Trump rejects Putin’s proposal to let Russia interrogate US citizens

US President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting on July 18, 2018, at the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP)
Updated 20 July 2018

Trump rejects Putin’s proposal to let Russia interrogate US citizens

  • Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia
  • Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump rejected Thursday a proposal by Vladimir Putin to allow Russian officials to interrogate a former US ambassador and other American citizens, amid outrage across Washington that he would even consider it.
While Trump originally called the idea an “incredible offer,” and continued to weigh it through Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said he has now decided against it.
“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” Sanders said.
Putin unveiled the proposal in a joint press conference with Trump on Monday following their summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland.
Asked whether he would extradite 12 Russian intelligence agents indicted in the United States last week for hacking Democratic Party computers, he said he could meet the US government “halfway.”
“We can actually permit official representatives of the United States... into the country and they will be present at this questioning” of the 12 inside Russia.
“Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate and they would question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States ... who have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia, and we have to request the presence of our law enforcement.”
For Russia, the focus of the quid-pro-quo was questioning former US envoy to Russia Michael McFaul and 11 others in Moscow’s case against billionaire investor and human rights activist William Browder, the driving force behind Magnitsky Act sanctions on Russian officials passed by the US Congress.
“I think that’s an incredible offer,” Trump responded in Helsinki.

McFaul expressed outrage on Wednesday when Sanders said Trump was “going to meet with his team” to consider Putin’s proposal.
But on Thursday Sanders made clear a deal with Putin was not in the cards.
“Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt,” said Sanders.
“It’s not going to happen,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed late Thursday.
“There were suggestions, comments, thoughts by President Putin with respect to that inquiry. President Trump was very clear we’re not going to force Americans to go to Russia to be interrogated by the Russians,” he said.
The indictments issued last week by special counsel Robert Mueller allege that the Russian hackers publicly released tens of thousands of stolen Democratic emails and documents using “fictitious online personas.”
Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Sanders made the statement just as the US Senate took up a resolution objecting to any move by the Trump administration to make US officials available for questioning by Russian government officials.
In a sharp rebuke to the White House, the resolution passed with unanimous support from both parties, 98-0.
“Let this resolution be a warning to the administration that Congress will not allow this to happen,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.


Morocco, Spain to hold talks about overlapping territorial waters

Updated 25 January 2020

Morocco, Spain to hold talks about overlapping territorial waters

  • The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahar
  • The territory has been contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the Spanish colonial period ended in 1975

RABAT: The Moroccan and Spanish foreign ministers said on Friday their countries would hold talks about overlapping areas of ocean that they both claim rights to in the North Atlantic.
The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahara, a territory that has been contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the Spanish colonial period ended in 1975.
Morocco’s parliament passed two bills this week to give domestic legal cover to a coastal area the North African country already controls, causing concern in Spain’s Canary Islands, where the government warned of overlaps with Spanish territorial waters.
Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said that defining territorial waters was a “sovereign right” and that his country aimed to upgrade domestic law in compliance with the UN law of the sea convention.
“In case of overlaps, international law requires states to negotiate,” said Bourita following talks with his Spanish peer, Arancha Gonzalez Laya.
“Morocco rejects unilateral acts and fait accompli,” he said, adding that Spain was a “strategic partner” and Morocco’s largest trading partner.
Gonzalez Laya said Morocco’s willingness to negotiate “reassures the Canary Islands.”
“Morocco is a source of stability for Spain,” she said, citing “close cooperation” in the fight against jihadists and illegal migration.