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Ex-CIA Chief, US Officials Slam Trump-Putin Presser as ‘Treason,’ ‘Weakness’

Sputnik – 16.07.2018

The US President and his Russian counterpart met in Helsinki to discuss a wide array of issues, including bilateral relations between the two countries, their cooperation in Syria and alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Former CIA Director John Brennan slammed US President Trump’s “performance” during the press conference after his meeting with Putin in Helsinki as “treasonous” on his Twitter. He also claimed that Trump is “in the pocket” of Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that he had exceeded the “threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors.”

He also expressed skepticism as to why the two presidents discussed matters in private, stating that Trump lacks credibility and is probably hiding something from his advisers.

Brennan also called on Trump’s team to resign in protest against his “performance” in Helsinki on July 16, saying that no “good American patriot” would stay with Trump after that.

“He criticized American citizens, Secretary Clinton, and others as opposed to really taking advantage of a world stage with all the world’s eyes upon them to point out how unacceptable Russia’s behavior and interference in our election […] But he just shirked those responsibilities,” Brennan said.

A number of other US officials have also scolded the US president’s press conference in Helsinki. US Senator John McCain added to the wave of accusations that Trump’s performance at the press conference with Putin was “a tragic mistake.” He also slammed the US president for failing “to defend America.”

“Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are — a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad,” McCain wrote on his website.

Former US Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul, a strong Kremlin critic banned from Russia over harming bilateral ties, mocked Trump’s statements in which he said that the US has been to blame for deteriorating relations between America and Russia. McFaul suggested that Trump should have blamed Moscow instead.

“For President Trump to just insinuate as he just did in his initial remarks today, well bygones — let’s forget about all that stuff and move on because I want a great relationship with you, Putin. That’s just not serving America’s national interest, in my view,” former envoy said.

Democrat Senator Jeff Merkley suggested in an interview with BuzzFeed News that Moscow is “likely” to have compromising material on Trump, claiming that it is a “standard strategy of Russia” for important visitors to the country. He further speculated that Moscow might have the so called “pee tape” allegedly depicting Trump ordering two prostitutes to urinate on a bed in at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton, where Obama’s family once stayed.

US Senator Lindsey Graham slammed Trumps speech at the press conference by saying that it was a “missed opportunity” to hold Russia accountable for the alleged meddling in the 2016 election. He further claimed that the speech will be seen as a sign of weakness in Kremlin, going on to suggest that Trump should check the soccer ball that Putin gave him during the conference to see if it is wired.

US Republican Senator Bob Corker said in a comment regarding the Helsinki summit that he wants the US to improve relations with Russia, but added that Trump should have been more forceful when he addressed issues with Putin.

US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized Trump for not confronting Putin in regards to alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election, days after the Justice Department accused 12 Russian intelligence officers of involvement in the interference.

US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki on July 16 and discussed an array of international issues, including the countries’ bilateral relations. The two presidents called the meeting highly “successful” and “productive,” saying that it was just the first step.

Trump and Putin agreed to enhance their cooperation in Syria, particularly regarding the delivery of humanitarian aid and securing the Israeli-Syrian border. Both presidents also pledged to continue the ongoing cooperation between their armed forces in Syria and on preventing terrorist attacks.

The two leaders also discussed the alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential elections. During the press conference, Putin assured that Moscow had not colluded with Trump’s election campaign and would never intervene in the US electoral process.

Trump said that Russia had “zero reasons” to meddle in the elections and said that his victory was due to his “brilliant” campaign. The US president also scolded the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton for fueling special counsel Mueller’s investigation into the alleged meddling, saying that it has negatively affected US-Russian relations.

July 16, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?

By Thomas L. Knapp | The Garrison Center | July 15, 2018

Friday the 13th is presumably always someone’s unlucky day. Just whose may not be obvious at the time, but I suspect that “Russiagate” special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy US Attorney General Rod Rosenstein already regret picking Friday, July 13 to announce the indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges relating to an embarrassing 2016 leak of Democratic National Committee emails. They should.

Legally, the indictments are of almost no value. Those indicted will never be extradited to the US for trial, and the case that an external “hack” — as opposed to an internal DNC leak — even occurred is weak at best, if for no other reason than that the DNC denied the FBI access to its servers, instead commissioning a private “cybersecurity analysis” to reach the conclusion it wanted reached before hectoring government investigators to join that conclusion.

