negotiations and a profound exchange of opinions with the Russian side on this issue.” Russia’s Cold War ally is picking up the threads with ease.

Unsurprisingly, Lavrov gave whole-hearted backing for the North Korean stance on the vexatious issue of denuclearization. In Lavrov’s words: “We assume that a complete resolution cannot be achieved until all the sanctions are lifted. It is up to the negotiators to make this happen, but in any case, it would be impossible to achieve this in a single round. The same applies to denuclearization. For this reason, this should be a step-by-step process with reciprocal moves at each of the stages.”

Denuclearization not a stand-alone issue

Lavrov called for a “judicious approach” not to rush things and cautioned against any “rash actions”, bearing in mind the need for “careful consideration and coordination of all elements of a package decision.” The carefully-chosen expression “package decision” implies that denuclearization is not a stand-alone issue.

He underscored: “Russia and North Korea hold a common view… We know that this is an extremely complicated problem and that the goal of denuclearization is inseparably connected with the eventual restoration of peace, stability and a system of interaction, cooperation and equal and indivisible security in Northeast Asia.” Simply put, Lavrov asserted Russia’s role in the current process as a stakeholder in the stability and security of its region. Interestingly, Lavrov flagged the need at some point to revive the format of six-party talks (involving the two Koreas, US, China, Japan and Russia.)

The Russian Foreign Minister also discussed substantive issues of bilateral cooperation in the economic sphere in anticipation of a post-sanctions future. In particular, he brought up the languishing 10-year-old idea of linking the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Korean railway systems to connect Moscow with Seoul via Pyongyang and to build a parallel gas pipeline.

Meeting between Putin and Kim soon?

Meanwhile, the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, is expected to visit North Korea soon. Most importantly, a meeting between Putin and Kim is on the cards. Reports speculate that the meeting may take place as early as next week during Putin’s state visit to China following the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Qingdao (June 9-10).

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov who accompanied Lavrov to Pyongyang was in Beijing on May 29 and would have discussed the forthcoming trip with Chinese officials. While in Beijing, Morgulov made some highly critical remarks about US policies in the Asia-Pacific, which reflected the thrust of Lavrov’s mission:

“I am referring… to the idea of the Indo-Pacific region, which the United States and Japan are actively advocating. Essentially, it is designed to divide the regional countries into friends and foes… Both Russia and China hold a diametrically opposite view. They are against creating blocs and believe that an effective and system-wide response to security challenges in the Asia Pacific must include a comprehensive military and political détente and uniform rules of the game… This architecture must be based on the universal principles of indivisible security and the supremacy of international law, as well as non-use of force or threat of force.”

Beijing has welcomed “Russia’s positive role” and said high-level exchanges between Russia and North Korea are “conducive to promoting the political settlement process of Korean Peninsula issue and upholding the peace and stability of the peninsula and Northeast Asia.” Russia is airing opinions supportive of North Korean concerns and vital interests, which Beijing shares but for obvious reasons is not in a position to voice openly.

Process will be a long haul

Clearly, Lavrov’s mission is making it more difficult for Washington to pressure the North Korean leadership or dictate the dynamics of the current process. Moscow is signaling that it will not remain a passive bystander (as in the negotiations over the Iran nuclear issue). And, it has taken a common position with Beijing that the denuclearization of North Korea impacts on the regional security matrix in Northeast Asia. Given this developing situation, the final outcome is almost certainly going to be a long haul.

Simply put, the US’ containment strategy against Russia and China has created a complex regional security environment in Northeast Asia. On one side there is talk of a new US military base in Poland and additional deployment of 30,000 NATO troops to Central Europe on Russia’s western fringe, while on the other side US Secretary of Defence James Mattis promised at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on the weekend to step up military pressure on China in the South China Sea, and Trump is beating the drums of a trade war with Beijing.

