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Syria is a Lost Cause and America Must Move On

America must realize it has no military role to play in Syria’s future.

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Candidate Donald Trump sounded different from his predecessors. He criticized endless war-making in the Middle East and wanted U.S. forces out of Syria. But U.S. administration officials recently said they are in no hurry to exit the Syrian civil war and threatened military strikes if the Assad government again used chemical weapons.

Why?

The seven-year conflict is in its endgame. Backed by Russian airpower and Iranian ground forces, the Assad government has steadily defeated various rebel groups across the country. Damascus is now secure, with rebels finally driven from nearby suburbs. Some neighborhoods in Homs and Aleppo lie in ruins, but fighting has ceased. The regime is in firm control over most of the country.

Only Idlib province remains under insurgent control, and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are preparing what may be the final offensive. The region is crammed with refugees, sparking fears of a humanitarian disaster. But with Iran’s and Russia’s aid Damascus almost certainly will reestablish its control, destroying or displacing rebel forces that are now mostly Islamist radicals. At that point, only territories in the north and southeast—which have U.S. bases—lie outside the Assad regime’s control.

U.S. policy has been counterproductive, even irrational, throughout the extended conflict. The Obama administration originally labeled Assad a “reformer.” Then Washington demanded his ouster—reducing the incentive for both him and the opposition to negotiate. As the conflict developed the United States initiated combat operations against the Islamic State while pushing to oust Assad, who fielded the strongest forces opposing ISIS. American aid then went to so-called moderates even as they fell behind more radical groups, often surrendering to the latter.

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While targeting ISIS, Washington backed Islamists such as Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate. Washington also sought to work with Turkey’s Erdogan government, even as the latter facilitated Islamic State operations in Syria. America turned to Kurdish forces to lead the ground attack on the Islamic State but refused to defend its allies when Ankara intervened militarily to expel Kurds from their homes near the Turkish-Syrian border. Furthermore, Washington encouraged the involvement of the Gulf States, which underwrote the most radical rebel factions. Although nominally arrayed against ISIS, Washington’s allies largely shifted their militaries away from America’s priority of fighting ISIS to Yemen.

While avoiding direct involvement in Syria’s conflict, the United States launched missile strikes in response to alleged Syrian use of chemical weapons. Yet the vast majority of the conflict’s casualties—with deaths estimated at around a half million—were the result of conventional military action by all sides. Bombs and bullets killed far more people than chemical weapons. Washington, however, preened morally while Syrians still died in by ever-increasing numbers.

Finally, the Obama administration steadily increased U.S. involvement in Syria, a distant conflict with no significant impact on American security, yet while also denouncing both Iran and Russia for intervening in support of their far greater interests. The administration introduced U.S. forces without congressional authorization while Tehran and Moscow, both long allied with Damascus, responded to the Assad government’s request for support.

Overall, U.S. policy was not just a failure, but a disaster. Washington managed to do little more than raise expectations among Assad’s opponents, prolonging the war and increasing its toll. American aid strengthened radical jihadists, which pose a far greater challenge to America than Damascus. Washington’s focus on ISIS allowed the governments most threatened—Syria, Turkey, and the Gulf States—to focus on other enemies (“moderate” insurgents, Kurds, and Yemenis, respectively).

Finally, Washington reinforced its well-earned reputation for being not just careless but irresponsible in attacking countries without considering what was likely to follow. Assad is a tribal leader with strong support, especially from Syrian minorities who saw the consequences of America’s invasion of Iraq and didn’t want a repeat. One Alawite told me that disagreements with Assad ended when the fighting started.

The latter was the only defense against “chaos and the jungle.” Washington officials might view that attitude as short-sighted. But somewhere between two hundred thousand and a million people died in the sectarian war unleashed by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Why would anyone trust America?

It is this record which candidate Trump understandably criticized for good reason.

But President Trump’s Syria policy has turned into that of his predecessor. Although Washington gave up supporting insurgents, there aren’t many left to aid. The Islamic State is largely defeated, but America is unwilling to shift responsibility back to Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, and the Gulf States, all of which have interests in eradicating ISIS’s final elements.

With the Idlib offensive soon to begin, the Trump administration is threatening military action if, but only if, the Assad government uses chemical weapons, a minor factor in the conflict.

Even worse, the administration apparently plans to reinforce the U.S. presence in the southeast near the Iraqi border to pressure Iranian supply lines. And Washington hopes American forces cooperating with Kurdish militias in the north can both inhibit Iranian access to the rest of Syria and force Assad’s ouster by denying the regime access to people and resources, especially oil deposits.

These operations are illegal under both U.S. and international law. Congress never authorized an American invasion of Syria to oust its legally legitimate (however hostile) government. Nor was any action authorized to prevent the operation of an alliance between Damascus and other legally legitimate governments, including Iran.

Nor is it obvious why Washington should want to do so. Syria does not threaten the United States, or Israel, which is more than capable of deterring Damascus. Brutal authoritarian governments are unpleasant, but common in the Middle East. Moreover, they are often allied with America (think Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey).

Iran is a malign actor but is overstretched, and its alliance with Syria is defensive. Far more aggressive and dangerous is Washington’s “friend,” Saudi Arabia, which has invaded its neighbor Yemen. Saudi Arabia has used its troops to sustain a minority royal dictatorship in Bahrain, funded anti-Western radicals in Syria, and kidnapped the Lebanese prime minister.

