Connect with us

World

Trump-Merkel air differences in frosty 1st meeting

Published

on

trump and angela-wefornews-min

Washington, March 18, 2017: US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have acknowledged past differences here in a frosty first encounter with widely diverging views of the world, a media report said.

The face-to-face talks at the White House on Friday seemed to do little to narrow the breach exposed by Trump’s criticism of Merkel during the 2016 Presidential campaign, Efe news reported.

What may have been the most telling episode of the visit took place during a photo opportunity in the Oval Office.

In response to calls from the press, Merkel asked Trump if he wanted to shake hands for the cameras, but the President did not respond.

Trump, known for his enthusiastic greetings, did extend his hand to Merkel when she arrived at the White House.

“I’ve always said it’s much, much better to talk to one another and not about one another, and I think our conversation proved this,” Merkel said through a translator during a joint press conference with her host, who in the past accused her of “ruining” Germany by admitting large numbers of Middle Eastern refugees.

The President, meanwhile, praised the Chancellor for Germany’s efforts in Afghanistan and its contributions to the fight against the Islamic State.

At the same time, he again raised the complaint that many European members of NATO – which he has described as “obsolete” – were not pulling their weight within the Atlantic Alliance.

“Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the US. These nations must pay what they owe,” he said, apparently referring to the failure of some member-states to comply with the NATO guideline calling for devoting at least two per cent of gross domestic product to the military.

Trump expressed appreciation for Merkel’s assurance that Germany is committed to increasing its military spending.

More differences were evident on the subject of immigration.

“Immigration is a privilege, not a right, and the safety of our citizens must always come first, without question,” Trump said in the wake of court rulings blocking his second attempt to temporarily ban refugees as well as travellers from six Muslim-majority nations.

The German leader, who has criticised Trump’s travel ban, said that efforts to make borders secure and integrate immigrants must include “looking at the refugees as well, giving them opportunities to shape their own lives.”

The West, she said, should “help countries who right now are not able to do so, sometimes because they have civil war.”

On economic matters, the Chancellor said she hoped Trump would consider re-opening discussions on the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a proposed pact between the US and the European Union.

One of Trump’s first actions as President was to formally withdraw the US from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and he made no secret of his dislike for multilateral deals.

Merkel said she was in agreement with Trump that “trade has to be fairer, has to be a win-win situation.”

“Globalisation ought to be shaped in an open-minded way, but also in a fair way,” she said.

“I am a trader, I am a fair trader, a trader that wants to see good for everybody worldwide, but I’m not an isolationist by any stretch of the imagination,” Trump said, clearly annoyed at a German reporter for posing a question to Merkel about the President’s “isolationism.”

Germany, one of the world’s biggest exporters, currently enjoys a trade surplus with the US.

“I would say that the negotiators for Germany have done a far better job than the US but hopefully we can even it out,” Trump said.

The press conference ended on an unusual note, as a German reporter asked Trump about the controversy created when the White House cited a media report claiming that a British intelligence agency spied on him during the 2016 campaign at the request of then-President Barack Obama.

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said, looking over at Merkel, who reacted with anger in 2013 when documents provided by Edward Snowden revealed that the US had monitored her communications.

“We said nothing,” the President said. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it.”

“You shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox (News),” Trump said, though he did stand by his assertion that Obama spied on him.

IANS

World

US ready for North Korea talks without preconditions, says Tillerson

Published

on

Rex-Tillerson

Washington, Dec 13: The US is ready to open nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea, without preconditions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said.

“Let’s just meet and let’s talk about the weather if you want,” he said on Tuesday at a policy forum in Washington, BBC reported.

His statement appeared to shift the US position away from previous demands that North Korea must first disarm.

North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons technology has led to heavy US-led sanctions against the regime.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Tillerson insisted that the economic and diplomatic sanctions would continue until “the first bomb drops”.

Diplomatic relations between the two nations have been strained by recent North Korean missile tests, and by a war of words between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.

Speaking at the Atlantic Council policy forum, Tillerson said that the US “simply cannot accept a nuclear armed North Korea”.

But appearing to soften the US stance to talks, he said: “Let’s just meet and let’s talk about the weather if you want and talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table if that’s what you’re excited about.

“Then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map, of what we might be willing to work towards.”

Tillerson also said that China had made contingency plans to accommodate North Korean refugees in the event of a conflict.

IANS

Continue Reading

World

Donald Trump signs defense policy bill worth nearly $700 bn

Published

on

Washington, Dec 13: US President Donald Trump has signed a nearly $700 billion annual defense policy bill in the White House, which authorizes the US military to add troops, ships, planes and other equipment.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed by the Congress last month, authorizes $626.4 billion for the base defense budget and $65.7 billion for a war fund known as Overseas Contingency Operations, Xinhua news agency reported.