However, somewhat incredibly, in this milieu of growing big-power tensions, Washington still expects Moscow and Beijing to remain docile as Trump and his team go about denuclearizing North Korea and reset the regional security calculus. This expectation is plainly unrealistic. Moscow has signaled that as a stakeholder, it will push back and will not allow a replay of what happened over the Iran nuclear deal.

Significantly, Lavrov disclosed that the North Korean leadership is “fully aware” of developments relating to the US’ exit from the Iran nuclear deal, and “will determine its position taking into consideration all these factors.”

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia censures Iran, expects Israel to help restore ties with US

Vladimir Putin surprised many at the event known as Russia’s Davos with his comments on the Iran nuclear deal and Russia’s relations with the US

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum on May 25, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Sergei Bobylev/TASS
By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asian Times | June 1, 2018

The annual meeting of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum – dubbed as “Russia’s Davos” – on May 25, which traditionally promotes foreign investment in the Russian economy, ended this time around as a major political event signaling a renewed bid by President Vladimir Putin for détente with the West.

In wide-ranging remarks at the forum, Putin made an explicit overture to Washington for dialogue. The US decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal was the leitmotif of the Q&A at St Petersburg – which are generally choreographed by the Kremlin in advance – and Putin seized the opportunity to articulate a highly nuanced position on the topic with an eye on the overall Russian-American relationship.

Unsurprisingly, Putin criticized the US’ rejection of the Iran nuclear deal as a unilateralist move which would have negative consequences. But then, Putin also expressed understanding for President Donald Trump’s domestic compulsion in taking such a decision.

Putin also proposed that the US and Iran, which had negotiated the 2015 pact directly, could resume their negotiations to settle the differences: “Even now, the US President is not closing the door on talks. He is saying that he is not happy about many of the terms of the deal. But in general, he is not ruling out an agreement with Iran. But it can only be a two-way street. Therefore, there is no need for unnecessary pressure if we want to preserve something. Doors must be left open for negotiation and for the final outcome. I think there are still grounds for hope.”

Putin probably sees Russia as a facilitator-cum-moderator between the US and Iran, but at any rate, he has deflected the focus from the EU’s approach, which single-mindedly focuses on the downstream impact of US sanctions against Iran. It is smart thinking on Putin’s part to signal that Moscow does not propose to wade into any transatlantic rift over the Iran issue. He probably doubts if the rift is real enough for outsiders to exploit.

Putin and the Iran nuclear deal

But the really intriguing part was that Putin also brought into the matrix the “good, trust-based relations between us (Russia and Israel).” Significantly, the interpolation occurred while Putin was arguing that the preservation of the Iran nuclear deal was also in Israel’s interests.

Neither Moscow nor Tel Aviv has divulged the details of the recent meeting between Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Moscow in early May. But Israeli sources have since divulged in bits and pieces that a major understanding might have been reached as regards the imperative need for an holistic approach toward the whole situation surrounding the “Iran question,” including Iran’s presence in Syria, which Israel indeed sees as existential threat.

Interestingly, three days after Putin spoke at St Petersburg, an influential Moscow think tank came up with a commentary regarding the emergent trends in the Syrian situation. Basically, the commentary stressed that Russian policy was switching tack and giving primacy to the search for political settlement and reconstruction of Syria. But it went on to discuss the rising tensions between Iran and Israel in Syria and blamed Iran for using Syria for the “export” of its policy of Resistance against Israel.

Hinting at growing resentment within the Sunni majority in Syria against Iran’s activities, the commentary contextualized Putin’s recent call for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syrian soil. It openly rapped the Iranians on the knuckle: “Iran’s operations in Syria go far beyond fighting terrorists and are hardly welcomed by anyone within the region and beyond. This heightens tensions in Israel’s relations with its bitter rivals … Serving as a platform for fighting the ‘Zionist’ enemy is something Syria needs the least.”

Indeed, these are extraordinary statements for an establishment think tank known to be close to the Kremlin. The key elements were: a) Russia holds Iran as responsible for ratcheting up tensions with Israel; b) Russia thoroughly disapproves of Syria being turned into a turf for Iran’s policy of “Resistance” against Israel; and, c) Moscow expects the Assad regime to distance itself from Iran’s anti-Israeli activities.

