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Donald Trump Junior’s account of meeting with Russian lawyer corroborated

Far from adding a sinister twist to the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, the presence at the meeting of Rinat Akhmetshin, a US citizen, has provided a witness who has corroborated Donald Trump Junior’s account of it.

Alexander Mercouris

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The story of the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and the lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya on 9th June 2016 has now taken a further twist with the disclosure that the lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin accompanied Veselnitskaya to the meeting.

Some sections of the media are trying to find something sinister in Akhmetshin’s presence at the meeting.  He is being called a ‘lobbyist’ working on behalf of Russian interests to oppose the Magnitsky Act and a “former Soviet counter-intelligence official”.

Akhmetshin is a US citizen.

He may indeed be a Washington lobbyist with a record of opposing the Magnitsky Act.  That of course is not a crime.

Since the Magnitsky Act was precisely the subject Veselnitskaya intended to discuss during her meeting with Donald Trump Junior it is completely unsurprising that she brought a professional lobbyist experienced in opposing the Magnitsky Act with her to the meeting.

Nothing sinister or strange should therefore be read into Akhmetshin’s presence at the meeting.

If Donald Trump Junior did not disclose his presence previously, it may be because his presence was unimportant, or because Donald Trump Junior did not know who he was.

As for whether, presumably as part of his military service, Akhmetshin once served in a Soviet military unit tasked with counter-intelligence, that is completely inconsequential.  As anyone who knows Russians of a certain age can confirm, it was actually quite usual in the USSR for Russians with knowledge of a foreign language to do their military service in such units.  I happen to know at least two such Russians.

As Akhmetshin correctly says, that in no sense means that he was any sort of professional spy, or that he was ever trained as a spy, or that he is a spy now.

As it happens Akhmetshin provides further confirmation of Donald Trump Junior’s account of the meeting.  Here is what he says

In his first public interview about the meeting, Akhmetshin said he accompanied Veselnitskaya to Trump Tower where they met an interpreter. He said he had learned about the meeting only that day when Veselnitskaya asked him to attend. He said he showed up in jeans and a T-shirt.

Veselnitskaya brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democrats, Akhmetshin said. Veselnitskaya presented the contents of the documents to the Trump associates and suggested that making the information public could help the campaign, he said.

“This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money,” Akhmetshin recalled her saying.

Trump Jr. asked the attorney if she had sufficient evidence to back up her claims, including whether she could demonstrate the flow of the money. But Veselnitskaya said the Trump campaign would need to research it more. After that, Trump Jr. lost interest, according to Akhmetshin.

“They couldn’t wait for the meeting to end,” he said.

Akhmetshin said he does not know if Veselnitskaya’s documents were provided by the Russian government. He said he thinks she left the materials with the Trump associates. It was unclear if she handed the documents to anyone in the room or simply left them behind, he said.

This is in all essentials exactly what Donald Trump Junior says happened at the meeting.

In other words all this latest ‘revelation’ has done is provide further corroboration – from someone who is a US citizen and who has no known connection either to the Trump campaign or to the Russian government – that Donald Trump Junior’s account of his meeting with Veselnitskaya is true.

In my recent discussion of the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, I made the point that Veselnitskaya’s status and the purpose of her visit to the US to meet with Donald Trump Junior was so completely misrepresented in the emails Donald Trump Junior received from the British pop music promoter Rob Goldstone (who it turns out also attended the meeting) that clearly some sort of deception was going on and Donald Trump Junior was obviously the target of it.

A theory which has been doing the rounds is that the intention behind the deception was to secure from Donald Trump Junior some sort of commitment to have the Magnitsky Act sanctions lifted in return for damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps the most persuasive account of this theory is the one provided by the US investigative journalist Robert Parry

The Russian lawyer, Natalie Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump Jr. and other advisers to Donald Trump Sr.’s campaign, represented a company that had run afoul of a U.S. investigation into money-laundering allegedly connected to the Magnitsky case and his death in a Russian prison in 2009…..

