Foreign affairs
December 9, 2018

China's Foreign Ministry has summoned the U.S. and Canadian ambassadors to China to protest the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies.

Meng was taken into custody in Vancouver, Canada, on Dec. 1, at U.S. direction. She faces extradition to the United States, where she is accused of helping Huawei, a major electronics manufacturer, evade American sanctions on Iran.

Beijing said the arrest "severely violated the Chinese citizen's legal and legitimate rights and interests," calling it "lawless, reasonless, and ruthless, and ... extremely vicious." Canada should "release the detainee immediately and earnestly protest the person's legal and legitimate rights and interests," the statement said, "otherwise it will definitely have serious consequences, and the Canadian side will have to bear the full responsibility for it." Bonnie Kristian

November 20, 2018

The United States is contemplating placing Venezuela on its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

In September, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and two other GOP senators sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a letter stating that Venezuela has ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, but did not offer any concrete evidence. They asked for Venezuela to be added to the list, which has four countries on it: North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Sudan.

A U.S. official told Reuters those countries have "repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism," and for Venezuela to be added to the list, there has to be sufficient proof. Venezuela is experiencing food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation, and if the country ends up on the list, it could limit economic assistance from the United States. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said he is the victim of an "economic war" with the U.S. Catherine Garcia

November 18, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence took a harsh line on China at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday, pledging Washington "will not change course" on trade policy "until China changes its ways."

"We have great respect for [Chinese President Xi Jinping] and China," Pence said, "but as we all know, China has taken advantage of the United States for many, many years, and those days are over." He accused Beijing of unfair trade and lending practices and suggested additional tariffs may be on the way.

President Xi also spoke, arguing, "Unilateralism and protectionism will not solve problems but add uncertainty to the world economy." He called for further cooperation on trade and infrastructure development, defending his signature Belt-and-Road Initiative against Pence's critique. "History has shown that confrontation, whether in the form of a cold war, a hot war, or a trade war, produces no winners," Xi said. Bonnie Kristian

November 10, 2018

Hours after President Trump declared French President Emmanuel Macron "very insulting" for his recent advocacy of a "true European army," the two leaders touted their friendship and minimized differences Saturday afternoon.

"We have become very good friends over the last couple of years. We're very much similar in our views," Trump said of the French president. "We want a strong Europe; it's very important to us, and whichever way we can do it the best and more efficient would be something we both want," he continued. "We want to help Europe but it has to be fair. Right now the burden sharing has been largely on the United States."

Macron continued to argue for "more European capacities, more European defense," though he couched it in language closer to Trump's gripes about burden sharing. "It's unfair to have the European security today being assured just by the United States," Macron said. "When President Trump has to protect or to defend one of the states of the United States, he doesn't ask France or Germany, or another government of Europe to finance it." Bonnie Kristian

November 10, 2018

"The sanctions have had no impact on our economy because America had already used all the weapons at its disposal and there was nothing new to use against us," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday of the Trump administration's restoration of all the sanctions previously suspended by the Iran nuclear deal, from which President Trump withdrew the U.S. earlier this year.

"[Washington] just issued a long list of banks, their branches ... and airlines and their planes," he continued. "And this shows that they are merely trying to affect the Iranian nation psychologically."

Rouhani has pledged Iran will not abide by the bans, promising to "proudly bypass your illegal, unjust sanctions." European signatories of the Iran deal have also condemned the Trump administration's move. Bonnie Kristian

November 6, 2018

Russia has missed a deadline to swear off use of chemical weapons, the State Department said in a notification to Congress Tuesday, which has triggered a new round of sanctions per the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

The Trump administration was required to certify whether Russia has complied with the law's terms and now must choose three of six sanctions options. The new measures may take several weeks to go into effect, though they could be waived if the president determines it is in U.S. national interest to do so.

House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ed Royce (R-Calif.) chided the Trump administration for failing to provide those implementation details more quickly. "No one should be surprised that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin refuses to swear off future use of weapons-grade nerve agents," he said. "It is unacceptable that the administration lacks a plan — or even a timeline — for action on the second round of mandatory sanctions required by U.S. law." Bonnie Kristian

November 5, 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday slammed the Trump administration's decision to re-impose sanctions on his country previously removed by the nuclear deal from which President Trump has withdrawn the United States.

"We are in the war situation," Rouhani said of the sanctions, which took effect Monday. "We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win."

He went on to compare the circumstances to what Iran faced in the 1980s in conflict with neighboring Iraq, then under the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein. "Yesterday, Saddam was in front us; today Trump is front of us," Rouhani said. "There is no difference. We must resist and win."

Iran on Friday reached out to several European countries to seek their continued support, and the European signatories of the Iran deal released a statement condemning the sanctions decision. Bonnie Kristian

October 20, 2018

The U.S. and South Korea on Friday canceled plans for a major joint military exercise previously set for December. The schedule change is intended to foster continued progress in diplomacy with North Korea.

"Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo decided to suspend Exercise Vigilant Ace to give the diplomatic process [with North Korea] every opportunity to continue," said chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White. She also reported Japan was consulted before the decision was made, and said Mattis and Jeong have "pledged to maintain close coordination and evaluate future exercises."

North Korea has long complained of such exercises, calling them "war games." While meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore this past summer, President Trump agreed to suspend some exercises while denuclearization talks proceed. Bonnie Kristian

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