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China, Russia propose action for action approach on denuclearisation of Korean Peninsular
12 December 2019, 7:04 AM

China and Russia have again proposed an action for action approach as it relates to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsular, particular in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Their position comes amid growing tensions after talks between North Korean and the United States, that historically started in 2018 have stalled in recent months.

The DPRK’s top official to the United Nations indicated over the weekend that denuclearisation was off the table and that lengthy talks with Washington were no longer needed.

Pyongyang has given United States President Donald Trump until the end of the year to offer concessions.

The United Nations confirmed that two missiles launched by the DPRK on November 28 marked the 13th time the country had launched ballistic missiles and other projectiles this year, in violation of Security Council resolutions.

An Assistant Security General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Khaled Khairi says, “The Secretary-General is very concerned by the latest developments on the Korean Peninsula. The DPRK’s reference to launching ballistic missiles and its threat of potentially taking a so-called “new path” in the coming weeks is deeply troubling. The Secretary- General is reiterating his call on the DPRK leadership to comply fully with its international obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, resume working-level talks with the United States, and work for peace and stability.”

The United States Ambassador Kelly Craft said her country remained flexible in its approach but warned that the tests undermine regional stability and security, and urged the Security Council to be prepared to act accordingly.

Craft says, “Let me be clear, the United States and the Security Council have a goal, not a deadline. We have outlined this goal in detail in the series of unanimously adopted SC resolutions. We want to use this timely briefing to make crystal clear to the DPRK that it’s continued ballistic missile testing is deeply counterproductive to the shared objectives that President Trump and Chairman Kim had discussed on two occasions. Missile and nuclear testing will not bring the DPRK greater security.”

Russia and China suggested Council review some restrictions on the DPRK as a confidence building measure while Moscow’s envoy said it might be time for a new Security Council political resolution on the DPRK file to boost the process.

Russian Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia says, “Sanctions cannot replace diplomacy and a negotiating process is a two-way street. It’s impossible to agree on something without offering something in return. No-one is challenging the fact that the existence in the DPRK of a nuclear missile is unacceptable, however how can you expect progress when Pyongyang is told to unequivocally told to agree to all conditions that are imposed for the promise of future benefits. We have often stated that the path to denuclearisation, not only in the DPRK but of the entire Korean Peninsular, must start with strengthening confidence building measures.”

China said an easing of sanctions could create favourable conditions for improved dialogue.

Ambassador Zhang Jun says, “This is in line with the spirit of the resolutions conducive to the easing of the humanitarian and livelihood related situation in the DPRK, conducive to creating a favourable atmosphere for dialogue, conducive to encouraging the DPRK to take greater strides in the direction of denuclearisation and conducive to creating conditions and lending impetus to the political settlement of the peninsular issue.”

South Africa for its part called for sanctions to be implemented in a balanced manner and urged the DPRK to implement its obligations under the various Council resolutions.

Former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg speaks in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York.
Billionaire Bloomberg enters US election race
22 November 2019, 8:41 AM

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has formally joined the race to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

The mega-billionaire filed federal papers declaring his candidacy eight months after ruling out such a bid in the first place.

Bloomberg’s dive into the race less than three months before the first votes in the Democratic Primaries, signals a growing unease with the democratic establishment that none of the other 17 candidates are well enough positioned to defeat Republican President Donald Trump next November.

Bloomberg who has a net worth estimated at 52 billion dollars and ran for Mayor of New York as a Republican before switching to become an Independent.

Several reports say that despite his filing with the Federal Election Commission, it is not yet definitive that he will seek the Democratic nomination.

Bloomberg’s possible entry follows last week’s announcement by former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick who also made a late entry into the race.

The current front-runners remain Senator’s Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg who has surged in recent polls.

The former Ambassador was sent a letter in October from AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki that brought her tour of duty at the top AU official in Washington to an end.
Former AU ambassador to Washington was not let go because of utterances
19 November 2019, 7:26 AM

The African Union (AU) Commission has rejected as “blatantly untrue and unsubstantiated” aspersions in the media that former Ambassador to the United States was fired due to pronouncements or opinions she might have shared during her tenure.

In a statement the AU said it regretted the continued misleading campaign on different media outlets regarding Ambassador Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao’s departure arguing that her release was in line with the terms and conditions governing her contract of employment after serving three years as Permanent Representative to Washington.

The former Ambassador was sent a letter in October from AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki that brought her tour of duty at the top AU official in Washington to an end.

The statement lays out the findings of a supervisory audit of Ambassador Chihombori-Quao’s office activities and lists various instances when she is alleged to have initiated projects and activities implemented with AU funds that have no formal AU Commission approval or legal link to the African Union.

The AU Commission says it has written confirmation from Chihombori-Quao that those activities were her private engagements with no relationship to the AU which includes – according to the statement – raising and receiving funds in the name of the AU and utilizing the AU logo.

The audit also found that former Ambassador Chihombori-Quao was in violation of AU Rules and Regulations over unilateral diplomatic appointments which have since been revoked.

The Commission says that since its separation from the Ambassador on October 31st, it has no further formal dealing with her but reserves the right to take any legal action against any use or misuse of its name, logo and resources.

The statement concluded that Ambassador Chihombori-Quao herself confirmed she had never been sanctioned by the commission over any public pronouncements made during her tenure, which included pointed remarks about colonialism in Africa.


‘Strong evidence of obstruction in Trump impeachment investigations’
8 October 2019, 9:35 PM

The Chairman of a Congressional Committee leading investigations in the impeachment inquiry of United States President, Donald Trump, says the State Department’s failure to produce witnesses and other documents is considered strong evidence of obstruction.

