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Trump tells Putin he would welcome Russian help over North Korea

While Trump was quoted as saying that Russia is not currently helping, the truth is that Russia is doing more to attempt and ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, than any other power.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a phone call with Donald Trump on the possibility of joint negotiations with North Korea. While few details have emerged from the conversation, the office of the Russian President has stated that Trump expressed his willingness to support Russian efforts to establish a multi-lateral dialogue with Pyongyang.

The US President is quoted as saying,

“We would love to have his help on North Korea. China’s helping, Russia’s not helping. We’d like to have Russia’s help, very important”.

While Trump’s remarks will be welcomed by many as they indicate a shift away from Washington’s position of threatening to “destroy” North Korea, Trump’s assessment is factually untrue.

Over the last several months, Russia has intensified its diplomatic contacts with officials in Pyongyang, in an effort to try and reach an acceptable understanding with all sides, in-line with the joint Chinese-Russian Double Freeze peace proposals, which mandate that the DPRK cease its weapons tests while the US, South Korea and Japan simultaneously cease their military drills in the region.

Additionally, Vladimir Putin has proposed a tripartite economic cooperation scheme which would see South and North Korea cooperating with Russia over joint economic, trading and energy ventures. Both the South Korean President and North Korean officials have expressed interest in the proposals. Such a scheme, if implement could then be easily integrated into China’s existing One Belt–One Road initiative.

Two Koreas–One Road: The future of cooperation between North Korea, South Korea and Russia

I recently wrote the following about Russia’s position as a a natural peace broker over matters concerning North Korea.

“During debates over whether the US will ever be willing to approach North Korea and request a good faith dialogue to calm tensions in the region, one cannot help but think there is a certain useless quality to such questions. How can the US be ready for dialogue with another country when the US appears not even to fully listen to what North Korea says very clearly in public? Forgetting North Korea, when the US doesn’t even listen to North Korea’s neighbours China and Russia, one must come to terms with the impossibility of the US as a good faith dialogue partner.

North Korea’s position vis-a-vis its contemporary weapons programme has always been clear. One needn’t be a spy or have secret drones flying over Pyongyang to ascertain this. One only needs to use the internet to read official statements from the DPRK and listen to what its diplomats say at places like the UN.

North Korea’s current position can be easily defined as follows:

The DPRK will not negotiate the state of its weapons programme until such a time that the DPRK achieves nuclear parity with the United States. 

In this context, parity does not mean the same number of nuclear bombs and nuclear warhead capable missiles as the United States. It would take decades for North Korea to reach such a parity. Instead, North Korea seeks to achieve the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon to US soil, just as the US can do the same in respect of North Korea (and the rest of the world).

North Korea’s latest missile test which saw the launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM, is, according to North Korea itself, the crowing achievement of this parity. Unlike previous missiles launched by the DPRK which were medium range, the Hwasong-15 is almost certainly a fully-fledged ICBM. According to North Korea, it is capable of delivering a nuclear payload without breaking up upon re-entering earth’s atmosphere. There is of course only one way to know if this is entirely true and that would be if North Korea launched a nuclear weapon using the missile. Thus, such a question is not meaningful as the only way to find out of North Korea is bluffing is by running the risk of what is statistically known as a megadeath.

While North Korea’s previous missile launches were called ICBM launches by Washington, Russia had been quick to point out that they were in fact medium range missiles. This time, the global consensus is that the new missile is the real deal. No one thus far has challenged any of North Korea’s scientific claims in respect of the Hwasong-15. By contrast, many in the weapons watching community are amazed that North Korea was able to achieve such a feat in such a short period of time and without any meaningful outside help.

If one accepts that North Korea has then reached nuclear parity with the US, the next logical question ought to be, is North Korea bluffing in respect of having a willingness to enter discussions with outside powers now that parity has been reached?

The answer which has come from the only major power to have anything approximating healthy relations with North Korea is that North Korea is ready, if the nature of the discussions does not seek to threaten the DPRK’s own security concerns.

Russia has recently sent a delegation to North Korea as part of a highly under-reported diplomatic initiative by Moscow to reach a respectful understanding with North Korea about the current situation in the region. At the same time, Moscow is developing ever closer ties with South Korea. With relations between Seoul and Moscow at an historic high, it would be completely wrong to say that Russia is playing favourites between the Korean states as one could have said during the Cold War.

According to Alexei Chepa who formed part of the Russian delegation to Pyongyang,

‘They (North Korea) expect that the Hwasong-15 ICBM will put them on par with the US and guarantee them peace. This is their position: they wanted to demonstrate what they are capable of.

After this launch, North Korea will probably be ready to talk on new conditions’.

Other members of the delegation stressed that at this time, the existance of North Korea’s weapons programme is non-negotiable but that if talks begin now, the DPRK will be willing to entertain long-term de-escalation plans if its security concerns are met by all major regional and global powers. Because Russia accepts North Korea’s totally legitimate security concerns, Russia is a natural mediator of such would-be negotiations. This is especially true as relations between North Korea and China have plummeted in recent years, for reasons that were initially unrelated to Pyongyang’s weapons programme. The governments of Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un simply do not see eye to eye. Russia, as a closer partner of China, is however in the position to help reduce this tension and unlike the US, China would readily welcome such a thaw.

Kazbek Taisayev, the head of Russia’s legislative delegation who regularly corresponds with his North Korea counterparts has said,

‘We discussed this initiative of ours… They are ready for a dialogue,’ he said. ‘They are ready for talks. But they obviously mistrust everyone, except for Russia. My impression is that only Russia could act as a guarantor in such talks… They deem the US impossible to negotiate with’.

Vitaly Pashin who also formed part of the Russian delegation to the DPRK stated,

‘We suggest a road map, so that in the future, not now, North Korea could give up on its nuclear program. We have discussed this issue with our colleagues, but they replied by saying that ‘we will never give up on the nuclear program amid the current situation’.

They say, we [North Korea] have launched a ballistic missile… intentionally to be sure that we are safe’.

As the Russian President himself stated publicly, following from the precedent of the US attacking Libya and Iraq, countries which did not have a nuclear deterrent, it is only natural for North Korea to want what amounts to a geo-political insurance policy.

Russia is aware that South Korea, Japan and even China are either worried or irritated by North Korea’s nuclear weapons, while also being aware that North Korea is frightened that if left defenceless, the US could do to it, what the US did during the Korean War. During that war, Pyongyang was entirely destroyed and 600,000 North Koreans were killed. As this happened in the lifetime of many older citizens of the DPRK, it really is not surprising that Pyongyang seeks to arm itself at a time when the US threatens to “destroy” North Korea a second time, as both Donald Trump and his UN Ambassador Nikki Haley have threatened many times.

By entering into negotiations without preconditions, Russia and both Korean states could eventually reach an accord, one that would likely be in line with the tripartite economic cooperation proposals which Vladimir Putin introduced in September of this year.

At the time, South Korea said they are ready to discuss such plans now and North Korea said they will be ready in the future.

Now that North Korea has achieved its much coveted nuclear parity, the time for such discussions to being will be soon according to Russia. This is of course entirely consistent with North Korea’s public statements.

Of the many differences between the US and Russia, one key difference is that while Russia listens to every country on earth, including the United States, the United States appears only to listen to itself. Is it any wonder that such a country is seen as a poor negotiating partner? Just ask Iran who agreed to de-escalate its own weapons programme, only to be continually threatened by the US and its Israeli partner, a country whose own illegal nuclear weapons are hardly ever discussed, even though it has been at war with every single one of its neighbours and continues to occupy both Syria and Palestine”.

While China seeks to peacefully integrate East Asia into the One Belt–One Road trade and commerce initiative, because of the strained relations between China under President Xi and North Korea under Kim Jong-un, it has largely fallen on Russia to be a reasonable mediator as China, in spite of its reasonable proposals regarding the Korean peninsula, has grown increasingly exacerbated with Pyongyang dating back to the ascension of the current North Korean leader.

North Korea’s nuclear deterrent proves One Belt–One Road is the only hope for peace

Ultimately, any would-be peace process on the Korean peninsula will have to be instigated by Russia, as Russia has the best relations with Pyongyang of any of the superpowers, while Moscow continues to build highly important economic ties to Seoul.

If Russia can convince both Korean states to come to the table, it is almost certain that at that point China would happily join, as Chinese officials have said on multiple occasions.

At such a juncture, the United States would either have to accept a compromise authored primarily by Russia, China and the two Korean states themselves, or otherwise walk away from the table as Washington did during previous negotiations in 2009.

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Terrorism

Possible terror attack at California mall thwarted by anti-jihad activist

Angry Muslim women and a shady Muslim man’s carefully-placed backpack were all part of the terrorism scene at the LA shopping mall on July 7.

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Los Cerritos Center, Los Angeles. Photo: losangeles.cbslocal.com

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office and the Los Cerritos Shopping Center are hush hush for now. It’s not yet clear if it was an attempted terror attack or just a dry run, but what is clear enough is that an observant anti-jihad activist thwarted the plans of some ill-intentioned Muslims on Saturday, July 7.

According to Big League Politics, Steve Amundson, the founder of the Counter Jihad Coalition (CJC), trained to detect security threats, noticed several alarming clues that led him to believe a terror attack was underway.

The last straw was when an angry Muslim carefully placed his backpack under the CJC’s table outside the Los Cerritos Shopping Center and walked away, later refusing to retrieve it.

Amundson was on the street that day with a pastor colleague, passing out literature about Islam and the threat it poses to America and other Western nations. An unidentified Muslim man wearing a backpack approached the pastor and began furiously arguing with him.

“Before leaving the table, Amundson says he witnessed the Muslim man strategically place his backpack underneath the CJC booth and walk away,” Laura Loomer writes for Big League Politics.

Amundson asked the pastor if he knew the Muslim man. When he said no, Amundson immediately reported the incident to mall security.

Loomer lays out the events and “red flags” leading up to mall security being called:

The events that unfolded next are shocking, and quite disturbing. Amundson told Big League Politics that after he alerted mall security, they approached the man and asked him if the backpack was his. The man said the backpack did belong to him, but he then refused to retrieve his backpack that he had placed underneath the CJC booth before walking away.

After a discussion with security, the Muslim man walked away with security, and security carefully took the backpack.

Over the past six months that Amundson and his colleagues have been tabling, he has experienced an increase in physical attacks against himself and his booth. For this reason, Amundson says he and his colleagues are trained to detect security threats and what they call “red flags”. While passing out literature on Saturday, Amundson says he witnessed and documented several red flags at the Los Cerritos Shopping Center.

The first red flag occurred when two Muslim men inside the mall began snapping pictures of the CJC booth and making phone calls shortly after. Amundson witnessed this and recognized it as “red flag one.”

bigleaguepolitics.com

The second red flag occurred when two Muslim women approached the booth and began cursing at the CJC’s booth operators, calling them liars. Mall security observed the hostile interaction and began speaking to the two women. It was at that moment when the two Muslim women distracted security that a white haired Muslim male walked over to the booth and slid his backpack under that table.

Mall security has thus far declined to confirm if the Muslim man was arrested or if the bomb squad had been called. Thus, it remains unclear if this was a dry run or the real deal.

The report continues:

Amundson’s experience at the shopping center is disturbing and concerning for many reasons, primarily because it appears as though the mall security and Sheriff’s Office are actively working to keep the public and Amundson in the dark about what appears to be a dry run of a jihadi attack. What happened to Amundson at the shopping center is a very serious incident the needs to be further investigated and disclosed to the public to ensure that people are aware of the threat that is clearly present within their own community.

Amundson applied to have another CJC booth at the same mall on July 21, which mall security rejected, citing safety concerns: “While we understand your organization’s right to engage in free speech subject to reasonable time, place and manner rules, we must consider the safety of the Center’s patrons.”

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Maria Butina, her crime: A love of the NRA and being Russian (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has communicated to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Russian national Maria Butina must be set free and allowed to return to Russia, after she was arrested by US officials on dubious spy charges.

Lavrov said that the US should immediately release the Russian gun activist, who is being held in the US on espionage charges, after a phone conversation with his US counterpart.

Lavrov called the charges levied against Butina “fabricated.”

In his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, “Lavrov stressed that the actions of the US authorities that arrested Russian citizen Butina on fabricated charges are unacceptable.”

In an official statement the Russian Foreign Ministry called for her “immediate release.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the oddly timed, out of the blue arrest of Maria Butina, who is being held by US authorities for what they claim to be a violation of the FARA act.

In reality Maria Butina’s crime is much more troubling than simply failing to register as a foreign agent.

Maria made the double mistake of being in the United States of America as a Russian citizens who loves guns, at a time when racism and bigotry against Russians and NRA supporters is surpassing McCarthyite levels.

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Via RT

The Foreign minister raised the issue during phone conversations that were made at the request of the US and aimed at “further normalization of the US-Russian relations” following the summit between the US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, as well as the situation in Syria.

