Trump’s ‘been clear to me’ to try to rebuild Russia ties: Tillerson

UNTV News   •   June 6, 2017   •   3492

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English during a media conference at Premier House in Wellington, New Zealand, June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Charlotte Greenfield

U.S. President Donald Trump told his top diplomat that the dispute over probes into links between his inner circle and Russia should not undermine U.S. efforts to rebuild relations with Moscow, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday.

Speaking in New Zealand after a trip to Australia, Tillerson reiterated the U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region as global leaders have expressed growing mistrust over the Trump administration, which has withdrawn from key international agreements since taking office.

At home, Trump’s administration has been plagued by questions over links to the Russian government. Tillerson said Trump told him to try to improve ties with Russia regardless of the U.S. political backdrop.

“I can’t really comment on any of that because I don’t have any direct knowledge,” Tillerson told a news conference in Wellington, when asked how worried he was that the U.S. political crisis could take down the Trump administration.

“The president’s been clear to me: do not let what’s happened over here in the political realm prevent you from the work that you need to do on this relationship and he’s been quite clear with me… that we might make progress. I’m really not involved in any of these other issues,” he said after a meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January that Moscow tried to tilt the election campaign in Trump’s favor, including by hacking into the emails of senior Democrats, a charge the Kremlin denies.

Trump has denied any collusion but the FBI and congressional probes into the Russia matter have dogged the early months of his presidency.

Tillerson said the Asia-Pacific region remained “extremely important” for the United States both in terms of national security and economic interests.

The Trump administration has come under fire for withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and more recently the Paris Climate accord – both key to the region and to the small island nation of New Zealand.

His visit was met by protesters, who threw condoms filled with water at a figure of Trump in front of parliament, protesting against the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement and urging English to take a tougher stance, according to media.

“We do believe that engaging globally remains important and we will be seeking ways to remain engaged and there are many ways we can do that, through the U.N. intergovernmental panel on climate change as well as economic and trade forums that we will obviously be very active in as well,” he said.

The visit also comes at a time when China, one of New Zealand’s top trading and diplomatic partners, is projecting itself as the leader of free trade particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. — By Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Charlotte Greenfield | WELLINGTON

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

Russia’s floating nuclear plant readies for Northern Sea Route

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Russia showcased to the media the world’s first floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov on Thursday (August 22).

Crew on the Akademik Lomonosov are expected to leave Murmansk for a long journey along the Northern Sea Route to Chukotka in Russia’s far east.

Rosenergoatom deputy director Dmitry Alekseenko said at a news conference that the main advantage of the new type of nuclear plant is its mobility that allows it to reach any point with demand for energy. He also said that it would do no harm to the environment.

Critics, however, warily recall Soviet-era nuclear accidents and Russia’s naval disasters such as the loss of the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk, which sank in the Barents Sea after explosions on board, killing all 118 crew.

In 2018 Greenpeace issued a statement calling Lomonosov a ‘nuclear Titanic’. (Reuters)

(Production: Lev Sergeev, Dmitry Turlyun)

Earth to FEDOR: Russia launches humanoid robot into space

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft lifting off (left) Russian Semi-Autonomous Robot Skybot F-850 (right)| Courtesy: Reuters

A Russian humanoid robot was making its way on Thursday (August 22) to the International Space Station after blasting off on a two-week mission to support the crew and test his skills.

Known as FEDOR, which stands for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, the Skybot F-850 is the first humanoid robot to be sent to space by Russia. NASA sent humanoid robot Robonaut 2 to space in 2011 to work in hazardous environments.

“The robot’s main purpose it to be used in operations that are especially dangerous for humans onboard spacecraft and in outer space,” Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Thursday after the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The ISS is a joint project of the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada.

Travelling in an unmanned Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft, FEDOR is expected to dock at the ISS on Saturday with 1,450 pounds (660 kg) of cargo including medical supplies and food rations for the crew waiting at the station, NASA said.

FEDOR, who is the size an adult and can emulate movements of the human body, has apparently embraced his mission, describing himself as “an assistant to the ISS crew” on his Twitter page, which has 4,600 followers.

“Everything is normal,” a tweet posted on his account said a few hours into his flight. (Reuters)

(Production: Maria Vasilyeva, Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber)

Trump calls off meeting with Danish prime minister over Greenland comments

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (August 20) he was postponing his scheduled meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in two weeks because of her lack of interest in his offer to purchase Greenland.

“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Trump said in a post on Twitter.

A White House official said Trump had dropped the Sept. 2-3 stop in Denmark, a NATO ally. Trump had been due to discuss the Arctic in meetings in Copenhagen with Frederiksen, who took office in June, and Prime Minister Kim Kielsen of Greenland.

He is due to visit Poland on Aug. 31.

Frederiksen said on Sunday the idea of selling Greenland to the United States was absurd after an economic adviser to Trump confirmed U.S. interest in buying the world’s largest island.

“Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously,” Frederiksen told the newspaper Sermitsiaq during a visit to Greenland.

Trump confirmed to reporters on Sunday that he had recently discussed the possibility of buying Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, although he said such a move was not an immediate priority.

“The concept came up and … strategically it’s interesting,” Trump told reporters in Morristown, New Jersey.

A defense treaty between Denmark and the United States dating back to 1951 gives the U.S. military rights over the Thule Air Base in northern Greenland.

Trump’s interest in buying Greenland has been met with incredulity and humor. Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who recently stepped down as Danish prime minister, tweeted last week: “It must be an April Fool’s Day joke.” (Reuters)

(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)

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