Diplomatically, on the other hand, the indictments and the timing of the announcement were a veritable pipe bomb, thrown into preparations for a scheduled Helsinki summit between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

House Republicans, already incensed with Rosenstein over his attempts to stonewall their probe into the Democratic Party’s use of the FBI as a proprietary political hit squad, are planning a renewed effort to impeach him. If he goes down, Mueller likely does as well. And at this point, it would take a heck of an actor to argue with a straight face that the effort is unjustified.

Their timing was clearly intentional. Their intent was transparently political. Mueller and Rosenstein were attempting to hijack the Trump-Putin summit for the purpose of depriving Trump of any possible “wins” that might come out of it.

They secured and and announced the indictments “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”

That language is from 1799’s Logan Act (18 U.S.C § 953). Its constitutionality is suspect and no one has ever been indicted under it in the 219 years since its passage. Rosenstein and Mueller aren’t likely to be the first two, and may not even technically have violated its letter. But I’d be hard put to name a more obvious, intentional, or flagrant act in violation of its spirit.

Rosenstein and Mueller are attempting to conduct foreign policy by special prosecutor, a way of doing things found nowhere in the US Constitution. Impeachment or firing should be the least of their worries. I’m guessing that there are laws other than the Logan Act that could, and should, be invoked to have them fitted for orange coveralls and leg irons pending an appointment with a judge.

That they even have defenders is proof positive that some of Trump’s most prominent opponents consider “rule of law” a quaint and empty concept — a useful slogan, nothing more — even as they continually, casually, and hypocritically invoke it whenever they think doing so might politically disadvantage him.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

July 15, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO’s Dead?

If so, who killed it: Obama, Putin, Or Trump?

By Andrew Korbyko – InfoRoss – 06.07.2018

NATO, as the world knew it, is dead, and the organization’s demise is attributable to the combination of President Putin’s deft diplomacy in advancing the Russian-Turkish rapprochement and his American counterpart’s revolutionary reconceptualization of the very essence of the alliance, both of which wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for Obama.

NATO, as it was previously conceived of for decades, is dead, and while it might be reborn in a different format sometime in the future, its previous model has exhausted its purpose and is entering into the dustbin of history. The organization still officially exists, but everything about it is changing to the point where it might soon become unrecognizable. The consistently anti-Russian driving force behind the bloc has been decisively neutralized by President Putin’s deft diplomacy in winning over its second-largest military member, Turkey, as Russia’s newest strategic partner, while Trump’s revolutionary reconceptualization of the alliance as an equal collection of states combating the asymmetrical security challenges of terrorism and illegal migration will fundamentally transform what it means to be a NATO member.

The Shadow Of Obama

Before going through the post-mortem in detail, it’s worthwhile to describe how Obama’s shadow hangs heavy in the sense that he orchestrated the three greatest mistakes that inadvertently led to NATO’s demise. The 2011 NATO War on Libya has the chance of being seen in hindsight as the final flash of a fast- fading star, with its “shock-and-awe” destruction of the former Jamahiriya going down in history as perhaps the last real instance of the bloc’s members working in coordination with one another to conventionally wage war against a targeted state. The self-congratulatory pomp that followed this brief military campaign has since been proven to have been premature because of the country’s ongoing civil war and role as a transit state for facilitating the flood of hundreds of thousands of migrants into Europe, which sparked its own crisis that has since led to the rise of EuroRealist populists in the continent.

In addition, the Libyan model of Hybrid War destabilization was also applied to Syria, albeit minus the final conventional warfare form, and this exacerbated the Migrant Crisis to the point of no return in guaranteeing the inevitable rise of right-wing politicians in Europe. Taken together, the Wars on Libya and Syria, waged in different manners but nevertheless following the same neo-imperialist regime change form, generated unprecedented humanitarian blowback to the point of triggering far-reaching political changes in NATO’s EU members, making many of them reconsider the official anti-Russian purpose of the bloc when it could be better put to use in defending the organization’s southern shores from swarms of migrants. For as “constructive” of an idea as this may have been, it led to deep divisions within the EU itself between the pro-migrant Western countries, the anti-migrant Central & Eastern European ones, and the anti-Russian Baltic States, Poland, and Romania.

While these intra-NATO disagreements were percolating, Obama made another massive mistake in giving the greenlight for the failed pro-American coup attempt against Turkish President Erdogan in the summer of 2016, and the blowback from this sloppy operation was almost instantaneous in making the bloc’s second-largest military deeply suspicious of US intentions from then on out. Although Turkey had hitherto been mostly focused on facilitating American strategic objectives in the Mideast (which for the most part were disadvantageous to Russia’s long-term regional vision), its unchanging geopolitical position as an irreplaceable part of NATO’s anti-Russian “containment” policy was thought to have retained a consistent function that had been taken completely for granted up until that point. That was a huge error, as will be seen, because President Putin’s deft diplomacy succeeded in its judo-like maneuver to flip Turkey from an enemy into a partner.

