Foreign Affairs

Trump to China President Xi: N Korea nuclear threat will end ‘one way or another’

President Trump, at the start of his meeting Saturday in Germany with Chinese President Xi Jinping, called the Asian nation a “great trading partner” and said the increasing North Korea nuclear threat will eventually be resolved “one way or the other.” The much-anticipated meeting was one of several Trump and top administration officials had Saturday with world leaders at the close of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. But it was considered perhaps the most critical. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, which gives the country considerable influence over Pyongyang and its growing threat, which includes developing a nuclear warhead and launching long-range missiles to transport them. Trump told Xi that putting an end to North Korea’s nuclear missile testing “may take longer than I’d like, it may take longer that you’d like. But there will be success in the end one way or the other.” “Something has to be done,” the president also said. Xi also spoke briefly, but his comments in Chinese were not immediately translated and available. Saturday’s meeting also focused on trade between the two nations. Trump said “many things have happened” that have created trade imbalances between the United States and China but “we’re going to turn that around.” The president was flanked in the meeting room by about a dozen top administration officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and adviser Jared Kushner. The meeting followed a long-range missile test launch by North Korea on Tuesday, which a Pentagon spokesman said was a type not previously seen by U.S. analysts. Following the missile launch, Trump expressed frustration with China over its expanding trade with North Korea. Trump had expressed optimism after his first meeting with China’s president that the two would work together to curb North Korea’s nuclear pursuits. The president tweeted Wednesday, “Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” China has long resisted intensifying economic pressure on neighboring North Korea, in part out of fear of the instability that could mount on its doorstep, including the possibility of millions of North Koreans fleeing into China. China has also been concerned that a reunited, democratic Korea — dominated by South Korea — would put a U.S. ally, and possibly U.S. forces, on its border. Tillerson on Tuesday vowed “stronger measures” to hold North Korea accountable. “Global action is required to stop a global threat,” he said. Tillerson also said any country helping North Korea militarily or economically, taking in its guest workers or falling short on Security Council resolutions “is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime.” However, his statement did not specifically mention China.

..of course not.  That would not be well received by China.  But, we’re quickly approaching the point at which we really shouldn’t care whether we cause Xi some embarrassment.  This whole catering to the Asian saving face cultural nonsense is…well..nonsense.  We’ve been playing footsie with them for DECADES now.  Clearly it’s not working.  Their trade with the DPRK is up 40% in the last quarter, for crying out loud!  That’s hardly putting pressure on that regime.  If China won’t help us with N. Korea, then we need to take serious and substantive action, regardless.  If N. Korea really does have an ICBM that can reach Alaska, then mere “economic sanctions” and so on is hardly sufficient.  It’s time to end this decades-long chess game, and remove the Kim dynasty once and for all.

Opinion/Analysis: Trump Should Copy Reagan and End Détente — with China

President Trump seems resigned to the expectation that China will be of no help in resolving the North Korea challenge. That he (and his predecessors) ever believed otherwise is the most salient evidence of the consensus by successive U.S. administrations that a soft touch toward the People’s Republic of China is in order because it is a growing, influential power. Soon, so the argument goes, the PRC will be the largest economy in the world and an able military power, capable of altering outcomes in ways detrimental to the United States. The U.S. must avoid confrontation lest this burgeoning power react in kind. Wrong. It’s the same thinking — yes, in a quite different context and time — that led earlier presidents to accept accommodation with the USSR during the Cold War. Ronald Reagan recognized that the policy benefited the Soviet Union and that Moscow was in no position to dictate terms once pressure was applied. President Trump should take this approach toward the PRC. Doing so would lead to a more cooperative China. There are several manifestations of America’s 21st-century détente policy toward Beijing beside Washington’s failure to hold Beijing to account over its rogue client regime in Pyongyang. These include the tepid U.S. response to China’s outlandish claims of sovereignty in the East and South China Seas, and Washington’s overall reluctance to acknowledge and counter Beijing’s growing military capabilities; complete silence as the PRC has violated at least the spirit if not the letter of its agreements to let Hong Kong develop with its own political system since the British handover in 1997; and the snubs, by presidents of both parties, to democratic Taiwan in ways large and small, to avoid irking China. The Trump administration has sent mixed signals on China policy so far. The president-elect’s call to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and near-mocking of the PRC when it stole a U.S. Navy drone during the post-election transition have been supplanted by the president’s apparent desperation to be liked by China’s president and by his declaration in a media interview that his very presence in office caused China to end the currency manipulation of which Candidate Trump had accused Beijing. In the aftermath of Pyongyang’s abuse and murder of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier, the president tweeted plaintively that he appreciates that President Xi tried to help with North Korea — with no apparent indication that Xi did any such thing — but that the assistance isn’t working. The administration’s most persistent point of contention with Beijing is the U.S. trade deficit with China. Otherwise, it appears that the only consistency in the administration’s China policy is inconsistency. But a tough, even confrontational U.S. across the policy spectrum is needed. Beijing’s foreign-policy belligerence is meant to distract from its internal social and economic problems. This posture will moderate if it is met firmly by the U.S. and our Asian allies.

