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CONFIRMED: Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump Will Meet

Kremlin summary of telephone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump confirms that a summit meeting is in the works. When the two meet they will have a full agenda before them but the makings of a deal are there.

Alexander Mercouris

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Five days ago in The Duran I suggested that in view of the exceptionally tense international situation a summit meeting between Putin and Trump should take place urgently, before Trump’s inauguration. 

This is what I said:

“As President elect Donald Trump cannot enter into any formal agreements with Vladimir Putin or with Russia.  However an informal summit between the two men before Trump’s inauguration would be a powerful signal of their determination to work together with each other to solve the mountain of problems which have accumulated.  It would annoy Obama and the neocons, but it would enable Trump and Putin to get to know each other better (they have never actually met) and would at least enable them to start to lay the groundwork for a move towards improving relations once Trump is inaugurated.”

I notice that the Saker too in an article that came out at the same time as mine also said that a summit between Putin and Trump would be a good idea.  Here is what he said

“Ideally, the next step would be for Trump and Putin to meet, with all their key ministers, in a long, Camp David like week of negotiations in which everything, every outstanding dispute, should be put on the table and a compromise sought in each case.  Paradoxically, this could be rather easy: the crisis in Europe is entirely artificial, the war in Syria has an absolutely obvious solution, and the international order can easily accommodate a United States which would “deal fairly with everyone, with everyone — all people and all other nations” and “seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict“.  The truth is that the USA and Russia have no objective reasons for conflict – only ideological issues resulting directly from the insane ideology of messianic imperialism of those who believe, or pretend to believe, that the USA is an “indispensable nation”. What the world wants – needs – is the USA as a *normal* nation.””

The Kremlin’s summary of the telephone conversation between Putin and Trump has now been published in English and it confirms that a summit is indeed being prepared.  Here is what it says:

“It was agreed to maintain contact by phone and arrange a meeting in person in the future, with preparations to be conducted by representatives of both sides.”

This statement does not say whether or not the summit will take place before Trump is inaugurated.  The wording however suggests that it is highly likely that it will take before the inauguration, though Trump will need to decide on his foreign policy team before it happens.  If so then a meeting in the middle or the second half of December would be a strong prospect.

If the summit takes place after the inauguration, then the urgent language in the summary suggests it will happen very early next year.

The two leaders will also have to decide quickly on a venue.  That may not be as straightforward as it seems, with Trump possibly unwilling to leave the US before or shortly after his inauguration, and both leaders wary of holding the summit in Europe, whose leaders are making no secret of their unease about the ongoing US-Russian rapprochement.  A visit by Putin to the US looks like the most likely option.

Whenever and wherever the two leaders they will have a mountain of things to talk about.   However as the Saker said the outlines of a possible deal are certainly there.  A summary of the sort of offer Trump which might make may be found in – of all places – an article by Gideon Rachman in the ultra anti-Trump and ultra anti-Putin Financial Times

“The US will end its opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Although America may not agree to the formal legal incorporation of Crimea into Russia, it would accept it as a fait accompli. Following that, the US will lift economic sanctions. The Americans will also drop any suggestion that Ukraine or Georgia will join Nato. The build-up of Nato troops in the Baltic states will also be slowed or stopped……Military tensions on the front line between Nato and Russia will be dialled down. With their conflict in eastern Europe eased, the US and Russia will make common cause in the Middle East. The US will drop its commitment to the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and will join the Russians in an attack on the Isis militant group.”

Gideon Rachman then sets out what he thinks the Russians should give in return

“In return for these large concessions, Russia will be expected to wind down its aggression in eastern Ukraine and not attempt to make further territorial gains there. Russian pressure and implicit threats towards the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will be dropped.”

Since the Russians are not committing “aggression in eastern Ukraine” or “attempting to make further territorial gains there” and are not applying pressure or making “implicit threats towards the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania”, none of that need detain us further, and nor of course will it stand in the way of a deal between Putin and Trump.

Gideon Rachman’s list does not end the series of outstanding issues between the US and Russia.  A key issue for the Russians, though one barely discussed in the West, is the deployment by the US of anti-ballistic missile systems in eastern Europe.  Our contributor Vladimir Kozin has discussed in The Duran the enormous seriousness of this issue for the Russians.  Whether Trump knows anything about this issue (it was not discussed during the Presidential election) or is prepared to make concessions in relation to it, remains to be seen.

The other key problem between the US and Russia – though probably not one that will be discussed at the summit – is the future of Ukraine.

Without US support, and with prospects of Ukraine joining NATO and the EU closed off, the Maidan regime – which is already showing increasing signs of instability – will have lost its entire raison d’etre and could start to unravel.  A future political crisis in Ukraine anyway looks like a virtual certainty.  Putin and Trump will have to form a clear understanding between them of what happens when it does in order to ensure that if or rather when the crisis in Ukraine happens it does not lead to another crisis in US-Russian relations, such as the one that happened in 2014.

The fact that Putin and Trump appear to have had a substantive discussion – far more so than the anodyne and ritual words Trump has so far exchanged with the leaders of the US’s European allies   – Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and Theresa May – and that they are talking seriously about a summit meeting, is a good sign that a serious negotiation between the leaders of the two Great Powers is underway.

That offers the world at least some hope for a future rapprochement and for a general relaxation of tensions.

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BREXIT chaos, as May’s cabinet crumbles (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 18.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the various scenarios now facing a crumbling May government, as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is forcing cabinet members to resign in rapid succession. The weekend ahead is fraught with uncertainty for the UK and its position within, or outside, the European Union.

