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03.17 Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, has said on Twitter that “Russia must directly dialogue with Ukraine, immediately pull back forces, and allow international monitors”. 02.55 The supposed 5am (3amGMT) deadline for surrender is looming – and according to Ukrainian TV 22 Ukrainian units in Crimea are still guarding their bases and there have been no reports of action by Russian troops. 02.39 During the two-hour National Security Council meeting, Barack Obama discussed with his advisers what steps the United States and its allies could take to “further isolate” Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine, a White House official has said
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Israel told the Palestinians its willing to withdraw from only 40 percent of the West Bank, a Palestinian official close to the peace talks said, indicating how far U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is from delivering an accord.
Mohammad Shtayyeh, who negotiated on behalf of the Palestinians until November, says the offer made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus team was less than half the area previous Israeli governments have been ready to concede for a Palestinian state.
Other points of contention include Israels demands to be recognized as a Jewish state and to maintain a long-term security presence in areas of the West Bank bordering Jordan, Shtayyeh said in an interview. The two sides remain far apart on the fates of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, he said.
Disagreement is growing, Shtayyeh, 55, said at his government office in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Its not narrowing at all.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who met with Kerry in Paris last week, will visit President Barack Obama on March 17, according to a White House statement released today. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Obama in Washington on March 3.
While Shtayyeh is no longer a negotiator, he retains a senior position in the Palestinian leadership as a member of the Palestine Liberation Organizations decision-making central committee. He remains Abbass minister in charge of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction.
Asked to respond to Shtayyehs claims, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said: There can be no peace, there can be no genuine reconciliation without Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state. He did not directly address how much land Israel might cede to the Palestinians.
Netanyahu has said he does not intend to remove any of the Jewish settlements that are home to some 350,000 Israelis living in the West Bank. Most countries consider the settlements illegal. Kerry has called them illegitimate. Israel considers the West Bank disputed land whose status should be decided in peace talks.
Shtayyeh said that after seven months of negotiations, he does not expect the two sides to reach a deal by the deadline Kerry set of April 29.
He said Palestinians have made significant concessions and Israels presence at the negotiating table is just a tactical presence while Netanyahus negotiators offer less than previous Israeli governments have.
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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For more than a decade, the West has increasingly used sanctions as its chief weapon to punish bad actors, including states and individuals. Following successes against Apartheid South Africa, Western governments began applying sanctions more widely.
Regimes from North Korea to Iran came under crippling trade bans, as have many lesser offenders, such as Zimbabwe. EU firms are even banned from certain sales to some U.S. states due to the American death penalty.
It has gotten to the point where businesses in the West will have to add a new position to their leadership roster, that of a Chief Sanctions Officer (CSO). He or she would be tasked with keeping the company free and clear from violating sanctions.
The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has caught on in the EU. BDS activists in Europe tend to promote varied objectives. Some focus on a boycott of Israeli settlements and the goods produced there, while others call for a boycott of everything Israeli until a peace deal is reached.
All of them argue that Israel will withdraw from the territory it won in the 1967 war only if it has a price to pay.
With regard to efforts to resolve the prickly situation between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority (PA) that rules the West Bank, talks which began in July 2013 have made very slow progress.
The parties face an April deadline for an agreement, under the terms of the talks. Israeli PM Netanyahu plans to make public a framework agreement when he meets with President Obama next month at the White House. But how the framework will deal with difficult issues such as borders and the presence of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, remains unclear.
Accepting the pre-1967 borders is a non-starter for the Israelis. It is possible they would accept a land exchange accompanied by contingent of Israeli troops posted in what would be Palestinian territory.
The PA has rejected having Israeli troops posted on its territory, but it has been open to having a NATO force stationed there. Such a move would help assure Israel that it will have some semblance of security.
This brings us to another key issue, which is the fact Hamas, which controls Gaza, has rejected any peace deal with Israel. Hamas is also opposed to the presence of NATO troops. Hamas wants to rid the region of all Israelis, preferably by warfare.
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By: Jen White
Despite the headlines, French President Franois Hollande’s state visit to Washington, which begins on Feb.
From the Archive: Both Republicans and Democrats fawn over the legacy of Ronald Reagan, who was born 103 years ago on Feb. 6, but the reality of his bloodstained presidency is much different from the pleasingmemories. Reaganeven promoted Guatemalas genocide, Robert Parry reported in 2013.
By Robert Parry (Originally published on Feb. 21, 2013)
Soon after taking office in 1981, President Ronald Reagans national security team agreed to supply military aid to the brutal right-wing regime in Guatemala to pursue the goal of exterminating not only Marxist guerrillas but their civilian support mechanisms, according to a newly disclosed document from the National Archives.
