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Trump says his sons will oversee business while he is president

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2017

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday he is separating himself from his global business empire by transferring his assets into a trust and putting his two oldest sons in charge, an arrangement that watchdogs said was inadequate to prevent potential conflicts of interest in office.

At a news conference, Trump said he would resign from all positions overseeing hotels, golf courses and hundreds of other businesses to help ensure that he will not consciously take actions as president that would benefit him personally.

Trump, a Republican, is under pressure to distance himself from his businesses before he moves into the White House on Jan. 20. Trump says that unlike other government officials, he is not required to steer clear of conflicts of interest.

“I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don’t like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that if I wanted to,” Trump said.

Ethics experts said the arrangement did not go far enough.

“Mr. Trump’s ill-advised course will precipitate scandal and corruption,” said Norm Eisen, a former White House ethics adviser under Democratic President Barack Obama.

Trump appears to be still involved with his business while preparing to take office, saying he had turned down a $2 billion development deal in Dubai he had been offered over the weekend.

“I didn’t have to turn it down because as you know I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president,” he said.

“DAMAC can confirm that the discussions took place as stated in the media briefing but the proposals were declined ..,” a spokesman for DAMAC, the company involved, told Reuters by email.

Sheri Dillon, a lawyer for Trump, said profits generated at Trump’s hotels by foreign governments will be donated to the U.S. Treasury.

The Trump Organization will not enter into any new overseas deals while Trump is president and will only undertake domestic projects after a company ethics adviser has approved them, said Dillon, a lawyer at Morgan Lewis who focuses on tax and ethics.

Trump will only know of those deals if he hears about them through the news media, Dillon said.

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is to have no further involvement with management authority in the group, she said. Trump has appointed her husband, Jared Kushner, to a senior advisory role in the White House.

Since Trump sold all his stocks last year, the Trump trust will hold only business assets and liquid assets such as cash, Dillon said.

Many other ethics experts, including the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, have urged Trump to completely divest or set up a blind trust for his assets. Dillon said that was not a realistic possibility and would hurt him financially.

In a blind trust, the owner does now know what the holdings are or how their assets are managed. Trump’s oldest sons will be running his business, so the arrangement does not meet that standard.

Trump was aided in setting up the trust by lawyer Fred Fielding, a former White House counsel to Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Remaining debt will stay in place and will be dealt with during the ordinary course of business, Dillon said.

— By Steve Holland, Andy Sullivan and Emily Stephenson

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U.S. to modernize nuclear capabilities with an eye on Russia

by UNTV   |   Posted on Monday, February 5th, 2018

Concerned about Russia’s growing tactical nuclear weapons, the United States will modernize its nuclear ‘triad’ – land, sea, air – capabilities, top Pentagon, and state department officials said on Friday.

Some critics said the decision could increase the risk of miscalculation between the two countries.

“We call on all states possessing nuclear weapons to declare or to maintain a moratorium on nuclear testing. Going forward, we are also eager to increase transparency and predictability to avoid miscalculation among nuclear weapons states and other possessor states. That includes re-establishing the conditions necessary for greater trust with Russia, and improved transparency with China as it expands and modernizes its nuclear forces,” said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Tom Shannon.

It represents the latest sign of hardening resolve by President Donald Trump’s administration to address challenges from Russia, at the same time he is pushing for improved ties with Moscow to rein in a nuclear North Korea.

The focus on Russia is in line with the Pentagon shifting priorities from the fight against Islamist militants to “great power competition” with Moscow and Beijing.

The rationale for building up new nuclear capabilities, U.S. officials said, is that Russia currently perceives the United States’ nuclear posture and capabilities as inadequate.

“We must keep America’s deterrent credible by making it modern. The 2018 NPR [Nuclear Posture Review] calls for modernizing the nuclear triad and command and control system, which is necessary, affordable, and long overdue. Our nuclear triad has kept us safe for over 70 years. We cannot afford to let it become obsolete,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

The Pentagon’s NPR, which is largely in line with the previous review in 2010, said the U.S. will modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads with low-yield options. — Reuters

 

 

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As U.S. goes quiet on close naval patrols, China speaks out

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged on-going land reclamation by China on mischief reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015.
REUTERS/RITCHIE B. TONGO/POOL

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – While the Pentagon plays down patrols close to Chinese-controlled reefs and islands in the South China Sea, Beijing is sounding the alarm about them, seeking to justify what experts say will be an even greater presence in the disputed region.

