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Trump Blames US ‘Foolishness, Stupidity’ Heading Into Summit With Putin |RN

By AFP

President Donald Trump headed into his first summit with Vladimir Putin on Monday determined to forge a personal bond with the Kremlin chief, saying only “stupidity” by prior administrations had brought US-Russian ties to their present low.Hours before the Helsinki summit, Trump was asked if he would press Putin over Russia’s alleged manipulation of the 2016 election that brought the mercurial property tycoon to power. He said only: “We’ll do just fine.”

Democrats had called for the summit’s cancellation after new revelations surrounding the alleged election meddling.

But Trump has insisted it is “a good thing to meet”, as he attempts to replicate with Putin the sort of personal rapport he proclaims with the autocratic leaders of China and North Korea.

If the pair does find common ground, then the summit may take the heat out of some of the world’s most dangerous conflicts, including Syria.

But there are many points of friction that could yet spoil Trump’s hoped-for friendship with the wily former KGB spymaster.

Trump began the day’s talks by meeting Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto, who has loaned his harbour-front palace for the occasion.

But first, he fired a Twitter broadside at his domestic opponents, blaming the diplomatic chill on the investigation into alleged Russian election meddling.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted.

After a stormy NATO summit in Brussels last week, Trump was accused by critics of cosying up to Putin while undermining the transatlantic alliance.

But over breakfast with Niinisto, he insisted NATO “has never been stronger” and “never been more together” thanks to his insistence on all allies paying their fair share.

With Washington and Moscow at loggerheads over Ukraine, Iran and trade tariffs as well as Syria, even Trump has cautioned that he is not approaching the Putin summit “with high expectations”.

The brash 72-year-old billionaire has been president for 18 months while Putin, 65, has run Russia for the past 18 years.

In a weekend interview with CBS News, Trump admitted that Russia remains a foe, but he put Moscow on a par with China and the European Union as economic and diplomatic rivals.

The Kremlin has also played down hopes that the odd couple will emerge from their first formal one-on-one summit with a breakthrough.

Putin, who arrived in Helsinki Monday after playing host at the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday, has remained tense in the run-up to the summit.

On Friday his adviser Yuri Ushakov played down expectations, saying: “The state of bilateral relations is very bad…. We have to start to set them right.”

Giving up ground?

Indeed, after the bad-tempered NATO summit and a contentious trip by Trump to Britain, anxious European leaders may be relieved if not much comes out of the Helsinki meeting.

Those leaders are already fuming over Trump’s imposition of trade tariffs on various countries, including Russia.

Turning the tables, European Union President Donald Tusk said Trump was guilty of “spreading fake news” with his remark about foes, and warned that the trade tensions could spiral into violent “conflict and chaos”.

“Europe and China, America and Russia, today in Beijing and in Helsinki, are jointly responsible for improving the world order, not for destroying it,” he tweeted.

“I hope this message reaches Helsinki.”

Protesters have been on the streets of Helsinki to denounce the policies of both Trump and Putin. Greenpeace draped a giant banner down a church tower urging: “Warm our hearts, not our planet.”

Trump is also under pressure from Britain to press Putin over the nerve agent poisoning of four people in southern England.

One of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, has died and her 19-year-old son Ewan Hope told the Sunday Mirror newspaper: “We need to get justice for my mum.”

Extradition demand?
Many fear that Trump — in his eagerness to prove that he was right to seek the summit with Putin despite US political opposition — may give up too much ground.

Trump has refused to personally commit to the US refusal to recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea, leaving open the possibility of a climbdown linked to a promise by Putin to somehow rein in Iranian influence in Syria.

If Washington were to acquiesce in Russia’s 2014 land-grab, this would break with decades of US policy and send tremors through NATO’s exposed eastern flank.

And there will be outrage at home if Trump does not confront Putin over the election scandal.

But the US leader would not say whether he would demand the extradition of 12 Russian intelligence officers who were indicted last week by US special prosecutor Robert Mueller.   (The Guardian)

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Trump, Kim Shake Hands To Commence Momentous Summit In Singapore

 SINGAPORE (AP) — President Donald Trump says that his one-on-one meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was “very, very good” and that the two have an “excellent relationship.”

Trump and Kim met for about 40 minutes Tuesday one-on-one, joined only by interpreters.

Trump made the comments as he and Kim walked together along balcony as they headed to a larger meeting with aides.

Trump was flanked in the larger meeting by chief of staff John Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton. They sat across the table from Kim and his team.