Over the next several years, the military assistance from the Reagan administration helpedthe Guatemalan army do just that, engaging in the slaughter of some 100,000 people, including what a truth commission deemed genocide against the Mayan Indians in the northern highlands.
President Ronald Reagan meeting with Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt.
Recently discovered documents at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, also reveal that Reagans White House was reaching out to Israel in a scheme to circumvent congressional restrictions on military equipment for the Guatemalan military.
In 1983, national security aide Oliver North (who later became a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal) reported in a memothat Reagans Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane (another key Iran-Contra figure) was approaching Israel over how to deliver 10 UH-1H helicopters to Guatemala to give the army greater mobility in its counterinsurgency war.
According to these documents that I found at the Reagan library and other records declassified in the late 1990s its also clear that Reagan and his administration were well aware of the butchery underway in Guatemala and elsewhere in Central America.
The relaxed attitude toward the Guatemalan regimes brutality took shape in spring 1981 as Reagans State Department advised our Central American embassies that it has been studying ways to restore a closer, cooperative relationship with Guatemala, according to a White House Situation Room Checklist dated April 8, 1981.
The document added: State believes a number of changes have occurred which could make Guatemalan leaders more receptive to a new U.S. initiative: the Guatemalans view the new administration as more sympathetic to their problems [and] they are less suspect of the U.S. role in El Salvador, where the Reagan administration was expanding support for another right-wing regime infamous for slaughtering its political opponents, including Catholic clergy.
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President Obama sits next to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, during a meeting with Senate Democratic leadership in the Oval Office of the White House on October 11, 2013 in Washington, D.C. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
This post originally appeared in National Journal.
But staunch Obama allies like Beau Biden of Delawareyes, that Bidenas well as Lisa Madigan of Illinois and Eric Schneiderman of New York are ticked off. Not at CVS, but Obama. The issue is not tobacco sales, per se, but free trade.
And so begins our journey into the complex world of trade-fueled globalization, Obamas strained alliance with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the tattered remains of Obamas Asia Pivot, and legitimate questions about transparency and sovereignty surrounding fast-track trade authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Preventive Cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum discusses the impact of CVS being the first US drug store chain to get out of the tobacco business.
First of all, the U.S. cigarette market grows smaller by the day, and tobacco companies see future profits and market share overseas. In that context, the CVS move is not as earth-shattering as the headlines or Obamas praise suggests. But the way trade deals influence tobacco sales in this country is a big deal, and thats why Obama has Biden, Madigan, and Schneiderman on his case.
The trio joined 39 other states attorneys general in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman protesting emerging provisions in the Trans-Pacific trade pact that they fear would exempt U.S. tobacco companies from complying with state tobacco laws and regulations.
From the letter: Experience has shown that state and local laws and regulations may be challenged by tobacco companies that aggressively assert claims under bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements, either directly under investor-state provisions or indirectly by instigating and supporting actions by countries that are parties to such agreements.
WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has met his national security advisors on the current situation in Afghanistan, but no decisions have been taken regarding the presence of American troops in the war-torn nation post 2014, according to the White House.
“The President continues to weigh inputs from military officials, as well as the intelligence community, our diplomats, and development experts, and has not yet made decisions regarding the post-2014 US presence,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters yesterday.
Obama’s meeting on Afghanistan included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry; Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Martin Dempsey and commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, Carney said.
This is an important opportunity for President Obama to hear directly, in person, from his commander on the ground, and other senior defence officials, he said.
“Decisions about what a 2014 presence might look like to achieve the two narrowly defined missions of counterterrorism and training Afghan forces is contingent upon the Afghan government signing the bilateral security agreement that we negotiated last year in good faith. And our issues with the status of that BSA remain as they were,” Carney said.
In addition to Hagel, Dempsey and Dunford, the top defence leaders who met Obama at the White House were Navy Admiral James Winnefeld, the vice chairman; Army Gen. Lloyd J Austin, the commander of US Central Command; and Navy Adm. William H McRaven, commander of US Special Operations Command.
Carney said Afghanistan needs to sign BSA as soon as possible.
“I can tell you that, as each day passes and we move further into this calendar year, it becomes more imperative that the Afghan government signed the agreement that was negotiated in good faith so that NATO and the United States can make plans for a post-2014 troop presence. Absent a signed BSA, there will be no and can be no US troops beyond 2014,” he said.
“So I think it’s abundantly clear that we believe it ought to be signed quickly, that it (BSA) was negotiated in good faith, it was endorsed by the loya jirga, and we have been calling on the Afghan government to sign the agreement for some time now…” Carney said.
The US, he said, can’t wait for the next Afghan President to sign the BSA.