The patent shift in the Russian stance implies Moscow’s acknowledgment that the fate of the Iran nuclear deal is also linked to Iran’s regional policies. Arguably, this Russian stance harmonizes with what Trump and Netanyahu have been saying all along. Perhaps, Russia hopes to cajole Tehran to walk toward the negotiating table where Trump is waiting. Perhaps, Putin also calculates that such a helpful stance cannot but have positive fallout on US-Russia relations as a whole. Time will tell.

The bottom line is that the close ties between Russia and Israel are sailing into full view. Interestingly, Israel just obliged a famous Russian oligarch who is perceived as close to Putin, by granting him citizenship, which would enable him to visit Britain – although London refuses to renew his residence permit. The influential Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch now de facto becomes the wealthiest Israeli citizen, too.

Suffice to say, it all does seem a cozy condominium between Putin and Netanyahu. The big question will be how far Netanyahu can help Putin to bring about a Russian-American “thaw” under this complex set of circumstances.

June 1, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

South Korean President Moons Bolton

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | May 26, 2018

Thanks no doubt to his bellicose national security adviser John Bolton, President Donald Trump has now lost control of the movement toward peace between the two Koreas. Trump has put himself in a corner; he must now either reject — or, better, fire — Bolton, or face the prospect of wide war in the Far East, including the Chinese, with whom a mutual defense treaty with North Korea is still on the books.

The visuals of the surprise meeting late yesterday (local time) between the top leaders of South Korea and North

Korea pretty much tell the story. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in drove into the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and Seoul quickly released a one-minute video of what, by all appearances, was an extremely warm encounter with Kim Jung-un. It amounted to a smiling, thumbing of two noses at Bolton and the rest of the “crazies” who follow his advice, such as Vice President Mike Pence who echoed Bolton’s insane evocation of the “Libya model” for North Korea, which caused Pyongyang to go ballistic. Their angry response was the reason Trump cited for cancelling the June 12 summit with Kim.

But Trump almost immediately afterward began to waffle. At their meeting on Friday the two Korean leaders made it clear their main purpose was to make “the successful holding of the North Korea-U.S. Summit” happen. Moon is expected to announce the outcome of his talks with Kim Sunday morning (Korean time).

Why is Trump Waffling?

One cannot rule out the possibility that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has some cojones beneath his girth. He has a personal, as well as a diplomatic stake in whether or not Bolton succeeds in wrecking the summit. (Trump, after all, deputized Pompeo, while he was still CIA director, to set it up.) It’s also possible some non-crazy advisers are warning Trump about Bolton’s next “March of Folly.” Other advisers may be appealing to Trump’s legendary vanity by dangling the prospect that he may blow his only shot at a Nobel Peace Prize.

The two Korean leaders have made abundantly clear their determination to continue on the path of reconciliation despite the artificial divide created by the U.S. 70 years ago. Now, a lot depends on the unpredictable Trump. If enough people talk sense to him and help him see the dangerous consequences of letting himself be led by Bolton, peace on the Korean peninsula may be within reach.

It is no longer a fantasy to suggest that the DMZ could evaporate just as unexpectedly and quickly as that other artifact of the Cold War did — the Berlin Wall almost four decades ago.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner-city Washington, D.C.. A Fordham alumnus, he spent 27 years as a CIA analyst, from the Kennedy administration to the first Bush administration. He holds a certificate in theological studies from Georgetown and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

May 26, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 3 Comments

Maduro re-elected Venezuelan president; rival candidate challenges results

Press TV – May 21, 2018

Nicolas Maduro has been re-elected for a second term in office as Venezuela’s president in an election rejected as “illegitimate” by his main rival, who has also demanded that a repeat vote be held later this year.

With more than 90 percent of the ballots cast in Sunday’s presidential election counted, the National Election Council announced that incumbent Maduro had won another six-year term after securing 67.7 percent of the vote.

