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Trump eyes reassigning US Ambassador to PH Kim as envoy to Indonesia

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, July 11th, 2019

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim

MANILA, Philippines – US President Donald Trump is eyeing to reassign US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim as his envoy to Indonesia, a statement on the White House website said.

“Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration: Sung Y. Kim of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Indonesia,” the statement, dated July 10, read.

The statement came just days after the US Embassy in Manila belied reports that US State Department deputy assistant secretary Mina Chang has been appointed as the America’s next top envoy to the Philippines.

READ: US Embassy on reports Mina Chang is next envoy to PH: “Not true”

The White House, however, has yet to announce its next top diplomat to the Philippines.

The Korean-born Kim was nominated by former US President Barack Obama as the Washington D.C.’s envoy to Manila on May 19, 2016 to replace Philip Goldberg.

The White House website said Kim, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Career Minister, has extensive history of public service at the Department of State, including as Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Special Envoy for the Six Party Talks, Director of the Office of Korean Affairs, Special Representative for North Korea Policy, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. 

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Lawmakers call Trump’s attack as attempt to distract from his policies

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Four minority U.S. congresswomen, known as the “the squad”, accused President Donald Trump of trying to sow division and distract attention from what they characterized as failed policies on immigration, health care and taxation on Monday (July 15).

“This president does not know how to make the argument that Americans do not deserve health care. He does not know how to defend his policies. So, what he does is attack us personally and that is what this is all about,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York – Democrat) said.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts – Democrat) urged the public to “not take the bait” following Trump’s Twitter messages on Sunday (July 14) that said the lawmakers should go back to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

All four of the first-term House members are U.S. citizens and all but one were born in the United States.

The president’s remarks were widely derided and some, though not many, of his fellow Republicans spoke out against them.

Trump did not identify the lawmakers by name in his Sunday tweets, but he appeared to refer to representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

“This is not the first, nor will it be the last time we hear disgusting, bigoted language from the president,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Michigan- Democrat) said.

Omar said Trump’s remarks were rooted in the “agenda of white nationalists.”

Tlaib and Omar repeated their calls for Trump to be impeached. (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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US Ambassador lauds ‘total rockstar’ Manila Mayor Isko

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – “A total Rockstar,” this was how United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim called new Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso when they met on Friday.

Kim lauded Domagoso’s progressive policies and leadership style that “bring dynamism and energies” to the position.

The new mayor of the Philippine capital city recently grabbed headlines for dramatically reforming Manila’s congested roads and markets, ordering clearing operations against illegal vendors and other road obstructions.

READ: Manila Mayor Isko orders ‘shrine makeover’ near city hall

READ: Mayor Isko warns to close Manila malls with illegal vendors

Kim also commended Domagoso’s stance on the government’s campaign against drugs. The mayor earlier expressed support for the program but cautioned police to respect human rights.

“We appreciate your approach. You’re dealing with it in a manner that is consistent with human rights and rule of law,” Kim said.

Mayor Isko, who took part in the US State Department sponsored International Visitors Leadership Program in 2011, also shared with Kim his policies and plans for the City and “the core values that influence his mindset and leadership style.”

When asked by Kim on what keeps Mayor Isko awake at night, he replied: “My greatest is for the people to accept that chaos is the norm in the city.”

44-year old Domagoso was with his chief of staff, Cesar Chavez, when they paid Kim a visit on Friday morning while the US envoy was accompanied by Internal Political Chief of the Embassy Josh Morris. Their meeting lasted for nearly 45 minutes.

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