In any case, it is hard to imagine how the administration can succeed. When visiting Syria at the end of August, I traveled widely, including to Homs and Aleppo. The reconstruction process will be painfully slow, but the war in these cities is over. The Assad regime is in firm control. He won’t leave because Washington wants him to.

Nor is there any chance that Moscow will oust its ally. Russia has paid heavily to sustain the Assad government; Putin will not risk his gains to please America, absent an unlikely offer of great value, such as lifting sanctions. Additionally, there is little Moscow can do to coerce Syria, other than halt support for military operations—but that won’t force out Assad.

The Russians have even less leverage over Iran, which is in Syria at the invitation of the Assad government. Nor are the Kurds, effectively abandoned by Washington when they were attacked by Turkey, likely to do the Trump administration’s dirty work. They are far more likely to strike a deal with Damascus.

America, with very little at stake in Syria, wants to dictate Syria’s future and limit or exclude countries with far greater interests at stake than America has. Washington policymakers are dreaming. Even if their objectives were realistic, the gain wouldn’t be worth the effort. Both the Obama and Trump administrations were living in a fantasy world when it came to Syria.

However, the greatest risk from American involvement is the possibility of triggering a military confrontation. For instance, when attacking Washington’s Kurdish allies, Turkey threatened to advance on areas containing American personnel. Also, should Washington order attacks on Syrian military units for whatever reason, Russia might respond by either defending its ally or targeting America’s regional friends.

As a sovereign state, Damascus might be willing to risk a confrontation to reassert its control. Iran, too, might be willing to play a dangerous game of chicken. The greatest danger likely is not an intentional war but accident and miscalculation. Given the dearth of serious American interests at stake in Syria, Washington would be risking much for little.

Syria was always beyond U.S. control. Of course, fans of intervention claim that if only America had done something earlier—criticized someone, supported someone, or attacked someone—the civil war would have ended, and a democratic, pro-Western Syria would have emerged.

This reminds one of Ronald Reagan’s doomed hopes when intervening in Lebanon’s bitter, horrid, confusing civil war. It also echoes the cakewalk promised by proponents of the Iraq invasion. But there are far too many contrary actors with far too many interests involved for Washington to have its way.

Whatever the United States hoped for in 2011 and 2012, that world disappeared long ago. Today the Trump administration looks desperate. It has neither leverage nor influence to change Syria and only hopes to affect events by risking a military confrontation with multiple hostile powers over minimal stakes. Candidate Donald Trump would never have agreed to such a policy. President Donald Trump needs to remember why he ran for president.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.

Via The National Interest

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Bob Valdez
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Bob Valdez

Too bad the knuckleheads in the septic nation are not listening.

Raymond Comeau
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Raymond Comeau

Did everyone notice that the knuckleheads are dragging their knuckles?

Concerned Canuck
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Concerned Canuck

CORRECTION:

USA never had any legitimate cause to be involved in Syria.

So how can it be a lost cause?

Raymond Comeau
Guest
Raymond Comeau

The USA never is concerned as to whether a cause is legitimate or not. So, they must be held responsible for their illegitimate causes.

Guy
Member
Guy

“Why ”
It started out being for a pipeline route and Israel .Today it is about Israel .All about Israel and their wet dreams of the Oded Yinon plan.

Martha
Guest
Martha

“Brutal authoritarian governments are unpleasant, but common in the Middle East. Moreover, they are often allied with America (think Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey).”

I THINK the author of this piece means “ISRAEL” when he writes “America.”

Hoyeru
Guest
Hoyeru

many of the facts presented are not quite true. USA’s policy hasn’t ended in disaster. They couldn’t oust Assad but USA managed to divide Syria into 3 pieces, and USA/NATO/West now effectively controls all the land from beyond the river that’s the name. Turkey controls a lot of northern Syria, white Assad and Russia control the West site. Neither Assad nor Russia nor Iran can claim victory. The victory is far from won or secured. All USA/UK/France have to do i decide to invade Syria and neither Russia or Iran could stop them. And they could still do it. Maybe… Read more »

Shahna
Guest
Shahna

“Candidate Donald Trump sounded different from his predecessors.” ——————- Did he? Seems to me he sounded just like his predecessors – and like them – after promises gave them more war. Just another lying Yankee official who promises A – until he gets into office and then he does – what America always does. Kill civilians in foreign countries. Every-single-day. That’s what America Does – Trump’s no different. Just another arrogant loud-mouth bigoted American cunt. Who loves Twitter. Wow – – – the self-styled “leader of the world.” I wonder if they’ve noticed they become more and more irrelevant every… Read more »

Shahna
Guest
Shahna

“The Obama administration originally labeled Assad a “reformer.” “ —————- He was a reformer – until he refused to bow to American demands regarding pipelines ‘n stuff then he became a vicious dictator and now an animal. It’s not rocket science – just thinking that what America “SAYS” has any relevance to what America DOES. Here’s how it works. When Americans speak – it’s just background noise. It has no intelligence and no relevance to anything. I mean, just listen to the Waffle Waitress – “Yakkity yakkity yakkity yak.” A monkey jabbering in the tree. … Monkey probably makes more… Read more »

Cheryl Brandon
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Cheryl Brandon

What Satanyahu of Occupied Palestine really think about USA; Here’s his own words in 2005;” Once we squeeze out of USA all that we need, It can blow away fro all I care”;This is the same man who gets billions in welfare from USA. So, you can imagine how they both want to illegally stay in Syria with no support apart from the KURDSish terrorists and EU members?

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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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