Trump slams ‘haters and fools’ playing politics with Russia

US President Donald Trump (L) chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 12 November 2017

Trump slams ‘haters and fools’ playing politics with Russia

HANOI, Vietnam:  President Donald Trump is bashing the “haters and fools” he says are questioning his efforts to improve relations with Russia.
Trump, in the final days of a lengthy Asia trip, shared his thoughts in a series of tweets Sunday in Hanoi, Vietnam.
He accused critics of “playing politics” and hurting the country.
The day before, Trump had told reporters that Russia President Vladimir Putin has again denied meddling in the 2016 election. Trump did not make clear whether he believed Putin but did make clear that he did not want to revisit the issue.
Trump has suggested that the ongoing probe into contacts between his campaign and the Russians was hurting the US relationship with Moscow and could hinder efforts to solve crises like Syria and North Korea.

President Donald Trump is exchanging schools yard taunts with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
Trump says in a tweet from Vietnam: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?““
Trump goes on to say sarcastically, “Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend” and says that, “maybe someday that will happen!“
Trump has been working to rally global pressure against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program on a trip to Asia. That includes a stern speech delivered in South Korea.
Kim’s government responded to that speech by calling Trump an “old lunatic.”

President Donald Trump is back on the defensive over Russian election meddling and is accusing Democrats of trying to sabotage US-Russia relations.
Speaking to reporters Saturday aboard Air Force One, Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin vehemently insisted once again that Moscow had not interfered in the 2016 US elections.
The Republican president declined to say whether he believed Putin but made clear he wasn’t interested in dwelling on the issue.
Trump is in Hanoi, Vietnam, for a brief state visit. He’ll depart for the Philippines later Sunday for a pair of summits that will close out his trip.
Trump and Putin did not have a formal meeting while they were in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but the two spoke informally several times on the event’s sidelines.

The Kremlin’s spokesman says Vladimir Putin flatly denied any Russian interference in the US presidential election during a short meeting with President Donald Trump.
The Russian president and Trump met Saturday on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific conference in Vietnam.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling reporters: “Trump really raised the topic of so-called interference in US elections.
Peskov says, “Putin categorically rejected even the hypothetical possibility that Russia could have in some way interfered in the US electoral process.”

The White House Correspondents Association is voicing concerns about press access during President Donald Trump’s trip to Asia.
Reporters and photographers traveling with the president were barred from covering any of the events at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the coastal city of Danang on Saturday.
Reporters have also voiced concerns that Trump declined to take questions in China, though he has held press conferences in Japan and South Korea and spoke to reporters at length aboard Air Force One Saturday.
Margaret Talev, the correspondents association president, says in a statement the group is “concerned that access on this trip has eroded more significantly” and that “notice about changes or new coverage restrictions has often come with too short of notice to be able to react effectively.”

President Donald Trump is praising Vietnam in brief remarks before a state dinner, calling the nation “one of the great miracles of the world.”
He says the United States and Vietnam have “come a long way,” in an apparent reference to the Vietnam War.
Trump added that “there is nothing more impressive” than the success of the country. He spoke during a state dinner featuring local flavors.
On the menu: steamed rice powder rolls “with fluffy pemmican“; shrimp rolled in fried egg; a seafood soup made with fish maw, shrimp, scallop and shark fin; and Dong Tao chicken rolled with lotus and mushrooms.
Besides dinner, Trump is scheduled for talks with Vietnamese leaders before heading to the Philippines, his last stop on the trip.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday issued its first official statement on President Donald Trump’s trip to Asia, slamming Trump for trying to denuclearize the North.
The ministry said that Trump’s trip “is a warmonger’s trip for confrontation with our country, trying to remove our self-defensive nuclear deterrent.”
It accused Trump of trying to demonize North Korea, keep it apart from the international community and undermine its government.
The ministry said, “Reckless remarks by an old lunatic like Trump will never scare us or stop our advance. On the contrary, all this makes us more sure that our choice to promote economic construction at the same time as building up our nuclear force is all the more righteous, and it pushes us to speed up the effort to complete our nuclear force.”
North Korea is not known to have tested any of its missiles or nuclear devices since Sept. 15, a relative lull after a brisk series of tests earlier this year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is brushing off recent reports that the US commerce secretary had interest in a company that does business with a major Russian company with possible ties to Putin relatives.
Reports this week said Wilbur Ross is a shareholder in a shipping company that relies on the Russian company Sibur for much of its revenue. A man reported to be one of Putin’s sons-in-law is believed to be a major Sibur shareholder.
Putin said Saturday that “This is nothing more than business. It never had and does not have any relation with politics.”
Putin also rejected any Russian connection to the recently indicted former campaign manager of President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort.
Manafort is charged with offenses including failing to register as a foreign agent while advising the party of Viktor Yanukovych, the Russia-friendly Ukrainan president who was ousted amid massive street protests in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the lack of a formal meeting with President Donald Trump at a conference in Vietnam reflects continuing tense relations between their countries.
Putin and Trump had several brief exchanges Friday night and Saturday as world leaders gathered for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. They did not have a formal, one-on-one meeting.
Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying that the lack of a formal meeting shows that US-Russia relations have “not yet emerged from the state of crisis.”
But he was also quoted as blaming the absence of a sit-down on scheduling conflicts and “certain matters of the protocol” that couldn’t be worked out.