Maduro’s main challenger Henri Falcon came in second with 21.2 percent, followed by the president’s other rival, Javier Bertucci, who gained some 10 percent, said the Council’s head, Tibisay Lucena.

With the country’s mainstream opposition having boycotted the vote, the turnout was 46.1 percent, according to the board, which means 8.6 million out of the 20.5 million eligible voters took part in the election.

The ballots were recorded electronically, making the voting quick and easy. The presence of government troops around polling stations also ensured the safety of voters.

Some 150 international observers from 30 countries and international organizations were present in the Latin American country to monitor the process.

Maduro hails ‘historic’ win

When the results were released, Maduro’s supporters gathered outside his Miraflores presidential palace in downtown Caracas, celebrating his re-election with fireworks.

Maduro, surrounded by thousands of his supporters, also hailed his “popular victory,” saying, “This was a historic day! The day of a heroic victory! The day of a beautiful victory – of a truly popular victory.”

“Never before has a presidential candidate taken 68 percent of the popular vote,” he told the cheering crowd.

“The whole of Venezuela has triumphed! Democracy has triumphed! Peace has triumphed! Constitutionality has triumphed [These were] elections that were constitutional, legitimate and legal,” he said. “We have a president of the people! A working president!”

The president also called on the defeated challengers to join him for negotiations about the future of the country.

He said “permanent dialog” is needed with the entire opposition so that Venezuela could set aside political disputes.

Vote ‘lacks legitimacy’

However, before the official results were announced, Falcon said he would not recognize the vote for what he called irregularities, including widespread vote buying in favor of Maduro.

“As far as we are concerned there has been no election. There must be new elections in Venezuela,” he told reporters. “The process undoubtedly lacks legitimacy and as such we do not recognize it.”

Falcon, who broke with an opposition boycott to run for the election, also called for a fresh election to be held in November or December.

Several of Venezuela’s Latin American neighbors as well as the European Union also joined voices with Maduro’s challenger and said they would not recognize the results of the election.

They alleged that the conditions did not exist for the election to be free and fair.

However, former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who is in Venezuela as an international observer, said he has no “doubt about the voting process.”

“It is an advanced automatic voting system. I come here to keep peace, coordinate and promote dialogue so as to improve the democratic mechanism here. What I need to do here is to see whether people can cast their ballots at their own discretion. Now we all see how people vote, don’t we?” he added.

The US also said it would not recognize the election and would actively consider oil sanctions on the country.

Washington has already imposed sanctions against Venezuela and blamed, together with its allies in the region and elsewhere, Maduro’s government for the country’s acute economic crisis.

On Saturday, the US ramped up pressure on Caracas by imposing new sanctions against the government’s top officials.

Maduro’s government, however, said the US was using new sanctions to sabotage the election.

It called Washington’s move as part of “a systematic campaign of aggression” by President Donald Trump’s administration and said they had no legal base.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Mexico: Mayoral Candidate of AMLO’s Party Murdered

Jose Remedios Aguirre Sanchez (L) with presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. | Photo: Twitter @AvseFernando
teleSUR | May 11, 2018

Electoral campaigns in Mexico suffered another casualty on Friday with the murder of Jose Remedios Aguirre Sanchez, a mayoral candidate from the same coalition as presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly known as AMLO.

The 35-year-old candidate was shot dead at close range in the Ecological Park of the Apaseo el Alto. Two other people were reportedly injured. The perpetrators escaped in a white convertible Ford Mustang with a U.S. license plate, according to witnesses.

Aguirre was competing in the race for mayor in the municipality of Apaseo el Alto, in Guanajuato, with the Movement of National Regeneration (Morena) party.

Before entering the race for Apaseo el Alto’s mayor, Aguirre had served as the director of public security in the same municipality between 2012 and 2015.

Since September when electoral campaigns began around the country, over 90 candidates, politicians and officials have been violently murdered.

