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U.S. retaliates against Russia, orders closure of Consulate, annexes

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, September 1st, 2017

The United States has told Russia to close its Consulate in San Francisco and buildings in Washington and New York that house trade missions, the state department said on Thursday, in retaliation for Moscow cutting the U.S. diplomatic presence in Russia.

“These closures have to be completed by September 2nd. We’ve taken a firm and measured action in response to Russia’s unfortunate decision earlier this year. We want to halt the downward spiral and we want to move forward to build towards better relations. We’ll look for opportunities to do that but we also want to have equity in the decisions,” said White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee.

The announcement was the latest in tit-for-tat measures between the two countries that have helped to drive relations to a new Post-Cold War low.

Last month, Moscow ordered the United States to cut its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia by more than half, to 455 people, after the US Congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against Russia. — Beverly Sayson | UNTV News & Rescue

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Philippines eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. hinted on the possible withdrawal of the Philippines from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNCHR).

Locsin posted the idea on Saturday (July 13) when a netizen inquired about how the Philippine representation in Iceland reacted to the Council’s approval of Iceland’s resolution seeking to probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines in relation to the Duterte administration’s drug war.

The resolution garnered 18 affirmative votes, 14 negative and 15 abstentions.

 “No embassy in Iceland. Nor does Iceland have an embassy here. Iceland took the place of the US after it withdrew from the Human Rights Council. I think we need to follow America more,” Locsin said.

The United States withdrew from the UNHRC on June 19, 2018 in protest to what it claimed as ‘chronic bias’ against Israel and for allowing human rights violators and abusers as members.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley then described the human rights body as ‘hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”

“For too long, the human rights council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias,” Haley said during the official announcement of U.S. withdrawal from UNHRC.

In October 2018, the Philippines lobbied for a seat at the UNHRC and won after receiving 165 votes of 192 cast by UN member states.

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OPEC set to extend oil supply cut

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 1st, 2019

Oil prices were up on Monday (July 1) as OPEC and its allies looked on track to extend supply cuts until at least the end of 2019, a policy aimed at propping up the price of crude amid a weakening global economy.

OPEC and its allies led by Russia have been reducing oil output since 2017 to prevent prices from sliding amid soaring production from the United States, which has become the world’s top producer this year ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The United States is not a member of OPEC, nor is it participating in the supply pact. Washington has demanded that Riyadh pump more oil to compensate for lower exports from Iran after slapping fresh sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.

Speaking at a news conference in Vienna, the head of Nigeria’s delegation Folsade Yemi-Essan said they ”strongly endorse” the planned extension and said the extension of 9 months was preferable as it offered greater confidence for markets.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, meet on Monday and Tuesday (July 2) to discuss supply cuts amid surging U.S. output.

Oil prices have come under renewed pressure in recent months from rising U.S. supplies and a slowing global economy.

U.S. crude oil output in April rose to a fresh monthly record of 12.16 million bpd, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, even though shale production growth likely peaked last year. (REUTERS)

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Trump tells Putin: Don’t meddle in U.S. elections

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, June 28th, 2019

Meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump | Courtesy: Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday (June 28) told Russian President Vladimir Putin not to meddle in the U.S. elections, appearing to make light of a scandal that led to a two-year investigation into his campaign’s contact with the Kremlin during the 2016 elections.

Asked by a reporter whether he would raise the issue during a meeting with Putin, Trump said: “Yes, of course I will.”

Trump then turned to Putin to give the directive twice while pointing at the Russian leader. Putin maintained a smile as the remark was interpreted for him.

The two leaders were heading into talks on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Japan’s western city of Osaka, their first formal face-to-face meeting since a controversial high-profile summit in Helsinki last July.

Relations between the two countries have been sour for years, worsening after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war.

In a recent television interview, Putin said that relations between Moscow and Washington were “getting worse and worse.”

For his part, Trump has sought better relations with Putin to tackle a host of issues, including his goal to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. On Friday, he emphasized the positive.

“It’s a great honor to be with President Putin,” Trump told reporters. “We have many things to discuss, including trade and including some disarmament.”

Trump and Putin had been scheduled to meet at the end of November at the last G20 in Buenos Aires, but Trump cancelled the meeting as he flew to Argentina, citing Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian navy ships and sailors. The two spoke informally at the event, and at a lunch in Paris earlier that month.

“We’ve had great meetings. We’ve had a very, very good relationship,” Trump said on Friday. “And we look forward to spending some very good time together. A lot of very positive things going to come out of the relationship.”

In May, the two leaders had their first extensive phone conversation in months. Trump said they talked about a new accord to limit nuclear arms that could eventually include China.

Russia is under punitive sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union and wants them lifted.

Trump’s critics have accused him of being too friendly with Putin and slammed him for failing to publicly confront the Russian leader in Helsinki over Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. (REUTERS)

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