Agreed..   To read the rest of this insightful op/ed by Therese Shakeen, click on the text above.

Donald Trump Meets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko After Sanctioning Russian-Backed Separatists

President Donald Trump met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday as his administration imposed sanctions on Russian-backed separatists in the country. Trump said the two had “very, very good discussions,” calling Ukraine “a place that we’ve all been very much involved in.” Behind the scenes, the White House revealed that Trump and Poroshenko discussed support for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions on two Russian officials and several separatists in Eastern Ukraine to support the Ukrainian amidst ongoing Russian-backed conflicts in the region. “This administration is committed to a diplomatic process that guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty, and there should be no sanctions relief until Russia meets its obligations under the Minsk agreements,” Mnuchin said Tuesday. Poroshenko said it was a “great pleasure” to meet with Trump to discuss issues important to Ukraine and called the president a “supporter and strategic partner” of the country. “We’re really fighting for freedom and democracy,” he said.

We’re thrilled to hear Trump is meeting with Petro!  Excellent!!    🙂

Cuba deal rollback: Trump says he’s nixing Obama’s ‘one-sided’ pact

President Trump, speaking at a Miami theater associated with Cuban exiles, announced Friday he is nixing his predecessor’s “one-sided deal” with the Communist nation – moving to restrict individual travel to the island, crack down on the flow of U.S. cash to the Cuban military and demand key reforms in Havana. While stopping short of a full reversal, Trump said he would challenge Cuba to come back to the table with a new agreement. “Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Trump told a cheering crowd. Trump cast his announcement Friday as the fulfillment of a campaign pledge to turn back former President Barack Obama’s diplomatic outreach to the country. “I keep my promises,” Trump said. “And now that I am your president, America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime.” A cornerstone of the new policy is to ensure Americans traveling to Cuba only support private businesses and services, banning financial transactions with the dozens of enterprises run by the military-linked corporation GAESA. The Trump administration also says it will strictly enforce the 12 authorized categories allowing American citizens to travel to Cuba – banning one particular type of travel, known as individual “people-to-people” trips, seen as ripe for abuse by would-be tourists. Most U.S. travelers to Cuba will again be required to visit the island as part of organized tour groups run by American companies. Obama eliminated the tour requirement, allowing tens of thousands of Americans to book solo trips and spend their money with individual bed-and-breakfast owners, restaurants and taxi drivers. The rules also require a daylong schedule of activities designed to expose the travelers to ordinary Cubans. Trump focused his speech Friday on the crimes and misdeeds of the Castro government, saying his administration would not “hide from it.” He accused the regime of harboring “cop killers, hijackers and terrorists” while casting the policy changes as meant to encourage a free Cuba. “With God’s help, a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve,” Trump said. Critics of the United States’ decades-long freeze – and embargo – with Cuba say it failed to spur such changes, and had welcomed Obama’s outreach as a fresh approach. But many Cuban-American lawmakers recoiled. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a Cuban-American lawmaker who helped craft the new policy, spoke before the president in Miami on Friday and took a shot at Trump’s predecessor for his visit to Cuba last March. “A year and a half ago … an American president landed in Havana to outstretch his hand to a regime. Today, a new president lands in Miami to reach out his hand to the people of Cuba,” Rubio said.

Exactly!!  This is great news for the good people of Cuba who have been brutalized by the communist dictator Castro brothers for over half a century.  Outstanding!!   🙂

Arab News: Melania Trump ‘Classy and Conservative’ in Saudi Arabia

Americans buzzed over Melania Trump’s decision not to wear a headscarf in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, the Arab News newspaper headlined social media in the country talking about her “classy and conservative” fashion sense. According to the Mercury News, Saudi minister of foreign affairs Adel bin Ahmen Al-Jubier, told local media last week, “We welcome any style of clothing” worn by foreign dignitaries, despite the country’s strict dress code for women.