Adam Schiff, who leads the House Intelligence Committee, was reacting after the State Department directed a key witness not to testify before an impeachment deposition and withheld text messages they argue are relevant to their probe.

At the centre of this latest fight between Congress and the Trump administration is the latter’s decision not to allow United States Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, to appear before a closed-door hearing on Tuesday.

Sondland is mentioned in the original whistleblower complaint that led to the impeachment inquiry and is seen as a key witness to the administration’s dealings with Ukraine.

According to Schiff, “We were informed about an hour and a half ago by the attorney for Ambassador Sondland that the State Dept would refuse to allow him to testify today. This was after conversations well into yesterday afternoon and evening with the State Dept legal advisor at which there was no indication that the Ambassador would be a no-show. “

At the centre of the complaint is an allegation that President Trump used a telephone call to urge Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate democrat political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.

The complaint also raises concerns that a brief suspension of military aid to Ukraine -at the direction of the White House and just before the call between the two presidents – was suspicious.

“The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the Constitutional functions of Congress, a co-equal branch of government. This is one of the few impeachment inquiries in the history of our country, it goes to the core of whether the President abused his office to seek political help in his re-election campaign and did so to the detriment of our nation’s security.”

Ambassador Sondland’s attorney indicated in a statement that his client was ready and willing to testify but was blocked by the State Department from doing so.

Schiff adds, “We are also aware that the Ambassador has text messages or emails on a personal device, which had been provided to the State Department, although we have requested those from the ambassador, and the State Department is withholding those messages as well. Those messages are also deeply relevant to this investigation and the impeachment inquiry. We know from those text messages that diplomatic personnel raised a concern with him that military assistance was being withheld to secure help from Ukraine in the President’s re-election campaign. “

President Trump tweeted earlier that he’d love for Ambassador Sondland to testify but that he’d be doing so before a totally compromised Kangaroo Court and has largely labelled the inquiry, a hoax and a witch-hunt.

“You can’t impeach a President for doing a great job.  You can’t impeach a President for having the lowest and best unemployment numbers that we’ve had in 51 years.  You can’t impeach a President for tax cuts and regulation cuts and creating — and even the Ambassador would say — the strongest economy in the world.  We have the strongest economy in the world. This is a scam.  And the people are wise to it.  And that’s why my polls went up, I think they said, 17 points in the last two or three days.  I’ve never had that one.  I’ve never had that one.”

Contrary to the President’s words, his poll numbers have remained largely unchanged at around 41% approval, with 53% disapproval.

So, what is clear from these latest developments is that the Trump administration is prepared to slow-walk any cooperation with the impeachment inquiry by for example refusing to hand over documents or blocking witnesses just hours before testimony was due to be heard.

Democrats have warned that attempts to interfere with their probe would be viewed as obstruction, a charge they consider as grounds for impeaching the President.

UN condemns attacks on Saudi oil facilities
16 September 2019, 8:40 PM

The United Nations Secretary General has condemned attacks on oil facilities in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, causing a spike in global oil prices and concerns of a further military escalation in the region.

United States President Donald Trump earlier warned that they were “locked and loaded” while his Secretary of State blamed Iran for the attack – an accusation Tehran has rejected.

Houthi Forces – also known as Ansar Allah and fighting in neighbouring Yemen against a Saudi-led coalition – have claimed responsibility for the attacks and are threatening more attacks on Saudi infrastructure.

The drone attacks are reported to have knocked out half of Saudi Arabia oil production – the most severe blow against the Kingdom in the over four years of their involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

The UN Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, was addressing the Council via videolink from Geneva.

“This is frankly terrifying and is an eventuality which runs completely counter to the many and detailed conversations I have had in recent weeks in favour of a series of steps to be taken by the parties towards de-escalation. It is not entirely clear who was behind the attack, but the fact that Ansar Allah has claimed responsibility is bad enough. And whatever we will discover of the attack, it is a sure sign that Yemen seems to be moving even further away from the peace we all seek. Everyday the war goes on, the greater the threat to regional stability. We need to take a bold move.”

President Trump didn’t mention Iran by name in his tweet, deferring to a Saudi investigation to establish responsibility, but warned the United States was locked and loaded.

His newly-arrived United States Ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, says, “The United States condemns these attacks in the strongest possible terms standing firmly with our Saudi friends. We must all be clear-eyed about this event – a direct assault on the world energy supply. Claims of responsibility have been made but as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has clearly stated, there is no evidence that the attacks came from Yemen. Emerging information indicates that responsibility lies with Iran.”

A spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry rejected the accusation of blame while Iraq has denied that its territory was used to launch the attacks.

South Africa’s Ambassador Jerry Matjila cautioned that only a political solution and not a military one, was needed in Yemen – calling for a de-escalation.

“We condemn the attack on the Saudi Arabia oil facilities, and we call on the countries in the region to (de-)escalate the tensions that might damage the security and stability of the Gulf region and the global energy supply and security as well as security of maritime trade.”

The United Kingdom’s Ambassador Karen Pierce has called the attacks reckless and totally unjustifiable, but has indicated that they were still assessing responsibility.

“It is only sheer luck that no one was killed and not by any design of the perpetrators. Threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure is a violation of international law, as well as being dangerous and provocative and I’m sure that all members of the Council will want to join in condemning these attacks today as a clear threat to regional and international peace and security. But also as an effort to disrupt global oil supplies. At the moment, we’re still assessing what happened and who is responsible for the attacks. Once this has been established, we will discuss with our partners how to proceed in a responsible manner. We hope (for) a united international response to these awful attacks.”

China, for its part, has called on the parties to the conflict to resolve their differences through dialogue and negotiation and to avoid any further escalation.




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