Obama, Abe vow not to tolerate North Korea’s nuclear provocations

Updated 24 February 2013
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Obama, Abe vow not to tolerate North Korea’s nuclear provocations

WASHINGTON: Signaling solidarity, President Barack Obama and Japan’s new prime minister said Friday that North Korea’s recent nuclear provocations would not be tolerated and pledged to seek strong action against the isolated nation.
Following an Oval Office meeting, Obama said he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were united in their “determination to takes strong actions” in response to North Korea’s nuclear test launch earlier this month.
Abe, speaking through a translator, said the two leaders have agreed to deal “resolutely” with North Korea.
“We just cannot tolerate the actions of North Korea, such as launching missiles and conducting nuclear tests,” said Abe, adding that the two leaders also agreed to push for tougher UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea.
Other regional tensions in Asia served as the backdrop for the meetings, most notably Japan’s dispute with China over the Japanese-administered Senkaku islands.
The dispute flared after Tokyo nationalized some of the islands in September. China also claims the tiny islands, which it calls Diaoyu. It has stepped up patrols into what Japan considers its territorial waters, heightening concern that a conflict could be sparked. The tensions highlight the rivalry between China, the world’s second-largest economy, and Japan, which is the third. Tokyo accused China last month of locking weapons-guiding radar on a Japanese destroyer and a helicopter, in what it viewed as a dangerous escalation. Beijing accused Tokyo of fabricating the reports to smear China.
The US has treaty obligations to help Japan in the event of a conflict, obligations Abe said were a stabilizing factor in ensuring peace and stability in the region. He pledged that Japan would continue to deal with the China dispute in a calm manner.
Abe is the latest in a revolving door of Japanese prime ministers, underscoring the Asian nation’s prolonged economic malaise. He is the fifth prime minister since Obama took office.
Friday’s meeting was an opportunity for the US to gauge Tokyo’s intent to join negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regionwide free trade pact being pushed by Washington. Abe held back from such a commitment, which is opposed by most of his party and Japan’s small but politically powerful farming lobby, at least until after key elections in July for the upper house.
In a joint statement following the meeting, the two leaders agreed to continue their talks about Japan’s “possible interest” in joining the trade pact, known as the TPP. But they agreed that concerns remained, particularly with respect to the automotive and insurance sectors.
The newly elected Japanese leader is a nationalist and a keen advocate of stronger relations with Washington, which have assumed more importance for Tokyo. It has locked horns in recent months with emerging power China over the control of unoccupied islands in the resource-rich seas between them.


Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

Updated 22 April 2018
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Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

  • The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban.
  • The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims.

WASHINGTON: The first big showdown at the US Supreme Court over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is set for Wednesday when the justices hear a challenge to the lawfulness of his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.
The case represents a test of the limits of presidential power. Trump’s policy, announced in September, blocks entry into the US of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chad previously was on the list but Trump lifted those restrictions on April 10.
The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the US illegally as children. It has previously acted on Trump requests to undo lower court orders blocking those two policies, siding with him on the travel ban and opposing him on the Dreamers. Trump’s immigration policies — also including actions taken against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, intensified deportation efforts and limits on legal immigration — have been among his most contentious. 
The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on Wednesday on the third version of a travel ban policy Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017, and issue a ruling by the end of June. 
The lead challenger is the state of Hawaii, which argues the ban violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
“Right now, the travel ban is keeping families apart. It is degrading our values by subjecting a specific set of people to be denigrated and marginalized,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Doug Chin said in an interview.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 4 signaled it may lean toward backing Trump when it granted the administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.
In another immigration-related case, the justices on April 17 invalidated a provision in a US law requiring deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence. Trump’s administration and the prior Obama administration had defended the provision.
'Politically correct'
Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the US from terrorism by militants. Just before the latest ban was announced, Trump wrote on Twitter that the restrictions “should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly that would not be politically correct!“
The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims, pressing that point in lower courts with some success by citing statements he made as a candidate and as president. As a candidate, Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The Justice Department argues Trump’s statements as a candidate carry no weight because he was not yet president. The policy’s challengers also point to views he has expressed as president, including his retweets in November of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.
In a court filing last week, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing Trump in court, said those retweets “do not address the meaning” of the travel ban policy.
Francisco cited Trump statements complimentary toward Muslims and Islam, including in a May 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia.
In defending the ban, the administration has pointed to a waiver provision allowing people from targeted countries to seek entry if they meet certain criteria. The State Department said that as of last month 375 waivers to the travel ban had been granted since the policy went into effect on Dec 8.