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Bush family pays respects to late patriarch in emotional public viewing of casket

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Former US President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush silently standing at his father’s flag-draped casket | REUTERS

Members of the Bush family paid their respects to their late patriarch on Tuesday (December 4) during an emotional visit to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda where the body of former President George H.W. Bush was lying in state.

Former President George W. Bush along with his wife Laura was greeted with hugs and handshakes by well-wishers who have been filing past the flag-draped casket during a public viewing that began late Monday and continues until Wednesday’s funeral.

Also present were the late president’s other son, former Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, and twin granddaughters Jenna BushHager and Barbara Bush.

Ordinary Americans, generals, and former Cabinet members have been paying their respects at the Capitol Rotunda to the late president, who died last week at the age of 94 after a life of service as a World War II hero, head of the CIA and wartime president. — Reuters

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Iran ready to talk to U.S. if sanctions lifted

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking at televised address | Courtesy: Reuters footage

Iran is ready to hold talks with the United States if Washington lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it quit last year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Sunday (July 14).

“When a big power that is a bully, well then we have to stand up to it. It must stop being a bully. We have always believed in talks. Always, right this hour, right this moment, if they stop the oppression, if they stop the belligerence, if they lift sanctions, return to the table, return to to logic; we are ready,” said Rouhani.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration says it is open to negotiations with Iran on a more far-reaching agreement on nuclear and security issues.

But Iran has made any talks conditional on first being able to export as much oil as it did before the United States withdrew from the nuclear pact with world powers in May 2018.

Confrontations between Washington and Tehran have escalated, culminating in a plan for U.S. air strikes on Iran last month that Trump called off at the last minute. (REUTERS)

(Production: Vin Shahrestani)

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Duterte dares Western nations to ‘seize’ Spratly Islands

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of China occupied Subi Reef at Spratly Islands in disputed South China Sea April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Francis Malasig/Pool

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday dared western countries to “assemble” and “seize” the Spratly Islands amid calls for him to defend the Philippine territory against China’s incursion.

Duterte’s challenge came as he acknowledged that the Philippines cannot prevent China from fishing in Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) and asserting its claim over the West Philippine Sea.

“Ito ang hamon ko, ang hamon ko sa America, Britain, France: mag-assemble tayo dito sa Palawan tapos diretso na tayo doon sa Spratly [Islands]. Agawin na natin kung maagaw natin,” the president said in a speech during a Presidential Security Group event at Malacañang.

He, however, reminded western nations of the dire consequences of such decision, particularly on the lives of Filipinos.

“Kung maubos tayo lahat… Sabihin nila, ‘Duterte is not protecting the interest of the Fili — [Filipinos]’ You’re a g**** s***. You want me to put the lives of 110 million Filipinos by going into trouble?” he said.

The Spratly Islands are a group of islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) which are being claimed by various nations, including the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

Duterte said the Philippines would need all the help it can get from its powerful allies if it continues to insist on claiming the contested areas.

“Para maintindihan ninyo ‘yung galit ko. Hindi ako sa hindi natatakot. Kung gusto nila, sabi ko nga, mag-imbita sila kay hindi naman talaga natin kaya ‘yang — p** karami ng armas diyan ngayon. Sabay-sabay kami,” he said.

“It’s not the time to go to war. Eh kasi hindi… Reality, that’s geopolitics,” he added.

Duterte earlier drew flak over his remark that he will allow China to fish in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as part of a mutual agreement.

Some quarters said that allowing Chinese fishers to trawl in the country’s exclusive sea zone is unconstitutional, citing Article 12, Section 2 (paragraph 2) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states that, “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

Responding to criticisms, the president said he cannot drive Chinese fishers away from the disputed waters because they also laid claim to the area.

He also said that no country in the world has a sovereignty over its economic zone.

“Hindi binigay sa atin ‘yung sovereignty. Our sovereignty is only 12 [nautical] miles. Ang economic zone, wala tayong sovereignty. No country in the world has a sovereignty sa kanyang economic zone — exclusive. It is not a question of sovereignty,” he said.

He added that even the United States of America is not confronting China over its activities in the West Philippine Sea.

“Ngayon, sabi nila, ‘You have to ban China. I-prohibit mo.’ Kung i-prohibit ko, how do I enforce my desire? Takot nga ang America, ayaw ngang mag-confront tapos ako pa ang ipusta nila. Gusto talaga nilang mapasubo ako,” the chief executive said.

“Anything that is — that would force anybody to act contrary to his will is always offensive. As a matter of fact, sa law, that is what’s called compelling anybody — is a crime… Why will I go there and prohibit them? Na the only way to stop them is talagang gamitan ko ng ngipin ‘yan,” he added. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Xi, Trump hold phone conversation, agree to meet during G20 summit in Japan

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Courtesy : Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping held a telephone conversation with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, on Tuesday at the latter’s request.

Trump said he looks forward to meeting Xi again during the upcoming Group of 20 (G20) summit in the Japanese city of Osaka later this month and conducting in-depth discussions on bilateral ties and issues of common concern.

The U.S. side, he added, values its economic and trade cooperation with China, and hopes that the teams on both sides can conduct communication, and find a way to resolve the current dispute as soon as possible.

Trump said he believes the entire world hopes to see the United States and China reach an agreement.

For his part, Xi said some difficulties have recently occurred in China-U.S. relations, which is in the interests of neither side.

Reiterating that both countries gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation, Xi said the two sides should, in accordance with the consensus he has reached with Trump, push forward the China-U.S. relationship featuring coordination, cooperation, and stability on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit.

As the world’s two biggest economies, China and the United States should jointly play a leading role in pushing for positive outcomes at the G20 Osaka summit, so as to bring confidence and inject vitality into the global market, added Xi.

The Chinese president said he stands ready to meet Trump in Osaka to exchange views on fundamental issues concerning the development of China-U.S. relations.

On economic and trade issues, Xi stressed, the two sides should solve their problems through dialog on an equal footing, with the key being to accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns, adding that China hopes the U.S. side can treat Chinese firms in a fair manner.

Xi said he agrees to have the two countries’ trade teams maintain contact on how to solve the dispute. (REUTERS)

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