As a lawyer defending Prevezon, a real-estate company registered in Cyprus, on a money-laundering charge, she was dealing with U.S. prosecutors in New York City and, in that role, became an advocate for lifting the U.S. sanctions, The Washington Post reported.

That was when she turned to promoter Rob Goldstone to set up a meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. To secure the sit-down on June 9, 2016, Goldstone dangled the prospect that Veselnitskaya had some derogatory financial information from the Russian government about Russians supporting the Democratic National Committee. Trump Jr. jumped at the possibility and brought senior Trump campaign advisers, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, along.

By all accounts, Veselnitskaya had little or nothing to offer about the DNC and turned the conversation instead to the Magnitsky Act and Putin’s retaliatory measure to the sanctions, canceling a program in which American parents adopted Russian children. One source told me that Veselnitskaya also wanted to enhance her stature in Russia with the boast that she had taken a meeting at Trump Tower with Trump’s son.

If Donald Trump Junior had agreed that a future Trump administration would lift the Magnitsky sanctions in return for damaging information about Hillary Clinton then that would indeed have been evidence of a willingness – at least on his part – to collude with Russia in order to help his father win the election.  Proponents of the Russiagate scandal would in that case have some valid points to make about his meeting with Veselnitskaya, though it should be stressed that it still would not have broken any law.

However nothing of the sort in fact happened.  Veselnitskaya came to the meeting either empty handed or with nothing of interest to show, and Donald Trump Junior very properly refused to make any promises about the Magnitsky sanctions – apparently pointing out to Veselnitskaya that he is a private citizen and that she should address her complaints about the Magnitsky Act to those with public authority to decide the question – and showed her the door.

That is what everyone who took part in the meeting – including Akhmetshin and Goldstone – says happened, and there is no reason to doubt it.

I would add that there is no hint in Goldstone’s emails that any trade off of information about Hillary Clinton in return for a commitment to lift the Magnitsky Act sanctions was ever offered.

Though Robert Parry’s theory is plausible and is consistent with what Akhmetshin says, it is fair to point out that the family lawyer of father and son Agalarov – who were the original instigators of the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior – says that they categorically deny that the misrepresentations in Goldstone’s emails had anything to do with them, and they blame Goldstone for them

The vast majority of what Rob Goldstone said in email exchange with Donald Trump Jr. is not accurate.  The only thing that’s true is that Emin asked the meeting to be arranged. The rest of it is not true, it’s false.

It is not true that Alar Agalarov had a meeting with Russian prosecutors about the campaign. It is not true that Natalya is a lawyer for the Russian Federation government, we understand that she’s a private practitioner, who represents private clients.  It is not true that our understanding was that the purpose of the meeting was to talk about the campaign, our understanding was only that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Magnitsky Act, which is an issue that we understand Natalya has been pursuing and interested in for some time.

Rob Goldstone was a publicist, a promoter for Emin’s musical career. So, they certainly had a relationship in that regard.

Rob Goldstone is an entertainment industry publicist. So, I think it’s fair to say that he was out of his alignment in making these communications. And what he said … is not true.

The important thing about this denial is that it admits that Emin Agalarov was the person who originally suggested the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and Veselnitskaya.  However if his denial and that of his father is to be believed, all they had in mind was a meeting to discuss the Magnitsky Act.

Neither of them apparently had any thought of a trade off of information about Hillary Clinton in return for a commitment to lift the sanctions imposed by the Magnitsky Act.

Perhaps the Agalarovs are not telling the truth, or perhaps Veselnitskaya – after securing the introduction to Goldstone from the Agalarovs – fooled Goldstone by pretending to be either the “Crown Prosecutor of Russia” or someone acting for this mythical person, or perhaps Goldstone sought to impress the Agalarovs with his importance by hyping up Veselnitskaya’s status in order to secure the meeting with Donald Trump Junior – which might not have happened otherwise – or perhaps Goldstone and Veselnitskaya were working on the deception together.

However two final points can be made before the chapter is closed on this strange affair.

The first is that there is some speculation that a speech Donald Trump announced around this time, which he said would expose Hillary Clinton’s malpractices but which he subsequently cancelled, was in some way connected to the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and Veselnitskaya.