Keep this in mind, as you hear the dominantly liberal media talk about how Melania was disrespectful and so on for not wearing traditional Muslim headscarfs and such.  The local Arab media thought she looked great!  To see the official release in the Arab News, click on the text above.

Trump shakes hands with Saudi leader, doesn’t bow as Obama appeared to do

President Trump upon arriving in Saudi Arabia on Saturday did not bow to the Gulf leader as former President Barack Obama appeared to do — a move interpreted as American weakness. In 2009, Obama appeared to bow to then-Saudi leader King Abdullah at a G-20 summit in London. Videos show Obama bending at the waist toward the king. The White House at the time purportedly denied that the president had bowed, with a source saying Obama was taller than the king, so he had to lean. Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia marks the start to his nine-day, overseas tour that will also take him to Israel and Europe. The international trip is Trump’s first since taking office in January. Trump was greeted at the Saudi airport with an elaborate ceremony, punctuated by a military flyover and a handshake from Saudi King Salman. First lady Melania Trump wore a black pantsuit with a golden belt and did not cover her head for the arrival, consistent with custom for foreign dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia. The 81-year-old King Salman greeted Trump at the airport. The two leaders exchanged pleasantries and Trump said it was “a great honor” to be there. “Two things need to happen,” Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told Fox News on Saturday about Trump’s trip. “President Trump needs to shore up our alliance with the Sunnis who feel abandon, and that starts with Saudi Arabia. And in the short-term, he needs to create a coalition that will decimate and defeat ISIS.” Obama critics said the former president suggested several times in 2009, just after getting elected, that the United States owed the Arab world an apology. “There have been times when America has shown arrogance … even dismissiveness,” Obama said that year in France. Saudi Arabia offered Trump the elaborate welcome ahead of his two-day stay. Billboards featuring images of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Riyadh, emblazoned with the motto “Together we prevail.” Trump’s luxury hotel was bathed in red, white and blue lights and, at times, an image of the president’s face. Trump and the king met briefly in the airport terminal for a coffee ceremony before the president headed to his hotel before the day’s other meetings.

When Obama went on his “apology tour” in 2009, and bowed before the Saudi king , the Saudi’s saw that as weak…and they didn’t respect it, or him.  That set the tone for the Obama White House…which a year later would culminate in Obama foolishly, unilaterally pulling all U.S. troops out of Iraq…which lead to the creation of ISIS/ISIL…which in turn has been a disaster.  By extreme contrast we now have a real man (not some limp-wristed, metro-sexual, ankle-grabbing, man-child like Obama) in the White House…and the Saudi’s are thrilled!!…which IS a good thing.  They are an instrumental ally in the fight against ISIS and other Islamic terrorists (many funded by Iran) in the region.  So, this visit by Trump was a HUGE step in the right direction for our relationship with the Saudi kingdom, and the multi-billion dollar agreement that Trump and the Saudi king signed will result in a LOT of U.S. jobs….which is always a plus  Excellent!!   🙂

Former US officials, senior North Korea reps reportedly prepare for talks

Senior North Korean officials are reportedly preparing to come to the U.S. to talk with former government officials, the first time a meeting has happened on U.S. soil since 2011. The officials representing the U.S. usually take part in Track 2 – or unofficial – talks with North Korea, The Washington Post reported Sunday. North Korean government officials were still preparing for the talks. The State Department has not yet approved visas for the Pyongyang officials, according to the paper. “The North Koreans have expressed an interest in engagement, but nothing’s been approved yet,” a person familiar with the planned talks told The Post. Should the talks go on, some might see it as an indication that North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un is willing to open up a dialogue with the Trump administration, despite Kim’s hopes to develop a nuclear weapon and recent missile tests. So-called “Track 1.5” talks have previously taken place in Kuala Lumpur, Geneva, Berlin and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, but haven’t taken place in the U.S. since July 2011 – before Kim took over power in North Korea. The newspaper reported that the meeting was being organized by Donald S. Zagoria of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. He worked as a consultant on Asia during President Carter’s administration and organized previous talks. The talks are planned to be ran independently of the State Department. However, if the visas are approved, it would be seen as approval from the State Department. Choe Son Hui is expected to lead the Pyongyang delegation. Choe is director of the U.S. affairs department in North Korea’s Foreign Ministry. She previously participated in six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization and other Track 1.5 talks. Aside from recent rhetoric from the Trump administration on North Korea’s missile tests and Kim’s insistence his missile launches are for protection, upcoming U.S.-South Korea military drills could put a damper on talks before the visas are even considered.

An interesting development..  We’ll, of course, keep a close eye on this one.  For more on this story, click on the text above.