President Donald Trump says he didn’t see Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh AH’-bay) take a tumble on the golf course.
But he says, if it was Abe, “I’m very impressed because (Abe is) better than any gymnast I’ve ever seen.”
Trump made the remarks to reporters aboard Air Force One as it headed toward Hanoi, Vietnam, for meetings and a state banquet.
Japan’s TV Tokyo aired footage of a player identified as Abe trying repeatedly to hit his ball out of a steep bunker. As he finally made the shot, Trump began walking away, and Abe ran up the side of the bunker to catch up.
But just as the 63-year-old prime minister stepped onto the grass, he slipped, making a backward flip down into the sand. He quickly stood up and picked up his cap.

President Donald Trump says Russia President Vladimir Putin once again denied meddling in the 2016 election during their conversations Saturday at a summit in Vietnam.
And Trump still won’t say definitively whether he believes Putin.
Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that every time Putin sees him he says: “I didn’t do that.”
Says Trump: “And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that he means it.”
Multiple US intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election to try to help Trump win. Multiple investigations are also under way to determine whether Trump campaign officials colluded with them.
Trump dismissed the heads of those agencies as “political hacks.” He says there’s plenty of reason to be suspicious of their findings.

President Donald Trump is blaming Democrats for creating an “artificial barrier” to US-Russian relations by accusing Russia of meddling in the 2016 election.
Trump tells reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Hanoi that the allegations, which he’s dismissed as a witch hunt in the past, are damaging his ability to work with Russia. And he says that’s putting lives at stake.
He says the “artificial barrier” gets in the way of putting global pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
Without that obstacle, Trump says, “we could really be helped a lot, tremendously with Russia having to do with North Korea.”
He goes on to say that, “If we can save many, many, many lives by making a deal with Russia having to do with Syria, and then ultimately getting Syria solved and getting Ukraine solved and doing other things, having a good relationship with Russia’s a great, great thing. And this artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way,” he says, adding that, “people will die because of it.”

President Donald Trump has landed in Hanoi, Vietnam, as he heads toward the end of his first official visit to Asia.
Trump is attending a state banquet Saturday, before Sunday meetings with Vietnam’s president and prime minister. He next stops in the Philippines before heading back to the US
Trump spent the first half of Saturday meeting with world leaders gathered in the seaside city of Danang for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Trump has been hammering leaders on trade and urging them to do more to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
He was also seen chatting on several occasions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump say they welcome President Bashar Assad’s “recent statement of commitment” to the Geneva process for resolving the conflict in Syria.
Putin and Trump met on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Vietnam.
Assad’s commitment to the process, in line with a UN Security Council resolution, implies “constitutional reform and free and fair elections under the supervision of the United Nations” in which all Syrians can participate, including those in the diaspora, a Kremlin statement said.
Trump and Putin also reaffirmed support for de-escalation zones in Syria, including one in the southwest that was agreed to in the presidents’ previous meeting in July in Germany. They also called on UN members to increase humanitarian aid contributions for Syria.

The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump have reaffirmed their countries’ intentions to defeat the Daesh group in Syria.
The leaders reached an agreement during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Vietnam on Saturday.
A Kremlin statement says they agreed to support existing communications channels to ensure the security of the US and Russian armed forces, as well as to prevent dangerous incidents involving the forces of partners fighting IS. The Kremlin says they confirmed that these efforts will continue until the final defeat of IS.
The Kremlin says they also agreed that the Syrian conflict “does not have a military solution,” and that final resolution must come in the framework of the so-called Geneva Process.
The White House so far has not commented.

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin may not be having a formal meeting while they’re in Vietnam for an economic summit, but they appear to be chumming it up nonetheless.
Snippets of video from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference Saturday show the two leaders chatting and shaking hands at events, including the traditional world leaders’ group photo.
US intelligence agencies concluded last year that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in order to help Trump win. Putin has denied interfering in the election.
Later Saturday, Trump heads to the capital city of Hanoi to attend a state banquet.

3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

Updated 28 February 2020

3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

  • The force would be a significant new player in the Sahel where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year
  • The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: African leaders have decided to work on deploying 3,000 troops to West Africa’s troubled Sahel region as extremist attacks surge, an African Union official said Thursday.
The force would be a significant new player in the sprawling, arid region south of the Sahara Desert where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year — at times working together in an unprecedented move.
The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems. That has sparked pressure from worried security allies including France and regional countries as well as a rare bipartisan outcry among lawmakers in Washington.
Smail Chergui, the African Union commissioner for peace and security, relayed the new troop decision that was taken at the recent AU summit during a meeting Thursday with visiting European Union officials.
The AU continental body is expected to work with the West African regional counterterror force G5 Sahel as well as the West African regional body ECOWAS, which has formed peacekeeping units in the past, Chergui said.
ECOWAS in September announced what Chergui called a “very bold” plan to counter extremism in the region, including mobilizing up to $1 billion through 2024.
“As you see and recognize yourself, the threat is expanding and becoming more complex,” Chergui said. “Terrorists are now even bringing a new modus operandi from Afghanistan and Al-Shabab” in Somalia.
It was not immediately clear what the next steps would be in forming the AU force for the Sahel, which has become the most active region in Africa for extremist attacks.
The force would join France’s largest overseas military operation, the 5,100-strong Barkhane, and the 15,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, one of the hardest-hit countries in the attacks along with Burkina Faso and Niger.