There is not a scintilla of evidence that this was the case.

The Goldstone emails show that there was no communication between Goldstone and Donald Trump.  There is no evidence Donald Trump ever saw Goldstone’s emails, or had any knowledge of them or of his son’s meeting with Veselnitskaya until the story broke a few days ago.  All those involved categorically deny that he had any such knowledge or that the failure of Veselnitskaya to come up with information about Hillary Clinton had anything to do with the cancellation of his speech.  There is no reason to doubt this, and this theory should be abandoned.

By contrast the wording of Goldstone’s emails does at least point to a possibility that what happened was an unsuccessful attempt either to put flesh on the allegation in the first 20th June 2016 entry of the Trump Dossier that the Russians were feeding information to the Trump campaign from a secret file or dossier that they have on Hillary Clinton, or was possibly an attempt to verify this allegation.

Along with the timing there do seem to be some connections between some of the people involved – including Veselnitskaya and Goldstone – and Fusion GPS, the company which commissioned the Trump Dossier.

Though the Trump Dossier makes no reference to the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and Veselnitskaya, it does contain one brief reference to Araz Agalarov in an entry dated 14th September 2016, which reads as follows

Two knowledgeable St. Petersburg sources claim Republican candidate TRUMP has paid bribes and engaged in sexual activities there but key witnesses silenced and evidence hard to obtain.

Both believe Azeri business associate of TRUMP, Araz Agalarov will know the details.

This allegation – like many others in the Trump Dossier – is unsubstantiated, impossible to verify, and almost certainly invented.

However it does show that the people responsible for the Trump Dossier had the Agalarovs in their sights, which adds to the possibility that this was some sort of attempt either to spin something sinister out of their relationship with Donald Trump, or to probe into its nature.

There is now inevitably talk of Donald Trump Junior being summoned to testify before various Senate committees about this affair.  In truth since we know all the details of his actions there is no useful point in this other than to make some drama out of it.

If the Senate is really interested in getting to the bottom of this affair then the person they should be asking to see is Rob Goldstone, who was the author of the emails.  On the face of it he has some serious questions to answer, and his replies could be interesting.

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Skripal and Khashoggi: A Tale of Two Disappearances

Two disappearances, and two different responses.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Two disappearances, and two very different responses from Western governments, which illustrates their rank hypocrisy.

When former Russian spy Sergei Skripal went missing in England earlier this year, there was almost immediate punitive action by the British government and its NATO allies against Moscow. By contrast, Western governments are straining with restraint towards Saudi Arabia over the more shocking and provable case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The outcry by Western governments and media over the Skripal affair was deafening and resulted in Britain, the US and some 28 other countries expelling dozens of Russian diplomats on the back of unsubstantiated British allegations that the Kremlin tried to assassinate an exiled spy with a deadly nerve agent. The Trump administration has further tightened sanctions citing the Skripal incident.

London’s case against Moscow has been marked by wild speculation and ropey innuendo. No verifiable evidence of what actually happened to Sergei Skripal (67) and his daughter Yulia has been presented by the British authorities. Their claim that President Vladimir Putin sanctioned a hit squad armed with nerve poison relies on sheer conjecture.

All we know for sure is that the Skripals have been disappeared from public contact by the British authorities for more than seven months, since the mysterious incident of alleged poisoning in Salisbury on March 4.

Russian authorities and family relatives have been steadfastly refused any contact by London with the Skripal pair, despite more than 60 official requests from Moscow in accordance with international law and in spite of the fact that Yulia is a citizen of the Russian Federation with consular rights.

It is an outrage that based on such thin ice of “evidence”, the British have built an edifice of censure against Moscow, rallying an international campaign of further sanctions and diplomatic expulsions.

Now contrast that strenuous reaction, indeed hyper over-reaction, with how Britain, the US, France, Canada and other Western governments are ever-so slowly responding to Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.

After nearly two weeks since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the Saudi regime is this week finally admitting he was killed on their premises – albeit, they claim, in a “botched interrogation”.