Putin’s Judo

Taking advantage of President Erdogan’s understandable distrust of what he had presumed was his country’s closest ally, President Putin reached out to extend his support for the embattled Turkish leader in demonstrating which of the two Great Powers really had Ankara’s best interests in mind. It shouldn’t be forgotten that unconfirmed reports also alleged that Russian intelligence might have tipped President Erdogan off right before a fighter jet flown by one of the coup conspirators was set to bomb his residence, therefore saving his life and sealing a new bond of friendship between both countries. It might never be known whether that actually happened or not, but in any case, the Russian-Turkish rapprochement that followed soon thereafter was swift and even saw Moscow passively accepting Ankara’s limited “Euphrates Shield” incursion into northern Syria later that summer, something that would have been utterly unthinkable just a few months prior.

The revival of the Turkish Stream pipeline project and a related agreement on nuclear energy cooperation served as physical testimonies to the strength of the Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership, which went one dramatic step much further in officially including a military dimension per Ankara’s desire to buy Moscow’s state-of-the-art S-400 air & missile defense system despite Washington’s threats to sanction it if the deal goes through. In the course of less than two years, President Putin’s deft diplomacy flipped the tables on the previous US-Turkish Strategic Partnership by replacing America with Russia and totally changing the overall dynamics of Mideast geopolitics. The de-facto removal of NATO’s second-largest military force from the organization, which is essentially the true state of affairs at the moment given Ankara’s planned S-400 military cooperation with Moscow and Washington’s CAATSA sanction threats, dealt a heavy blow to the bloc from which it has yet to recover.

Decades’ worth of strategic planning that went into using Turkey as a bulwark against the spread of Russian influence towards the Mediterranean are now worthless after Ankara has for all intents and purposes turned its back on the bloc out of protest of the US’ role in the failed summer 2016 coup attempt. The organization can no longer count on the cornerstone of its Mideast, Black Sea, and Eastern Mediterranean policies, and this has inevitably led to the alliance having to reinvent itself. As it happened, this took place concurrent with the rapid politicization of the Migrant Crisis and its resultant intra-NATO/-EU disputes about how best to respond to this civilizational challenge, further exacerbating divisions within the West and making Turkey’s “defection” (brought about through President Putin’s masterful diplomacy) all the more impactful of a destabilizing move for the already confused alliance.

Trump’s Turnaround

The last and most powerful factor that contributed to the death of NATO was Trump himself, who decided to turn everything around and reorient the bloc from its official anti-Russian purpose by transforming it into something entirely different. It’s true that some of the anti-Russian functions will still remain because of the Baltic States, Poland, and Romania’s membership as “frontline states”, but Trump’s vision is to use NATO as a platform for responding more to asymmetrical security threats such as terrorism and illegal immigration instead of conventional ones like Russia was portrayed as being since the organization’s inception. Words are one thing, but transforming them through action is another, and it’s here where Trump is “walking the walk” much more than “talking the talk” like his predecessors did in visibly pressuring his “allies” to contribute their required 2% of GDP towards defense like they were always supposed to do to begin with.

Trump, being the successful businessman that he is, can’t fathom why the US should subsidize the EU’s “socialist welfare states” especially given that the “foreboding challenge” of a “Soviet invasion” no longer makes that necessary like it may have once. Seeing world affairs from an economic perspective and therefore perceiving the EU to be America’s rival in this respect, Trump knows that the best way to “level the playing field” and “get a better deal” is to put pressure on America’s military underlings by compelling them to pay more for defense in order to advance their interests in a reconceptualized NATO, with this being coordinated alongside the US’ campaign to get the EU to lift its anti-American tariffs. The knock-on effect of this “double whammy” could hit the Europeans’ economic growth and possibly compel them into “cutting a deal’ of some sort for relief, one which can only be speculated upon at this time but which would undoubtedly strengthen American influence.

Far from representing the “united” West that NATO did during the Old Cold War and the brief period of unipolarity that followed, the New Cold War has seen the bloc weakened from within because of the blowback caused by Obama’s disastrous Wars on Libya & Syria as well as the failed pro-American coup attempt against President Erdogan in summer 2016.