Aguirre was a member of the progressive Morena party that is backing the coalition of Andrez Manuel Lopez Obrador, one of the top picks for Mexico’s presidency.

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Russia rejects Hague court order to compensate Ukrainian companies as illegitimate

RT | May 11, 2018

Russia has rejected the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s order to compensate Ukrainian companies for losses, allegedly stemming from the 2014 Crimea reunification, saying that the issue was outside the jurisdiction of The Hague.

The Russian Justice Ministry made the statement after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of 18 Ukrainian companies that sought compensation from the Russian government over damages allegedly inflicted as a result of the 2014 reunification of the Crimean Republic and the Russian Federation.

The court did not disclose other details of the lawsuit, but the Justice Ministry told Russian news agency RBC that the Ukrainian plaintiffs want about $140 million plus interest.

“The Russian Federation does not recognize the above mentioned decision because the court of arbitration is outside the jurisdiction allowing it to look into this case,” reads the Justice Ministry’s statement.

Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow did not consider itself a party in the process and therefore had no intention to comply with the ruling. “Russia was not represented in this court in any way, we have not sent our representative to this process and this is why we do not consider ourselves a party in this trial,” he said.

Russia has already faced huge compensation claims in The Hague Arbitration Court. It happened after the 2014 decision which called on Russia to pay about $50 billion to shareholders in Yukos Oil Company, dissolved after its founder and key owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was jailed over embezzlement and major tax evasion.

The 2014 ruling led to temporary freeze of some Russian assets abroad, including a plot of land on which a new Orthodox cathedral in Paris is located and Moscow’s stake in the Euronews TV channel.

Moscow appealed the decision, also claiming the judgement did not fall within the jurisdiction of the arbitration court. In mid-2016 Russia won the appeal and by late 2017 former Yukos shareholders completely withdrew their claims and the freezes on the Russian property were lifted.

Read more:

Ex-Yukos shareholders give up fight for Russian assets in France

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Severance of Iran-Morocco ties: Algiers responds to Rabat’s “baseless” allegations

MEMO | May 7, 2018

Algerian authorities rejected Wednesday as “completely baseless” Morocco’s allegations in the aftermath of the cut of diplomatic relations with Iran, over the alleged Teheran’s support of the Polisario Front implicating “indirectly Algeria, reports Sahara Press Service.

Morocco’s ambassador to Algiers was received Wednesday by the secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who expressed “Algerian authorities’ rejection of the completely baseless statements, made by its Foreign Minister while announcing the breakdown of diplomatic relations between Morocco and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and which indirectly implicate Algeria,” said the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abdelaziz Benali Cherif.

The Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson responded to the allegations made, the day before, by Morocco’s minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, who announced at a news conference in Rabat that Morocco had decided to cut diplomatic relations with Iran over its “support” to the Polisario Front, the legitimate and only representative of Western Sahara people.

The Polisario Front, which dubbed “big lie” Morocco’s allegations of military relations between the Polisario and Iran, defied Rabat to produce evidence for its “false allegations.”

Polisario Front’s coordinator with MINURSO (UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara), M’hamed Khadad, said Rabat acted out of political opportunism to “circumvent the resumption of direct political negotiations called for by the United Nations” for the settlement of Western Sahara conflict through a referendum on Saharawi people’s self-determination.

Khadad denied any military relations with Iran, saying “the Polisario Front has never had military relations, has never received arms and has never had military contacts with Iran or Hezbollah”.

Iranian authorities said the accusations are “completely baseless, far from reality and wrong.

“They stressed that “one of the most fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy in its relations with other governments and countries in the world has been and continue to be deep respect for their sovereignty and security as well as non-interference in the domestic affairs of other states.”

Lebanese Hezbollah also rejected Morocco’s accusations, saying it was regrettable that Rabat had given in to foreign “pressure.

“The Lebanese political party invited “Morocco to look for a more convincing argument to sever its ties with Iran.”

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May 7, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment