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BREAKING: China calls Trump’s bluff; warns against unilateral action against North Korea

Telephone call by Chinese President and statement by Chinese Foreign Minister show President Trump’s bluff on North Korea has been called.

Alexander Mercouris

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As the Carl Vinson carrier group resumes its zigzag journey towards North Korea, comes news of a telephone call yesterday by Chinese President Xi Jinping to US President Donald Trump.  Importantly it seems it was President Xi who initiated the call as he set out to President Trump China’s position on the North Korean issue.

The People’s Daily – the official newspaper of China’s Communist Party – has provided a summary of the call

China hopes all parties can exercise “restraint” on the DPRK issue, and not take “provocative actions”, said Chinese President Xi Jinping during a phone conversation with his US counterpart Donald Trump on Monday.

Xi stressed China is strongly against any action that would violate any UN Security Council resolutions. The Chinese president added that only if all parties take their responsibilities and work together can the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue be solved.

The phone conversation came amid rising tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missileprograms, with concerns growing over the possibility of a sixth DPRK nuclear test.

(bold italics added)

An account of the call has also been provided by the White House.  It reads as follows

President Donald J. Trump spoke yesterday with President Xi Jinping of China to address issues regarding North Korea.  President Trump criticized North Korea’s continued belligerence and emphasized that Pyongyang’s actions are destabilizing the Korean Peninsula.  The two leaders reaffirmed the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and committed to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

This telephone call came simultaneously with a statement yesterday on the North Korean issue by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is currently in Athens, Greece.  Here complete is the People’s Daily account of what Wang Yi said

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi here on Sunday urged all sides to make voices of peace and reason on the Korean Peninsula issue, and reiterated China’s consistent and definite stand on denuclearizing the Peninsula.

Wang made the statement when asked about the situation of the Korean Peninsula at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.

Wang said that there were already enough shows of force and confrontation at present and that “we need to make peaceful and rational voices.”

China’s stand on the issue of the Korean Peninsula is constant and definite, and will not change, which means adherence to realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and adherence to maintaining peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, peaceful means must be applied to solve the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, Wang noted.

Though China is not the focus of the current contradiction, and though the key to solving the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula is not in its hands, China, adopting an attitude of assuming responsibility for peace of the Korean Peninsula and regional stability, has always been exerting efforts for resuming peace talks, according to Wang.

Recently, China has put forward a legitimate and reasonable proposal on the issue, which is winning understanding and support from more and more countries, the Chinese minister said, adding that China welcomes solutions proposed by other sides concerned if they also hold sincerity for peace.

China will not be swayed by the various statements concerned, and will not renounce its due responsibility,” Wang said, “China will continue maintaining dialogue and consultation with all sides and continue playing a constructive role in solving the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula.”

(bold italics added)

The highlighted words in the summaries of the comments of Xi Jinping and of Wang Yi make quite clear what China’s message to the US is.

China has warned the US against taking military action against North Korea.  It regards such military action as dangerous, destabilising, provocative and contrary to international law.  It also regards US threats to take unilateral action against North Korea as provocative and unhelpful.

China does not consider itself under any duty to “solve” the North Korean problem (“China is not the focus of the current contradiction”) and cannot and will not force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons or to stop its nuclear weapons programme (“solving the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula is not in [China’s] hands”).

That appears to rule out China imposing the sort of all-embracing sanctions on North Korea Donald Trump wants it to.

Instead what China wants is direct talks (“resuming peace talks”) between the US and North Korea to resolve their conflict.  Whilst this obviously includes denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula (which would also involve the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons known to be deployed in South Korea), the reference to “peace talks” may imply that China wants the US to negotiate a more all-encompassing peace settlement between itself and North Korea, as was originally envisaged during the previous period of dialogue between the US and North Korea in the 1990s.

The Chinese are making it clear that they are unimpressed both by Donald Trump’s threats and by his bribes (trade agreements and the like), and that they will not be swayed from their position on North Korea because of them (“China will not be swayed by the various statements concerned”).

President Trump’s response to this warning from China appears to have been both defensive and blustering (“President Trump criticized North Korea’s continued belligerence and emphasized that Pyongyang’s actions are destabilizing the Korean Peninsula”).

The strange movements of the Carl Vinson and its associated battle-fleet have understandably enough led many people to the think that the crisis which has been brewing up in the Korean Peninsula over the last few weeks is a wholly fake one, and that nothing real is happening there.

That clearly is not China’s view, as shown by the string of warnings China gave the US yesterday.

If President Trump was bluffing China to get China to put more pressure on North Korea, then – as I predicted–  his bluff has been called, and yesterday he was made starkly aware of the fact by no less a person than the Chinese President.  The fact his bluff was called no doubt explains Trump’s defensive and blustering response.

It is now up to President Trump to decide whether, with his bluff called, he now escalates, or draws back.  It is to be hoped he draws back.

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Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

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Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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