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Foreign affairs
November 10, 2018

Hours after President Trump declared French President Emmanuel Macron "very insulting" for his recent advocacy of a "true European army," the two leaders touted their friendship and minimized differences Saturday afternoon.

"We have become very good friends over the last couple of years. We're very much similar in our views," Trump said of the French president. "We want a strong Europe; it's very important to us, and whichever way we can do it the best and more efficient would be something we both want," he continued. "We want to help Europe but it has to be fair. Right now the burden sharing has been largely on the United States."

Macron continued to argue for "more European capacities, more European defense," though he couched it in language closer to Trump's gripes about burden sharing. "It's unfair to have the European security today being assured just by the United States," Macron said. "When President Trump has to protect or to defend one of the states of the United States, he doesn't ask France or Germany, or another government of Europe to finance it." Bonnie Kristian

November 10, 2018

"The sanctions have had no impact on our economy because America had already used all the weapons at its disposal and there was nothing new to use against us," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday of the Trump administration's restoration of all the sanctions previously suspended by the Iran nuclear deal, from which President Trump withdrew the U.S. earlier this year.

"[Washington] just issued a long list of banks, their branches ... and airlines and their planes," he continued. "And this shows that they are merely trying to affect the Iranian nation psychologically."

Rouhani has pledged Iran will not abide by the bans, promising to "proudly bypass your illegal, unjust sanctions." European signatories of the Iran deal have also condemned the Trump administration's move. Bonnie Kristian

November 6, 2018

Russia has missed a deadline to swear off use of chemical weapons, the State Department said in a notification to Congress Tuesday, which has triggered a new round of sanctions per the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

The Trump administration was required to certify whether Russia has complied with the law's terms and now must choose three of six sanctions options. The new measures may take several weeks to go into effect, though they could be waived if the president determines it is in U.S. national interest to do so.

House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ed Royce (R-Calif.) chided the Trump administration for failing to provide those implementation details more quickly. "No one should be surprised that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin refuses to swear off future use of weapons-grade nerve agents," he said. "It is unacceptable that the administration lacks a plan — or even a timeline — for action on the second round of mandatory sanctions required by U.S. law." Bonnie Kristian

November 5, 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday slammed the Trump administration's decision to re-impose sanctions on his country previously removed by the nuclear deal from which President Trump has withdrawn the United States.

"We are in the war situation," Rouhani said of the sanctions, which took effect Monday. "We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win."

He went on to compare the circumstances to what Iran faced in the 1980s in conflict with neighboring Iraq, then under the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein. "Yesterday, Saddam was in front us; today Trump is front of us," Rouhani said. "There is no difference. We must resist and win."

Iran on Friday reached out to several European countries to seek their continued support, and the European signatories of the Iran deal released a statement condemning the sanctions decision. Bonnie Kristian

October 20, 2018

The U.S. and South Korea on Friday canceled plans for a major joint military exercise previously set for December. The schedule change is intended to foster continued progress in diplomacy with North Korea.

"Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo decided to suspend Exercise Vigilant Ace to give the diplomatic process [with North Korea] every opportunity to continue," said chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White. She also reported Japan was consulted before the decision was made, and said Mattis and Jeong have "pledged to maintain close coordination and evaluate future exercises."

North Korea has long complained of such exercises, calling them "war games." While meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore this past summer, President Trump agreed to suspend some exercises while denuclearization talks proceed. Bonnie Kristian

October 6, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Japan Saturday reassuring the long-time American ally its connection to the United States would not be negatively affected by developments in Washington's relationship with Pyongyang.

He told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe their meeting is necessary "so we have a fully coordinated and unified view" on North Korean denuclearization progress. "It is important for us to hear from you as I travel to Pyongyang to make sure that we are fully in sync with respect to missile programs [and chemical and biological weapons] programs," Pompeo said. "We will bring up the issue of [Japanese] abductees [in North Korea] as well, and then we will share with you how we hope to proceed when we are in Pyongyang tomorrow."

The secretary of state will travel to Pyongyang Sunday to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before heading to South Korea and China. Pompeo was supposed to meet Kim last month, but President Trump canceled the trip. Bonnie Kristian

October 1, 2018

Beijing has canceled planned U.S.-China defense talks that would have seen Defense Secretary James Mattis visiting China later this month, The New York Times reported Sunday, citing an unnamed American official. A similar CNN report described Washington as the party that decided to cancel. Neither version of events has yet been publicly confirmed by the Pentagon.

The negotiations were due to address topics including arms sales, Taiwan, and the disputed waters of the South China Sea. The cancellation is but the latest aspect of escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing thanks to the Trump administration's trade war policies.

China canceled scheduled trade talks in late September, and a U.S. warship sailed pointedly close to Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea on Sunday. Chinese President Xi Jinping "may not be a friend of mine anymore," President Trump said Wednesday. "But I think he probably respects me." Bonnie Kristian

August 27, 2018

"Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security," French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday. "It is up to us today to take our responsibilities and guarantee our own security, and thus have European sovereignty."

Macron was speaking to a gathering of French overseas ambassadors, outlining his diplomatic agenda. "I want us to launch an exhaustive review of our security with all Europe's partners, which includes Russia," he said, arguing that at present France is "paying the price of several decades of a weakened Europe." Now, he added, "France wants a Europe which protects, even as extremism has grown stronger and nationalism has awoken." Macron will travel to Denmark and Finland to promote this message.

The French president's comments echo those of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who argued in an op-ed last week that Europe must "take an equal share of the responsibility" for its own defense and "form a counterweight" to Washington. Bonnie Kristian

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