President Putin skillfully exploited the latter in rapidly turning Turkey into a close partner and convincing it that its future interests are best served by keeping the bloc at arm’s length, while Trump dealt the deathblow against the alliance for his own reasons mainly having to do with a different view on contemporary security challenges and his economically driven vision of foreign affairs. While the shell of NATO still exists, its functional capacities are now divided into different regional blocs mostly constituting the new anti-migrant European Intervention Force in Western Europe and the remaining anti-Russian forces in the East, though Turkey’s de-facto “defection” means that the organization will never be the same as before.

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

As Many as 20% of Refugees Return Home in Syria’s Province of Hama – Governor

Sputnik – 08.07.2018

About 20 percent of refugees have returned from temporary housing to their homes in the province of Hama after the liberation of the region from militants, Hama governor Mohammad Abdullah Hazzouri told reporters.

“Across the province of Hama about 20 percent of residents have returned to their homes from temporary accommodation facilities. We can assist many of them ourselves. But there are settlements where the scope of destruction is really large and we will need the government’s support,” the governor said.

Thus, in Mardes, one of the province’s cities, the rehabilitation of infrastructure is well under way, with local people returning to their homes.

As soon as Mardes was liberated from militants, local authorities have rebuilt the city’s school and a medical center, which was opened a week ago and has already received hundreds of patients.

In late June, the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation stated that the situation in the Syrian provinces of Hama and Homs was improving.

Damascus continues to restore populated areas and infrastructure destroyed during years of war. Particularly, the Syrian government with the assistance of Russia makes every effort to ensure the return of the Syrian refugees to their homes.

July 8, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

Ceasefire agreement reached with leaders of armed groups in Syria’s Deraa province – Russian MoD

RT | July 7, 2018

A ceasefire agreement has been reached with leaders of armed groups in Syria’s Deraa province, Russia’s Defense Ministry has said. The leaders also agreed to surrender weaponry, according to the ministerial statement.

“Following negotiations mediated by the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria in the province of Deraa, agreements on [the] following issues have been reached: ceasefire, the start of heavy and medium weapons’ handover in all the settlements controlled by the armed groups,” the statement read.

The parties have also agreed on a number of other issues, including the settlement of the militants’ status. In cases where militants do not wish to settle their status, procedures have been agreed for their evacuation to Idlib province along with their families.

It has also been agreed to resume the work of Syrian government bodies on the territories controlled by armed groups, and on the return of Syrian refugees to their homes from the Jordanian border.

The talks in the southwestern province of Deraa, bordering with Jordan, started several days ago following a successful two-week offensive by the Syrian army, which was backed by Russia.

The Reconciliation Center for Syria was established by Russia in 2016. Its purpose is to facilitate talks between warring parties.

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

Damascus calls on citizens forced by war to leave Syria to return home

RT | July 3, 2018

The Syrian government has called on citizens, forced by war and terrorist attacks to leave the country, to return home after the liberation of most areas which were under terrorists’ control.

The situation has changed after the liberation of many areas from terrorists either by military operations by the Syrian Arab Army or due to reconciliation activities, a representative of the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry told SANA on Tuesday.

Many internally-displaced people have returned to their liberated villages and areas, the official said.

The government has affirmed its responsibility for citizens’ security and safety and providing their needs, according to the statement.

Damascus also stressed the need for humanitarian organizations and the international community to shoulder its responsibilities and render assistance for the voluntary return of Syrian citizens to their country.

July 3, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | | 1 Comment

Russian Envoy Bashes UN Top Political Official’s Report on Iran Nuclear Deal

Sputnik – 28.06.2018

Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia on Wednesday lashed out at the UN under-secretary for political affairs for giving an “unbalanced” assessment of how Iran lived up to its nuclear commitments.

UN’s top political official Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council on Wednesday the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was “at a crossroads” despite Iran’s “continued adherence” to its nuclear pledges.

“The report is openly imbalanced in nature and resembles more an unfounded series of accusations against Iran rather than an attempt to paint an objective picture of the situation,” Nebenzia said at a briefing.

He said DiCarlo’s approach was all the more incomprehensible since neither of the examples of alleged violations by Tehran was confirmed due to insufficient information.

“The report is a clear evidence of an unqualified compliance of Iran with commitments under the JCPOA which is consistently confirmed not just by IAE but by the UN secretariat as well, which – as the document tells us – has no verified proof of the opposite,” he stressed.

Russia insists, the diplomat added, that the UN should not reference information from open sources or unverified data provided by individual countries, especially when it was not provided to the Security Council.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group of countries comprising the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom plus Germany. Under the pact, Tehran agreed to scale down its nuclear program in return for sanctions easing.

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

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 | , , | 1 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