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China urges US to withdraw sanctions against its companies over N. Korea

Beijing has urged the US to drop the new batch of sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals, saying that the restrictions do not contribute to defusing the Korean standoff.

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Foreign Ministry headquarters in Beijing

Beijing has urged the US to drop the new batch of sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals, saying that the restrictions do not contribute to defusing the Korean standoff.

The sanctions were imposed by the US Treasury on Tuesday. They affect 16 mainly Chinese and Russian individuals and companies over alleged “support of the North Korean regime” and assisting Pyongyang in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

“China opposes the imposition of unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the UN Security Council, especially the ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ imposed on Chinese entities or individuals by other countries in accordance with their domestic laws. Our position is clear and consistent,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular press briefing.

Beijing has always conducted a “comprehensive and earnest implementation” of the UNSC resolutions, the spokeswoman stated, adding that China would punish anyone caught violating the sanctions under Chinese law.

The unilateral US actions contribute neither to solving problems on the Korean Peninsula, nor to Sino-US trust, the spokeswoman said, adding that Beijing has urged Washington to drop the sanctions.

One of the Chinese companies hit by the new US sanctions, Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co., has firmly rejected the allegations of violating the UNSC resolutions. The US Treasury accused the company of purchasing vanadium ore from North Korea.

“We did not import vanadium ore from North Korea. We imported products based on vanadium and refined from coal impurities. This product was not under sanctions. That’s why we’ve been able to register respective import with the Chinese customs services,” Li Xiaoguang, a manager at the company, told RIA Novosti, dismissing the accusations that the company’s business helped Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

He said the company “would have never been able to import sanctioned materials from North Korea, since they would not have passed through the Chinese customs,” the company representative added.

Earlier, reacting to the same round of sanctions targeting a Russian company and four individuals, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov expressed disappointment and warned Washington of “retaliatory measures that are inevitable in this situation.”

“Against this deplorable backdrop, statements by US representatives about a desire to stabilize bilateral ties sound highly unconvincing,” Ryabkov said in a statement on Tuesday. “We have always advocated and will continue to advocate efforts to resolve our existing differences through dialogue. Over the past few years, Washington should have grasped the idea that we consider the language of sanctions to be unacceptable, and that such actions only hamper the resolution of real problems. So far, however, it appears that they have failed to comprehend these obvious truths.”

Senior Russian Senator Andrey Klimov said that the sanctions lack legitimacy.

“These sanctions are illegal in themselves, because the only thing recognized by international law is the sanctions of the UN Security Council,” Klimov told Interfax. “We must react in principle to this insane and confrontational policy. The toolbox is rich, let’s hope that we will act consistently, reasonably, professionally and effectively.”

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America

FBI should have informed me of Manafort investigation: Trump

Manafort has been under house arrest since he surrendered to the FBI in November 2017 after being indicted by a federal grand jury as part of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

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Donald Trump

Washington, June 4 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has questioned the fact that the FBI did not inform him about the investigation of his then campaign manager Paul Manafort ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

“As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of ‘Justice’ have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign?” Trump said on Sunday on Twitter.

“Should have told me!” The President also said that Manafort joined his campaign “very late” and that he worked with him for “a short period of time,” specifically, between June and August 2016, Efe news reported.

Manafort has been under house arrest since he surrendered to the FBI in November 2017 after being indicted by a federal grand jury as part of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

The indictment charged Manafort with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts and being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, among others.

Manafort had to step down as Trump’s campaign manager after it was discovered that he had failed to report receiving a $12.7 million payment for providing counsel to deposed pro-Moscow Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych (2010-2016).

Manafort’s trial, after he pleaded not guilty to the charges at a court appearance on October 30, 2017, is set for July 24 in the state of Virginia.

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America

Ex-English teacher finds errors in White House letter

According to the former teacher, the letter she received did not address her concerns.

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White-House

New York, May 28 (IANS) A retired English teacher found many errors in a White House letter bearing President Donald Trumps signature and mailed it back after making corrections, a media report said.

The letter, dated May 3 and printed on White House stationery, was addressed to Yvonne Mason, 61, who retired in 2017. After she made the corrections, she snapped a picture, posted the letter on Facebook and mailed it back to the White House.

“It was a poorly worded missive,” she told The New York Times on Sunday.

“Poor writing is not something I abide. If someone is capable of doing better, then they should do better.”

Mason, a Democrat who lives in Atlanta, had written to Trump to ask that he visit each family of those who died in the shooting that killed 17 people at a school in Parkland, Florida, in February.

“I had written to them in anger, to tell you the truth,” she said. “I thought he owed it to these grieving families.”

According to the former teacher, the letter she received did not address her concerns.

Instead, it listed a series of actions taken after the shooting, like listening sessions, meetings with lawmakers and the STOP School Violence Act, a bill that would authorise $500 million over 10 years for safety improvements at schools but had no provisions related to guns.

Some of the things Mason wrote in the letter were: “Have y’all tried grammar & style check?”

“Federal is capitalised only when used as part of a proper noun.”

There was more, but she did not correct everything.

“I did not mention the dangling modifier… I focused mainly on mechanics,” Mason told The New York Times.

“Nation” was capitalised, so was “states”. She circled both the words.

The letter stood in contrast to other letters she has received from politicians, Mason said.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, sent “beautiful” letters that struck a tone that “makes me more important than him”, she said.

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America

George H.W. Bush hospitalised with low pressure

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George H.W. Bush

Washington, May 28 (IANS) Former US President George H.W. Bush was hospitalised to be treated for low blood pressure and fatigue, a family spokesman said.

“The former President is awake and alert, and not in any discomfort,” spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted on Sunday, adding that the 93-year-old will likely remain at Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford, Maine, “for a few days for observation”.

Bush was released from Houston Methodist Hospital this month after being admitted for a virus just a few hours after attending the funeral of his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, who died on April 17, reports Efe news.

Bush suffers from a type of Parkinson’s that hampers his ability to walk and has been hospitalised several times over the last few years for a variety of health conditions.

Last year, he was admitted in January and April for respiratory complications and had to undergo surgery.

In 2015, he fractured a neck vertebrae and in 2012 he spent Christmas at Houston Methodist Hospital due to bronchitis and a viral infection.

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