Chinese officials publicized the latest U.S. “freedom of navigation patrol”, protesting the deployment last week of the destroyer USS Hopper to within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, an atoll west of the Philippines which Beijing disputes with Manila.

It was the second time in recent months that confirmation of a patrol came from Beijing, not Washington, which had previously announced or leaked details.

Bonnie Glaser, a security expert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, said while the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump had a policy of keeping the patrols regular but low key, China was willing to publicly exploit them to further their military ends.

“It is difficult to conclude otherwise,” she said. “Even as it pushes ahead with these (patrols), I don’t think the Trump administration has really come to terms with what it will tolerate from China in the South China Sea, and what it simply won’t accept, and Beijing seems to grasp this.”

In official statements, Chinese foreign ministry official Lu Kang said China would take “necessary measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty” in the resource-rich sea.

Some regional diplomats and security analysts believe that will involve increased Chinese deployments and the quicker militarization of China’s expanded facilities across the Spratlys archipelago.

While U.S. officials did not target China in their comments, couching freedom-of-navigation patrols as a “routine” assertions of international law, Beijing was quick to cast Washington as the provocateur.

The Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper on Monday accused the U.S. of upsetting recent peace and co-operation and “wantonly provoking trouble”, saying China had must now strengthen its presence in the strategic waterway.

CONSTRUCTION AND MILITARIZATION

In recent years, China has built up several reefs and islets into large-scale airstrips and bases as it seeks to assert and enforce its claims to much of the sea, through which some $3 trillion in trade passes annually. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan, hold rival claims.

Chinese coastguard and People’s Liberation Army navy ships patrol vast swathes of the South China Sea, routinely shadowing U.S. and other international naval deployments, regional naval officers say.

Zhang Baohui, a mainland security analyst at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, told Reuters he believed Beijing was rattled by Trump’s sharpening Asia strategy and they might be tempted to react in the South China Sea, even after months of relative calm.

“We can perhaps expect the Chinese to push ahead with militarization as retaliation,” he said.

A new U.S. national defense strategy unveiled last week stressed the need to counter the rising authoritarian powers of China and Russia, outlining a need to better support allies and newer partners against coercion.

While most analysts and regional envoys believe China remains keen to avoid an actual conflict with the significantly more powerful U.S. navy in the South China Sea, it is working to close the gap.

China has added bunkers, hangars and advanced radars on its new runways in the Spratlys, although it has not fully equipped them with the advanced surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles they use to protect the Paracels grouping further north.

Similarly, Beijing has yet to land jet fighters in the Spratlys – test flights some experts are expecting this year.

POTENTIAL FLASHPOINT

The latest patrol was at least the fifth such patrol under the Trump administration and the first to Scarborough – one of the more contentious features in the region.

Scarborough, once a U.S. bombing range, was blockaded by the Chinese in 2012, prompting the Philippines to launch its successful legal case in the Hague against China’s excessive territorial claims.

China allowed Filipino fishermen back to Scarborough’s rich waters last year, but it remains a potential flashpoint as both sides claim sovereignty and China maintains a steady presence of ships nearby.

While experts and regional envoys expect China to ramp up operations from the Spratlys, none expect it to build on Scarborough – something widely believed to be a red line that would provoke the United States, given its long-standing security treaty with the Philippines.

Shi Yinhong, who heads the Center for American Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University, said China had “lived with” U.S. patrols for several years but the key facts on the ground remained in China’s favor and broader tensions had “improved remarkably”.

“These islands, especially those with reclaimed land and military capability already deployed, they’re still in Chinese hands,” Shi, who has advised the Chinese government on diplomacy, told Reuters.

“I don’t think Trump has the stomach and the guts to change this fundamental status quo.”

(This story has been refiled to correct typo in paragraph 5)

Reporting By Greg Torode in Hong Kong and Philip Wen in Beijing; Editing by Lincoln Feast

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China’s Xi tells Trump hard-earned easing of tensions on Korean peninsula must continue

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Donald Trump in a phone call on Tuesday that the hard-earned easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula must continue, Chinese state media reported.

Unity on the issue was extremely important, Xi said, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

Senior officials from 20 nations will gather in Vancouver on Tuesday for a summit on curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, in a bid to increase diplomatic and financial pressure on Pyongyang to scrap its missile and nuclear programs.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Paul Tait

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