U.S. voices outrage as Syria assumes presidency of U.N. disarmament body
admin • May 30, 2018 • 2182
A U.S. national flag and its shadow on the Harry S. Truman Building at the Department of State are pictured in Washington, in this October 24, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files
The U.S. State Department voiced outrage on Tuesday (May 29) over the Syrian government’s assumption of the presidency of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament for the next month, saying Damascus lacked credibility to preside over the body because of its use of chemical weapons.
“We are outraged at the Syrian regime’s blatant disregard for human life, its serial violations of and contempt for its international obligations and its audaciousness in assuming the presidency of an international body committed to advancing disarmament and nonproliferation,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing. “Syria lacks the credibility to assume the presidency.” — Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Ankara on Thursday (October 17) as part of Washington’s efforts to convince Turkey to halt its offensive against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.
Turkey’s week-long assault has created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria with 160,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of Islamic State fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for Trump.
Trump has been accused of abandoning Kurdish fighters, who were Washington’s main partners in the battle to dismantle Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria, by withdrawing troops from the border as Turkey launched its offensive on Oct. 9.
Following a phone call with Erdogan, who has rejected calls for ceasefire or mediation, Trump dispatched top aides including Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Ankara for emergency talks to try to persuade Turkey to halt the offensive. (Reuters)
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday signed an order authorizing sanctions against Turkey and raised tariffs on steel imports from the country in response to its military operations in Syria.
Trump said in a statement released on Monday afternoon that the United States will immediately stop negotiations for a 100-billion-U.S.-dollar trade deal with Turkey and raise tariffs on steel imports from Turkey to 50 percent.
The Trump administration’s new move came days after Turkey launched military operations targeting the Kurdish forces in several parts of northeast Syria and also followed Trump’s order over the weekend to withdraw around 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told reporters on Monday evening that Trump spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier in the day and called for an immediate end to Turkey’s moves against the Kurdish forces in Syria.
Pence also said that he will soon visit the Middle East to meditate the crisis.
Trump previewed the executive order he was to sign in a statement first posted in his Monday afternoon tweet, saying that the order will also enable Washington to impose powerful additional sanctions against those involved in serious human rights abuses, obstructing a ceasefire, preventing displaced persons from returning home among other issues regarding Turkey’s action in Syria.
The blacklisted persons will face a broad range of consequences, including financial sanctions, the blocking of property, and barring entry into the United States, the statement added.
Trump also noted that the U.S. troops leaving Syria will remain in the Middle East region to monitor the situation, while a small number of U.S. forces will remain at the At Tanf Garrison in southern Syria to counter the remnants of the Islamic State (IS).
The tariff hike announced on Monday is expected to put Ankara in a tougher economic situation after a reduction months ago.
The U.S. in May cut its tariffs on imports of Turkish steel from 50 percent to 25 percent, while terminating the preferential trade treatment for Turkey. (Reuters)
Youth climate activists filed an official complaint on Monday (September 23) under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, calling for leaders to protect the children of the world from the peril of climate change.
“The world signed a contract between generations that the present world would leave a world worth inheriting to the future. And today, I want to tell the world you, you are defaulting on that contract and we’re here to collect,” said U.S. teen climate activist Alexandria Villasenor.
Days after millions of young people took to the streets worldwide to demand emergency action on climate change, leaders gathered at the United Nations on Monday to try to inject fresh momentum into stalling efforts to curb carbon emissions.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned governments that they would have to offer action plans to qualify to speak at the summit, which is aimed at boosting the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat global warming.
“I just hope something good will come out of it. I hope it will have a good outcome. But we also have to prepare ourselves for the worst and continue even though if it has a bad outcome,” Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg said.
With climate impacts such as extreme weather, thawing permafrost and sea-level rise unfolding much faster than expected, scientists say the urgency of the crisis has intensified since the Paris accord was agreed.
Over the past year, Guterres has called for no new coal plants to be built after 2020, urged a phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and asked countries to map out how to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. (REUTERS)
(Production: Angela Moore, Mike Wood, Catherine Koppel)
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