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Tag Archives: president
By Peter Apps LONDON (Reuters) – With Western powers increasingly concluding Ukraine has lost Crimea to Russia, the U.S. and its allies face few viable options and serious questions over future relations. In ignoring President Barack Obama's Friday warning to keep out of Ukraine, Russia looks to be precipitating the greatest crisis in Russia-Western relations since at least the fall of the …
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Russian President Vladimir Putins brazen takeover of Crimea has caused an uproar among the international community, but Ukrainians shouldnt expect military assistance unless their leaders pull a wild card and join NATO, according to experts.
My understanding is that military assistance is reserved for if a member of the NATO alliance is attacked. Ukraine was a candidate for NATO, and that option is theoretically still there, said Serhii Plokhii, a professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard University. Under the current arrangement it doesnt appear that there will be any interference from America or other NATO countries.
Members of NATO, an alliance of 28 countries including the United States, have an obligation to defend each other in military spats. Ukraine, which doesnt have full-member status, can only plead for assistance, but the U.S. and European neighbors have no obligation to step in with troops.
If Russia attempts to trudge forward and occupy other parts of Ukraine, it may be enough for the divided country to request membership and, in turn, military protection, according to one expert.
The current government hasnt announced any current plans to join NATO. However, if Russia continues to invade and intends to occupy other parts of the Ukraine, it makes it more likely that the rest of the country specifically the central government would actually ask for NATOs protection, said Oxana Shevel, a political science professor at Tufts who grew up in Ukraine.
Ukraine was on the road to potential affiliation with NATO until its now ousted President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of strengthening the countrys ties with Moscow.
NATO members have excoriated Putin for his quick takeover of Crimea. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general of NATO, has taken to Twitter to air his frustration.
(There is an) urgent need for de-escalation in Crimea. NATO allies continue to coordinate closely, he wrote, adding in his next tweet that Russia must respect Ukraines sovereignty, territorial integrity (and) borders, including … movement of Russian forces in Ukraine.
He later wrote that NATO allies are coordinating closely on what he called a grave situation in Ukraine. The North Atlantic Council, the principal political decision-making body within NATO, will meet today, he tweeted.
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By Stacy Meichtry PARIS–European leaders lashed out at Russia on Saturday, as Moscow moved to deploy troops in Ukraine’s pro-Russian region of Crimea, but they struggled to articulate what action, if any, they are prepared to take in response. The chorus of European officials–from the U.K. and Finland to Germany, France and Spain–expressed alarm over Moscow’s military plans, yet the outcry only underscored how badly the bloc has been caught flat-footed by a swift- moving President Vladimir Putin
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BRUSSELS: NATO defence ministers agreed on Thursday to plan for all options for the alliance’s future presence in Afghanistan including a possible pullout of all its troops this year, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
With foreign troops due to end combat operations in Afghanistan at the close of 2014, NATO has been planning to keep a slimmed-down force there to train and assist Afghan forces who continue to battle Taliban insurgents.
But NATO and US officials say President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign an agreement with the United States creating a legal framework for US troops to stay in Afghanistan could force it to pull out all its troops by the end of the year.
“Today we agreed the need to plan for all possible outcomes including the possibility that we may not be able to deploy to Afghanistan after 2014 due to the persistent delays we have seen,” NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen told a news conference.
On Wednesday, Rasmussen said he still hoped plans to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond this year could be salvaged. But President Barack Obama has told the Pentagon to prepare for the possibility that no US troops will be left in Afghanistan because of Karzai’s refusal to sign the accord.
With an election due in April, NATO officials still hope Karzai’s successor could sign the agreement.
“Let me be clear that this is not the outcome we want,” Rasmussen said, referring to the option of no NATO troops staying behind in Afghanistan after this year.
“It is not the outcome we think is in the interest of the Afghan people. However, it might be the unfortunate outcome if there is no security agreement in due time. This is what is at stake.”
The NATO-led force in Afghanistan has a current strength of more than 52,000 soldiers, including 33,600 US troops.
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Supporters hold a pro-gay marriage rally outside the Utah State Capitol on January 28, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (George Frey, Getty Images North America)
The national battle over same-sex marriage took a Texas-sized step toward an eventual U.S. Supreme Court showdown Wednesday after a federal judge declared a gay marriage ban unconstitutional.
The road to Washington will run through federal appeals courts in Denver, New Orleans, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Richmond, Va.
The Texas decision by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, will allow the nation’s second-most populous state to continue enforcing its ban while the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers the challenge.
Protesters are shown during a rally for the opponents for gay marriage at the Utah State Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)
“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote in a 48-page ruling. “These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex.”
The landslide of decisions by federal judges striking down gay marriage bans in states across the country was touched off by last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.
Milestones in the judicial contest over gay marriage have been reached on a daily basis this week including in Denver, where the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering similar challenges to gay marriage bans in Oklahoma and Utah.
Late Tuesday, plaintiffs contesting Utah’s ban filed their opening brief and on Monday attorneys defending Oklahoma’s gay marriage ban filed their opening brief.