The 29-year-old Russian student and a gun activist was arrested in the US about a week ago and charged with acting as a foreign agent without registering her activities with the authorities. Butina has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On July 16, a DC Federal Court rejected Butina’s bail plea and ordered her to be placed in custody pending trial over fears that she could flee or contact Russian intelligence officials. Her lawyer says the trial is being politicized and Russian embassy staff were only allowed to visit her in jail on Thursday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called Butina’s arrest politically motivated, adding that it could have been aimed at disrupting the Helsinki summit between Putin and Trump. On Thursday, the ministry also launched a campaign hashtagged #FreeMariaButina on Twitter to raise awareness of her case.

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Ugly breakup at FBI: Lisa Page throws ex-lover, Peter Strzok, under the bus (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 60.

Alex Christoforou

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While Peter Strzok’s testimony put a face on the deceptive and secretive Deep State, GOP lawmakers who were present at Lisa Page’s closed-door deposition said they learned a lot of new information from the ex-FBI lawyer, and ex-lover of Peter Strzok.

Lisa Page confirmed to GOP lawmakers that the text messages sent between her and her lover Strzok “meant exactly what they said,” contrary to Strzok’s testimony.

According to The Gateway Pundit, one damning text message in particular sent from Strzok on May 19th, 2017, just two days after Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, intrigued investigators and the public alike.

“There’s no big there there,” Strzok texted.

According to investigative reporter, John Solomon, Lisa Page confirmed that text from Peter Strzok did indeed refer to the Trump-Russia case.

Strzok knew it was a nothing-burger yet he forged ahead.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou, RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle, and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how Peter Strzok’s testimony has undoubtedly contradicted Lisa Page’s cooperative deposition, as the ex-FBI lawyer is preparing to save herself, while throwing her ex-lover under the bus.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Epoch Times

Representatives John Ratcliffe and Louie Gohmert of Texas recently shared their observations of the closed-door testimony of former high-ranking FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which concluded on July 16.

One of the major questions regarding the testimony was whether it would match the one given by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.

But while Ratcliffe said he found a mismatch, Gohmert wouldn’t go so far.

Page and Strzok played major roles in the investigations on both 2016 presidential candidates: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. During the same period, Page and Strzok had an affair and exchanged thousands of text messages expressing a strong bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton.

“When I questioned Lisa Page on Friday about the anti-Trump text messages that were sent between herself and Peter Strzok, there were significant differences in her testimony and Strzok’s as it relates to what she thought some of these text messages meant,” Ratcliffe said in a July 16 tweet, shortly before the second round of questioning.

“Page gave us new information that Strzok either wouldn’t or couldn’t, confirming some of the concerns we had about these investigations and the people involved in running them,” he wrote.

On July 17, Ratcliffe expanded on his further statements about Page’s testimony. Radcliffe told Fox News…

“There are differences in their testimony.”

“In many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say, as opposed to agent Strzok, who thinks that we’ve all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative.”

Via The Epoch Times

In one of the texts, Strzok vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president. In another, the two discussed having an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely” event that Trump would win the election.

Strzok, who gave a closed-door testimony on June 27 and a public one on July 12, said the first message meant he and the American people would stop Trump. The second, he said previously, meant he wanted to pursue the Russia investigation aggressively, in case Trump won.

GOP lawmakers were furious with Strzok’s attitude and unwillingness to answer questions. In a scathing monologue, Gohmert even linked Strzok’s credibility to the fact that he was unfaithful to his wife.

President Donald Trump repeatedly called Strzok’s testimony a “disgrace.”

The lawmakers said Page was comparatively more cooperative.

“There were times the FBI lawyers would be reaching to the button to mute her comment, and she would answer before they could mute her comment,” Gohmert told Fox News.

He said Page didn’t contradict Strzok “so much,” but “has given us insights into who was involved in what.”

“I think she’ll be a good witness,” he said.

Page ditched her first testimony appointment on July 11, prompting GOP lawmakers to threaten her with contempt of Congress. She then agreed to appear on July 13, which gave her the opportunity to review Strzok’s public testimony before giving hers.

The lawmakers are probing the FBI’s and Justice Department’s decisions before the election, suspecting they were influenced by political considerations.

Texts between Strzok and Page suggest that the FBI initiated an offensive counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign as early as December 2015.

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