339 posts

Pakistan lashed out Monday after President Trump accused its leaders of “lies and deceit” and suggested the United States would withdraw financial assistance to the nuclear-armed nation it once saw as a key ally against terrorism.

U.S. Ambassador David Hale was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to discuss the president’s statement, U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said. Pakistan lodged a strongly worded protest, according to two foreign office officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Pakistan’s prime minister, Shahid Abbasi, called a Cabinet meeting for Tuesday and a meeting of the National Security Committee on Wednesday to discuss Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet.


President Trump expressed renewed support Sunday for protesters in Iran, declaring that “people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism.”

In a tweet from his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, the president said the nationwide economic protests that began on Thursday – and have taken on wider political overtones as they have grown in size --- were a signal that Iranians “will not take it any longer.”

The president’s earlier hailing of the protests drew condemnation from Iran’s government. A Foreign Ministry spokesman called his comments “deceitful and opportunistic.”

  • Russia
Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer.
Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer. (Alastair Grant / Associated Press)

An Australian diplomat's tip appears to have helped persuade the FBI to investigate Russian meddling in the U.S. election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign, the New York Times reported Saturday.

Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos told the diplomat, Alexander Downer, during a meeting in London in May 2016 that Russia had thousands of emails that would embarrass Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, the report said. Downer, a former foreign minister, is Australia's top diplomat in Britain.

Australia passed the information on to the FBI after the Democratic emails were leaked, according to the Times, which cited four current and former U.S. and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians' role.

President Trump again offered support Saturday for anti-government protesters in Iran, where a third day of demonstrations, the largest in years, spilled across the country amid fears of a crackdown.

“Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump took a break from playing golf near his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to tweet clips from his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September when he called for Iranian democratic reforms.

  • White House
  • Russia

The deteriorating relationship between the United States and Russia is one of the biggest disappointments of 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman told reporters today.

Russia would like to rebuild relations between the two adversaries, but “it takes two to tango,” Dmitry Peskov said today during a conference call with the press.

“We want and are looking for good mutually beneficial relations based on mutual respect, mutual trust with all countries, primarily with European ones, including the United States, but it is necessary to dance tango, as they say.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Associated Press)

The United States and Turkey began issuing reciprocal visas again on Thursday, more than two months after normal visa service was suspended in a dispute over the arrest of two U.S. diplomatic staffers in Istanbul — the latest friction between the two nominal allies.

The State Department said it was lifting the visa restrictions after it was assured by the Turkish government that U.S. Embassy employees would not be arrested when performing their official duties.

But the Turkish Embassy in Washington denied assurances were offered “concerning the ongoing judicial processes,” and suggested that the arrests were legal and justified.

  • White House
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

President Trump isn’t taking a holiday vacation from Twitter. In one of three tweets early on Thursday from his West Palm Beach golf club, he charged that China was “caught RED HANDED” allowing oil shipments to reach North Korean ports.

Pronouncing himself “very disappointed,” Trump in effect was acknowledging the failure of his months-long effort to convince China to clamp down further on energy shipments going to the isolated country, which relies heavily on Beijing, as a way to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. 

Trump’s tweet came after a South Korean newspaper published what it said were U.S. spy satellite images of Chinese ships selling oil to North Korean ships.

  • White House
President Trump visits a firehouse in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday.
President Trump visits a firehouse in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

After another morning at his Florida golf club, President Trump visited firefighters and paramedics at a West Palm Beach firehouse and praised his own performance as president, including with a false boast.

Trump touted his administration’s work to roll back government regulations and cut taxes and claimed credit for the stock market hitting record highs. He also said he’s signed more bills into law than any other president, which isn’t true.

“We have signed more legislation than anybody,” Trump said, standing in front of a rescue vehicle inside the fire station. 

Sergei Lavrov
Sergei Lavrov (AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked Russia on Wednesday to reinstate its military personnel at a monitoring station in eastern Ukraine intended to quell escalating bloodshed.

In a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, Tillerson also urged Russia to “lower the level of violence” and underscored the Trump administration’s “concern” over increased fighting in Ukraine, the State Department said in a statement.

Russia last week withdrew its monitors from the Joint Center on Coordination and Control, which is tasked with verifying a much-violated ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists. Moscow cited what it called restrictions and “provocations” from Ukrainian authorities that made it impossible for the observers to do their jobs.  

(Associated Press)

The Trump administration announced sanctions Tuesday against two more North Korean officials for their alleged role in Pyongyang’s expanding ballistic missiles program.

The Treasury Department “is targeting leaders of North Korea’s ballistic missile programs, as part of our maximum pressure campaign to isolate [North Korea] and achieve a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement.

The nuclear-armed country tested an intercontinental ballistic missile last month that U.S. officials said appeared capable of reaching New York or Washington, a significant milestone in the country’s growing arsenal.