“This is a true turning point, and one that shows the impact of the personal stories that same-sex couples have shared with their neighbors, families, and friends … ” said Shannon Mintor, an attorney for plaintiffs in the Utah case. “We are within sight of the day when same-sex couples across the country have the same freedom to marry and to have their marriages respected as others.”
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BRUSSELS — The U.S. and its European allies on Wednesday turned up the pressure on Afghanistan to authorize foreign troops on its territory after 2014, even as officials acknowledged that they may have to wait for President Hamid Karzais successor to resolve the standoff.
At the opening of a two-day NATO meeting, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that all alliance troops serving in Afghanistan would follow the U.S. in withdrawing at the end of the year if Kabul refuses to sign an agreement with Washington.
If there is no agreement, there will be no NATO troops in Afghanistan after 2014, he said. This is not our preferred option, but it might be the unfortunate outcome if the security agreement is not signed.
The warning from NATO was closely coordinated with the White House and came a day after President Obama told Karzai in a telephone call that the U.S. was planning for a complete withdrawal over Karzais refusal to sign the troop agreement.
NATO has been negotiating a separate agreement with Afghanistan that would authorize other countries to keep troops there after this year, but alliance officials have said from the beginning that the deal was contingent on Afghanistan concluding an accord with the U.S.
The stalemate over the troop agreement has frustrated the White House and the Pentagon, but it has taken even more of a toll in Europe, where the idea of keeping troops in Afghanistan after this year is even more controversial than it is in the U.S.
A senior NATO official said Italy, Germany and Turkey, each of which had pledged to play small but important roles in the post-2014 mission, face deadlines starting later this summer for getting parliamentary approval for the mission and the funds to carry it out.
Allied countries thus may not be able to wait as long for a decision on whether foreign troops will remain as the United States, which could delay until as late as October and still get its remaining troops out of the country by the end of December, officials said.
On Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other NATO ministers are expected to approve guidance for alliance planners to begin preparing for possible full withdrawal later this year, officials said.
The U.S. has about 33,000 troops in Afghanistan, though the number will drop substantially over the summer, officials say, leaving a small force in place that will take over the post-2014 mission or depart completely. There are about 19,000 troops from other countries.
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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during media conference, prior to a meeting of defense ministers of the North Atlantic Council, at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. Frustrated with his Afghan counterpart, U.S. President Barack Obama is ordering the Pentagon to accelerate planning for a full U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of this year. But Obama is also holding out hope that Afghanistan’s next president may eventually sign a stalled security agreement that could prevent the U.S. from having to take that step.
Virginia Mayo, Associated Press
BRUSSELS If Afghan leaders and the White House can’t agree on a key security pact, the U.S.-led alliance will pull all of its troops and equipment out of Afghanistan by December, NATO’s secretary general said Wednesday.
The announcement from Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the start of a NATO defense ministers meeting ratchets up the pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to strike a deal.
On Tuesday, President Obama threatened to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 if the pact isn’t signed.
The U.S. and Afghanistan had agreed the details of a security pact last year, and the agreement was also endorsed by a council of 3,000 Afghan tribal elders known as the Loya Jirga. But Karzai caught Western officials off guard by then declaring he wanted his successor to sign the agreement.
Without that agreement, Rasmussen said, forces from other alliance member nations cannot stay either. There are roughly 19,000 non-U.S. forces now in Afghanistan, along with 33,000 Americans.
“Let me stress, this is not our preferred option,” Rasmussen said. “But these are the facts the facts that we need to take into account in our planning.”
NATO’s preference is to remain and shift in 2015 to a mission of training, assisting and advising Afghan security forces. “But if we don’t have the legal framework in place, we will have to withdraw everything by the end of the year,” said Rasmussen.
There was a note of exasperation in the normally composed Dane’s voice as he mentioned the “continued delays we have faced,” trying to secure a commitment from Afghan leaders.
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BRUSSELS NATO’s secretary general says that if Afghan leaders and the White House can’t agree on a key security pact, the U.S.-led alliance will pull all of its troops and equipment out of Afghanistan by December.
The blunt statement from Anders Fogh Rasmussen Wednesday at the start of a NATO defense ministers meeting ratchets up pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to strike a deal.
On Tuesday, President Obama threatened to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year if the pact isn’t signed.
Without that agreement, Rasmussen says, forces from other NATO countries and partners cannot stay beyond 2014 either. There are roughly 19,000 non-U.S. forces now in Afghanistan.
“Let me stress, this is not our preferred option,” Rasmussen said. “But these are the facts.”
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By Steve Holland and Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has told the Pentagon to prepare for the possibility that no U.S. troops will be left in Afghanistan over President Hamad Karzai's refusal to sign a joint security agreement. The United States has said that after its formal drawdown of troops from Afghanistan by year's end, it could leave a contingent of as many as 8 …
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Washington, Feb 26 (IANS) US President Barack Obama, in a phone conversation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai Tuesday, raised the possibility of no American troops left in Afghanistan beyond 2014. "Specifically, President Obama has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any …