President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un kicked off a momentous summit Tuesday that could determine historic peace or raise the spectre of a growing nuclear threat, with Trump declaring they would have a “great discussion” and Kim said they had overcome obstacles to get to this point.

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un before their expanded bilateral meeting at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst © Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un before their expanded bilateral meeting at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Standing on a red carpet in front of a row of alternating U.S. and North Korean flags, the leaders shook hands warmly at a Singapore island resort, creating an indelible image of the two unorthodox leaders. They then moved into a one-on-one meeting, joined only by their interpreters.

“We are going to have a great discussion and I think tremendous success. We will be tremendously successful,” Trump said.

Speaking through an interpreter, Kim said: “It wasn’t easy for us to come here. There was a past that grabbed our ankles and wrong prejudices and practices that at times covered our eyes and ears. We overcame all that and we are here now.”

Trump and Kim planned to meet with their interpreters for most of an hour before aides join the discussion and talks continue over a working lunch. But even before they met, Trump announced plans to leave Singapore early, raising questions about whether his aspirations for an ambitious outcome had been scaled back.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY © Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

 

The first meeting of a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader was the product of dizzying weeks of negotiations over logistics and policy.

Up early in Singapore, Trump tweeted with cautious optimism: “Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly … but in the end, that doesn’t matter. We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!”

In the run-up to the talks, Trump had hopefully predicted the two men might strike a nuclear deal or forge a formal end to the Korean War in the course of a single meeting or over several days. But on the eve of the summit, the White House unexpectedly announced Trump would depart Singapore by Tuesday evening, meaning his time with Kim would be fairly brief. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to keep expectations for the summit in check.

“We are hopeful this summit will have set the conditions for future successful talks,” Pompeo said, describing a far more modest goal than Trump had outlined days earlier.

 

The sudden change in schedule added to a dizzying few days of foreign policy activity for Trump, who shocked U.S. allies over the weekend when he used a meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized economies in Canada to alienate America’s closest friends in the West. Lashing out over trade practices, Trump lobbed insults at his G-7 host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trump left the summit early, and as he flew to Singapore, he tweeted that he was yanking the U.S. out of the group’s traditional closing statement.

As for Singapore, the White House said Trump was leaving early because negotiations had moved “more quickly than expected,” but gave no details about any possible progress in preliminary talks. On the day before the meeting, weeks of preparation appeared to pick up in pace, with U.S. and North Korean officials meeting throughout Monday at a Singapore hotel.

The president planned to stop in Guam and Hawaii on the way back to Washington.

Trump spoke only briefly in public on Monday, forecasting a “nice” outcome. Kim spent the day mostly out of view — until he left his hotel for a late-night tour of Singapore sights, including the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, billed as the world’s biggest glass greenhouse.

As Trump and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sat down for a working lunch at the Istana house, the president sounded optimistic, telling Lee, “We’ve got a very interesting meeting, in particular, tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely.” Trump had earlier tweeted about “excitement in the air!”

It was a striking about-face from less than a year ago when Trump was threatening “fire and fury” against Kim, who in turn scorned the American president as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” As it happens, the North Korean and the American share a tendency to act unpredictably on the world stage.

Beyond the impact on both leaders’ political fortunes, the summit could shape the fate of countless people — the citizens of impoverished North Korea, the tens of millions living in the shadow of the North’s nuclear threat, and millions more worldwide. Or, it could amount to little more than a much-photographed handshake.

Still, the sense of anticipation was great in Singapore, with people lining spotless streets holding cellphones high as Trump headed to meet Lee.

U.S. and North Korean officials huddled throughout Monday at the Ritz-Carlton hotel ahead of the sit-down aimed at resolving a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal. Delegates were outlining specific goals for what the leaders should try to accomplish and multiple scenarios for resolving key issues, a senior U.S official said, adding that the meetings were also an icebreaker of sorts, allowing the teams to get better acquainted after decades of minimal contact between their nations.

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) © AP President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

 

Trump’s early exit will be his second from a summit in just a few days.

As he was trying to build a bridge with Kim, he was smashing longtime alliances with Western allies with his abrasive performance at the G-7. After his premature departure from Quebec, he continued to tweet angrily at Trudeau from Singapore, saying Monday, “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal.”

Trump advisers cast his actions as a show of strength before the Kim meeting.

Alluding to the North’s concerns that giving up its nuclear weapons could surrender its primary deterrent to forced regime change, Pompeo told reporters that the U.S. was prepared to take action to provide North Korea with “sufficient certainty” that denuclearization “is not something that ends badly for them.”