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If Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is eventually rejected this could trigger a vote of no confidence, snap elections or even a new referendum…

Here are six possible scenarios facing Theresa May and the UK (via The Guardian)

1 Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations

May faces an enormous task to win parliamentary approval, given that Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories have said they will not vote for it.

If the remaining 27 EU member states sign off the draft agreement on 25 November, the government will have to win over MPs at a crucial vote in early December.

If May loses the vote, she has 21 days to put forward a new plan. If she wins, she is safe for now.

2 May withdraws the current draft agreement

The prime minister could decide that she will not get the draft agreement through parliament and could seek to renegotiate with the EU.

This would anger Tory backbenchers and Brussels and would be seen as a humiliation for her government. It might spark a leadership contest too.

3 Extend article 50

May could ask the European council to extend article 50, giving her more time to come up with a deal that could be passed by parliament – at present, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019.

Such a request would not necessarily be granted. Some EU governments are under pressure from populist parties to get the UK out of the EU as soon as possible.

4 Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister

If Conservative MPs believe May is no longer fit for office, they could trigger a no-confidence vote.

Members of the European Research Group claim that Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, will receive the necessary 48 letters this week.

A vote could be held as soon as early next week. All Tory MPs would be asked to vote for or against their leader. If May wins, she cannot be challenged for at least 12 months. If she loses, there would be a leadership contest to decide who will become prime minister.

5 General election – three possible routes

If May fails to get support for the current deal, she could call a snap general election.

She would table a parliamentary vote for a general election that would have to be passed by two thirds of MPs. She would then set an election date, which could be by the end of January.

This is an unlikely option. May’s political credibility was severely damaged when she called a snap election in 2017, leading to the loss of the Conservative party’s majority.

Alternatively, a general election could be called if a simple majority of MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government. Seven Tory MPs, or all of the DUP MPs, would have to turn against the government for it to lose the vote, triggering a two-week cooling-off period. May would remain in office while MPs negotiate a new government.

Another route to a general election would be for the government to repeal or amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which creates a five-year period between general elections. A new act would have to be passed through both the Commons and the Lords – an unlikely scenario.

6 Second referendum

May could decide it is impossible to find a possible draft deal that will be approved by parliament and go for a people’s vote.

The meaningful vote could be amended to allow MPs to vote on whether the country holds a second referendum. It is unclear whether enough MPs would back a second referendum and May has ruled it out.

 

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Brexit Withdrawal Agreement may lead to Theresa May’s downfall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been published and as many predicted, including Nigel Farage, the document is leading to the collapse of Theresa May’s government.

During an interview with iTV’s Piers Morgan, remain’s Alistair Campell and leave’s Nigel Farage, were calling May’s Brexit deal a complete disaster.

Via iTV

Alastair Campbell: “This doesn’t do remotely what was offered…what is the point”

“Parliament is at an impasse”

“We have to go back to the people” …”remain has to be on the ballot paper”

Nigel Farage:

“This is the worst deal in history. We are giving away in excess of 40B pounds in return for precisely nothing. Trapped still inside the European Union’s rulebook.

“Nothing has been achieved.”

“In any negotiation in life…the other side need to know that you are serious about walking away.”

“What monsieur Barnier knew from day one, is that at no point did Theresa May intend to walk away.”

“Fundamental matter of trust to the electors of our country and those who govern us.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and why the deal is a full on victory for the European Union and a document of subjugation for the United Kingdom.

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Coming in at 585 pages, the draft agreement will be closely scrutinized over the coming days but here are some of the highlights as outlined by Zerohedge

  • UK and EU to use the best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by 2020
  • UK can request extension of the transition period any time before July 1st, 2020
  • EU, UK See Level-Playing Field Measures in Future Relationship
  • Transition period may be extended once up to date yet to be specified in the text
  • EU and UK shall establish single customs territory and Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain

The future relationship document is less than seven pages long. It says the U.K. and EU are seeking a free-trade area with cooperation on customs and rules: “Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”

The wording might raise concerns among Brexiters who don’t want regulatory cooperation and the measures on fair competition could amount to shackling the U.K. to EU rules.

As Bloomberg’s Emma Ross-Thomas writes, “There’s a clear sense in the documents that we’re heading for a customs union in all but name. Firstly via the Irish backstop, and then via the future relationship.”

Separately, a government summary of the draft agreement suggests role for parliament in deciding whether to extend the transition or to move in to the backstop.

But perhaps most importantly, regarding the controversial issue of the Irish border, the future relationship document says both sides aim to replace the so-called backstop – the thorniest issue in the negotiations – with a “subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

On this topic, recall that the U.K.’s fear was of being locked into the backstop arrangement indefinitely in the absence of a broader trade deal. The draft agreement includes a review process to try to give reassurance that the backstop would never be needed. Basically, the U.K. could choose to seek an extension to the transition period – where rules stay the same as they are currently – or opt to trigger the backstop conditions. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the word “backstop,” which has been a sticking point over the Irish border for weeks, is mentioned only once in the text.

As Bloomberg further adds, the withdrawal agreement makes clear that the U.K. will remain in a single customs area with the EU until there’s a solution reached on the Irish border. It’s what Brexiteers hate, because it makes it more difficult for the U.K. to sign its own free-trade deals, which they regard as a key prize of Brexit.

Predictably, EU Commission President Juncker said decisive progress has been made in negotiations.

Meanwhile, as analysts comb over the documents, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, has already written to Conservative lawmakers urging them to vote against the deal. He says:

  • May is handing over money for “little or nothing in return”
  • The agreement treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.
  • It will “lock” the U.K. into a customs union with the EU
  • It breaks the Tory election manifesto of 2017

The full document…

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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