The US President signed the defense policy bill on Tuesday. The money would go toward adding 7,500 active-duty soldiers to the Army, 4,000 active-duty sailors to the Navy, 1,000 active-duty Marines and 4,100 active-duty airmen to the Air Force.

It would also allow for a 2.4 per cent pay raise for troops, higher than the 2.1 percent requested by the administration.

Under the bill, the Pentagon will be allowed to buy 90 F-35s, 20 more than requested; 24 F/A-18s, 10 more than requested; and three littoral combat ships, two more than requested, among other equipment purchases.

Moreover, the bill folds in the administration’s November request for $4 billion more for missile defense and $1.2 billion to support sending another 3,500 troops to Afghanistan.

The US Army, Navy and Air Force would also see increases in the reserves and National Guard, according to a report by the Washington-based political news website The Hill.

However, the total money exceeds budget caps by more than $80 billion and the Congress has yet to pass a defense spending bill to make the buildup a reality.

IANS

Continue Reading

World

Queensland PM seeks veto of federal loan to Adani’s coal mine project

Published

on

protest against adani in australia
Protest against Adani in Australia(Photo- Reuters )

Brisbane, Dec 12: Queensland’s re-elected Labor Party Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to veto a federal loan to Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprises’ A$16.5-billion Carmichael coal project in Galilee Basin, a media report said.

In one of her first acts after she was officially sworn in on Tuesday morning, Palaszczuk has followed through on the shock announcement she made during the election campaign to block a A$900 million loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to the Indian conglomerate to build a common-user rail line in the basin, The Australian reported.

“My government provides formal notification for the Commonwealth that financial assistance should not be provided to Adani for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project,” Palaszczuk’s letter to Prime Minister Turnbull reads.

“As such, the government is exercising its veto right under section 13(4) of the Investment Facility Mandate in response to the Adani loan application.”

An Adani spokesman said the company was still committed to Queensland despite the veto, and insisted the Queensland government was still supportive of its Carmichael coal mine proposal for the Galilee Basin.

“We congratulate Premier Palaszczuk on her government’s election and look forward to working closely and cooperatively with the state and federal governments and regulatory authorities as we get on with the job of making all of our projects a reality,” the spokesman said.

“Adani Australia currently employs over 800 people and has invested over $3.3 billion in Queensland, which is one of the biggest investments by an Indian company in Australia.

“We would not be investing our time, money and energy in this manner if our projects were not viable and if we were not serious about delivering our projects which will ultimately generate more than 10,000 direct & indirect jobs across all of our projects.

“The projects are viewed in a positive light by the Queensland Government and considered as critical infrastructure investments. The projects continue to retain the support of the Queensland Government.

“Adani Australia will now fully consider and adjust to the constraints the veto of NAIF (Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility) funding brings. Adani Australia is 100 per cent committed to Queensland, we have a strong regional Queensland presence. This will not change,” it said.

The contentious loan was for a rail line connecting the Carmichael coal mine to the Abbot Point coal terminal, and related mining project.

In response to Palaszczuk’s letter to Turnbull, Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said the Queensland government had “chosen to stand in the way of North Queensland jobs as its first official act”.

“It was the Palaszczuk Government that first asked last year that the NAIF consider a loan to the Adani Galilee rail project in a letter from the now-sidelined former Treasurer Curtis Pitt,” Senator Canavan said.

“But what the Queensland Premier has failed to say today is whether she intends to block all investment in the Galilee Basin.

“The people of regional Queensland deserve to know which jobs will be next on Labor’s hit list.

“I hope the Adani project proceeds because there are 800 people whose current jobs depend on it, and thousands of future jobs hang in the balance. If Adani does proceed it will be in spite of Queensland Labor not because of it.”

Under the constitution, the federal government funding must be facilitated by the state government to the private company.

Palaszczuk said newly appointed Treasurer Jackie Trad, the state’s Deputy Premier, would write to federal Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan to provide the same advice.

During the campaign, the Integrity Commissioner wrote to Palaszczuk and said she should not make any decisions about any NAIF applications, because of a conflict of interest created by Palaszczuk’s partner working on Adani’s NAIF application, the Australian reported.

However, she said she would veto the loan. Palaszczuk has not said what she would do for other NAIF projects, such as Aurizon’s application to build a rail line in the Galilee Basin.

Despite scepticism that its Carmichael mine was not viable, Adani said it had been verified by independent third parties to be in the lowest cost quartile of the cost of production in the global cost curve for seaborne thermal coal.

The decision to veto the loan has been criticised by the federal coalition government, which says it will put the entire multibillion-dollar project in jeopardy.

IANS

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Most Popular