Turkish and American intelligence had earlier claimed that Khashoggi was tortured and murdered on the Saudi premises by a 15-member hit squad sent from Riyadh.

Even more grisly, it is claimed that Khashoggi’s body was hacked up with a bone saw by the killers, his remains secreted out of the consulate building in boxes, and flown back to Saudi Arabia on board two private jets connected to the Saudi royal family.

What’s more, the Turks and Americans claim that the whole barbaric plot to murder Khashoggi was on the orders of senior Saudi rulers, implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The latest twist out of Riyadh, is an attempt to scapegoat “rogue killers” and whitewash the House of Saudi from culpability.

The fact that 59-year-old Khashoggi was a legal US resident and a columnist for the Washington Post has no doubt given his case such prominent coverage in Western news media. Thousands of other victims of Saudi vengeance are routinely ignored in the West.

Nevertheless, despite the horrific and damning case against the Saudi monarchy, the response from the Trump administration, Britain and others has been abject.

President Trump has blustered that there “will be severe consequences” for the Saudi regime if it is proven culpable in the murder of Khashoggi. Trump quickly qualified, however, saying that billion-dollar arms deals with the oil-rich kingdom will not be cancelled. Now Trump appears to be joining in a cover-up by spinning the story that the Khashoggi killing was done by “rogue killers”.

Britain, France and Germany this week issued a joint statement calling for “a credible investigation” into the disappearance. But other than “tough-sounding” rhetoric, none of the European states have indicated any specific sanctions, such as weapons contracts being revoked or diplomatic expulsions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “concerned” by the gruesome claims about Khashoggi’s killing, but he reiterated that Ottawa would not be scrapping a $15 billion sale of combat vehicles to Riyadh.

The Saudi rulers have even threatened retaliatory measures if sanctions are imposed by Western governments.

Saudi denials of official culpability seem to be a brazen flouting of all reason and circumstantial evidence that Khashoggi was indeed murdered in the consulate building on senior Saudi orders.

This week a glitzy international investor conference in Saudi Arabia is being boycotted by top business figures, including the World Bank chief, Jim Yong Kim, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Britain’s venture capitalist Richard Branson. Global firms like Ford and Uber have pulled out, as have various media sponsors, such as CNN, the New York Times and Financial Times. Withdrawal from the event was in response to the Khashoggi affair.

A growing bipartisan chorus of US Senators, including Bob Corker, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Chris Murphy, have called for the cancellation of American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as for an overhaul of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Still, Trump has rebuffed calls for punitive response. He has said that American jobs and profits depend on the Saudi weapons market. Some 20 per cent of all US arms sales are estimated to go to the House of Saud.

The New York Times this week headlined: “In Trump’s Saudi Bargain, the Bottom Line Proudly Stands Out”.

The Trump White House will be represented at the investment conference in Saudi Arabia this week – dubbed “Davos in the Desert” by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He said he was attending in spite of the grave allegations against the Saudi rulers.

Surely the point here is the unseemly indulgence by Western governments of Saudi Arabia and its so-called “reforming” Crown Prince. It is remarkable how much credulity Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and others are affording the Saudi despots who, most likely, have been caught redhanded in a barbarous murder.

Yet, when it comes to Russia and outlandish, unproven claims that the Kremlin carried out a bizarre poison-assassination plot, all these same Western governments abandon all reason and decorum to pile sanctions on Russia based on lurid, hollow speculation. The blatant hypocrisy demolishes any pretense of integrity or principle.

Here is another connection between the Skripal and Khashoggi affairs. The Saudis no doubt took note of the way Britain’s rulers have shown absolute disregard and contempt for international law in their de facto abduction of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. If the British can get away with that gross violation, then the Saudis probably thought that nobody would care too much if they disappeared Jamal Khashoggi.

Grotesquely, the way things are shaping up in terms of hypocritical lack of action by the Americans, British and others towards the Saudi despots, the latter might just get away with murder. Not so Russia. The Russians are not allowed to get away with even an absurd fantasy.

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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