He would not say whether that included the possibility of withdrawing U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, but said the context of the discussions was “radically different than ever before.”

“I can only say this,” Pompeo said. “We are prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique than America’s been willing to provide previously.”

The North has faced crippling diplomatic and economic sanctions as it has the advanced development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Pompeo held firm to Trump’s position that sanctions will remain in place until North Korea denuclearizes — and said they would even increase if diplomatic discussions did not progress positively.

Experts believe the North is close to being able to target the entire U.S. mainland with its nuclear-armed missiles, and while there’s deep scepticism that Kim will quickly give up those hard-won nukes, there’s also some hope that diplomacy can replace the animosity between the U.S. and the North.

While advisers say Trump has been reviewing briefing materials, the president insists his gut instincts will matter most when he gets in the room with Kim. He told reporters he thinks he will know almost immediately whether a deal can be made, saying: “I will know, just my touch, my feelings. That’s what I do.”

(AP)

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Trump Invites Putin To White House Despite Diplomatic Row Over Nerve Agent Attack |RN

Alex Ward
President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg.© Associated Press President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg.This is yet another example of Trump’s incoherent stance toward Russia.

 

President Trump is willing to hold a rare face-to-face meeting with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin despite growing evidence that Moscow poisoned an ex-spy and his daughter near their homes in the UK, an attack that has plunged relations between Russia and the West to their lowest point in years.

The two leaders discussed a potential meeting on a March 20 phone call, a conversation that the Kremlin and White House disclosed for the first time today. Neither the time nor the location of the potential meeting has been finalized, and it’s possible the summit won’t happen. That doesn’t make the prospect of the two men sitting down together any less jarring.

Here’s why: Meetings with a US president are a major honour for any world leader, even one as powerful in his home country as Putin. Trump was offering the Russian strongman a reward at the same time the US was working with other countries to punish Russia for the nerve agent attack on a former Soviet spy. And while it’s not odd for US presidents and Russian leaders to meet, dangling a potential face-to-face at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue could make Putin conclude that he has little to fear from the US and its allies for the attack.

Video: Trump and Putin Discuss Potential Summit Meeting (Provided by Bloomberg

The potential meeting comes against the backdrop of an attack that was audacious, even for Putin. On March 4, Sergei Skripal, a former Soviet and Russian spy, was found unconscious on a bench next to his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury. Ten days later, the UK announced that it was kicking 23 Russian diplomats out of the country because London blamed Moscow for the attack. (Moscow denies any involvement in the strike, unsurprisingly and unpersuasively.)
And on March 26, the US expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers and closed a Russian consulate in Seattle. More than 20 other countries followed suit, saying they would kick out over 100 Russian spies. Even New Zealand tried to kick out Russian spies but couldn’t find any. Russia announced its own retaliation, removing 150 Western diplomats from the country on March 29 — effectively a like-for-like response.

That makes the Trump-Putin call on March 20 so striking. Trump knew America’s top ally, the United Kingdom, already responded forcefully to the Skripal attack, and he knew his administration was in the middle of a coordinated global response. It also doesn’t help that Trump called Putin to congratulate him on winning a sham election — even though his staff expressly advised him not to.

So to dangle a White House meeting in the midst of all of that makes seems, at this point, dangerously naive.

“It was bad enough that Trump didn’t raise the Skripal issue with Putin during their March 20 phone call,” Andrew Weiss, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Vox. “Now we see that he was proposing something that looks, at face value, like going back to business as usual at a moment when most of our friends and allies were trying to send the exact opposite signal.”

Putin is not America’s friend
Trump consistently says he wants a better relationship with Putin and hopes the US and Russia could work more closely together to solve global problems. Putin clearly doesn’t want that.

Consider the following:

  • According to the US intelligence community, Putin personally ordered an influence campaign during the 2016 presidential election to help Trump win.
  • Russia works against the United States in Syria by propping up Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
  • Russia reportedly provides weapons and other assistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan, even though the US military currently helps Afghan forces fight the insurgent group.
  • Moscow helps North Korea avoid sanctions on its economy, but the Trump administration uses sanctions as a central component of its “maximum pressure” strategy on Pyongyang.

That, of course, is not all. But these examples alone show that Trump likely shouldn’t cavort with Putin at the White House. The fact that Trump won’t call Putin out by name for any of them is as mysterious today as it was during the 2016 campaign.  (Vox .com)

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